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National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. McCAIN. Madam President, I would like to say to my colleagues, we have been waiting approval of a managers' package of amendments that have been cleared by both sides. It is not a managers' package. It is simply a group of amendments that have been proposed by Members on both sides of the aisle, approved--no one has objected--and yet there are objections to moving forward with these amendments in a package. There are important amendments by Members on both sides.

I would urge my colleagues who would object to moving forward with this package of amendments which have been agreed to by both sides--and there has been no objection voiced to them individually--that I would like to move to adopt those shortly before the vote on cloture at 11 o'clock. If someone objects to that, then I would insist that they come over to the floor and object. That is the procedure we will follow that I would like to inform my colleagues.

In other words, we have a group of amendments. They have been cleared by both sides; no one objects. And yet there seems to be an objection to moving forward with a group of amendments that has already been agreed to. So according to parliamentary rules, I will insist that the Member be here present to object when I move forward with the package shortly before the hour of 11. Anyone watching in the offices, please inform your Senator of that decision.


Mr. McCAIN. Madam President, I thank my colleagues for allowing this package of these amendments to go through. We will be working on additional amendments that we can agree to.

We are about to vote on cloture, and if cloture is invoked, I want to inform my colleagues, those amendments that are pending and filed will be eligible for votes, and we will be using the chronology of when they were filed. We will be notifying every Member who has an amendment that is filed and pending and germane. We will try to arrange time agreements for those who want votes. We will be looking to also see areas where we could agree and adopt an additional package. It is my understanding that if cloture is invoked, we will have 30 hours, and during that period we wish to get these amendments resolved.

I remind my colleagues that if the 30 hours expires and there are still pending germane filed amendments, there will have to be additional votes taken at some time after the 30 hours. So I would urge my colleagues who have filed, pending, germane amendments that we sit down during the cloture vote or just afterward and try and arrange a schedule of votes that is most convenient for them in keeping with their schedule.

Again, I thank my colleagues for allowing that package to go through. Those are very important amendments which have been agreed to by both sides. I realize we have a long way to go, but this is a significant step forward.

I yield the floor.


Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I support the amendment, as modified, by the Senator from Tennessee, Mr. Corker, who has devoted a great deal of time and effort and thought to this issue, and the result is this amendment. I point out that it would require the Secretary of Defense to prepare a report on the effectiveness of coalition support fund reimbursements made to Pakistan in support of coalition military operations in Afghanistan.

Before I proceed, let me once again express my deep condolences to the families of the Pakistani soldiers who were killed this weekend in a cross-border air action. All Americans are deeply saddened by this tragedy, and I fully support NATO and the U.S. military in their commitment to conduct a thorough and expeditious investigation.

As my colleagues will recall--this is an important aspect of Senator Corker's amendment--Congress has authorized and appropriated funding for coalition support fund reimbursements to Pakistan since we began our military operations in Afghanistan. At the time, Pakistan made a strategic decision to support the U.S. war effort against the Taliban government in Afghanistan and their al-Qaida terrorist allies. In response, Congress and the Bush administration agreed to reimburse the Pakistani Government for military activities that support our mission in Afghanistan.

Over the past decade, Congress has provided billions of dollars worth of these reimbursements to Pakistan, and we should acknowledge that much good has come of it. Over the past few years in particular, Pakistan has shifted tens of thousands of their soldiers from the eastern border of their country opposite India to the tribal areas in western Pakistan. Pakistani troops have been deployed and engaged in military operations in their western provinces and tribal areas for more than 2 years straight. They have paid a heavy price in this prolonged fighting.

Hundreds of Pakistani troops have given their lives to fight our mutual terrorist enemies in their country, and thousands of Pakistani civilians have been tragically murdered in the same time by these militant groups who show no compunction about attacking weddings and funerals and mosques. We honor the sacrifice of Pakistan's soldiers, and we mourn the loss of innocent Pakistani civilians.

It must be noted, however, that certain deeply troubling realities exist within Pakistan. It must be noted that elements in Pakistan's army and intelligence service continue to support the Haqqani Network and other terrorist groups that are killing U.S. troops in Afghanistan, as well as innocent civilians in Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan. It must also be noted that the vast majority of the materials for improvised explosive devices that are maiming and killing U.S. troops in Afghanistan originate within Pakistan. These are facts. We cannot deny them. Any effective strategy for Pakistan and Afghanistan must proceed from this realistic basis.

It is for this reason that I believe this amendment and this report would be extremely useful. Already, in response to recent Pakistani activities, the administration has chosen to withhold coalition support fund reimbursements to Pakistan. Over the past two quarters, that withheld money amounts to roughly $600 million. I can imagine that, amid the current tensions, further administration requests to Congress for reimbursement of coalition support funds for Pakistan will not be forthcoming.

The report requested in this amendment would seek additional information on the amounts, types, and effectiveness of coalition support fund reimbursements to the Government of Pakistan. It also would seek recommendations as to the future disposition of this program, including potential alternatives to it or the possible termination of it altogether. That option cannot be ruled out. This is valuable information and recommendations to have as Congress continues to discuss and debate not just the future of the coalition support fund reimbursements to Pakistan but the future of our relationship with Pakistan more broadly. I strongly support this amendment.

Again, I don't want to spend too much time stating the facts. This is a terrible dilemma. The fact is that Pakistan is a nuclear nation. They have a significant nuclear inventory. The fact is that for 10 years we and Pakistan had virtually no relations. We found that not to be a productive exercise. But at the same time, when there exists--as my colleague from Tennessee agrees--two fertilizer factories from which come the majority of the materials used for the majority of IEDs manufactured and that are killing young Americans, it is not tolerable. I understand, as I have said earlier in my comments, the tragedy that resulted from the deaths of these young Pakistani soldiers. I also understand, as every one of us does, what it is like to call a family member of a young man or woman who has lost their life in Afghanistan, which has happened many times, as a result of an IED.

In a hearing of the Armed Services Committee, the then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ADM Mike Mullen, stated:

The fact remains that the Quetta Shura and the Haqqani Network operate from Pakistan with impunity.

I wish to repeat, these are the words of the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Extremist organizations serving as proxies of the government of Pakistan are attacking Afghan troops and civilians as well as U.S. soldiers. For example, we believe the Haqqani Network--which has long enjoyed the support and protection of the Pakistani government and is, in many ways, a strategic arm of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency--is responsible for the September 13th attacks against the U.S. embassy in Kabul.

He goes on to say:

This is ample evidence confirming that the Haqqanis were behind the June 28th attack against the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul and the September 10th truck bomb attack that killed five Afghans and injured another 96 individuals, 77 of whom were U.S. soldiers......

Finally, another comment by Admiral Mullen who, by the way, worked very hard for a long period of time to develop a close working relationship with General Kayani and other military leaders in Pakistan. He went on to say:

The Quetta Shura and the Haqqani Network are hampering efforts to improve security in Afghanistan, spoiling possibilities for broader reconciliation, and frustrating U.S.-Pakistan relations. The actions by the Pakistani government to support them--actively and passively--represents a growing problem that is undermining U.S. interests and may violate international norms, potentially warranting sanction. In supporting these groups, the government of Pakistan, particularly the Pakistani Army, continues to jeopardize Pakistan's opportunity to be a respected and prosperous Nation with genuine regional and international influence.
Finally, I wish to say again this is an incredibly difficult challenge for U.S. security policy. We have a country on which we are dependent in many respects for supplies, for cooperation, for, hopefully, not to be a sanctuary, although it is not the case, for Taliban and al-Qaida elements. We have a country that is a nuclear power, and we have a country that has a government that I will say charitably is very weak.

It seems to me the Corker amendment is important for the American people to know exactly where we are, what policy we are going to formulate, and what measures need to be taken, because we have, as I mentioned earlier, spent billions of U.S. taxpayers' dollars. That doesn't play very well in States such as mine where we have 9 percent unemployment and more than half--or just less than half the homes underwater. So the Corker amendment isn't all we need. In fact, we need to have a national debate and discussion about the whole issue of our relations with Pakistan. But I believe the Corker amendment is a very important measure so we can assure the American people that not only are their tax dollars wisely spent but that actions are being taken to prevent needless wounding and death of our brave young men and women who are serving in the military.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.


Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I must admit that I have heard some bizarre arguments in my time as a Member of this body in referencing the Constitution of the United States as a basis for the argument. Now, it is my understanding my friend from South Carolina--I ask unanimous consent to enter into a colloquy with the Senator from South Carolina.


Mr. McCAIN. It is my understanding that under the Constitution, it is the Supreme Court of the United States that gives the interpretation of the Constitution as to various laws and challenges to the Constitution. It is their responsibility. Is that a correct assumption?


Mr. McCAIN. So our colleague from Illinois who continues to quote from the Constitution of the United States fails to quote from the specific addressing of this issue by the U.S. Supreme Court, specifically the Hamdan decision. Is that correct?


Mr. McCAIN. Is it not true that according to that decision, the U.S. Supreme Court, whom we ask to interpret the Constitution of the United States--they have made many interpretations over the years--says there is no bar to this Nation's holding one of its own citizens as an enemy combatant.

Now, one would think to the casual observer that is exactly what the U.S. Supreme Court meant. It is fairly

plain language, not really complicated. I am not a lawyer, but how the Senator from Illinois, quoting from inalienable rights, can somehow totally disregard in every way what the U.S. Supreme Court says--they go on to say we hold that ``citizens who associate themselves with the military arm of the enemy government''--and I believe, in the view of most, they would view that as a member of al-Qaida, which this legislation specifically addresses. We hold that ``citizens who associate themselves with the military arm of the enemy government and with its aid, guidance and direction,'' which is exactly, basically, the language of our legislation, ``aid, guidance and direction enter this country,'' enter this country, ``bent on hostile acts are enemy belligerents within the meaning of the law of war.''

How can anything be more clear to the Senator from Illinois? I mean, it is beyond belief. It is beyond belief.

They then go on and talk about the Civil War, the U.S. Supreme Court does. They talk about the Civil War. They talk about a code binding the Union Army during the Civil War that captured rebels would be treated as prisoners of war. So a citizen, no less than an alien, can ``be part of or supporting forces hostile to the United States or coalition partners and engaged in an armed conflict against the United States.''

Now, after 9/11, we declared that we were at war with al-Qaida. Is that correct?


Mr. McCAIN. So we are at war. We have American citizens who are enemy combatants. Yet the Senator from Illinois, in the most bizarre fashion that I have heard, says, therefore, they are guaranteed the protections of--as he said--a trial.
I mean, I do not get it. Maybe the Senator from South Carolina can explain.


Mr. McCAIN. Was not one of the most famous cases a woman whose name was Tokyo Rose, who propagandized--she was an American citizen. She propagandized on behalf of the Japanese when we were in the war. Afterwards she was given a military trial.


Mr. McCAIN. Not a civilian trial, not given her Miranda rights, but tried by military tribunal.


Mr. McCAIN. To interrupt, briefly, I wonder--in the interpretation of the Senator from Illinois of the Constitution of the United States--if it is an American citizen, say, somewhere over in Pakistan, who is plotting

and seeking to destroy American citizens, it is OK for us to send a predator and fire and kill that person, but according to the interpretation of the Senator from Illinois, if that person were apprehended in Charleston planning to blow up Shaw Air Force Base, then that person would be given his Miranda rights, how in the world does that fit?

Again, this is one of the more bizarre discussions I have had in the 20-some years I have been a Member of this body.


Mr. McCAIN. Isn't it true that Justice O'Connor was specifically referring to a case of a person who was captured on Long Island? Last I checked, Long Island was part--albeit sometimes regrettably--part of the United States of America.


Mr. McCAIN. Madam President, I oppose this amendment for one simple reason. It requires the President to submit a plan to Congress for an accelerated drawdown from Afghanistan--an accelerated withdrawal; not just the withdrawal that is already planned, not the withdrawal that has already been accelerated on several occasions, but a new accelerated drawdown.

The President is supposed to submit a plan to Congress for an accelerated drawdown from Afghanistan. Does that mean the Congress of the United States could see a plan for an accelerated withdrawal from Afghanistan? Is it required that it be implemented by Congress or is it a nice informational, notional kind of thing: Here is a plan. Hey, let's get together. I have a plan. And the President's drawdown plan, our senior military commanders have stated, is already--already--more accelerated than they are comfortable with.

First of all, I don't get the point of the Senator's amendment, which is to submit a plan. It doesn't require that the plan be acted on, just a plan. I can submit a plan for him if it is plans he is interested in. But the fact is we are accelerating our withdrawal from Afghanistan at great

risk, as our military commanders have testified--much greater risk. So I guess another accelerated plan would obviously have the result of even greater risk to the men and women in the military.

I understand the opposition of the Senator from Oregon to the war. That is fine. I respect that. But an amendment that a plan is to be submitted without any requirement that it be implemented--a plan which would already accelerate more what has already been accelerated--I guess is some kind of statement.

The plan as required by this amendment would be based on inputs from our military commanders. I can tell the Senator from Oregon what our military commanders in Afghanistan have said in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is that more acceleration would mean greater risk. The acceleration that is already taking place means greater risk. But the Senator from Oregon wants a more accelerated plan, I guess.

Then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, ADM Mike Mullen, testified before the House Armed Services Committee on June 23--this is the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff--that the President's drawdown plan would be--that is the present plan, not an accelerated plan such as the amendment proposes--``more aggressive and incur more risks than I was originally prepared to accept.''

I wonder if the Senator from Oregon heard that. The present plan is ``more aggressive and would incur more risks'' than the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff would have been prepared to accept. So with this amendment, we accelerate even more.

On the same day, in testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, GEN David Petraeus stated that no military commander recommended what the President ultimately decided. That is the present plan.

Their concerns were well grounded. Our commanders had wanted to keep the remaining surge forces in Afghanistan until the conclusion of next year's fighting season, which roughly occurs with the onset of the colder months. That was their recommendation to the President. So now the President shall devise a plan based on inputs from military commanders. I can tell the Senator from Oregon what the input from the military commanders is. It is the same input he got with the first accelerated withdrawal. All we have to do is pick up the phone and ask them. We don't have to have an amendment. That was their recommendation to the President. However, the President chose to disregard that advice and announce that all U.S. forces would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of next summer. That guarantees that just as the fighting season next year is at its peak, U.S. surge forces will be leaving Afghanistan. In my view, that is a huge and unnecessary risk to our mission. But the decision has been made. I think there will be great long-term consequences to it.

A story was related to me recently by a former member of the previous administration, high ranking, in a meeting with one of the highest ranking members of the Government of Pakistan. He said to this high-ranking government official: What do you think the chances for peace with the Taliban are? That individual laughed and said, Why should they make peace? You are leaving.

Those are fundamental facts. The primary reason for maintaining all of our surge forces in Afghanistan through next year's fighting season is because of another time the President chose to disregard the advice of his military commanders. It is well known that our military leaders had wanted a surge to be 40,000 U.S. troops, but the President only gave them 33,000. So rather than being able to prioritize the south and east of Afghanistan at the same time, as they had planned, our commanders had to focus first in the south, which they did last year and this year, and then concentrate on eastern Afghanistan next year, all because they didn't have enough troops.

That is not my opinion; that is the sworn testimony of military leaders before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The President's decision made the war longer and now our commanders will not have the forces they said they wanted and needed to finish the job in eastern Afghanistan.

Before we mandate a plan to further accelerate the drawdown of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, I suggest we review the facts and consider the potential consequences of the overly accelerated drawdown we already have.

Before we base such a plan on the views of our military commanders, I certainly recommend that my colleagues travel to Afghanistan and speak with those commanders who can explain far better than I can why further accelerating our drawdown is reckless and wrong.

So I do not get the amendment. I do not understand why the title of it is ``To require a plan for the expedited transition of responsibility for military and security operations in Afghanistan to the Government of Afghanistan.''

As I said, in case the Senator from Oregon missed it, we have already accelerated, and in the view of our military commanders, unanimously, it is a far greater risk.

It says:

The President shall devise a plan based on inputs from military commanders, NATO and Coalition allies, the diplomatic missions in the region, and appropriate members of the Cabinet, along with the consultation of Congress, for expediting the drawdown of United States combat troops in Afghanistan and accelerating the transfer of security authority. .....

Apparently, the Senator from Oregon is not satisfied with the President's already accelerated plan for withdrawal from Afghanistan beginning in the fall of--well, it has already begun--but the serious withdrawal in the fall, September 2012.

I can assure--I can assure--the Senator from Oregon that if our withdrawal, which I greatly fear now, will have long-term consequences, a further accelerated withdrawal will absolutely guarantee that Afghanistan becomes a cockpit--a cockpit--of competing interests from Iran, from India, from Pakistan, and from other countries in the region. I think the people of Afghanistan deserve better.

So I will, obviously, oppose this amendment.

I suggest the absence of a quorum.


Mr. McCAIN. I thank the Senator from Connecticut, my dear friend. The amendment establishes a statutory basis for the memorandum of agreement between the Department of Defense and Homeland Security on cooperative cyber-security support. Nobody should have any doubt about how serious this issue is. Secretary of Defense Panetta said this in June:

The next ``Pearl Harbor'' we confront could very well be a cyber attack.

ADM Mike Mullen at a hearing on Ð9/22 referred to the cyber-threat as an existential threat to our country. This is a serious issue and one that, as the Senator from Connecticut pointed out, is of utmost importance to our Nation's security.


Mr. McCAIN. I thank my friend for cosponsoring my amendment, and share his concern about the threat our Nation faces. In a hearing before the Armed Services Committee just two months ago, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen called the cyber threat an ``existential'' threat to our country.

The purpose of my amendment is to codify the current memorandum of agreement, and to ensure that the relationship between DoD and DHS endures. This growing partnership demonstrates that the best government-wide cybersecurity approach is one where DHS leverages, not duplicates, DoD efforts and expertise. This is just one of the many issues we need to address on cyber legislation, and does not diminish the need for a comprehensive bill addressing our Nation's cybersecurity. But our work together on this should serve as an example of where consensus can and should exist moving forward.


Mr. McCAIN. I agree, and I again thank my colleague for supporting my amendment. While at the end of the day we may not agree on all of the provisions of a bill, I look forward to working together early in the coming year to address these issues under a process that allows for full debate of the issues on which we may differ.

Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I urge adoption of the amendment.


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