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Public Statements

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CHAMBLISS. Mr. President, I rise to urge my colleagues to oppose the Udall amendment, which would eliminate the bipartisan detainee provision that the chairman, the ranking member, and committee members worked so hard to craft. These provisions are necessary to provide some certainty for our intelligence professionals in how our government will handle terrorist detainees and how long detainees can be questioned for intelligence-gathering purposes.

We have heard quite a lot over the past few days from administration officials about how our intelligence and law enforcement professionals need flexibility. In fact, Director of National Intelligence Clapper wrote to the Intelligence Committee arguing for flexibility and stressing the need for a process that, as he said, ``encourages intelligence collection through the preservation of all lawful avenues of detention and interrogation.'' With that, I agree wholeheartedly. The problem with the status quo, however, is that the administration refuses to use all of its lawful avenues of detention and interrogation available to it, choosing instead only to use one, and that is article III courts.

For nearly 3 years, Members of Congress have pressed the administration to establish an effective and unambiguous long-term detention policy, but they have refused. The intent behind these bipartisan provisions is simple:
We must hold detainees for as long as it takes to gather information our intelligence and law enforcement professionals need to take down terror networks and to stop attacks.
Frankly, the best place, in my opinion, for this is Guantanamo Bay, But when it comes to Gitmo, the administration is no longer concerned about ``flexibility.''

Instead, we hear that Guantanamo is ``off the table.''

In fact, in a hearing, when I asked the current Secretary of Defense, prior to the SEAL Team 6 takedown of Osama bin Laden: If you captured him, what would you do with him, he quizzically looked back and said: Well, I guess we would send him to Guantanamo. Well, we know that would not have happened had we not taken him down.

This is unfortunate because intelligence and law enforcement professionals, including some at high levels in the administration, acknowledge privately that what hampers intelligence collection from detainees is the administration's unwillingness to take new detainees to Guantanamo for questioning. When our operators overseas are unsure about where they would hold captured detainees, it causes delay, sometimes missed opportunities, and sometimes capture operations become kill operations.

We cannot afford this kind of uncertainty and the Udall amendment simply kicks the can down the road with a report about a problem we already understand. The time to act is now.

Without Guantanamo, long-term military detention elsewhere is the next best option and is the appropriate option for terrorists with whom we are at war. The detainee provisions in the Defense Authorization Act will ensure that the administration uses all of the detention options it says it wants, not just article III courts, and offer the flexibility the administration says it needs. I urge my colleagues to oppose the Udall amendment and give our intelligence professionals and military operators some certainty as they fight the war on terror.


Mr. CHAMBLISS. Mr. President, I urge a ``no'' vote on the Udall amendment.


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