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Conference Report on H.R. 1540, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this conference report. It is a broad-ranging conference report that affects everything from personnel policies to weapons systems to research and development across the Department of Defense and the military. And I especially commend Chairman McKeon, Ranking Member Smith, and all the staff who have worked all year to make this possible, but have worked especially hard in the last few days to make this conference report possible before the Congress adjourns.

There are a number of good, important provisions in this bill that strengthen our country's national security. But in light of the comments we have recently heard, Mr. Speaker, let me talk just a moment about this issue of detention.

You know, one can put into law ``the sun comes up,'' and if somebody comes and says, no, it doesn't, you can present all the evidence and you can present words that have clear meaning, and if somebody just wants to say, no, it doesn't, you at some level reach an impasse.

The two provisions related to detention in this bill, the words that have been put into the law, are very clear. One says it does not apply to U.S. citizens. It does not. Nothing here affects U.S. citizens. The other provision says that nothing in this section can be construed to affect existing law or authorities related to the detention of U.S. citizens.

Now, it seems to me there may well be people who are uncomfortable with the current law, and I understand that. And the proper thing to do is to introduce a bill and try to get that amended in some way to get it more to your liking. But to argue that this bill changes in some way the current law when the words say nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities is just not credible.

The provisions in this bill, Mr. Speaker, are a small step towards having this Congress back involved in making those detention decisions. I think it is the right small step, and it should be supported.


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