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Statement by Senator McCain on Defense Department Briefing on Alleged Misconduct by Military Personnel in Cartagena, Colombia


Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) today released the following statement on the briefing he received from Department of Defense representatives on possible misconduct involving military personnel during the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia:

"Chairman Levin and I met today with representatives of the Joint Staff with the expectation of receiving information on the ongoing investigation into possible misconduct involving military personnel during the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia. We requested this briefing to inform us as to any national security implications resulting from such misconduct.

"Unfortunately, nearly two weeks after the events in Colombia, the briefers sent by the Department of Defense were woefully unprepared to answer even the most basic questions about what happened in Cartagena, and provided appallingly little new information other than the mechanics and timeline of the ongoing investigation. The Department of Defense briefers did not even know the date the President arrived or the name of the senior military commander on the ground in Cartagena.

"I fully recognize that the Uniform Code of Military Justice and our military leaders must protect the rights of all service members to due process when allegations of misconduct are made and must preserve the independence of investigative and decision-making authorities. At the same time, we in Congress, and particularly the Senate Armed Services Committee, must have timely access to factual information from the Pentagon in order to fulfill our national security oversight responsibilities.

"We need to know the facts. We need to know the impact of this potential misconduct, which occurred less than a day, or perhaps hours, before the President arrived in Cartagena, on the performance of the military Joint Task Force charged with his security. Yet, we are being denied access to the information we need in order to make informed judgments or take needed actions. This is entirely unacceptable.

"I intend to explore all available means for this Committee to obtain the information we need to perform our obligations."

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