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National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GIBSON. I thank the gentleman from Washington. I am honored to be offering this amendment with him.

From our Bill of Rights, the Fifth Amendment: no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process. From our Sixth Amendment: the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial.

That is the supreme law of the land.

Evidently, we have some ambiguity based out of the 2001 AUMF. So, clearly, we need to offer this amendment here today, and I rise in strong support of it.

We think about the founding in that period, shortly after the Revolution, and remember the fact that we had Americans who at the time did not support the Revolution. There were a lot of hard feelings in the immediate aftermath of the war, but the one thing that united everyone was the way that we arrayed our institutions--to check absolute power--and, further, to check the power between the Federal and the State governments. Of course, underpinning all of that was the Bill of Rights, the Bill of Rights that unites all of us--united us then, unites us now.

That's why I think it is very important that we bring clarity to this matter, that we pass Smith-Gibson and that we ensure that we bring clarity to the situation, which is that our Bill of Rights is the supreme law of the land.


Mr. GIBSON. Mr. Chairman, this amendment is very simple. It strikes the language in section 1251, which pertains to Syria--a very serious subject that's been talked about here this evening. In my view, we should be debating this in regular order, and there should be a stand-alone resolution that deals with Syria.

You know, this language that we have in the underlying bill, the intent of it I understand, it was supposed to deal with the weapons of mass destruction in Syria, the control of them. That would be one thing. But I just want every Member to understand what's in the underlying language.

Subsection b, subsection 1:

President Obama should fully consider all courses of action to remove President Assad from power.

That sounds a lot like unilateral action for regime change to me.

Subsection 5:

The United States should continue to support Syrian opposition forces with nonlethal aid.

I don't remember authorizing any aid to begin with, much less continuing.

Subsection 8:

Should the President decide to employ any military assets in Syria, the President should provide a supplemental budget request to Congress.

Well, yes on the supplemental budget request if it ever comes to it. But should the President decide to employ any military assets, that's for us to decide, not for the President.

So, Mr. Chairman, I have concerns. I certainly understand the initial intent. It is my strongest recommendation that we strike this language, that we work together on language that is more suitable for an NDAA, and then, if desired, to have broader discussion with a separate resolution if somebody wants to move forward with regard to action in Syria.

I would say that I oppose military action in Syria, but I certainly think there should be voices. We should have Representatives speaking for their people.

And I hope that we learn. You know, in 2011, I came here very concerned about Libya. I spoke out against military action. We ended up taking military action. I was concerned that we would empower forces hostile to us. And I regret to say on September 11 of last year, we ended up with a situation in Benghazi that we all are very saddened by. I want to see us learn from this, and I certainly want to see us strike this language.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. GIBSON. Mr. Chairman, I'll yield myself about 20 seconds, and then I'm going to yield to my good friend from California.

I just want to say in response that, with regard to planning, absolutely. I know our military forces are always in the process of planning.

Standing with Israel, absolutely. But I just would remind my colleagues to read the language in here. This is inappropriate for an NDAA. It is not in our interest to be affirming this language.

At this point, I'd like to yield to my good friend from California (Mr. Garamendi).


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