WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor this evening in support of overriding the President’s misguided veto of the Intelligence Authorization Conference Report. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Mr. Speaker, on Saturday, the President could have made a clear, unequivocal statement that this great nation does not – and will not – torture those in our custody.
“He should have signed this important Intelligence Authorization Conference Report into law. But instead, he vetoed it, because it requires all American intelligence agencies to comply with the U.S. Army Field Manual on Interrogations.
“Let us be clear: this veto was deeply misguided.
“It threatens to further degrade America’s moral standing; to undermine our credibility in the international community; and to expose our own military and intelligence personnel to the very same tactics and treatment.
“Mr. Speaker, every Member here believes that our nation must take decisive action to detect, disrupt, and, yes, eliminate terrorists who have no compunction about planning and participating in the mass killings of innocent men, women and children in an effort to advance their twisted aims.
“We can, we will and we must prevail in the war on terror.
“However, in the pursuit of those who seek to harm us, we must not sacrifice the very ideals that distinguish us from those who preach death and destruction.
“Yet, during the current Administration, we have seen the line blurred between legitimate, sanctioned interrogation tactics and torture.
“And, there is no doubt: Our international reputation has suffered and been stained as a result.
“The excesses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo are well known, as are the Administration’s belief that the Geneva Convention against torture is ‘quaint.’
“These incidents – and others – sully our great nation’s good reputation. And they allow our enemies to foment fear and stoke hatred.
“Requiring all intelligence agencies to comply with the Army Field Manual on Interrogations is an attempt by this Congress to repair the damage that has already been done.
“Furthermore, the techniques permitted by the Army Field Manual have been endorsed by a wide array of civilian and military officials as both effective and humane.
“Here, in fact, is what General David Petraeus wrote to Members of the Armed Forces in Iraq last May: ‘Some may argue that we would be more effective if we sanctioned torture or other expedient methods to obtain information from the enemy. They would be wrong. Beyond the basic fact that such actions are illegal, history shows that they also are frequently neither useful nor necessary.’
“General Petraeus continued: ‘Our experience in applying interrogation standards laid out in the Army Field Manual . . . Shows that the techniques in the manual work effectively and humanely in eliciting information from detainees.’
“Mr. Speaker, this is not a question of whether we must combat – and defeat – terrorists. Of course we must.
“However, we must never let it be said that when this generation of Americans was forced to confront evil that we succumbed to the tactics of the tyrant.
“I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle: Vote to override this unjustified and deeply misguided veto.”