Statement on Intelligence Authorization Conference Report

i thank the gentleman TimeCode: 12:21:07.5 for yielding. this is an important bill. with an important objective. and the objective is to protect our country and to protect our constitution. ironically the ranking member TimeCode: 12:21:22.7 has just said that by having oversight, by having checks and balance on the intelligence community, somehow we politicize it. our founding fathers in the sense, in the best sense of politicization wanted the civil TimeCode: 12:21:39.0 sector to be involved. that's the purpose of his committee, i suggest to my friend. the fact of the matter is the intelligence community conducts critically important activities that we want them to conduct. but we give them extraordinary TimeCode: 12:21:56.5 powers. because of that we need to make sure that they're not politicized. in fact the irony is i think most objective observers would say two things. TimeCode: 12:22:11.2 first of all that the defense establishment of our country has been the most politicized it's been in my 26 years in the congress of the united states. that is not true in my opinion with the present secretary, by the way. over the -- or the present deputy secretary. TimeCode: 12:22:28.5 secondly, they have abandoned oversight. i have said many times that the previous congress and the congress before that and the congress before that exercised less oversight than any previous congress in which i have served. TimeCode: 12:22:46.1 in fact, it was much more oversight by the democratic congress of the clinton administration in terms of oversight hearings, numbers, depth than there was in the entire framework of the last six years. TimeCode: 12:23:00.6 under republicans in the house and senate. and in the white house. this is a serious piece of legislation. requires serious consideration. mr. speaker, first i want to thank the chairman of the intelligence committee, my good TimeCode: 12:23:16.7 friend, congressman reyes, of texas. mr. hoekstra as well who i think brings experience and judgment to this issue although we have significant disagreements. this as the chairman has said is the first authorization bill in TimeCode: 12:23:33.1 three years to come to this floor. this authorization bill ought to come to the floor every year. let me say briefly this conference report enhances oversight. the reason in my opinion authorization bills didn't come to the floor in the last congress is because oversight was not, as i said, as TimeCode: 12:23:50.8 important. i have been disappointed with the oversight that's been exercised not only by this committee but by others. it comes to the floor as an effective management of the intelligence community. and to expect and require TimeCode: 12:24:07.7 accountability. it enhances the management authority and flexibility of the director of the national intelligence committee. why? because we want to have a more effective intelligence organization. and it authorized new funding to improve the effectiveness of the intelligence programs and TimeCode: 12:24:23.3 activities. i would think all of us support those two efforts. this legislation also includes an important provision added in conference that i want to talk about. it requires all american intelligence agencies and those under contract or subcontract TimeCode: 12:24:41.3 with intelligence agencies to comply with the u.s. army field manual on interrogations. some find fault with that. i want to speak to that. mr. speaker, every member here believes that our nation must TimeCode: 12:24:56.1 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 and TimeCode: 12:25:10.9 women and children in an effort to advance their twisted aims. no one, no one on this floor should say that is not the objective of every member of this body. TimeCode: 12:25:27.2 we can and we will act to 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 TimeCode: 12:25:45.7 preach death and destruction. TimeCode: 12:25:50.1 yet under the current administration we have seen that line blurred. between legitimate sanction interrogation tactics and torture. and there is no doubt our international reputation has TimeCode: 12:26:03.7 suffered and been stained as a result. who said that? that's not a quote, but who said that essentially? secretary colin powell, former four star army general, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, and secretary of state in this administration. the excesses at abu ghraib and TimeCode: 12:26:20.6 guantanamo are well-known. as are the administration's belief that the geneva convention against torture is, and i quote, quaint. the vice president's persistent effort to undermine the ban on torture. TimeCode: 12:26:34.7 championed by whom? senator john mccain of arizona. republican candidate for president. just last week we learned that the central intelligence agency destroyed perhaps illegally videotapes of interrogations conducted by american agents. TimeCode: 12:26:52.0 these incidents unfortunately sully our great nation's well deserved good reputation. they raise questions about our commitments to human rights and the rule of law. and they allow our enemies to foment fear and stoke hatred. TimeCode: 12:27:11.0 this provision requires all intelligence agencies to comply with the army field manual on interrogations. it is an attempt by this congress to repair the damage that has already been done. furthermore, the techniques TimeCode: 12:27:25.8 permitted by the army field manual have been endorsed by a wide array of civilian and military officials as both effective and consistent with our international commitments and very importantly with the safety of our members of the TimeCode: 12:27:42.7 armed forces. ladies and gentlemen, i want to ask unanimous consent to include in the record at this time a letter. the letter is signed by, and will i not take the time to read TimeCode: 12:27:59.3 all of the generals, but there are fourer four star generals. a four star general is as high as you can go in the armed forces of the united states except when we are in a world TimeCode: 12:28:14.1 war in which we accord a five star. there are many lieutenant generals, admirals, vice admirals, brigadier generals, major generals all of whom are TimeCode: 12:28:34.0 concerned about defeating terrorism. and this is what they say. as retired military leaders of the u.s. armed forces, we write to express on december 12, 2007, just a few days ago, we write to TimeCode: 12:28:50.3 express our strong support for section 327 of the conference report on the intelligence authorization act for fiscal year 2008. and then this paragraph, and i ask all of my colleagues on both side of the aisle to listen to TimeCode: 12:29:04.5 this paragraph from those who have worn the uniform of the united states of america, who have themselves before they became generals, fought in the battles that america has sent them to. have fought for the freedom of this country and confronted the TimeCode: 12:29:19.8 terrorists of their day and today. hear this paragraph from those who have been at war and who want to protect their troops, our troops, american men and women. they say this, we believe it is vital to the safety of our men TimeCode: 12:29:37.6 and women in uniform and the united states not sanction the use of interrogation methods it would find unacceptable if inflicted by the enemy against captured americans. TimeCode: 12:29:55.3 that is the critical point. we are a nation that believes in the premise of doing unto others what we would have them do to us. . our enemies do not accept that TimeCode: 12:30:14.0 premise. our enemies do not accept that value. our enemies are different than we are. we must nots become -- not become what we confront. the techniques permitted by the army field manual, as i say, is TimeCode: 12:30:31.7 endorsed by all these generals. general crulak, in particular, wrote a compelling on he had piece in -- op-ed piece in "the TimeCode: 12:30:47.1 washington post." i served with him on the board of visitors on the board of naval acad meese. he's as hard as they come. he says, protect our people. TimeCode: 12:31:00.1 adopt this section. here's what general david petraeus wrote. to members of the armed services in iraq in may just a few months ago, quote, general petraeus, four-star general, heading our effort to confront TimeCode: 12:31:14.6 supposedly terrorism, and i believe terrorism in iraq. some may argue, he says, that we would be more effective if we sanctioned torture or other expedient methods to obtain information from the enemy. they would be wrong. TimeCode: 12:31:30.8 beyond the basic fact that such actions are illegal, petraeus' words, general petraeus' words -- history shows that words are neither useful nor necessary. TimeCode: 12:31:47.5 general petraeus continued, quote, certainly extreme physical action can make someone talk. however, what the individual says may be questionable -- of questionable value. TimeCode: 12:32:02.2 our experience, he says, in applying interrogation standards laid out in the army field manual shows that techniques in the manual work effectively and hew manly in elicited information from TimeCode: 12:32:19.7 detainees. he wants to prevent terrorist attacks on his people under his command. inexplickably the administration has issued a veto threat on this conference report because it would require all intelligence agencies to TimeCode: 12:32:35.5 abide by the army field manual. i believe that this position is indefensible. 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 TimeCode: 12:32:53.4 generation of americans was forced to confront evil that we succumb to the tactics of the tyrant, that we stoop to the depths of the dictator. i urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, not for TimeCode: 12:33:10.1 party but for country, not for partisanship but for a reference of the constitutional oath we took, i urge us all, let us begin to repair our nation's reputation. TimeCode: 12:33:28.0 let's adrop the this conference report. i thank the chairman -- let's adopt this conference report. i thank the chairman for his time. i thank him for his leadership. i thank mr. hoekstra as well.