May 14 2009
U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today delivered the following opening statement at the Committee’s markup of the Fiscal Year 2009 Supplemental for Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Pandemic Flu.
“Until we are clear about Attorney General Holder’s role in renditions and interrogations prior to 9-11, and what this Administration is proposing to do with these terrorists once Guantanamo is closed, I believe it is premature to provide this funding. Respecting Chairman Inouye and Ranking Member Cochran’s request, I along with Senators Alexander and Hutchison will defer offering our amendment to remove this funding until this bill reaches the floor.”
Senator Shelby’s prepared remarks are as follows:
“Mr. Chairman, thank you for your leadership on this Committee. I also thank my friend who is not with us today, Senator Mikulski, for the relationship we’ve had throughout our time in the House and the Senate.
“I try to support you both as often as possible, but the Guantanamo Bay funding in the Department of Justice portion of this bill is one issue in which I cannot do so.
“This Supplemental mark fulfills the Department of Justice’s request for $30 million to fund the President’s campaign promise to shut down Guantanamo Bay and fund the investigation of U.S. officials who interrogated terrorists that killed or attempted to kill American citizens.
“The President has tasked Attorney General Eric Holder to lead this effort.
“Last week in a Department of Justice hearing, I asked the Attorney General if he knew about or sanctioned any of the 70 or more renditions that occurred during his tenure as Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton Administration. He said he did, but could not provide specifics and would get back to me with a response.
“Mr. Chairman, I have serious concerns that Mr. Holder could be leading investigations and prosecutions against U.S. officials who carried out the very same actions he approved.
“Renditions were carried out under his watch. Yet, the President’s Executive Order only investigates interrogations after 9-11.
“The first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center occurred on February 26, 1993. We later saw the bombings of the U.S.S. Cole, the U.S. embassies in Africa, and Khobar Towers take place before the second attack on the World Trade Center. Many of the terrorists who committed these acts were trained in the same camps that produced the Guantanamo terrorists that the Administration now wants to release.
“Also, I remain concerned that the Administration is planning to possibly release some of these terrorists into the United States. When I asked the Attorney General if the Government had the legal authority to admit someone who had received terrorist training into the United States, he would not answer the question directly.
“Mr. Chairman, it is misguided to close a facility housing terrorists when there is no plan. The prisoners housed at Guantanamo are terrorists. They attacked our nation and killed our citizens and pose a threat to our national security.
“Until we are clear about Attorney General Holder’s role in renditions and interrogations prior to 9-11, and what this Administration is proposing to do with these terrorists once Guantanamo is closed, I believe it is premature to provide this funding.
“Respecting Chairman Inouye and Ranking Member Cochran’s request, I along with Senators Alexander and Hutchison will defer offering our amendment to remove this funding until this bill reaches the floor.
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”