[Congressional Record: April 29, 2009 (Senate)]
[Page S4836-S4837]

                        NATIONAL SECURITY GRADE

  Mr. BOND. Mr. President, today marks day 100 on the job for the Obama 
administration. Many in the media and commentators will be grading the 
President on his leadership and policy decisions. As vice chairman of 
the Senate Intelligence Committee, I am most concerned about what is 
shaping up to be the President's failing strategy in national security 
policy. Unfortunately, the Obama administration's national security 
policy appears to be in disarray. While the administration is busy 
trying to decide who from the previous administration, which kept us 
safe from attacks since 9/11, they should prosecute for those efforts, 
they don't understand that as far as the American people are concerned, 
they are the ones on trial now. The President and his team have to 
answer how they are going to protect the American people. What are they 
not going to do? What will they do that will be successful?
  Don't get me wrong. The President has some high points when it comes 
to national security, and I applaud him for those. On some very 
important issues, campaign rhetoric has met national security 
realities. To date the President has shunned the advice of Code Pink 
and others and stayed the course in Iraq. As several of my colleagues 
have said, his initial rollout steps of a new strategy for Afghanistan 
and Pakistan are in the right direction, and he has continued strikes 
against al-Qaida and other terrorists in the Afghanistan-Pakistan 
region. President Obama took appropriate measures, I believe, to 
prepare for the North Korean missile launch.
  Over the last few weeks the Obama administration has faltered. Now we 
are seeing some national security decisions made on what I fear is 
politics, not on what is in the best interest of the American people.
  Just look at the recent examples. The President has decided to close 
our terrorist detainee facility with no backup plan. He has decided to 
release CIA memos on highly classified terrorist detention programs. 
Now he plans to release photos of alleged detainee abuse.
  First, let's talk about the President's decision to close our 
terrorist detainee facility with no backup plan. The facility at 
Guantanamo Bay, or Gitmo, doesn't house middle-of-the-road, white-
collar criminals. Instead this terrorist detention facility houses 
deadly combatants who in the past, when released, have gone back on the 
battlefield to kill Americans. Don't take my word for it. The 
Department of Defense has confirmed that at least 18 detainees who were 
released from Gitmo have gone back to the fight. The Pentagon suspects 
another 43 of doing the same.
  Despite confirmation that Gitmo detainees have gone back to the 
battlefield to kill Americans, President Obama has decided to close 
Gitmo with no plan on what to do with these terrorists.
  The President also has no plan to deal with new terrorists who are 
captured on the battlefield. Where does he plan to detain them? Does he 
plan on telling our troops to release them so they can go on killing 
Americans? This is one of the scariest of Obama's ``ready, fire, aim'' 
national security strategy points.
  I can tell you this: Missourians in my State, and I believe people in 
most States, will not stand for importing terrorists such as 9/11 
mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed to their neighborhoods. They surely 
do not want a bunch of them housed in secure facilities in their 
community because al-Qaida has a nasty tendency to launch massive 
attacks on detention facilities to release their brethren.
  Like me, Missourians and all Americans are still waiting for Obama to 
make the case that his decision to release the detainees at Gitmo is in 
our country's national security interest.
  The President has failed to make the case that the release of these 
terrorist detainees will make us safer. The President has failed to 
make the case that the release of these terrorist detainees will not 
pose a threat to Americans.
  It is clear that without having a plan to deal with the current and 
new terrorists currently at Gitmo, President Obama's decision was not 
in our Nation's best interest. Instead, this was a national security 
policy decided for the purpose of appeasing the ACLU and many in the 
  Another national security policy decided for the benefit of the 
ACLU--and at their request even--was the President's decision to 
release memos on the CIA's terrorist interrogation program.
  While the ACLU was in favor of releasing these memos, President 
Obama's own CIA Director and the four previous CIA Directors all 
opposed this foolhardy decision. The decision is a serious blow to our 
terror fighters and, even worse, to their ability to obtain the 
intelligence we need to prevent another 9/11.
  The release of these memos sends a chilling message to our 
intelligence community: The CIA better change their mission to ``CYA'' 
because their Government is not going to stand behind them.
  No intelligence operator can feel safe that the legal guidance they 
are given or the orders they follow from superiors can be counted on to 
last beyond a single administration. This means our intelligence 
operators will be worrying about protecting their hides, not their 
national security mission.
  Former CIA Director General Hayden and former Attorney General 
Michael Mukasey called President Obama's decision a step in the 
weakening of our intelligence gathering. Regretably, I could not agree 
more. This politicization and weakening of our intelligence gathering 
could result in a retreat to the pre-9/11 mentality that led to the 
tragic intelligence failures that ultimately cost the lives of more 
than 3,000 innocent Americans.
  In addition to weakening our intelligence gathering, the release of 
the interrogation program limitations and their operating guidelines 
ties the hands of our terror fighters. During his confirmation hearing, 
President Obama's own CIA Director purposefully left open the door to 
future use of interrogation techniques in an enhanced fashion for the 
high-value detainees who are believed to have vital information who 
will not talk under normal questioning.
  But now that President Obama has officially given al-Qaida the 
playbook, he has made any future use of these techniques ineffective. 
He has also told the terrorists that if they, in the course of trying 
to kill Americans, are captured, they have nothing to fear. They will 
not be subjected to any more harsh or coercive tactics than we have 
subjected hundreds of thousands of Americans who have volunteered to be 
marines, SEALs or pilots.
  It is hard to imagine that this administration could make this 
situation even worse, but last week President Obama managed it. After 
his decision to release the CIA memos, the President went to Langley 
and told employees:

       Don't be discouraged that we have to admit that we've made 
     some mistakes and then move forward.

[[Page S4837]]

  In these few words, President Obama provided valuable propaganda to 
the terrorists. He told our enemies that our intelligence operators 
were wrong in what they did, an admission that will be seized upon by 
our enemies to fuel the hatred of Americans. Is it any surprise that 
the morale at the CIA has been severely damaged? Our terror fighters 
need to know whether the President has their back or will stab them in 
the back.
  Unfortunately, the President completely disregarded the damage his 
decision would have on the CIA. He completely disregarded the damage 
his decision would have on our ability to get the intelligence we need 
to stop terrorist attacks. He completely disregarded the ammo his 
decision would give the terrorists bent on our destruction. Instead of 
these critical national security concerns, the President's decision was 
a political one aimed at appeasing the far leftwing.
  The President even tried to claim that the ACLU's Freedom of 
Information Act request made the release of these memos necessary. But 
the first exemption under the law is for ``classified secret matters or 
national defense or foreign policy.'' The memos on the CIA terrorist 
interrogation program certainly meet those definitions. At the very 
least, President Obama should have made that argument in court. 
Instead, he handed over a victory--not for national security but for 
the ACLU.
  While many in the media are getting mired in the details of each of 
these bad decisions, the bigger question is this: What is this 
administration's strategy for confronting the terrorist threat and 
keeping America safe? The world did not suddenly become safer when 
President Obama was elected.
  Instead of telling Americans the strategy to keep our Nation safe, 
the latest Obama administration move has been staging costly glamour 
shots of Air Force One. I am not sure if everybody has heard about this 
stunt, but earlier this week the White House decided to update their 
photos of Air Force One--only they chose to take the photos of the jet 
at the Statue of Liberty with a fighter jet escort.
  Across downtown Manhattan--where the Twin Towers once stood--New 
Yorkers were panicking. Thousands fled New York skyscrapers. You see, 
New Yorkers were not told this glamour shot was going to happen. After 
living through the horrors of the September 11 attacks, New Yorkers, of 
course, feared that another attack was happening. And 9/11 was fresh in 
their memories.
  While the Obama administration tried to shrug off this incident, I 
think it is telling. This stunt is a symbol of how far from their minds 
the attacks of 9/11 are.
  In addition to the administration's glamour shot stunt, President 
Obama's advisers have been busy releasing classified information that 
only tells the side of the story they want to share. I think everyone 
knows this, but let me lay out the details.
  First, the Director of National Intelligence, Admiral Blair, in a 
letter to the intelligence community, said the interrogations provided 
``high value information'' and gave the U.S. Government a ``deeper 
understanding of the al Qaeda organization that was attacking this 
country.'' Blair also detailed how Congress was repeatedly briefed on 
the program. But in the public statement which had to go through White 
House clearance, these details were left out.
  Next: The White House releases the memos that describe in detail the 
interrogation techniques that were used. But missing--in fact, I assume 
purposefully redacted--is the information on the lifesaving 
intelligence we received from these interrogations.
  Also, President Obama--and many Democrats in Congress--supported the 
release of the CIA memos but are now opposing the release of 
information on what Members of Congress were briefed on the program.
  Now, let me get this straight. So the facts about our interrogation 
program of terrorists--how we do it, and the strict limits on it to 
avoid torture--are fair game for release, but who and what Congress was 
told needs to remain secret?
  I think the President's advisers got it wrong. You see, it is not 
supposed to be cherry-picking time in Washington today. Unfortunately, 
the Obama administration is not above politicizing intelligence.
  Message to the administration: Get a new calendar. The election is 
over. With victory comes responsibility. It is now up to the Obama 
administration to keep our Nation safe. You are in charge of protecting 
the American people and stopping terror attacks--I pray with the same 
success the previous administration did every day since 9/11.
  While President Obama failed the national security test at the 100th 
day mark, the final grade is not in yet. It is up to the President to 
choose our terror fighters over terrorists, to choose troops over ACLU 
lawyers, to choose national security over politics.
  Protecting our families from terrorist attacks should not be a 
political issue, it is an American one.
  Mr. President, I thank the Chair and yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Colorado is 
  Mr. BENNET. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the remaining 
Republican time be reserved.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The minority time has expired.
  Mr. BENNET. Mr. President, I believe I have 25 minutes. I would 
appreciate it if you would let me know when I have 5 minutes remaining.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Chair will do so.
  Mr. BENNET. Thank you, Mr. President.