June 17, 2014 04:07 PM

Objection to S.Res.469, Detainee Transfer at Guantanamo Bay

This afternoon, Senator Portman asked unanimous consent the Armed Services Committee be discharged from further consideration of S.Res.469, the Senate proceed to its consideration , the preamble be agreed to and the resolution be agreed to.

S.Res.469 is a resolution expressing the sense of the Senate on May 31, 2014, transfer of five detainees from the detention facility at United States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (Portman and others)

Senator Levin objected to the request.

The unofficial transcript of the exchange is below.

  MR. PORTMAN: I RISE TODAY TO PUT THE SENATE ON RECORD ON

SOMETHING VERY IMPORTANT AND THAT IS SPEAKING TO THE DECISION

BY THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO RELEASE FIVE TOP TALIBAN LEADERS

FROM GUANTANAMO BAY WITHOUT CONSULTING CONGRESS, AS REQUIRED BY

LAW. A DECISION THAT I BELIEVE ENDANGERS THE LIVES OF AMERICAN

PERSONNEL, NOT TO MENTION THE COUNTLESS AFGHANS AND THE SUCCESS

OF OUR MISSION IN AFGHANISTAN. IT'S BEEN WELL REPORTED IN THE

PRESS THAT THIS RELEASE WAS DONE WITHOUT CONSULTING CONGRESS OR

CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS ON EITHER SIDE OF THE AISLE, REPUBLICAN OR

BEFORE SUCH ACTION IS TAKEN, A REQUIREMENT THAT'S CONTAINED

BOTH IN AN AUTHORIZATION BILL CALLED THE 2004 NATIONAL DEFENSE

AUTHORIZATION ACT, AND A SPENDING BILL, THE CONSOLIDATED

APPROPRIATIONS ACT OF 2014, BOTH OF WHICH, BY THE WAY, MR.

PRESIDENT, PASSED CONGRESS WITH BIG BIPARTISAN MAJORITIES, BOTH

WERE BIPARTISAN BILLS AND THERE WAS A BIPARTISAN CONSENSUS

ABOUT HAVING THIS NOTIFICATION. DESPITE CEPHAL CHOSED-DOOR

BRIEFINGS AND PUBLIC COMMENTS FROM THE ADMINISTRATION SINCE WE

LEARNED OF THE RELEASE, THE ADMINISTRATION HAS BEEN UNABLE TO

PROVIDE ANY LEGITIMATE JUSTIFICATION FOR VIOLATING THE

REQUIREMENT AND FOR FAILING TO CONSULT WITH CONGRESS. I BELIEVE

THE PRESIDENT'S CONDUCT RAISES A LOT OF QUESTIONS AND QUESTIONS

WHICH SHOULD CONCERN EVERY MEMBER OF THIS BODY, BOTH SIDES OF

THE AISLE. IT'S NOT A PARTISAN ISSUE, NOR IS IT ABOUT WHAT KIND

OF SOLDIER SERGEANT BOW BERGDAHL MAY HAVE BEEN. THAT'S NOT WHAT

THIS IS B I

--THAT'S NOT WHAT THIS IS ABOUT. I TRUST THE ARMY WILL HANDLE

THAT MATTER. THIS IS ABOUT OUR ROLE IN THE U.S. CONGRESS AND

ABOUT OUR NATIONAL SECURITY. IT IS ABOUT PROTECTING OUR MEN AND

WOMEN IN AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ. IT IS ABOUT MAKING SURE OUR

GAINS WILL NOT BE SQUANDERED, AS WE'RE SEEING TODAY IN THE

COUNTRY OF IRAQ. CONGRESS ENACTED THE BIPARTISAN NOTICE

REQUIREMENT TO SECURE THOSE INTERESTS AND PREVENT THE RELEASE

OF DANGEROUS TERRORISTS WHO WERE HIKELY TO REJOIN -- LIKELY TO

REJOIN THE FIGHT. IT REQUIRES THE PRESIDENT TO GIVE A DETAILED

JUSTIFICATION FOR THE RELEASE OF DETAINEES FROM GUANTANAMO BAY.

WHY SUCH A RELEASE IS IN THE COUNTRY'S NATIONAL SECURITY

INTERESTS, WHAT ACTIONS THE ADMINISTRATION WILL TAKE TO NOTIFY

US AND PROVIDE A JUSTIFICATION FOR THE RELEASE AND THE

CONDITIONS OF THAT RELEASE. I BELIEVE HAD THE PRESIDENT

FOLLOWED THE LAW, MADE THE DANGERS -- MAYBE THE DANGERS IMPOSED

BY THIS DECISION MAY HAVE BEEN AVOIDED ALTOGETHER. CONCERNS

WERE MADE ON BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE. BECAUSE MAKE NO MISTAKE

THESE FIVE MEN WHO WERE RELEASED ARE DANGEROUS. DON'T TAKE MY

WORD FOR IT. THIS IS WHAT THE ADMINISTRATION HAS SAID

REPEATEDLY. I WAS THERE IN A HEARING BEFORE THE SENATE ARMED

SERVICES COMMITTEE IN 2012. I WAS A MEMBER OF THE COMMITTEE AT

THAT TIME. CHAIRMAN LEVIN, WHO IS HERE WITH US TODAY, ASKED

SOME VERY GOOD QUESTIONS, INCLUDING QUESTIONS TO JAMES CLAPPER. WHAT DID MR. CLEARP SAY?

HE REITERATED A 2010 ADMINISTRATION ASSESSMENT THAT THESE FIVE

TALIBAN LEADERS, THESE SAME FIVE WHO WERE JUST RELEASED, POSED

A HIGH RISK OF RETURNING TO THE FIGHT. ON THIS VERY POINT,

DIRECTOR CLAPPER DID NOT EQUIVOCATE SAYING, "I DO NOT THINK

ANYONE HARBORS ANY ILLUSIONS ABOUT THESE FIVE TALIBAN MEMBERS

WHANGDZ THEY MIGHT DO IF THEY WERE TRANSFERRED." THIS WAS SWORN

TESTIMONY BEFORE OUR COMMITTEE. EVEN IF HE PRESIDENT ADMITS

THAT THERE IS, AS HE HAS SAID, "ABSOLUTELY A RISK THAT THESE

MEN WILL RETURN TO THE BATTLEFIELD" -- THE PRESIDENT SAYS THAT

NOW -- THESE MEN WERE SENIOR MEMBERS OF THE TALIBAN. THEY

INCLUDE THE TALIBAN DEPUTY DEFENSE MINISTER, THE DEPUTY

MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR, SOME WERE CLOSELY ASSOCIATED WITH

OSAMA BIN LADEN OR AL QAEDA. TWO WERE WANTED BY THE UNITED

NATIONS FOR WAR CRIMES. YET DESPITE THESE RED FLASHINGS WHICH

ACCORDING TO REPORTS IN THE PRESS WERE REITERATED DURING

INTERNAL WHITE HOUSE DEBATES OVER THE TRANSFER, PRESIDENT OBAMA

RELEASED THESE MEN ANYWAY WITHOUT FOLLOWING THE NOTICE PROVIDED

UNDER THE LAW. WE NEED TO KNOW WHY. WE NEED TO KNOW WHAT

SECURITY RISKS THESE FIVE INDIVIDUALS POSE. WE NEED TO KNOW

WHAT MEASURES WERE PUT IN PLACE TO MITIGATE THAT RISK. I DON'T

KNOW WHY ANY MEMBER OF THIS BODY WOULD OPPOSE GOING ON RECORD

SAYING THAT THE LAW WAS VIOLATED AND SEEKING ANSWERS TO THESE

GOOD QUESTIONS. I AM GOING TO ASK FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT ON A

RESOLUTION THAT I HAVE OFFERED AND THAT MANY OF MY COLLEAGUES

HAVE COSPONSORED CALLING ON CONGRESS THROUGH REGULAR ORDER TO

INVESTIGATE THE DECISION TO AUTHORIZE THIS RELEASE. THIS

RESOLUTION HAS A VERY NARROW PURPOSE. IT ONLY SEEKS TO ENSURE

THAT WHEN CONGRESS SPEAKS -- AND I REMIND YOU, THIS PROVISION

ON GUANTANAMO PASSED IN ON OVERWHELMING BIPARTISAN MANNER --

THAT WHEN THE CONGRESS SPEAKS, THE PRESIDENT LISTENS. NO MATTER

WHAT PARTY THE PRESIDENT IS FROM, OUR ENTIRE CONSTITUTIONAL

BALANCE DEPENDS ON ADHERENCE TO THE RULE OF LAW. BUT THIS IS

ABOUT MORE THAN THE PRESIDENT IGNORING CONGRESS. THE AMERICAN

PEOPLE ARE THE ONES WHO DESERVE THESE ANSWERS. WE'RE THEIR

REPRESENTATIVES. THAT'S WHY THAT PROVISION WAS PUT IN PLACE. SO

THAT WE REPRESENTING THEM COULD GIVE THE PRESIDENT BETTER

ADVICE. BUT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE DESERVE THESE ANSWERS. SOCIETY

DO, BY THE WAY, OUR -- SO DO, BY THE WAY, OUR MEN AND WOMEN IN

UNIFORM WHO CONTINUE TO THOUGHT THEIR LIVES ON THE LINE EVERY

DAY. ALREADY SINCE THE RELEASE OF THESE DETAINEES EIGHT

AMERICAN SERVICEMEN HAVE LOST THEIR LIVES IN AFGHANISTAN. WE

STILL HAVE OVER 30,000 TROOPS IN THE THEATER, 30,000 AMERICANS

PUTTING THEIR LIVES ON THE LINE FOR US EVERY DAY. I THINK A LOT

OF THEM ARE WONDERING, WHAT WAS THE JUSTIFICATION?

WHY?

WHAT EFFECT WOULD IT HAVE ON THEM AND THEIR SAFETY?

ONE CAN HARDLY DOUBT THAT THE ADMINISTRATION'S DECISION TO

RELEASE THESE TALIBAN LEADERS WILL PUT EVEN MORE AMERICANS AT

RISK. AND WE SHOULD BE UNDER NO ILLUSIONS. IF WE TAKE NO

ACTION, I DO NOT BELIEVE THIS WILL BE THE LAST UNLAWFUL

TRANSFER OF DETAINEES FROM GUANTANAMO BAY. IF WE DON'T SPEAK

AND GO ON THE RECORD AND SAY, WAIT A MINUTE, WE HAVE A LAW

HERE, THIS IS WRONG, WE NEED A JUSTIFICATION, I THINK THE WRONG

MESSAGES WILL BE SENT TO THE ADMINISTRATION. CONGRESS DIDN'T

SEEM TO CARE THAT WE VIOLATED THE APPROPRIATIONS BILL, THE

AUTHORIZATION BILL AND WENT AHEAD. PRESIDENT OBAMA HAS MADE IT

CLEAR THAT CLOSING GUANTANAMO IS ONE OF HIS TOP PRIORITIES. I

UNDERSTAND THAT. BUT HE'S PROVIDED NO SUCH CLARITY ON WHAT HE

INTENDS TO DO WITH THE DANGEROUS MEN WHO ARE HOUSED THERE. MEN

LIKE KHALID SHEIKH MOHAMMED, HE'S THERE. WILL HE BE RELEASED?

INTO WHO'S CUSTODY?

THE TERRORIST KNOWN AS HUMBALI. RAM DID I BIN AL SHAH ABOUT A,

A HIGH-RANKING OPERATIVE. WE ALSO NEED TO REMEMBER WHY WE WENT

TO AFGHANISTAN IN THE FIRST PLACE. OF COURSE, UNDER 9/11, THE

COUNTRY HAD BECOME A HAVEN FOR AL QAEDA, A POWER BASE FOR OSAMA

BIN LADEN, AND A PLACE FROM WHICH TO PLAN AND LAUNCH ATTACKS

AGAINST US, AGAINST THE UNITED STATES AND OUR ALLIES. WE WENT

TO AFGHANISTAN TO SEEK JUSTICE FOR THOSE WHO DIED ON SEPTEMBER

11, BUT WE ALSO WENT TO REMOVE THE TALIBAN FROM POWER, TO FREE

THE AFGHAN PEOPLE AND MAKE SURE THAT IT NEVER BECOME A BASE FOR

TERRORISM. WE MUST NOT BE BLIND TO THE FACT THAT THE TALIBAN

AIMS TO REGAIN AS MUCH POWER AS THEY CAN IN AFGHANISTAN AND

PAKISTAN. THAT MEANS A RETURN TO THE SUPPRESSION OF WOMEN'S

RIGHTS AND MOST IMPORTANT THROIS AND OUR NATIONAL SECURITY, THE

COMPLICIT HARBORING OF AL QAEDA. WE HAVE JUST RETURNED TO THEM

THE LEADERSHIP TEAM TO HELP THEM ACHIEVE THAT GOAL. PRESIDENT

OBAMA TELLS US THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN IS COMING TO AN END. WE

NEED TO ENSURE THAT THAT END IS ONE OF SUSTAINABLE VICTORY, NOT

DEFEAT. THE DETERIORATING SITUATION WE SEE UNFOLDING BEFORE US

ON OUR TV SETS IN IRAQ TODAY DEMONSTRATES WHAT CAN HAPPEN WITH

WE RUSH TO THE EXITS WITHOUT PREPARING FOR AN APPROPRIATE EXIT.

TODAY THE BLACK FLAG OF RADICAL ISLAM FLIES OVER THE

SECOND-LARGEST CITY IN IRAQ AND OUR MILL AT THAT POINTS ARE

ADVANCING ON BAGHDAD, PROCLAIMING VICTORY IN IRAQ DID NOT MAKE

IT SO. MANY MADE IT CLEAR THAT IF WE FAILED TO MAINTAIN

APPROPRIATE FORCES IN IRAQ TO HELP THE GOVERNMENT TRANSITION

AND ESTABLISH ITS AUTHORITY, THE LONG-TERM STABILITY OF IRAQ

WOULD BE OPEN TO THREATS BY RADICAL GROUPS. WE CHOSE NOT TO

COMPLETE A STATUS OF FORCES AGREEMENT WITH THE MALIKI

GOVERNMENT. PRESIDENT OBAMA DID NOT HEED THE WARPINGS FROM

THOSE WHO SAW THESE THREATS AND UNFORTUNATELY WE'RE SEEING SOME

OF THESE PREDICTIONS COME TRUE. WHATEVER WE DO IN AFGHANISTAN,

I HOPE WE LEARN FROM THE LESSONS OF IRAQ. THE DECISIONS TO

RELEASE HIGH-RANK MEMBERS OF THE TALIBAN WHILE THE FIGHT

AGAINST TALIBAN CONTINUES TO THIS DAY HAS SHAKEN THE TRUST OF

THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, THE TRUST. AFGHAN PEOPLE, AND IT OPENS THE

FACT THAT WHAT WE'RE SEEING IN IRAQ MAY BE A FORESHADOWING OF

AFGHANISTAN'S FUTURE. CONGRESS HAS THE RESPONSIBILITY TO GET TO

THE BOTTOM OF HOW THIS RELEASE HAPPENED AND TO ENSURE THAT IT

DOESN'T HAPPEN AGAIN. HYPOCRITE MY COLLEAGUES ON BOTH SIDES OF

THE AISLE WILL SUPPORT THE RESOLUTION THAT I'VE INTRODUCED SO

THAT WE CAN FULFILL THAT RESPONSIBILITY. MR. PRESIDENT, I SAID

THAT I WAS GOING TO OFFER A UNANIMOUS CONSENT RESOLUTION. I

WILL DO SO NOW. I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THAT THE ARMED SERVICES

COMMITTEE BE DISCHARGED FROM FURTHER CONSIDERATION OF S. RES.

469, THAT THE SENATE PROCEED TO ITS CONSIDERATION, THAT THE

RESOLUTION BE AGREED TO, THE PREAMBLE BE AGREED TO, AND THE

MOTIONS TO RECONSIDER BE LAID ON THE TABLE, WITH NO INTERVENING

ACTION OR DEBATE.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: IS IS THERE OBJECTION?

THE SENATOR FROM MICHIGAN.

MR. LEVIN: MR. PRESIDENT, AND I DO INTEND TO OBJECT TO THIS

RESOLUTION. IT PREJUDGES THE VERY CONCLUSION THAT THE

RESOLUTION SAYS AND WANTS AN INVESTIGATION TO DETERMINE, CALLS

FOR AN INVESTIGATION BUT THEN IT ALREADY CONCLUDES THAT THE

PRESIDENT VIOLATED THE LAW. THAT IS NOT WHAT I CALL AN

IMPARTIAL INVESTIGATION. THAT'S A RESOLUTION WHICH REACHES A

CONCLUSION WHICH IS PREJUDGING THE VERY INVESTIGATION THAT IT

CALLS FOR. NOW, THERE'S OTHER PROBLEMS HERE AS WELL. MY GOOD

FRIEND FROM OHIO HAS SAID THAT THE PRESIDENT VIOLATED THE LAW

BECAUSE HE DIDN'T GIVE 30 DAYS NOTICE TO THE CONGRESS. INDEED,

THE NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT PROVIDES FOR 30 DAYS

NOTICE. BUT IT ALSO AS A MATTER OF FACT THE PRESIDENT SAID WHEN

HE SIGNED THE NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT THAT IF THERE

WERE NECESSARY CIRCUMSTANCES WHERE THERE WERE NEGOTIATIONS

GOING ON WITH FOREIGN COUNTRIES OR FOREIGN PEOPLE IN TERMS OF

PRESERVING OR SAVING AN AMERICAN LIFE, THAT HE'S NOT GOING TO

BE BOUND BY 30 DAYS' NOTICE. HE SAID THAT AT THE SIGNING

CEREMONY. NOW, YOU CAN'T CHANGE LAW OF A SIGNING CEREMONY. BUT

WHAT YOU CAN DO AT A SIGNING CEREMONY IS WHAT THIS PRESIDENT

DID. AT THE VERY SIGNING CEREMONY FOR THE VERY ACT THAT THE

PRESIDENT IS RELYING ON, THE PRESIDENT PUT US ON NOTICE THAT

THERE MIGHT BE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH HE COULD NOT GIVE 30

DAYS' NOTICE TO THE CONGRESS. NOW, WHEN HE DID NOT GIVE 30

DAYS' NOTICE IN THIS CIRCUMSTANCE, HE DID IT ON THE ADVICE OF

COUNSEL, THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE TOLD HIM THAT HE HAS POWERS

AS COMMANDER IN CHIEF UNDER ARTICLE 2. THAT'S PART OF THE LAW

OF THIS LAND. THE LAW OF THIS LAND INCLUDES THE NATIONAL

DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT. AS A MATTER OF FACT, THE PRESIDING

OFFICER IS VERY MUCH AWAY OF THE FACT THAT THE NATIONAL DEFENSE

AUTHORIZATION ACT OF WHICH HE IS SO IMPORTANT A PART IS PART OF

THE LAW OF THIS LAND. SO IS ARTICLE 2 OF THE CONSTITUTION,

WHICH GIVES THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF CERTAIN POWERS. AND THE

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE SAID THAT HE COULD USE THOSE POWERS TO

NOT GIVE 30 DAYS' NOTICE BECAUSE IT COULD JEOPARDIZE THE LIFE

OF AN AMERICAN CITIZEN. NOW, MAYBE THERE'S THOSE THAT ARGUE

THAT'S OKAY. FOLLOW THE AUTHORIZATION LAW INSTEAD OF ARTICLE 2

BECAUSE THE AUTHORIZATION LAW SOMEHOW OR OTHER HAS PRECEDENCE

OVER ARTICLE 2, WHICH IT DOESN'T. ARTICLE 2 IS PART OF THE

CONSTITUTION. BUT THE AUTHORIZATION ACT ITSELF WAS SAID TO BE

SUBJECT TO ARTICLE 2 POWERS OF THE PRESIDENT WHEN HE SIGNED THE

VERY ACT. AND SO WHAT HAPPENED?

THE PRESIDENT DECIDED, BECAUSE OF THE EX-INCH ENSIS OF THESE

CIRCUMSTANCES, WHETHER YOU AGREE TO OR DON'T AGREE WITH THE

DETAILS OF THE DEAL -- THAT'S ONE ISSUE. PEOPLE WITH DISAGREE

WITH THAT ALL THEY WANT. ONCE THE PRESIDENT DECIDED HE WAS

GOING TO MAKE THAT DEAL AND SAVE THAT LIFE AND NOT JEOPARDIZE

THAT LIFE BY WAITING 30 DAYS, AT THAT POINT THE QUESTION IS,

WAS THAT ILLEGAL?

THAT'S WHAT A COURT COULD DECIDE, IF IT SO CHOSE, AS TO WHETHER

OR NOT A PRESIDENT COULD USE ARTICLE 2 POWERS IN ORDER TO ACT

QUICKLY TO SAVE AN AMERICAN LIFE. AND SO I THINK THAT

PREJUDGING THIS KIND OF AN ISSUE WITH THE KIND OF INVESTIGATION

THAT WOULD PREJUDGE IT -- BECAUSE THAT'S PART OF THE RESOLUTION

ITSELF -- IS NOT WHAT THIS SENATE SHOULD BE DOING. AND, BY THE

WAY, DURING THAT 30-DAY PERIOD, THE PRESIDENT WOULD HAVE HAD TO

OF NOT JUST WAITED 30 DAYS, HE WOULD HAVE ALSO HAD TO MADE ALL

KINDS OF DETAILED AND SUBSTANTIVE CLASSIFIED NOTEIFICATIONS. HE

WOULD HAVE HAD TO HAVE MADE CERTAIN KINDS OF FINDINGS, A

DETAILED STATEMENT OF THE BASIS FOR THE TRANSFER OF RELEASE, AN

EXPLANATION OF WHY THE TRANSFERS OF RELEASE IS IN THE NATIONAL

SECURITY INTERESTS OF THE UNITED STATES, A DESCRIPTION OF ANY

ACTIONS TAKEN TO MITIGATE THE RISKS. HE WOULD HAVE HAD TO HAVE

DONE ALL OF THAT BEFORE HE WAS ABLE TO EXECUTE THE TRANSFER OF

AN AMERICAN CITIZEN FOR THE SAFETY OF THIS COUNTRY. NOW, THE

PRESIDENT DID DO ALL OF THOSE THINGS IMMEDIATELY AFTER HE MADE

THE DECISION TO AFNLGT SO WE GOT ALL OF THAT NOTIFICATION. THAT

IS REQUIRED BY LAW. BUT WE DIDN'T GET IT 30 DAYS IN ADVANCE.

BECAUSE OF THE JEEP DHAI WOULD HAVE BEEN CREATED TO AN AMERICAN

LIFE. AND AGAIN PEOPLE ARE GOING TO DISAGREE AS TO WHETHER OR

NOT THIS AGREEMENT SHOULD HAVE BEEN

BUT THAT'S A VERY DIFFERENT ISSUE AS TO WHETHER OR NOT WE

SHOULD PREJUDGE AS TO WHETHER OR NOT THE PRESIDENT, WHO ACTED

UNDER HIS ARTICLE 2 POWERS AND TOLD US HE MIGHT WHEN HE SIGNED

THIS BILL, ACTED ILLEGALLY. AND THAT'S WHAT THIS RESOLUTION

SAYS HAPPENED. THE PRESIDENT ACTED ILLEGALLY AND PREJUDGES AN

INVESTIGATION. AND I THINK FOR A NUMBER OF REASONS IT IS

INAPPROPRIATE FOR US TO ADOPT THIS RESOLUTION, AND SO I WILL

OBJECT.

 

MR. PORTMAN: MR. PRESIDENT?

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM OHIO.

MR. PORTMAN: IT IS UNFORTUNATE WE CAN'T FIND AT LEAST AT THIS

POINT BIPARTISAN AGREEMENT ON SOMETHING AS STRAIGHTFORWARD AS

THIS. TO MY FRIEND FROM MICHIGAN, I WOULD SAY A COUPLE OF

THINGS. ONE, THIS RESOLUTION DOES NOT PREJUDGE THE

INVESTIGATION. THE RESOLUTION DOES NOT TALK ABOUT THE

PRESIDENT'S ARTICLE 2 POWERS. IT VERY CLEARLY SAYS THE

TRANSFERS OF THESE DETAINEES VIOLATED THE NATIONAL DEFENSE

AUTHORIZATION ACT LEGISLATION THAT YOU BROUGHT TO THE FLOOR AND

THE APPROPRIATIONS BILL. THAT'S WHAT IT SAYS. SO THAT IS CLEAR

BY THE VERY LANGUAGE IN THOSE BILLS, THAT IT DOES VIOLATE THOSE

BILLS. IT DOESN'T TALK ABOUT THE CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITIES THE

PRESIDENT MAY HAVE. IT DOES SAY THAT IT VIOLATES THE CLEAR

TERMS OF THIS LEGISLATION. IT DOES NOT PREJUDGE THE

INVESTIGATION, WHICH IS INTO WHY. WITH AGAIN THE INTENT OF

TRYING TO KEEP THIS FROM HAPPENING AGAIN. AND I DO THINK THE

PRESIDENT COULD HAVE USED REASONED JUDGMENT FROM PEOPLE WHO

HAVE BEEN AROUND FOR AWHILE, MAYBE EVEN SENATOR LEVIN, WHO HAS

STRONG VIEWS ON THESE NATIONAL SECURITY MATTERS AND WAS

INVOLVED EARLIER IN HEARINGS THAT I WAS IN WHERE UNDER OATH

ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS TALKED ABOUT HOW DANGEROUS THESE VERY

MEN WERE. SECOND, SENATOR LEVIN IS CORRECT WHEN HE SAYS THE

PRESIDENT CAN'T CHANGE THE LAW, AND THAT'S WHAT WE'RE SAYING.

HE CAN'T CHANGE THE LAW. IF HE DIDN'T BELIEVE THAT THIS LAW WAS

APPROPRIATE, HE SHOULD HAVE VETOED IT. AND HE'S DONE THAT IN

THE PAST, AS HAVE OTHER PRESIDENTS, VETOED LEGISLATION THEY

DIDN'T AGREE WITH. I DO BELIEVE THAT UNDER ARTICLE 2, THAT

CHAIRMAN LEVIN IS CORRECT THAT THE PRESIDENT DOES HAVE CERTAIN

AUTHORITIES. AND THAT'S WHY WE WERE VERY CAREFUL WHEN WE

DRAFTED THIS LEGISLATION, THIS RESOLUTION, TO SAY THIS SAYS

THAT THE CONGRESS SHALL GO ON RECORD ESTABLISHING THAT UNDER

THE CLEAR TERMS OF THESE TWO LAWS THAT WERE PASSED BY THE

CONGRESS, SIGNED INTO LAW BY THE PRESIDENT, THE PRESIDENT DID

NOT FOLLOW THE TERMS OF THOSE LAWS. THAT'S CLEAR. THE

INVESTIGATION THEN IS INTO WHY. AND THE ARMED SERVICES

COMMITTEE WOULD HAVE THE ABILITY TO DO THAT. BY THE WAY, TODAY

I KNOW MANY ARE CELEBRATING THE CAPTURE OF AHMED ABU KHATALLA,

ONE OF THE TERRORISTS WHO ATTACKED THE AMERICAN COMPOUND IN

BENGHAZI. AND I AM GLAD TO HEAR THAT WE HAVE CAPTURED HIM AND

UNDERSTAND HE MIGHT BE ON HIS WAY BACK TO THE UNITED STATES OF

AMERICA. IT'S INTERESTING BECAUSE WE GOT NOTICE. I DON'T KNOW

IF THE CHAIRMAN WAS NOTIFIED. THAT WASN'T REQUIRED BY LAW, BY

THE WAY. IT'S JUST COMMON PRACTICE THAT THAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU

HAVE A RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE ADMINISTRATION AND CONGRESS

THAT IT'S CONFIDENTIAL. WE WERE NOTIFIED OF COURSE WITH REGARD

TO THE BIN LADEN CAPTURE. I CAN'T IMAGINE THE BIN LADEN CAPTURE

WAS ANY LESS SENSITIVE OR ANY DIFFERENT IN KIND TO MAKE IT

SOMETHING THAT WE COULD DO NOTIFICATION ON AND COULDN'T DO IT

ON THE RELEASE OF THESE FIVE DETAINEES FROM GUANTANAMO. SO THIS

IS SOMETHING THAT I THINK IS VERY REASONABLE. WE'RE ASKING FOR

JUSTIFICATION NOT AFTER THE DECISION IS MADE. THAT'S NOT WHAT

THE LEGISLATION SAYS. IT SAYS BEFORE THE DECISION IS MADE SO

THAT CONGRESS CAN HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO DISCUSS THIS WITH THE

PRESIDENT AND TO MAKE SURE THAT IN FACT WE ARE PROCEEDING

APPROPRIATELY WITH THESE VERY DANGEROUS DETAINEES AT

GUANTANAMO. I WOULD AGAIN MAKE THE POINT THAT SOME OF THESE

DETAINEES WERE -- DETAINEES AT GUANTANAMO RIGHT NOW ARE PEOPLE

WHO LIKE IN THE CASE OF THESE FIVE TALIBAN ARE CONSIDERED TO BE

EXTREMELY DANGER. I WOULD ASK THE QUESTION, IF CONGRESS IS ON

RECORD SAYING WE EXPECT THE LAW TO BE FOLLOWED HERE AND THE

PRESIDENT OUGHT TO NOTIFY CONGRESS BEFORE WE RELEASE THESE

PEOPLE, WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN WITH KHALID SHEIK HUMID?

WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN -- KHALID SHAKE MUHAMMAD?

WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN WITH HUMBALI?

THESE ARE ALSO PEOPLE WHO ARE AT GUANTANAMO. THE PRESIDENT SAYS

HE WANTS TO SHUT IT DOWN. I THINK THE LEGISLATION THAT SENATOR

LEVIN AND OTHERS DRAFTED WHICH, BY THE WAY, WAS LEGISLATION

THAT CHANGED OVER TIME. IT EVOLVED. THE TPHOEUFGS -- THE

NOTIFICATION WAS A SLIGHT REQUIREMENT ON THE PRESIDENT COMPARED

TO THE PREVIOUS LEGISLATION WHEN I WAS ON THE ARMED SERVICES

COMMITTEE WITH CHAIRMAN LEVIN. THIS WAS SOMETHING THAT WE

THOUGHT ABOUT. WE DECIDED NOTIFICATION WAS APPROPRIATE.

NOTIFYING CONGRESS AND PROVIDING DETAILED JUSTIFICATION, IT'S

NOT TOO MUCH TO ASK. AGAIN, MR. PRESIDENT, WE REQUIRE THE

PRESIDENT TO CONSULT WITH CONGRESS BEFORE RELEASING GUANTANAMO

DETAINEES. WE SPOKE WITH ONE VOICE HERE IN THE UNITED STATES

CONGRESS. THE PRESIDENT IGNORED THAT LEGAL REQUIREMENT. HE

IGNORED THE VOICE OF CONGRESS, IGNORED THE LAW. IF WE'RE NOT

GOING TO HOLD HIM ACCOUNTABLE, I DON'T KNOW WHO WILL. AGAIN,

WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT THE SEPARATION OF POWERS ENSHRINED IN

OUR CONSTITUTION, WHICH SIMPLY SAYS CONGRESS HAS A ROLE AS ONE

OF THE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT. NO DECLARATION, NO

INVESTIGATION, NO RECOURSE. I DON'T THINK THAT'S GOING TO BE

HELPFUL IN TERMS OF ENSURING THAT BALANCE OF POWER CONTINUES

AND THAT, AGAIN, WE DON'T HAVE THIS SITUATION RECUR AS THE

PRESIDENT IS TALKING ABOUT SHUTTING DOWN GUANTANAMO BAY AND

RELEASING OTHER DETAINEES. I HOPE MY FRIENDS ON THE OTHER SIDE

OF THE AISLE WILL RECONSIDER THEIR COURSE OF ACTION TODAY AND

TAKE A CAREFUL LOOK AT THIS RESOLUTION WHICH WAS CAREFULLY

DRAFTED INCLUDING NOT TO IMPINGE ON THE PRESIDENT'S

CONSTITUTIONAL POWERS UNDER ARTICLE 2. I THINK THE STAKES ARE

SIMPLY TOO HIGH TO DO OTHERWISE. I YIELD BACK MY TIME.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM MICHIGAN.

MR. LEVIN: MR. PRESIDENT, THANK YOU. AND I THANK MY FRIEND FROM

OHIO. MR. PRESIDENT, FIRST OF ALL, WHAT THE RESOLUTION SAYS,

LET ME READ THE RESOLUTION. "CONGRESS SHOULD INVESTIGATE THE

ACTIONS TAKEN BY PRESIDENT OBAMA AND HIS ADMINISTRATION THAT

LED TO THE UNLAWFUL TRANSFER OF SUCH DETAINEES." SO WHEN MY

FRIEND SAYS IT DOESN'T SAY, DOESN'T PREJUDGE THAT IT WAS

UNLAWFUL, BY ITS VERY TERMS IT SAYS "INVESTIGATE THE ACTIONS

TAKEN BY PRESIDENT OBAMA THAT LED TO THE UNLAWFUL TRANSFER OF

SUCH DETAINEES." THAT'S WHAT THE RESOLUTION SAYS. SECONDLY, THE

POINT THAT THE RESOLUTION MAKES NO REFERENCE TO ARTICLE 2. MY

FRIEND SAYS THAT, AND HE'S ACCURATE IN THAT REGARD. THAT'S THE

PROBLEM. WHAT'S MISSING IS WHAT THE PRESIDENT WAS ADVISED HE

COULD DO, ACT UNDER HIS ARTICLE 2 POWERS, AND WHAT THE

PRESIDENT SAID HE WOULD DO WHEN HE SIGNED THIS BILL. THIRD, THE

FACT THAT WE WERE NOTIFIED OF BIN LADEN'S CAPTURE, I DON'T KNOW

HOW MANY OF US WERE NOTIFIED, BUT IT SURE WASN'T 30 DAYS BEFORE

HE WAS CAPTURED IF IT WAS AT ALL. THAT'S THE ISSUE HERE. NOT

WHETHER OR NOT THE PRESIDENT SHOULD HAVE NOTIFIED. AND, BY THE

WAY, I THINK HE COULD HAVE DONE A BETTER JOB OF NOTIFYING

CONGRESS. THAT'S NOT THE QUESTION. THE QUESTION IS WHETHER OR

NOT HE HE ACTED ILLEGALLY, AS THE RESOLUTION SAYS HE DID,

BECAUSE HE DIDN'T FOLLOW THE 30-DAY NOTICE REQUIREMENT WHICH,

IN HIS JUDGMENT AND I THINK A LOT OF OTHER PEOPLE'S JUDGMENTS,

INCLUDING MINE, WOULD HAVE JEOPARDIZED THE LIFE OF AN AMERICAN

CITIZEN. SO HE ACTED UNDER ARTICLE 2 POWERS TO AVOID THAT

JEOPARDY. AND THERE IS NO REFERENCE TO ARTICLE 2 IN HERE. THERE

IS NO REFERENCE TO THE FACT THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

INFORMED THE PRESIDENT HE COULD ACT WITHOUT ABIDING BY A 30-DAY

PROVISION IF HE ACTED UNDER HIS ARTICLE 2 POWER TO SAVE THE

LIFE OF AN AMERICAN CITIZEN. THERE ARE MANY REASONS THAT THIS

RESOLUTION -- THERE'S MANY PROBLEMS THAT IT SEEMS TO ME THIS

RESOLUTION DOES NOT FAIRLY ADDRESS OR RESOLVE, AND THAT IS THE

REASON THAT I OBJECT. ONE OTHER THING, AND THAT IS MY FRIEND

FROM OHIO MADE REFERENCE TO JAMES CLAPPER WHO IS THE DIRECTOR

OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE. DIRECTOR CLAPPER SUPPORTS THE DEAL

THAT WAS MADE RELATIVE TO THIS TRANSFER, AS DOES GENERAL

DEMSEY, THE CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEF OF STAFFS; AND ADMIRAL

WINIFELD, THE VICE CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS. I YIELD THE

FLOOR.