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  • Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Addresses the War on Terror

    UPDATE: Here is the video of Sen. Mitch McConnell. You can read his remarks below:

    “Thank you. It’s an honor to be here. For nearly four decades, Heritage has equipped lawmakers with the tools they need to advance a conservative agenda based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, freedom, and a strong defense. That work is as important today as ever. Our nation faces many urgent challenges, and among the toughest, most persistent of these are those that we face in the ongoing War on Terror.”

    “More than eight years have passed since September 11th. Yet we are continually reminded of the need to remain as vigilant now as we were in the weeks and months after that terrible day. The past few months have offered ample proof of that.”

    “In September we learned of a plot to bomb the New York City subway. Soon after that, there was the tragic massacre at Ft. Hood. Then, on Christmas Day, there was the failed attempt by a foreign-born terrorist to kill nearly 300 innocent civilians in a commercial airliner in the skies over Detroit. Our elected leaders have no greater duty than that of protecting the American people from harm. And anyone who believes that the urgency of this responsibility has somehow faded or diminished since September 11, 2001, is horribly mistaken. We are very much at war.

    “Unfortunately, there are all too many signs that the current administration has a blind spot when it comes to prosecuting this war. Its handling of the Christmas Day bomber may have been the most egregious example, but it was no isolated case.”

    “Again and again, the administration’s approach has been to announce a new policy or to change an existing one based not on a careful study of the facts, but as a way of conspicuously distancing itself from the policies of the past, even the ones that worked. In short, it has too often put symbolism over security.”

    “This is a very dangerous route. And it reflects a deeper problem; namely, the return of the old idea that terrorism should be treated as a law-enforcement matter. An administration that puts the attorney general in charge of interrogating, detaining, and trying foreign combatants has a pre-9/11 mindset.”

    “The administration didn’t wait long to signal its new approach. On his third day in office, the President announced that Guantanamo would be closed within a year. Well, one year later, the administration is still trying to untangle the complex national security issues involved in fulfilling that pledge. Its own deadline has come and gone. And, thankfully, Gitmo is still open for business. But this was a dangerous precedent to set.”

    “Indeed, the administration’s approach to Guantanamo was just an early glimpse of how it would approach other terror-related policies. Rather than study the practical consequences of fulfilling its campaign pledges, it would choose again and again to hastily plow ahead and see what happened, rather than study the issue and then announce a plan.”

    “They did it again when they ended the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program. Rather than looking closely at the implications of shuttering this vital program, the administration simply ended it, without even getting final sign-off from the CIA, an omission that former CIA director Michael Hayden recently described — in an understatement — as “odd”. What’s worse, we’ve learned in the wake of the attempted Christmas Day bombing that it took the administration months to even set up a replacement program for the enhanced interrogation program it shut down at the CIA early last year.”

    “And now the administration is at it again with civilian trials for terrorists. In November, Attorney General Holder announced that Khaleid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-avowed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, would not be treated the way foreign combatants captured on the battlefield have been treated since Revolutionary times. No, the man responsible for the deadliest domestic terrorist attack in U.S. history would be tried in the same courtroom as a common criminal, just a few blocks from where the World Trade Center once stood — again, without consulting with local officials, who know the situation best.”

    “The Obama Administration likes to point out that the previous administration tried some enemy combatants in civilian courts. That’s right. It did. And it was wrong to do so. The enemy in this fight is adaptable. We must be too.”

    “That’s how you win a war, by changing tactics; that’s precisely why Congress decided on a bipartisan basis to establish military commissions as the proper forum for trying enemy combatants. And that’s why, if the administration does not change its mind on trying 9/11 terrorists in Manhattan, we will do everything we can to deny them the funds they’ll need to do so. That’s my pledge.”

    “Mayor Bloomberg and a number of Democrats have suggested that a military base would be the appropriate place to try KSM. I couldn’t agree more. And I’ll even recommend a venue: a $200 million dollar state-of-the-art-facility at Guantanamo Bay.”

    “As recently as last year, Congress updated the Military Commissions Act with input from the White House. We realized civilian courts weren’t the right setting, and we did something about it. We were flexible. The Obama Administration, on the other hand, is not. My question is this: Why would the administration help rewrite the military commissions law if they didn’t intend to use it for the very people, like the Christmas Day Bomber, for whom it was written?”

    “Some have described the administration’s penchant for formulating new policies before thinking them through as a ready, fire, aim approach. Whatever you call it, it must not continue. The safety and security of our nation is at stake. And we will not hold the American people hostage to the good opinion of our critics in Europe or the pet theories of liberal academics. The Global War on Terror is not a theory to be discussed. It is a war to be won against Al Qaeda and other extremists. And that means our policies must be formulated, first and foremost, with an eye toward defeating these enemies. Nothing is more important.”

    “At first, many Americans were willing to give the administration the benefit of the doubt about its approach. Most people probably viewed Guantanamo as the right place to hold and to try terrorist detainees and didn’t quite understand the administration’s hasty decision to close it. But once it became clear that the administration hadn’t thought the decision through, most people expected it would have learned from its mistake. Instead, the administration has used the same hasty approach again and again. It has repeatedly announced a decision without a plan. And Americans are losing patience.”

    “The attempted Christmas Day bombing should have been a wake-up call. Unfortunately, there’s no evidence it was. The administration still appears more interested in managing its message than explaining to the American people and to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle why an Al Qaeda-trained terrorist fresh from Yemen and caught in the act of attempting to blow up an airliner was handed over to a lawyer after a 50-minute interview.”

    “Instead of addressing the substantive policy concerns many of us have expressed about this incident, the administration has put anonymous sources on the telephone with reporters to take shots at their critics. These anonymous sources have leaked information aimed at rehabilitating and justifying the administration’s mishandling of the Nigerian bomber.”

    “Yet despite their best efforts, the fact remains that all the intelligence he possessed concerning the locations, training techniques, and communications methods of Al Qaeda in Yemen is perishable. Yemeni forces needed that information on December 25th, not six weeks later. Meanwhile, the American people are left to wonder whether, in place of interrogations, their safety depends on terrorists having families who can persuade them to talk.”

    “The Administration did make one sensible move after the attempted Christmas Day bombing. It halted the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo to Yemen. But this is something we should have done a year ago. We were already aware of the high rate at which detainees released from Gitmo are returning to the fight. It shouldn’t have taken a narrowly-averted tragedy like the attempted Christmas Day bombing to change that policy.  Anti-terror policies should be made before plots are hatched, not after.”

    “The simple fact is this: the only thing that kept the Christmas Day Bomber from succeeding was his own incompetence. And relying on incompetence is not the way to defeat Al Qaeda.”

    “Many Americans were troubled by the administration’s response to the Christmas Day attack. And they’re equally outraged by its decision to treat the Christmas Day bomber as a criminal defendant who deserved a lawyer, instead of a terrorist who could provide us with vital information to help stop new attacks. Americans wanted us to get every bit of information we could about Al Qaeda from this man. Instead, the administration put a higher priority on reading him his Miranda Rights and getting him an attorney.”

    “Which brings us to a deeper problem; namely, the administration’s apparent belief that terrorism is a narrow law enforcement — not a military and intelligence — matter. The fact is, the administration’s handling of the Christmas Day Bomber should come as no surprise to anyone. The events of December 25th may have focused many peoples’ minds on the practical consequences of a pre-9/11 mentality. But anyone who’s paid attention to the administration’s terror-related policies over the past year can see a clear pattern at play here.”

    “Since his very first days in office, the President has been placing the attorney general in charge of key intelligence and military and defense matters. The closing of the military detention facility at Guantanamo is being coordinated by the Attorney General. The special task force on interrogation and transfer policies is chaired by the Attorney General. The Interagency Task Force on Detainee Disposition is co-chaired by the Attorney General.”

    “These are enemy combatants. Yet instead of leaving the review of these policies in the hands of military and intelligence personnel, the President, by executive order, has handed all three over to his chief law enforcement officer. So it’s no wonder that time and time again we see a law enforcement mentality intrude into military and intelligence operations. This is wrong. The Attorney General should not be running the War on Terror.”

    “Many of us were hoping the President would explain the reasoning behind the Administration’s handling of the Christmas Day bomber in his State of the Union address. He did not. And since neither the President, nor anyone else in his Administration has provided the answers Americans are demanding, I, along with several of my colleagues, have asked Attorney General Holder to testify before the Congress to explain the Administration’s response to the attack.”

    “So far, we haven’t gotten a response. But Americans continue to be deeply troubled that our ability to obtain vital intelligence was ignored in this case — or worse yet, not recognized — due to the administration’s insistence on informing a terrorist he had the right to remain silent and that we’d be happy to provide him a lawyer. Have they forgotten that the first thing KSM did when he was caught in 2003 was ask for a lawyer? Al Qaeda knows what it’s doing.”

    “The administration’s preference for civilian courts for terrorists is another symptom of its law-enforcement mindset. There is no doubt that Al Qaeda will use a civilian court room in New York or a new long-term detention facility inside the United States for the same recruiting and propaganda purposes for which they’ve used other courts and Guantanamo in the past. And this fact alone eliminates the administration’s only justification for closing Guantanamo.”

    “The bottom line is this: Treating terrorism as a law enforcement matter is precisely the attitude that kept us from seeing this threat when we should have. Reverting to it now is not only dangerous, it’s potentially disastrous.”

    “Hasty decisions and sudden policy reversals rattle the confidence not only of the American people, but also the brave Americans who execute these policies. And they rattle the confidence of our partners overseas. Just as the U.S. was slow to recognize the Al Qaeda threat, so too were many of the Muslim nations we now work with in defeating them. Some initially resisted being allied with us. Many had previously sent fighters to battle the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. When these governments are attacked and take on this fight, we must assist them.”

    “Part of that cooperation involves doing everything we can to gain valuable intelligence from captured detainees. It’s counterproductive to deny the intelligence community the ability to question terrorists. And we cannot send detainees held at Guantanamo back to places like Yemen where they can quickly reenter terrorist networks.”

    “No one denies that a balance must be struck between preserving civil liberties and protecting the homeland. No one wants to sacrifice one for the other. But in many cases, all that’s involved is a simple question of judgment. And when a judgment call has to be made, our priorities should be clear: keeping Americans safe should always win out, within the law.”

    “Regrettably, that has not always been the first choice of this administration. They’ve grappled with these questions. But Americans know that in this fight, in this Global War on Terror, getting the strategy partly right will only lead to partial success. And as the attempted Christmas-Day bombing showed all too plainly, partial success isn’t good enough.”

    “The Obama Administration is doing the right thing in Afghanistan. Our commitment and that of our partners has given Afghanistan and its government a real chance to succeed. But our partners need to know that the U.S. has the endurance to remain committed to both Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to reverse the momentum of the Taliban in Afghanistan.”

    “In this regard, the Obama Administration’s announced deadline of July 2011 for the withdrawal of U.S. forces leaves our partners wondering about our long-term commitment. It also reflects the same mind-set as the other decisions I’ve mentioned. The priority shouldn’t be establishing an arbitrary deadline. The priority should be prevailing in this war, however difficult that may be.”

    “The good news is this: if the administration adjusts course, there is good reason to hope historians will look back on 2010 as a turning point not only in our fight with the Taliban, but also as the year in which America achieved a balance in the war against Al Qaeda, as the year in which the pendulum swung back into its proper place.”

    “To that end, Republicans will continue to advocate for a strong, principled foreign policy that keeps America on the offense in this war and provides our intelligence professionals and servicemen and women with all the tools they need. Part of that effort is pointing out mistakes as we see them.”

    “The war on Al Qaeda will continue for years to come. In order to prevail, we must continue to use all the reasonable tools that have served us well in the past and remain focused on the threat. Republicans will work with the Administration to strike the right balance in fighting terror both at home and abroad. This is not too much to hope for, and it’s not too much to expect. Bipartisanship is not always easy to come by in Washington. But it is achievable. And in this war, my view is that it’s absolutely necessary.”

    “Thank you.”

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    13 Responses to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Addresses the War on Terror

    1. Pingback: McConnell Takes Aim At White House Terror Spin | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

    2. Kenneth Glass says:

      For the betterment of our country we need to fire Eric Holder and impeach Obama for trying to turn this great nation into a nation of Markist .

      I have lived and worked overseas for most os my life and have seen how the communist live,Its not nice.

      The only thing that I have seen from this President is that he is the best speaker and liar we have ever had.

    3. Kenneth Glass,Prince says:

      We need to fire Holder and impeach Obama.

      Cut the Federal government back,get them out of our schools and everything that the State should run.

    4. Manny jakel says:

      This administration is an amateurish, inexperienced bunch that is still in a learning process, but the one most amateurish who thinks he knows what he's doing is ERIC "A NATION OF COWARDS" HOLDER. Oh, excuse me, but you're taking that out of context. Ok, so put it in context. "DUH".

      Has he ever been in private practice or not working for a govt. agency since he passed the bar exam.

    5. Pingback: Morning Bell: When Did the American People Elect Eric Holder Commander in Chief? | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

    6. Pingback: When Did The American People Elect Eric Holder Commander in Chief? « Defund & Disobey

    7. Pingback: Morning Bell: When Did the American People Elect Eric Holder Commander in Chief? « Thoughts Of A Conservative Christian

    8. Pingback: McConnell Takes Aim At White House Terror Spin | Conservative Principles Now

    9. Pingback: Morning Bell: When Did the American People Elect Eric Holder Commander in Chief? | Step Down Obama

    10. Pingback: When Did the American People Elect Eric Holder Commander in Chief? « A Nation ADrift-Why?

    11. Nellie says:

      Obama is a Muslim! Any one that would stay in a church that Obama was in for 20 years is not for America! He has to help his fellow Muslims. We sure don't want the same situation that England is having with the Muslims!

      These terrors should be tried in Military court, the tax payers pay, but it would be much less than subject N.Y for the cost of a trial.

      God Bless America!

      We need jobs, no illegals, no more immigration until the Homeland Security is making us safe. Our borders are a mess and Obama wants to cut Border Patrol!!

      I think this Terriors should have been killed long before this, send a message to the Terriors! Don't mess with the U.S.A.

    12. Ruth Costea, Great F says:

      The Constitution of the United States, Article II, Section1 states that a president

      must be a natural born citizen of the United States. In the case of our present

      president, his father was from Kenya and reported to be British and I understand

      that British Nationality Act of 1948 gives British citizenship to the children no matter

      where they are born. The Constitution, Amendment XIV, Section 3 states that

      no one holding any office in the United States shall give "aid or comfort to the

      enemies thereof." The current handling of military heroes who risk their lives

      to defend us is to sweep them into confinement so fast that they have not been allowed proper time for

      the military to submit information on their defense, as in the case of Michael Behenna, who is now in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas; when terrorists are given

      every aid and comfort and instruction of rights usually reserved for citizens.

    13. Ruth Costea, Great F says:

      Attorney General Holder is being given more work to do that is different from what

      his job duties already are. The agencies we have had in place for years are seeing their regular work altered; and reassigned to Attorney General Holder in

      a most unusual and inappropriate way without regard to established laws of war.

      Our enemies are being aided and comforted by the Obama Administration; while

      military heroes doing their jobs; and risking their lives to capture terrorists

      are meeting swift accusations and sent to jail swiftly. So swiftly not all the evidence has a chance to be heard on their behalf, as in the case of Michael Behenna, a military hero now in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. Our enemies' trials are slow and they are given every consideration. The Constitution, Amendment XIV, Section 3 says that no person shall hold any office in the United States and offer aid and comfort to the enemy. The Constitution, Article II requires a president to be a natural born citizen of the United States. Obama's father was

      reported to have British citizenship and under the British Nationality Act of 1948,

      his son would automatically be a British citizen regardless of where he was born.

      As a British citizen, Obama would not meet the requirement for being naturally born.

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