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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  September 11, 2013 10:00am-2:01pm EDT

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the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain dr. barry black will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god, you are our rock, our fortress and our deliverer, for we find refuge in your sovereign leading. on this 12th anniversary
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of the september 11 attacks, we thank you for the wisdom you provide us in our trying times. through the terrorist attacks, you helped us to become more aware of our vulnerability as a nation, to better appreciate the heroes and heroines who emerge during seasons of crisis and to discover how the worst of times can bring out the best in us. as our nation again confronts precarious challenges, use our lawmakers as instruments of your
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peace, bringing hope where there is despair and order where there is chaos. we pray in your great name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c., september 11, 2013. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable edward markey, a senator from
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the commonwealth of massachusetts, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: patrick j. leahy, president pro tempore. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, there will now be a moment of silence to pay tribute to the americans whose lives were taken on september 11, 2001. [moment of silence]
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the presiding officer: the majority leader is recognized. mr. reid: i now ask unanimous consent the senate be in a period of morning business until 2:30 this afternoon. that will be for debate only, with all other aspects of the previous order being in effect. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. reid: mr. president, the republican leader and i have spoken, and we're working on a way forward based on the president's speech and what's gone on here the last few days. he and i will confer shortly again, but right now, we'll be in a period of morning business where people can come and talk about whatever they want. it's my understanding the time is equally divided between the two sides, is that right? the presiding officer: the senator is correct. mr. reid: so anyway, following our remarks, senator mcconnell and mine, the time at 2:30 will
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be equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees. senators will be able to come and talk for ten minutes. there will be a remembrance ceremony on the east front of the capitol in less than an hour. members will gather in the rotunda at 10:45. mr. president, i can remember those 12 years ago so clearly. not far from here in s. 219 is a meeting room. that was where leader daschle held his leadership meetings every tuesday morning at 9:00. i got -- i was the first one in the room. and senator john breaux from louisiana came in and he said flip on the tv, there is something going on in new york. so we turned on the tv. it looks like something happened in new york. we just thought an airplane had malfunctioned or something had
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gone wrong and hit that tower. so we -- the meeting started, tv's were off. we were doing our business for the day, and suddenly a group of police officers come in and grab senator daschle and took him outside. he came back very quickly and said there is an airplane headed for the capitol, we've got to get out of here. there was a lot of confusion, to say the least, as staff and senators were ordered out of the buildings, plural. and as we left that s. 219, you could look out the window toward the segregate, and the smoke was billowing out of that, it was billowing out of that. you could see it so very, very plainly. now, at that time, we didn't know what was happening.
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we just knew we had been ordered to get out of here. and, of course, we have all memories of what took place that day. i was the assistant leader, as was nichols from oklahoma. lott was republican leader, daschle the democratic leader. we were taken from the east front of the capitol -- i'm sorry -- the west front of the capitol to a secure location in helicopters. the scene when i was taken to the west front of the capitol was eerie, to say the least. there were lots of people in black uniforms trying to create order out of confusion.
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without going into a lot of detail, we went to a location. the vice president was there and met with us and kept us informed as to what was going on with the president. we spent the day there, came back to the west front of the capitol where all members of congress gathered, and barbara mikulski, for lack of anyone having a better suggestion, she said we should sing "god bless america" and she got the song started. that was extremely memorable. so, mr. president, we're going to have this ceremony here in just a few minutes out front, and i will talk a little bit there. the four leaders have been asked to talk out there. we did have a moment of silence regarding the more than 3,000
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who were killed in new york, pennsylvania and at the pentagon, but in addition to those 3,000 who were taken from us permanently, thousands and thousands of other people were injured, some of them permanently injured, missing legs, blindness, paralysis. so, mr. president, i would just say that we raise our voices today in celebration of america's spirit of perseverance may we never forget, though, 9/11. mr. president, it's worth mentioning also, for sure, that on this day, we also honor what took place a year ago in libya where one of our stellar
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ambassadors was murdered and three of his brave colleagues, all killed in libya. our country remains committed to seeking justice for them and every american victim of terrorism. and, mr. president, that's what the debate of syria is all about, terrorism. before i began the caucus yesterday where the president came, my introduction to the president was a film that's around, created by senator feinstein and others. it's about 12 or 13 minutes long. it shows what went on, in graphic detail, with this brutal chemical weapons attack in syria
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where these children are dying and dead. remember, these poisons hit the little kids first. we have a -- one of senator durbin's staff who is palestinian. we all know rema. she does the whip counts for senator durbin and for me. i had her listen to the film. i watched it, she listened, so she could give me some idea of what people were saying there. they were yelling. it was so sad. and what they were saying -- mostly, they were praying. it was very, very sad to see people holding their little babies. breathe, breathe, couldn't breathe. you could see perspiration. they jumped water on them to
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keep them -- anything to give them some relief. rows of these dead people, hundreds and hundreds of little children. some of them dressed in their play clothes, little fancy, colorful little t-shirts. so, mr. president, even as we pay tribute to america's tradition of freedom for every citizen across the globe, an evil dictator denies the citizens not only their right to liberty but also their right to live. now, the assad family is pretty good at killing people. "the new york times" had an article the last 24 hours about his dad, because there was a failed assassination attempt, killing 30,000 of the people that he thoughtd to be killed.
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30,0. that country, syria denies citizens the right to liberty, but even more significant, a right to live. so, mr. president, i showed yesterday the caucus. no one wanted to s i didn't want to see it again. it was all i could do to glance up. i had already seen it. those visions will always be in my mind. but i showed my senators the video of this, little boys and girls, grown men, eyes crusted shut, frothing from the mouth with such unspeakable wright --
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writhing, spasms, with the gas he used to murder them. it was hard to watch, but it was one that confirmed our conviction that the united states must not let the syrian regime go unpunished for using something outlawed. those weapons are not to be used in a war let alone a bunch of innocent people. yesterday, the president spoke to two caucuses. he spoke last night, making a compelling case for military action against the assad regime. as the president said, we have to send an explicit message to not only syria but the rest of the world. remember, who has more chemical weapons than syria? only one country -- north korea. think about that. if they get away with this, what's north korea going to do?
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and then are we going to have a marketplace for purchasing chemical weapons? the use of chemical weapons by anyone, any time, anywhere, including the battlefield, should not be tolerated. preventing these weapons from being used is not only in our own national interests, but it's in the interests of the world. diplomacy, mr. president, should always be the first choice. that's who we are as a country. and so we've been asked to temporarily suspend consideration of a syria resolution to allow for these conversations to take place around the world. tomorrow our secretary of state is meeting with the russian secretary of state to explore, in fact, if there is a legitimate proposal, talking and action are two separate
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things. so what the republican leader and i have spoken did about and we'll talk more today is see what we can to do to give the president the time and space our country needs to pursue these international negotiations and so we will report back at a later time. america must be willing to be vigilant and ready to use force if necessary and congress should not take the threat of military force offer the table. i want to spend a little time talking to senator menendez, the chair of the committee, i want to talk to other senators who are trying to work something out on their own, and i will do that. leaders in damascus and moscow should understand that congress will be watching these negotiations very closely. if there is any indication these are not serious, that it's a ploy to delay, to obstruct, to divert, then i think we have to again give the president the
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authority to hold the assad regime accountable. so it's our determination not to led assad's atrocities go unanswered. how we answer is a question we will continue to work on, but it's very clear that we wouldn't be where we are today, even my friend, the junior senator from kentucky said today that the reason that we're having the possibility of a deal is because of the president threatening force. it's interesting,ad even denied, mr. president,, in just recent hours, ever even having had chemical weapons. so it's -- syria's power to avoid these strikes, the power requires swift and decisive action on the part of the assad regime to relinquish these
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weapons. they need a diplomatic solution to succeed but just we want one doesn't mean it will happen. so he must quickly approve the offer to turn over the chemical weapons is real and not an attempt to delay. all eyes are on the russian president, president putin. he was head of the k.b.g. he is president of that big company and -- country. even though relations aren't perfect with russia they're okay, better than they have been prior to the breakup of that massive country, the soviet union. so we hope that russia is a productive partner in these negotiations. any agreement must assure it's possible to secure these chemical weapons in spite of the ongoing civil war. and keep those stockpiles out of the hands of terrorists.
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so in short, mr. president, i'm happy that we have some conversations going to see if this can be resolved diplomatically. i certainly hope so. i apologize, my counterpart, the republican leader, for taking so much time. the presiding officer: is the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: 12 years ago, more than 100 members of congress from both parties stood together on the capitol steps to show our sympathy, solidarity, and resolve. those of us who were there will never forget it. and later this morning members will gather on the s steps to remember once again those who died and to recommit ourselves to our national ideals together. our nation always pulls together in difficult moments. 9/11 showed us that. it's important we remember it. so i look forward to joining
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congressional leaders and others out on the same steps shortly on this day that has rightly become a very solemn one throughout our country. we remember today all those who were killed as well as the families they left behind. we remember them with renewed sorrow. and we remember all who lost their lives or injured in the line of duty defending our freedoms since 9/11. today, we remember the resolve we shared on a clear september morning 12 years ago. in the days and months that followed the attacks of 9/11, we did not cower, we took the fight to the terrorists while here at home we opened our doors, our wallets and our hearts to those around us. we persevered. we maintained what was and is best about our country. and together we will continue to
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do so as long as this struggle continues. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate will now be in a period of morning business for debate only until 2:30 p.m. with the time equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the instant majority leader is recognized. mr. durbin: mr. president, in a few moments we will recess for gathering on the steps of the capitol. it is an annual event that commemorates 9/11. the leaders have spoken to their memories of that day, and i would associate myself with their remarks and the sadness that we all feel as we reflect on the lives lost to this
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blatant act of terrorism some 3,000 americans. we can all recall that moment, i can recall looking down the mall toward the washington monument and watching black smoke billowing across the mall from the pentagon because of the deadly crash there that took the lives of the passengers on that plane and innocent people working in defense of america. that was a moment that will never be forgotten. over the weekend, there was an indication of the new memorial in new york city that will commemorate this as well. and soon it will be open, and a lasting tribute to not only those who fell and their families, we grieve with, but also to the paramedics and first responders who did just a remarkable and courageous job that day. it is in keeping with that theme that we reek re-flect today on
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what the majority leader just told us. we had a visit yesterday from the president of the united states who spoke directly to the senate democratic caucus and republican caucus luncheons, answering questions from the senators. the president came to speak to us about the situation in syria, about the use of chemical weapons, the deadly impact it's had on innocent people, and the obvious breach of norms of civilized conduct which the world has agreed to for almost a hundred years. and the president made it clear we have a chance now, an opportunity for a diplomatic solution because of the suggestion of the russians that the syrians come forward, surrender their chemical weapons, submit to inspections, and have real enforcement. nations around the world are working with the united states to craft a resolution for the united nations to consider. i am hopeful and i pray that
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they will be successful. if that occurs, the president will have achieved his goal without the use of military force, which is something he made clear to us yesterday that he hopes to pursue, achieving his goal without the use of military force, over and over again yesterday he told us i'm not a president who looks forward to the use of military force. i don't want to do it unless i have to. i believe that, because i know the man. i've known him for many, many years and i know what's in his heart but we have to acknowledge the obvious and the president not -- had the president not raised the prospect of military force this conversation on an international level would never have occurred. it was the president's leadership even with -- without a majority support among the american people that precipitate tax rated this action by president putin and i hope will lead to a diplomatic solution. it's where it should be, in the
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united nations. and it was only the threat of veto by russia and china and the security council which kept president obama from turning to the united nations first. but we have a chance. and i pray that it's successful. even now -- we will now move forward with other items on the senate agenda very quickly, as we should, and still the possibility that if this diplomatic effort fails we'll have to return to this critically important debate about the future of syria. important things to recall, though, even after the chemical weapons are gone and i pray that that happens with diplomatic efforts soon, there will still be a civil war in that country that has claimed 100,000 lives over the last several years. the sooner that comes to an end, the better. the humanitarian crisis on the ground in syria is terrible. but the impact on surrounding nations is awful as well. last year i visited a refugee camp in turkey where syrians,
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fearing for their lives had moved by the thousands into turkey. i reflected on the generosity and compassion of the people of turkey, accepting 10,000 people in one of these refugee camps, providing for them shelter and food and medical care and education for their children. it was an amazing humanitarian gesture on their part. then you go to the nation of jordan. jordan is overrun with refugees from the middle east, and it's created serious economic challenges for that country and threats to political stability. the soon they are war ends in syria, the sooner normalcy comes to the middle east, the better for jordan and for the entire region. so we pray that that occurs soon. mr. president, this has been a rough few weeks as we've considered chemical weapons in syria. as senator reid said yesterday, the objects and visions that we saw on this film and video, the
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victims of these chemical weapons remind us of how horrible this is and those who turn to weapons of mass destruction are not held accountable, there are more innocent victims. i hope that we can solve this on a diplomatic basis. we will stand down now in terms of any congressional effort until that effort in the united nations has a chance to reach fruition. and i fray prey that it -- and i pray that it will. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgia is recognized. mr. isakson: i rise for a moment to speak to remember 9/11, 2001. a day that every american citizens and every citizen in the world remembers, they remember where they were, they remember what they thought, they remember the tragedy we watched on television that day. and it's appropriate that on every 9/11 of every year that we pause for a moment and pray for the victims and their families of that tragedy, that we
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remember what happened on that day and that we commit ourselves to see to it that it never happens again. but it's important that it not just be a memory, it needs to be a seminal moment in our lives that allows us to never forget the tragedy of what was the first battle in the greatest war between good and evil. terrorism is the ultimate enemy for freedom, liberty, and democracy, and it's something we must stand up to andev cower to. sometimes people ask me what can i do? what can i do on 9/11/2012 to heb those who -- remember those who died, remember those who saiched lives? i said there are three things for us to always do. number one is give thanks for the e.m.t.'s, the firemen, t law enforcement officers who risked their lives and in in many cases died to save people who were victims. twin tower tragedy. that's number one. second, remember we are a soldier in the army to fight terrorism. every american should remember
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to be vigilant, watch where they go, if they see something unusual, something out of character, report it. we can be the second security force for our country. third and most importantly, pray for our country. pray we have the strength to continue to don connecticut front terrorism. it's important for us to remember the terrorists win when we fear them. when we change that we do in our lives because we fear terrorism, they have won that great battle. we must stand up to them, be vigilant for signs that may indicate a terrorist attack may happen and let them know no matter where, no matter when, no matter what the people of the united states of america stand ready to confront you and never does our country cower in fear because of terrorism. so on this tragic day where almost 3,000 citizens of the world lost their lives in new york city, shangsville --, shanksville, pennsylvania or washington, it's important we
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remember those three things, pray for america and those who were victims, remember we are vigilant and should be a part of the army that keeps our eyes open and reports things that are seen, and always remember that when we cower to terrorism and fear it, the terrorists have won. america must always be what america is, the strongest democracy on the face of this earth. may god bless our country and bless the souls that died on 9/11/2001. i yield back and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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or c
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from virginia. a senator: i ask unanimous consent that a legislative fellow in my office -- the presiding officer: we're in a quorum call. mr. kaine: i ask the quorum call be suspended. i would ask unanimous consent that sergio agira, a legislative fellow in my office, be granted floor privileges during morning business today, september 11, 2013. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. kaine: thank you, madam president. i rise to speak to the grave issue of the syria resolution currently pending before the body. it is september 11. i know many members have expressed thoughts and we're all thinking about that day and what it means to our country. in a few minutes, i will leave and go to the pentagon to be with pentagon staffers and family members as they commemorate the anniversary of this horrible tragedy in american life, and the shadow of that tragedy and its rippling effects even today 12 years later definitely are a matter on my mind and heart as i think
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about this issue with respect to syria. also on my mind and heart as i think about this grave issue is its connection to virginia. virginia, i believe, is the most militarily connected state in our country. our map is a map of american military history. the battle at yorktown, the surrender at appomattox courthouse, the attack on the pentagon on 9/11. our map is a map of american military history. we are more connected to the military in the sense one in nine of our citizens is a veteran. we have active duty at the pentagon, training to be officers at quantico, the largest concentration of naval power in the hampton roads. we have department of defense contractors, we have department of defense civilians like army nurses, we have rotc cadets, guard and reserve member and military families, all of whom care very, very deeply about the issue that we're grappling with as a nation.
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and, madam president, i'm sure in your state, as in mine, and across the country, there is a tremendous war weariness on this 12th anniversary of 9/11, and that affects the way we look at this question of whether the united states should potentially engage in military action. i cast a vote last week and i'm going to talk about it in the senate foreign relations commission to authorize limited military action, and i have spent the days since that vote talking to virginians and hearing from them and hearing from some who aren't happy with the vote i cast. i spent a day talking to rotc cadets at virginia state university, folks who are training to be officers who might fight in future conflicts for this country, and then i spent friday in hampton roads with veterans and military families, talking about the choices before us. i heard a youngster last night, a teenager, say something that really struck me. she stood up. this was a teenager who doesn't have any direct connection to the military herself, no family
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members in service, but at an event i was at, she stood up and said i don't know war, but all my generation and i know is war. think about that. but all my nonessential and i know is war. during her entire life that she has been kind of a thinking person, aware of the outside world, she has been at war. that makes us tremendously war weary, and i understand that. trying to separate out all those feelings and do what's right is hard. like many virginians, i have family in the military who are going to be directly affected by what we do or what we don't do, and i think about those family members and all virginians and all americans who have loved ones in service as i contemplate this difficult issue. i want to say three things. first, i want to praise the president for bringing this matter to congress, which is, i believe, courageous and historic. secondly, i want to talk about why i believe authorizing limited military action makes
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sense. and third, i want to talk about the need to exhaust all diplomatic opportunities and openings, including the ones that were reported beginning monday of this week by russia and syria. first on the president coming to congress, this is what was intended by the framers of the constitution, that prior to the initiation of significant military action -- and this would be significant by all accounts, that congress should have to weigh in. the framers wanted that to be so because they had read history, they knew that executives might be a little too prone to initiating military action, and they wanted to make sure that the people's elected representatives had a vote about whether an action should be initiated. once initiated, there is only one commander in chief, but at the initiation, congress needs to be involved. that was the intent from the very beginning of this nation, from 1787. there was an understanding that in an emergency, a president might need to act immediately, but even in that case, there would need to be a reckoning,
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coming back to congress and seeking approval of presidential action. and so the president by bringing this matter to congress has in my view acted in accord with law, acted in accord with the intent of the framers of the constitution, and actually, madam president, he has done so in a way that has cleared up some sloppiness about the way this institution and the president has actually done this over time. only five times in the history of the nation has congress declared war. over 120 times, presidents have initiated military action without congressional approval, at least prior congressional approval. presidents have overreached their power, and congress has often made a decision to avoid being accountable for this most grave decision that we make as a nation. and so i praise the president for bringing it to congress, the people's body, because i think it's in accord with law that, madam president, i praise him for a second reason. it's not just about the constitutional allocation responsibility.
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responsibilities were allocated in the constitution, in my view, for a very important moral reason. and the moral reason is this -- we cannot ask our men and women in service to put their lives on the line if there is not a consensus of the legislative and executive branches that the mission is worthwhile. that's why it's important for congress to weigh in on a decision to initiate military hostility, because absent that, you face the situation, and it would be a very real possibility in this instance that a president would make a decision that an action was worth or a war was worth fighting but a congress would not support it, and that would put the men and women who have to face the risk and potentially risk their lives in a very, very difficult situation. if we're going to ask people to risk their lives in any kind of a military action, we shouldn't be asking them to do it if the legislative and political branches haven't reached come son sense that it should be done. so that's the first point i want to make. i want to thank the president
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for cleaning up this sloppiness and the historical allocation of responsibilities between a president and congress for taking a historic step, as he said he would as a candidate, of bringing a question like this to congress. we may be unable to act in certain cases because we're divided, but if we act and we act united, we are much stronger, both militarily and in the moral example that we pose to the world, and it's the right thing to do for the troops who bear the burden of battle. second, i want to talk about the actual authorization. we grappled with this. the news came out about the chemical weapons attack on august 21, and other colleagues and i, 18 of us, returned last week. members of the foreign relations committee, madam president, you came and attended some of our classified briefings, and we grappled with the question about whether in this circumstance a limited military authorization was appropriate, and i voted yes, and i voted yes for a very
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simple reason. i believe there has to be a consequence for using chemical weapons against civilians. it's pretty simple. there's a lot of nuances to this, a lot of subtleties and a lot of questions about whether the plans might accomplish the particular objective we hope, and those are all legitimate questions, but at the end of the day, i feel so very strongly that if chesapeake have been used -- and in this case they were and used in a massive scale and used against civilians -- that there must be a consequence for that, there must be a sharp consequence for it, and if there isn't, the whole world will be worse off. i believe that if the united states acts in this way to uphold an important international norm, perhaps the most important international norm that weapons of mass destruction can't be used against civilians, if we act to uphold the norm, we will have partners. how many partners, we'll see. maybe not as many as we would wish, but we will have partners,
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but i'm also convinced if the united states does not act to uphold this principle, i don't think anyone will act. if we act, we'll have partners. if we don't, i don't think anyone will act, and that's the burden of leadership that's on this country's shoulders. briefly, we know about the history of the chemical weapons ban, and we're so used to it that it seems normal, but just to kind of step back from it, if you think about it, it's not that normal at all. the chemical weapons ban came out of world war i. world war i was a mechanized slaughter with over 10 million deaths, a slaughter unlike anything that had ever been seen in global history, and there were all kinds of weapons used in world war i that had never been used before, including dropping bombs out of airplanes. dropping bombs out of airplanes, new kinds of artillery, new kinds of munitions, new kinds of machine guns, chemical weapons, all kinds of mechanized and industrialized weapons were used
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in world war i. and the american troops who served in 1917 and 1918 were gassed. they would be sleeping in a trench, trying to get a couple hours of sleep, and they would wake up coughing their lungs out or blinded or they wouldn't wake up because some of the gases were invisible and silent, with no knowledge you could suddenly lose your life or be disabled for life because of chemical weapons. now, the number of casualties in world war i because of chemical weapons was small as a percentage of the total casualties, but, madam president, it's interesting what happened. after world war i, the nations of the world who had been at each other's throats, who had battled each other, gathered a few years later, and it's interesting to think what they banned and what they didn't ban. they didn't ban aerial bombardment. they didn't ban machine guns. they didn't ban rockets. they didn't ban shells. they didn't ban artillery, but they did decide to ban chemical weapons. they were able to agree as
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combatants, all agree that chemical weapons were unacceptable and should neither be manufactured nor used. now, it can seem maybe a little bit illogical or absurd, why is it worse to be killed by a chemical weapon than a machine gun or artillery shell? i don't know what the logic is to it, but all i can assume is that that experience of that day and moment had inspired some common spark of humanity in all of these cultures, in all of these combating nations, and they all agreed that the use of chemical weapons should be banned heretofore on the earth. and nations agreed with that ban. the soviet union was on board. the united states was on board. so many nations were on board. syria ultimately signed that accord in 1968. and even in the midst of horrific wars where humans have done horrific things to each other, since 1925, the passage of the ban, the ban has stuck. the international community has
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kept that ember of humanity that says these weapons should not be used. the ember has been kept alive. and only two dictators until now have used weapons, adolf hitler using these weapons against millions of jews and others, and saddam hussein using the weapons against kurds, his own people, and then against iranians in the iraq-iran war. when you think about it, it's pretty amazing. with all the barbarity that's happened since 1925, this has generally stuck with the exception of adolf hitler and saddam hussein until now. and the beneficiaries of this policy have been civilians, but they have also been american service men and women. the service men and women who fought in world war i were gassed from this country, but the americans who fought in world war ii, in europe, in north africa and the pacific, who fought in korea, who fought in vietnam, who fought in afghanistan, who fought in iraq, who fought in other minor military involvements, have never had to worry about facing
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chemical weapons, no matter how bad the opponent was, american troops haven't had to worry about it, and the troops of other nations haven't had to worry about it either. this is a very important principle, and it's a positive thing for humanity that we reach this accord and that we've honored it. so what happens now if there isn't a consequence for bashar al-assad's escalating use of chemical weapons to include chemical weapons against civilians? what happens if we let go of the norm and we say look, that may have been okay for the 20th century but we're tougher, there aren't any limits, we don't have to abide by any noamples now. i think what happens is and the lessons of history will demonstrate this will happen is an atrocity unpunished will engender future atrocities. we'll see more atrocities in syria since civilians and others. we'll see more atrocities
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abroad. we will seeie and we will have to face the likely consequence that our service members who have not had to face chemical weapons since 1925 will now have to prepare to face them on the battlefield. if you can use chemical weapons and there's no serious consequence, guess what else, you can manufacture quells, you can sell chemical weapons, you can proliferate chemical weapons so it's not just a matter of their use will be encouraged but their manufacture and sale by individuals or companies orcouny will proliferate. this has a devastating potential effect on allies of the united states and the neighborhoods around syria, lebanon, jordan, israel, turkey, a devastating impact on allies like south korea who border nations that use chemical weapons. it could encourage nations that have nonchemical weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons, to think the world won't stand
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up, there's no consequence for your use, you can violate treaties and norms and no one is willing to stand up and oppose it. so, madam president, that was the reason in the foreign relations committee last week that i voted for this limited authorization of military force fully aware a gate on the floor might amend or change it and open to that possibility but i thought it was important to stand up as a representative of virginia and a representative of this country to say that the use of chemical weapons may in the 21st century suddenly be okay to bashar al-assad, may suddenly be okay to vladimir putin and others but it's not okay to the united states of america and we're willing to stand up and oppose them. so the limited military authorization, as you know, that is on this floor, talks about action to punish and action to deter and action to degrade the ability of the
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southern who -- soirm to use, the goal is to take the stockpile of chemical weapons out of the equation. the civil war will continue. but chemical weapons should not be part of that war and it should not be part of any war. the authorization was limited, no ground troops, it was limited in scope and duration, but make no mistake, the authorization was a clear statement of american resolve that there has to be a consequence for use of these weapons in violation of international norms that have been in place since 1925. finally, madam president, i want to talk about diplomacy and about the urgent need that i know we all feel in this body and as americans to pursue diplomatic alternatives, including some current alternatives on the table, that would be preferable, far preferable to military action. it is very important that we be
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creative, it's very important that we have direct talks with the perpetrators and enablers of these crimes but also intermediaries and independent nations to look for diplomatic alternatives. we've been trying to do so and thus far until recently have been blocked in the united nations. but the authorization for military force actually had that as its first caveat. e authorization said, mr. president, if this passes, we authorize you to use military force, but -- but before you do, you have to come back to congress and stipulate that all diplomatic angles, options and possibilities have been exhausted. so on the committee and with the wording of this authorization we were very focused on the need to continue diplomatic effort. and that's why it was so grat frying fieg on monday on my -- gratifying on monday to hear
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that russia had come to the table with a proposal, a proposal inspired by discussions with administration figures, a proposal that the syrian chemical weapons stockpile, one of the largest in the world would be placed under international control. and then a few hours later -- and this was no coincidence -- syria, russia's client state essentially, spoke up and said we would very much entertain placing our chemical weapons under international control. and syria has even suggested beyond that that they would finally sign onto the 1990's era chemical weapons convention, they're one of six nations that refused to sign it. syria wouldn't even acknowledge they had qepts until 2012 even though the world knew it. but over the last 24 every 48 hours we've seen -- the last 48 hours we've seen diplomatic
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options eerm merge that are very serious and meaningful. in fact, -- it's too early to tell you about if we can have these discussions find an accord where syriaill the convention, we will not only have avoided a bad thing, avoided military action which none of us want unless it's necessary, but we will have accomplished a good thing, a good thing for syrians, a good thing for humanity by taking this massive chemical weapons stockpile off the battlefield and submitted it to international control and eventually destruction. so the offer that is on table and the action that's happened since monday is very serious and very significant, very encouraging and, madam president, it could be a game changer in this discussion. now, i said it's serious, what we still need to determine is whether it's sincere. it's serious and significant but obviously what the
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administration needs to do in tandem with the u.n. is determine whether it's sincere. i will just conclude and finally say this: i think it is very important for americans, for the citizens, for members of congress to understand we should make no mistake about this, the diplomatic offer that is on table wasn't on the table until america demonstrated that it was prepared to stand up for the proposition that chemical weapons cannot be used. i have no doubt that had we not taken the action in congress last week in the foreign relations committee, if no one else in the world is resolved to do something, at least we would be resolved to do something, had we not taken that action russia would not suddenly have taken their position. they've been blocking action after action in the security council and come forward with this serious recommendation. and had we not taken that action, a sasg to use with impuy
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these weapons against civilians, this had they not been frightened what america might do syria would not have come forward, either. and so american resolve is important. american resolve is important to show the world that we value this norm and will enforce it even to the point of limited military action, but even more important, american resolve is important because it encourages other nations, even the perpetrators of crimes, even the enablers of the use of these weapons and encourages them to come forward and hold shoald the opportunities -- shoulder the opportunities that they have -- spontsd that they have or so we pray in the days ahead. what i would ask of my colleagues and my countrymen is that because it has been our resolve that has produced a possibility for a huge diplomatic breakthrough and win, i would ask that we continue to be resolved, continue to show strength, continue to hold out the option that there will be a consequence
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for this international crime, that america will play a leading role in making sure there is coons sequence and as long as we stand strong with this resolve we will maximize the chance we will be able to obtain the result we want. madam president, thank you very much. i yield the floor. and, madam president, i have two unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and new orleans. -- and new orleans. i ask these -- the majority and minority leaders. i ask these requests are agreed to and printed in the record. the presiding officer: the minority whip. mr. cornyn: madam president, my dad was a pilot in the army air corps in world war ii, served in the eighth air force, the 303rd bomb group stationed in molesworth, england and on his 26th bombing mission over nazi
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germany he was shot down and captured as a prisoner of war. where he served for the remainder of the war. so i learned at a very young age that when we start talking about matters of war and peace, that we must take these very, very seriously. so i appreciate the fact that president obama came to capitol hill yesterday and spoke to both the democratic conference and the republican conference, and i further appreciate very much the fact that president obama spoke to the american people last night. i actually wish he had done it a little earlier, since the chemical weapons attacks occurred on august 21, it was roughly three weeks after that that he finally spoke to the american people, and i think it would have been better for him and better for the country if he had done it sooner and demonstrated a greater urgency.
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but i'm glad he did it. when a president asks the american people to support our united states military in the use of military force, he has a solemn obligation to communicate to the american people how it will protect america's vital interests. he has an obligation to tell the american people why going to war is absolutely essential to u.s. national security. he has an obligation to lay out clear and realistic objectives, and finally, he has an obligation to explain how military intervention fits within america's broader foreign policy strategy. now, i've used the word "war" advisedly because sometimes i
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think we get caught up in political correctness around here, talking about workplace violence at fort hood, overseas contingency operations, as a veteran of the united states marine corps who served 40 years told me just this last week when i counseled -- when i asked for his advice, on what the president was asking us to do, he said any time you kill people in the name of the united states government, it's an act of war. so like others in this chamber over the last few weeks, i've attended meetings with the president where i've had the honor of being in his presence and listening to him in person on two occasions, listening to other administration officials and i've sat through hours like all of us, through hours of classified briefings with the
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central intelligence agency, the department of defense and the state department. i've 4reu67bd intently -- listened intently as senator kerry described in what i thought at first was an inadvertent statement made as a result of fatigue and i can only imagine what he must have been going through, shuttling back and forth around the world to try to vee re-solve this issue but he described this strike as unbelievably small. i was further surprised when i heard the white house press secretary say no, it wasn't a gaffe. he didn't misspeak. we all misspeak triment friment. i expected him to say he should have used other words or might have used other words and senator kerry himself, now secretary kerry, said no, i didn't misspeak. i was encouraged to hear the president address the nation because i believe before you
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take your case overseas to american allies that you should first make the case here at home to the american people. in making their case for a brief, limited attack against syria, administration officials have repeatedly said that u.s. military intervention would not seek to topple the assad regime. even though regime change has been the policy of the u.s. government since at least august, 2011. they said that their military campaign would not seek to change the momentum in syria's civil war, even though, as i mentioned a moment ago, our government's official policy is one of regime change, that assad must go. my view is that a u.s. attack that allowed assad to remain in
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power with one of the world's largest stockpiles of chemical weapons would not promote u.s. national security interests. indeed, it's not hard to imagine how that kind of intervention could actually backfire and end up being a propaganda disaster. many of us are concerned about upholding america's credibility, particularly when it comes to matters like this. and i share their concern. but it would really help if before we launch a half hearted, ineffectual attack that gives our enemies a major propaganda victory, that we come up with a more coherent plan and strategy for accomplishing our public policy goals.
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you know, murphy's law, what can go wrong, will go wrong. well, there's a murphy's law of war, too, perhaps many of them, but one of them is that no plan to go to war survives the first contact intact. in other words, you can plan to shoot first bullet but you can't control what happens after that. in all likelihood, such an attack would hurt our credibility and reduce u.s. public support for future interventions, and this is what i mean. if we were to take a limited military attack against assad in order to punish him for using chemical weapons, which is a horrific act on his part, a barbaric act on his part, but it left assad in power, what's he
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going to tell the rest of the world? he's going to say, greatest military force took a shot at me a'm still here. i'm still in power. i won and america lost. that's how i can see this backfiring in a very serious way, undermining america's credibility, credibility we must keep intact, particularly as we look at larger looming threats like the iranian aspiration for nuclear weapons. i want to be clear, though, madam president, i would be willing to support a military operation in syria but only if our intervention met certain criteria. number one, if it directly addressed the nightmare scenario of assad's use of chemical
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weapons falling into the hands of terrorists, it's not just his use of chemical weapons on his own people, it's the potential that those chemical weapons could get in the hands of al qaeda and other terrorist organizations and harm either americans or american interests around the world. the second criterion, i could support a resolution if it gostles the use oinvolves the dd overwhelming use of force without self-imposed limitation says and without leaking to our enemies what our tactics are. and what it is we would not do. and ruining one of the greatest tools in war which is the element of surprise. i mean, why in the world would we tell assad what we are going to do and senator kerry said
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un -- it would be a small atta attack. and why would we tell assad what we won't do? eliminating both the ambiguity of our position and the potential threat of even more serious and overwhelming military force. number three, i would be willing to support an authorization if it was an integral part of a larger coherent syria policy that clearly defined the political instinct. i still remember general petraeus, the head of central command, covering iraq and afghanistan talking about our policy in those countries. he said, the most important question perhaps when you go to war is, how does this end?
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we need a clearly defined political end state that we were trying to achieve by what the president requested and we need an outline of a realistic path to get there. and, fourth, i believe that it's important that we have a sizable international coalition of nations, each of which is contributing to the war effort. now, this is an amazing reversal for the president since the time he was a senator and a presidential candidate to say, we're not going to the united nations -- and i understand why, because of china and russia, their veto of any resolution out of the security council -- we're not going to go to nato. indeed, the president seemed consent, or at least resigned, to going it alone. and if it's true that this red line is the international
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community's red line, then the international community needs to contribute to the effort to hold assad accountable. the problem is, madam president, that president obama's requested authorization for the use of military force under these circumstances fails to meech eac -- fails tomeet each of tho. he's failed to make the case that a short, limited military campaign would promote our vital interests and our national security. he's failed to lay out a clear and realistic objectives that could be attained through the use of that military force. and he's failed to offer a compelling description of how his proposed intervention would advance america's broader foreign policy strategy. indeed, how it would advance his own policy of regime change.
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therefore, if we were asked to vote for an authorization under these circumstances, i would vote "no." i am under no illusion -- none of us are -- about the utter depravity of bashar al-assad. over the last 2 1/2 years, his regime has committed unspeakable acts of rape, torture, and murder. the chemical weapons attacks, by the way, by senator kerry -- secretary kerry's own testimony in the house of representatives, this was -- there were 11 earlier uses of chemical weapons but they were smaller. but can you imagine the difficulty of trying to questionimpose ared line when ts crossed 11 times before, before the president tries to enforce it. but there's no -- there's no question that use of chemical weapons show an appalling
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disregard for human life and a cruel desire to terrorize the syrian population. i, like others, have consistently demanded that russia stop arming assad and stop defending him and blocking u.n. securit security council resolutions and aiding and abetting his barbaric atrocities against his own people. i want to see a free, democratic syria as much as anyone else, but that does not mean that i'm -- i will vote to support a reckless, ill-advised military intervention that could swrep jeopardize our most important national security interests. there have been a lot of people who've opined on the president's request, some better informed thathan others.
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one i thought was particularly compelling was robert scales, who has wrote that the path by the obama administration violates -- quote -- "every principle of war, including the element of surprise, achieving mass and having a clearly defined and obtainable objecti objective." as i said, we know that the latest chemical weapons attack occurred on august the 21st, but president obama didn't address the nation for three weeks -- until three weeks later. the syrians have now, of course, had weeks to prepare for any impending military intervention and no doubt have moved the chemical weapons into civilian population sisters to protect them from any attack. -- population sisters to protect them from any atafnlgt and they've undoubtedly moved them to other locations.
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with no element of surprise, it makes the potential of success for any military intervention much less and reveals that there is no real coherent policy in this regard. consider what happened last monday. second of state kerry made what he calls an off-the-cuff remark about the possibility of canceling a missile strike if assad turned over all of his chemical weapons. in the same statement, he said he wasn't really sure that would work or he would ever really be serious about it, but he did say it. russia, of course, immediately responded by offering to broker a transfer of seriou syria's w.o international monitors. now, after spending weeks trying to make the case for war, president obama has asked that the vote in this chamber be
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canceled and is apparently treating the russian-syrian proposal as a serious diplomatic breakthrough. i would caution all of us -- the american people and all of our colleagues -- to be skeptical for good reason at this lifeline that vladimir putin has now thrown the administration. i would remind the president and our colleagues that russia itself is not in full compliance with the chemical weapons convention, nor is it even in compliance with nuclear arms control obligations that are subject to an international treaty. now, the litany of russian offenses is long, but i would remind president obama that since he launched the so-called russian reset, moscow has vetoed u.n. resolutions on syria, sent
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advanced weaponry to the assad regime, stolen elections, stoked anti-americanism, made threats over our possible deployment of missile defense systems. it has expelled u.s. a.i.d. from russia, pulled out of the nun-lugar cooperative threat -- nunn-lugar cooperative threat reduction, and offered asylum to n.s.a. leaker edward snowden. in short, we have very little reason to believe that moscow is a reliable diplomatic partner. the russians are not part of the problem in syria -- excuse me, they are part of the problem in syria, not part of the solution. let me say that clearlyment the russians are parted of the problem in syria. they are not credibly part of
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the solution. moreover, i'm coming to learn how -- i'm curious to learn how international monitors would adequately confirm the disposal of chemical weapons by a terrorist sponsoring dictatorship amid a ferocious civil war. you know, while this strike that the president talked about might have been limited in his imagination, if you're bashar al-assad, this is total war. because he realizes the only way he will leave power is in a pine box. he knows that. this is total war. i asked president said, h i sai, what happens if in order to punish assad we intervene militarily and it doesn't work? in his fight for his survival and surplus projected viefl of his regime he -- survival for
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his projected survival and his regime, and he uses them again. quickly that could spiral out of control into a full-blown engagement in syria. i think the president's own words suggest that. but, of course, the assad regime is one that refuses to acknowledge the full extent of its chemical arsenal and this is something we'll be hearing more about. it has bioweapons capability. bioweapons capability. actually, a much greater threat to american interests than chemical weapons, which are much more difficult to transport and much harder to handle. and this is the same dictatorship that was secretly working on a nuclear weapons program before the israelis took care of it in 2007.
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madam president, we've been told that however unfortunate president obama's red-line comment might have been, upholding his threat is about maintaining american credibility. and i admit, american credibility in matters of war and peace and national security are very, very important. but america's credibility on the world stage is about more than just presidential rhetoric. it's about defining clear objectives and establishing a coherent strategy for achieving them. in the case of syria, president obama has not offered a clear strategy or clearly laid out his objectives. given all that i'm not surprised that the american people don't support the president' presidenr
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the use of limited military force in syria. those are the calls i got if my office as i went back to texas, i kept hearing people who i would think almost under any other circumstances would say, you know, if america's national security interests are at stake, then we're behind the president; we're behind military intervention. but they sumly sa simply saw an incoherent policy and objectives that were not clearly laid out to obtain the result that the president himself said is our policy. well, the most recent experience we've had as a country with limited war has been libya, and i've heard the president tout that as perhaps an example about how we can get in and get out. but 201the 2011 military operatt
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deposed moammar qadhafi was supposed to be an operation which showcased how america led from behind and still obtained its objectives without putting u.s. boots on the ground. unfortunately, the administration had no real plan for what happened a qadhafi fell. we all know that it was one year ago today in benghazi when terroristed ld to al qaeda massacred four brave americans, including u.s. ambassador chris stevens. today libya is spiraling into chaos and rapidly becoming a failed state. r this month a leading british newspaper reported that libya has almost entirely stopped producing oil as the government loses control over much o the country to militia fighters. all sorts of bad actors,
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including terrorist groups, are flooding into the security vacuum, and libyans are increasingly t of militias which act outside the law. madam president, before i conclude, i would just want to say a few words about america's armed forces and america's role in the world. we all know and are extraordinarily proud of our men and women who wear the uniform of the united states military. no military in history has been more powerful, no military has ever been more courageous, no military has been more selfless and fought and bled and died to protect innocent people in far-flung places across the hanet
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done more to promote peace and prosperity around the world. i have ever confidence that, if called upon to act, our men and women in uniform will do just that -- they will perform their duties with the utmost skill, bravery, and professionalism. but we should never send them to war tying one hand behind their back and ask them to wage limited war against a dictator for whom, as i said earlier, this is total war; this is win or die. military force is like a hammer, and you can't thread the needle that president obama wants to thread with a hammer. i just want to conclude by
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saying that this debate, which is important and serious and one that the american people expect us to have, this is not about isolationism versus internationalism. believe me, i am not isolatio isolationist. and i fully support the global security role that america has played since warld wa world ware my dad was a p.o.w. a world without american military dominance would be a much more -- as ronald reagan noted, a much more dangerous place. i believe peace comes with american strength. however, it will be harder to maintain our global military dominance if we waste precious resourcesources, our credibilitd
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political capital on hastily misguided, unbelievably small interventions. once again, madam president, i would be willing to support an authorization for a military strike against syria if it meant certain basic -- if it met certain basic criteria that i've laid out. but i cannot support an operation that is so poorly conceived, so foolishly telegraphed, and virtually guaranteed to fail. madam president, i yield the floor.
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mrs. feinstein: good afternoon, madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. feinstein: thank you very much. i ask unanimous consent to speak for 25 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. feinstein: thank you very much, madam president. i rise to speak on the use of chemical weapons by the syrian regime and the decision that is before the united states senate on how to respond to such inhumanity. i also come to the floor with the hope that the use of military force will not prove necessary and that the proposal to place syria's chemical weapons program under united nations control will, in fact, be successful. last night, in my view, the president delivered a strong, straightforward speech that directly outlined the current situation in syria. he asked that a vote by the congress to authorize military
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force against the assad regime be delayed so that a strategy could be developed with russia and the united nations security council that would eliminate syria's deadly chemical weapons program. i believe this is the appropriate path forward. and i appreciate very much the majority leader's holding off on bringing this resolution for a vote so that negotiations requesnegotiations cancontinue. here in the senate, there are discussions going on about how to amend the resolution passed by the foreign relations committee to provide time for diplomacy. perhaps that won't be necessary. i'd also like to take a minute to give russia credit for bringing forward this plan for a negotiated solution to the conflict. i disagree with the senator from texas. as the russian ambassador striebd to mdescribed to me on f
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this week, russia supports the geneva 2 process which would accompany a negotiated settlement to syria's civil war. based on my conversation with ambassador kizliak, i believe that russia's goal is in fact to eliminate these weapons and i would point out that that is also our goal. so i very much hope that the path to settlement, although plic no doubt, but if well-intentioned by all participants, it can be accomplished, and i deeply believe that. and if the united nations security council can agree on a resolution to put this proposal into practice, it would put the world's imrworld's i am practic.
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the first time this would have been done. russia's spoonts to get this done is enormous and to move with all deliberate speed. i think russia and syria must understand that the way to forestall a united states strike on syria is for there to be a good-faith agreement androce under way to put all of syria's chemical weapons, including munitions, deliver systems and chemicals themselves under international control for eventual demolition. syria's chemical weapons program is maintained and stored across syria in more than three dozen sites. there arequations that syria currently -- there are indications that syria currently has chemical weapons loaded and ready for immediate use in bombs, artillery, and rockets and already loaded on planes and
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helicopters. alall of it needs to be inventoried, collected, and then destroyed as soon as possible if the effort is to succeed. this will be a large and complicated process, and the agreement may take some time to put in place. but if it can be done, we should take the time to get it done. at the same time, we can't allow there to be so much delay and hesitation as has characterized some arms control efforts in the past. it is clear to me that the united states is moving quickly already. tomorrow secretary kerry and russian foreign minister sergei lavrov will meet to discuss the specifics of how to move forward. i cannot stress enough the importance of this process. not only is it a possible solution to the specter of
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future use of chemical weapons by the syrian regime and a way to ensure that extremist o the opposition do not gain control of these weapons, butt also sets an important precedent for the united nations to act to resolve conflict before there is large but it should be clear by now that the assad regime has repeatedly used chemical weapons, so i would like to speak as chairman of the senate select committee on intelligence and lay out some of the unclassified intelligence that shows the regime was indeed behind this largest use of chemical weapons in more than two decades. the unclassified assessment is based on classified intelligence we have seen on the intelligence committee, so here's the case.
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the intelligence community assesses today with high confidence that the syrian regime used chemical weapons; specifically sarin, in the damascus suburb shalls on august 21. this assessment is supported by all 16 of our intelligence agencies, as well as other countries, including the united kingdom and france. the obama administration has publicly laid out its case at an unclassified level, and i have carefully reviewed the classified information that supports those findings. first, there is intelligence indicating that the assad regime -- specifically its military -- and the syrian scientific studies and research center, which manages its chemical weapons program, has used
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chemical weapons roughly a dozen times over the past year. on june 13, two months bore this latest attack, the administration stated that it had completed a review of all available intelligence and had concluded that the intelligence community had high confidence that the assad regime used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, on a small scale against the opposition multiple times. this followed similar assessments by france, the united kingdom, israel, and turkey earlier this year. in some of these cases, the regime may have been testing its delivery vehicles or various amounts of chemical agents. some were small-scale, tactical uses against the opposition
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perhaps assad was just trying to find out how the world would react to his use of chemical weapons. but it has been more than a year since top intelligence officials learned of syrian preparations to use sarin in large quantities. since then, at numerous other briefings and hearings the intelligence committee has followed this issue closely. on september 11, 2012 -- that's a year ago -- while protests against our embassy in cairo were underway and the attack on our diplomatic facility in benghazi was imminent, i was again briefed on the administration's plans should assad conduct such an attack. so the attack on august 21 in damascus was not a first-time use. rather, it was a major escalation in the regime's
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willingness to employ weapons long held as anathema by almost the entire world's population. now let me lay out the intelligence case that the assad regime used chemical weapons on august 21. much of this is described in a four-page august 30 unclassified document entitled "united states government assessment of the syrian government's use of chemical weapons on august 21, 2013." madam president, i'd like to enter that document into the record along with a map showing the 12 areas near damascus report lid affected by chemical weapons on august 21. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. feinstein: thank you, madam president. we know that three days before the attack of august 21, syrian officials involved in the
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preparation and use of chemical weapons and associated with the syrian scientific studies and research center were preparing chemical munitions in the damascus suburb of adra. that's according to the intelligence community. the intelligence specifically relates to an area in adra that the regime has used for mixing chemical weapons including sarin. the syrian chemical weapons personnel were operating present there from august 18 to the early morning of august 21 and finished their work shortly before the attack began. some of the intelligence collected on the preparations for the attack is highly sensitive, so the details of the syrian actions cannot be described publicly without
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jeopardizing our ability to collect this kind of intelligence in the future. but in numerous classified briefings over the past two weeks, members of congress have been provided with additional detail on the names of the intelligence officials involved and the stream of human signals and geospatial intelligence that indicate that the regime was preparing to use chemical weapons. so we actually have names. it is from the specificity of this intelligence reporting that the intelligence community has drawn its high level of confidence that the regime was behind the use of chemical weapons. the strike began in the early morning hours on wednesday, august 21. it is beyond doubt that large amounts of artillery and rockets
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were launched from regime-controlled territory in damascus and rained down on the opposition-controlled areas of the damascus suburbs. there is satellite imagery actually showing this as well as thousands of firsthand accounts that began showing up on social media sites at around 2:30 a.m.. the barrage continued for five days. though the use of chemical weapons appears to have been deliberately suspended by the regime after the first few hours. since the attack, physical samples from the area have been analyzed and the intelligence community assesses with high confidence that -- and i quote -- "laboratory analysis of physiological samples obtained from a number of individuals revealed exposure to sarin."
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end quote. more than 100 videos -- i think 170 -- were posted online showing the effects of the chemical weapons on hundreds of men, women, and most troubling, sleeping children who were dead or showing the signs of exposure to the nerve agent. at my request, the intelligence community compiled a representative sample of 13 video which have been corroborated and verified. that's the point. these show evidence. the places have been corroborated. they could not be bogus. they are verified. this clearly shows the suffering and death caused by these weapons. the intelligence committee has posted these videos on our web site.
12:36 pm i would urge americans to look at this. they are absolutely horrendous and should shock the conscience of all humanity. the videos show the physical manifestations of a nerve agent attack. foaming mouths, pinpointed an constricted pupils, which is a signature of sarin. convulsions. gasping for breath. all happening as the nervous system begins to shut down. one video shows a lifeless toddler receiving emergency r.e.s. peri tore assistance. -- respiratory assistance. another shows a young boy struggling to breathe, gasping while his eyes are swollen shut and covered in mucous. a third heinous video shows rows and rows of bodies lined up in an improvised morgue. another shows a man foaming at
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the mouth and convulsing, both indications of sarin exposure. and it goes on and on. last night the president urged all americans to watch these videos, to just see how hideous the use of these chemicals actually is. seeing these images firsthand makes clear why chemical weapons have been banned and why assad must be prevented from using them again. what really affected me was a video i saw of a little syrian girl with long dark hair who was wearing pajamas. the little girl looked just like my daughter at that age. same hair, same pajamas, same innocence. except the little syrian girl was lifeless. she had died from exposure to sarin, a chemical that the world has essentially outlawed.
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for me, the videos and watching them shows the abhorrence of chemical weapons. it shows why we must do something. fired into densely populated areas such as cities, they have an indiscriminate effect, killing everyone in their path and causing suffering and eventual death to others nearby. and we have evidence that the chemical attack was premeditated and planned as part of the regime's heinous tactics against the rebels. also there is intelligence that the syrian regime was prepared with gas masks for its people in the area, so it could clear these areas in the damascus suburbs that were attacked in order to wrest control from the opposition. additional intelligence collected following the attack
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includes communications from regime officials that confirms their knowledge that chemical weapons he were used. let me repeat that. additional intelligence following the attack includes communications from regime officials that confirms their knowledge that chemical weapons were used. the original unclassified intelligence assessment distributed by the administration states -- and i quote -- "we intercepted communications involving a senior official intimately familiar with the offensive. we intercepted communications involving a senior official intimately familiar with the assessment who confirmed that chemical weapons were used by the regime on august 21 and was
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concerned with the u.n. inspectors obtaining evidence. on the afternoon of august 21, we have intelligence that syrian chemical weapons personnel were directed to cease operations." end quote. this is direct evidence. to sum up the intelligence case, i have no doubt that the regime ordered the use of chemical weapons on august 21. i also have no doubt that the use of these weapons by the military and under the guidance of syria's chemical weapons team branch 450 operates under the command and control of the regime, under the ultimate leadership and responsibility of president assad. madam president, let me move now from the intelligence case of syria's use of sarin on august 21 to the question before the
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senate of how to respond. as i said in the beginning, it would be my strong hope that the united states and russia could come to an agreement with other u.n. security council members on a way to resolve this situation peacefully. not only is a peaceful solution preferred to the use of force, but if syria's chemical weapons program, including all of its precursors, chemicals, equipment, delivery system, loaded bombs, can be put in the custody of the united nations for its eventual destruction, that will provide a much stronger protection against future use. and it sets an important precedent for the future for the world to settle any other dispute of this nature. i have urged the obama
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administration to take all possible steps to make this proposal work, and i appreciate the president's decision to ask us to delay any use of force resolution so that diplomacy can be given a chance. however, the senate may still face a resolution to authorize the use of force in the event that all diplomatic options fail. and many of my colleagues have noted that the threat of force has helped push forward the diplomatic option. is my time up? the assad regime has clearly used chemical weapons to gas its own people, and i believe that it will most likely do so again unless it is confronted with a major condemnation by the world. and that now is beginning to happen. the regime has escalated its
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attacks from small-scale ones that killed six to eight to ten people with sarin to an attack that killed more than 1,000. we know that the regime has munitions that could kill tens of thousands of syrians in aleppo or haams. if the world doesn't respond we bear the responsibility of a larger tragedy happening later. of course it's not only syria who is looking at preparing and using weapons long banned by the international community. iran is watching intently at what the world will do in syria and will apply the lessons it learns to its current development of nuclear weapons. north korea, which has refrained from using the nuclear weapons it has or the chemical weapons stockpile that actually dwarfs that of syria, may well use the
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assad example to fire on south korea. and remember, we have 28,000-plus troops right over the border of the d.m.z. within a half-hour. and more generally countries around the world will see the united states as a paper tiger when it promises to take action but fails to do so. former secretary of defense bob gates, whom i have great respect for, who worked in both the bush and obama administrations, said exactly that when he came out in support in the resolution for use of force against syria. gates said this -- and it's a quote -- "i strongly urge the congress, both democrats and republicans, to approve the president's request for authorization to use force. whatever one's views on the current united states policy towards syria, failure by congress to approve the request would, in my view, have
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profoundly negative and dangerous consequences for the united states not just in the middle east, but around the world both now and in the future." i strongly believe that the major powers in the world have a responsibility to take action. when a country not only slaughters 100,000 of its own citizens, put millions into homeless status, millions into refugee status, but especially when it's willing to use weapons against them that have been banned as an affront to all humanity because they're outlawed by a treaty joined by 189 nations representing 98% of the world's population. if the i'd i'd does not act in such cases, i believe it becomes irrelevant. if nothing is done to stop this
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use of chemical weapons, they will be used in future conflicts. i am really sure of that. american servicemen in world war i were gassed with our allies partners. in our briefings over the past week, the military has made clear to us that if we allow the prohibition on chemical weapons use to erode, our men and women in uniform may again suffer from these weapons on the battlefie battlefield. chemical weapons are not like conventional weapons. consider for a moment how sairn, fosarin, for example, can kill inscrem nent. the closer you are -- can kill indiscriminate. the closer to the release, say, to a mortar shell, the more certain you are to death. sarin is colorless, it is
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odorless. it spreads over a wide geographic areas. it can shift from one neighborhood to another if the wind shifts. the gas clings to the ground. you cannot escape it. during world war i, chemical weapons, primarily chlorine, fostuni and mustard gas -- mask, i live close by where mustard gas canisters were at fort leach, which is now american university, and were rolled down the hill into a subdivision where they have been cropping up and necessitating a major army corps of engineers removal of this gas as well as other thin things, they were used by both sides of the war. they caused an estimated 100,000 fatalities and 1.3 million
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injuries. 1,4662 american soldiers were killed and 72,807 were injured by chemical weapons. this represented one-third of all u.s. casualties during world war i. wince world war i, not a single united states soldier has died in battle from exposure to chemical weapons. hohowever, according to the unid nations office for disarmament affairs, since world war i, chemical weapons have caused more than 1 million casualties globally. during world war ii, nazi germany used carbo carbon mondae and pesticide, such as zyclon-b during the holocaust, culg an estimate, killing anestimated 3t
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way. madam president, i'd like to enter a document into the record that details the history and use of chemical weapons around the war since world war i. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. feinstein clow than: thanky much. these past uses of chemical weapons make clear that they should never be used again and that the entire world must stand up and take action if they are. until syria, the use of chemical weapons on civilians, on men, women and children, gassed to death with intention during the middle of the night while they're sleeping is a travesty that reflects the hatred and increasing desperation of the assad regime. i also believe that there are other chemical weapons that have mixed and loaded into delivery vehicles with the potential to kill thousands more.
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now, think about it. if committee slaughte he can slf thousands of his own people out of second thought, what is he going to do if we do nothing? what is he going to do if the united nations as does nothing? what is he going to do if this effort to reach consensus on the syrian -- on the security council doesn't work? and we don't do anything? he will use them again. they are ready to go. so the question comes that i have, why would assad load bombs with chemical weapons and not use them? if the united states does nothing in the face of this atrocity, it sends such a signal of weakness to the rest of the world that we are, yes, a paper tiger, and that's going to be the conclusion in iran and in north korea. the answer is that we cannot
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turn our backs. this use is protected by international law and it must be condemned by the world with actions. albert einstein said in a well-known quote -- "the world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil but because of the people who don't do anything about it." for more than 90 years, our country has played the leading role if th in the world in prohg the atrocities of world war i and then world war ii. we are the nation that others look upon to stop repressive dictators and massive violations of human rights. we cannot withdraw into our own borders and do nothing and let the slaughter continue. so, madam president, i hope that military force will not be needed, that we will allow the
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time for the united nations and the parties on the security council to put an agreement together and that the threat of force will be sufficient to change president assad's behavior. if these diplomatic efforts at the u.n. fail, i know we're going to be back here on the floor to consider the authorization for use of military force, but i sincerely hope that it won't be necessary. and when the ambassador from russia described russia's intention to meet on monday, it was sincere. oso the ball is really in russia's court. russia is the leader in this. i trust that it is sincere. i trust that russia and the united states will come together and bring the other parties together and that it will be
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possible for the united nations to act so the united states won't have to. i thank the chair. i yield the floor. ms. collins: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from maine. ms. collins: thank you, madam president. madam president, 12 years ago, al qaeda terrorists attacked our homeland, quilg nearl killing n0 people. i will never forget the heroes of that day, many of whom laid down their lives for others. their courage is epitomized by the words spoken by a fire department captain at the world trade center. he radioed in to say, "we're still heading up." indeed, these firefighters were
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still heading up while others were fleeing the flames and the acrid smoke. where that kind of courage and determination comes from is hard to contemplate, but we're so grateful that our first responders have that kind of dedication and courage. florida i ever forget the many people -- nor will i ever forget the many people who continued to live with scars. whether they are civilians who lost a loved one that day, firefighters or police officers or other first responders who rushed to the scene, or our brave military service members who answered the call to defend our country in the years that followed.
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we must never lose sight of their sacrifice. madam president, we have been considering this week the weighty issue of whether or not to grant the administration the authority to use military force against syria. but this day, the anniversary of those horrific attacks on our yft 12 year -- on our country 1s ago, should not pass without our calling attention to another important matter of unfinished business critical to our national security and to our nation's conscience. eye year ago today -- a year ago today, terrorists with links to ca al qaeda attacd
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our diplomatic facility in benghazi, libya. despite a steadily escalating scream of threat reporting and an obvious inability of libyan security forces to protect our diplomatic personnel and our facilities, the state department had denied urgent requests for increased security measures. officials kept the woefully vulnerable benghazi compound open, setting the stage for attackers to essentially walk right into the compound and set it ablaze. traij i cannily, we lust four men and dedicated american diplomats and security personnel
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that terrible day and night. glenn door tri, tyrone woods, sean senior citizeand ambassado. we honor their courage and honor their remedy. but we must also remedy the security failures and punish those responsible for their deaths. and so today i draw attention for the lessons -- to the lessons that must be drawn to the work of benghazi and the work that must still be done to bring the attackers to justice. first, we must ensure that such wholesale ail you're to read the signs ofesque -- wholesale failure to read the signs -- of wholesale failure to read the
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signs and intond t respond to te security efforts never happens again. yesterday, as chairman and ranking member of the senate homeland security committee, senator joe lieberman and i conducted an investigation into the terrorist attacks in benghazi. in our bipartisan report, entitled "flashing red," we found that the state department down played the terrorist threat in benghazi despite numerous previous attacks on western targets that they ignored repeated requests for additional security, and that they insufficient the fo fortified a shamefully ill-preblghtd american compound. the benghazi fa facility should
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either have been close thely? stuart scoofs was strengthesecu. we must make changes, including greater attention to security at high-risk posts around the world and better management to ensure that the recommendatio recommenf previous security reviews are fully implemented. it was discouraging to read previous accountability review board reports after the attacks in africa, for example, back in the late 1990's and see syste system -- see system patterns for requests for security being denied in washington. second, secretary of state john kerry should hold personnel
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accountable for the problems identified in our committee report and by the accountable review board. after our committee and the a.r.b. identified systemic failures and leadership deficiencies that contributed to the grossly inaid quit security in again gazy,s the totally unacceptable for the state department to hold no one -- no one -- responsible for the broader manag mismanaged that od prior to the attack. and finally, a year after the attack, the terrorists who invaded the been geaz compound d
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have still not been brought to such despite repeated pledges by president obama to do so. after a long-delayed investigation, including a period of weeks when f.b.i. agents were not allowed to even access the been gassy facility, authority are recently filed criminal srnlings against several suspects. but syria's -- but serious questions remain about the pace and effectiveness of these investigations and charges. a major problem is the willingness or lack thereof of the libyan government to fully cooperate. i am told that the whereabouts of one of the prime suspects are known and that he is walking about fully, openly, and freely.
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and yet he has not been picked up. he has not been arrested. he has not been taken into captivity. why not? the administration must follow through on its commitment by taking the steps necessary to bring the attackers to justice, as the president promised. and the state department, in the meantime, must implement all of the actions needed to prevent a benghazi-like attack from taking place again. surely -- surely, on the anniversary of the attacks on our nation 12 years ago and the attacks one year ago in bengha
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benghazi, we owe it to chris stevens and his colleagues and to the american people. thank you, madam president. madam president, seeing no one seeking recognition, i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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knack flake madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. flake: i ask unanimous consent that a quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. flake: and that i be permitted to speak as if in
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morning business for up to five minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. flake: madam president, today, september 11, 2013, is a day in which we remember lives cut too short in the attacks on our nation 12 years ago. we also remember acts of bravery, selflessness, all that took mace that mornin place than the days and months and years that followed. i would like too thank all of those who have sought to protect us from harm in the intervening years. madam president, i also rise today to speak about the need for continued attention to our nation's fiscal health. to encourage my colleagues to seize the opportunity to take the necessary steps to rein in our out-of-control spending. as so often happens this time of year, talk has turned to the need for a continuing resolution for at least part of the next year, and i urge my colleagues to join me in pushing for a c.r. that respects the commitments that we have already made.
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as we all know, the president and the congress approved the budget control act of 2011, putting in place annual spending caps and establishing a deficit-reduction commission to find additional savings solutions to inc ensure our entitlement programs. a sequester was phut in place. in the absence of an agreement to replace them, the caps and sequester guarantee at least $2 trillion in deficit reduction. 74 members of the u.s. senate believe that these enforcement measures were needed to put us on the right fiscal track. the president signed the budget control act into law saying that quotes it'-- quote -- "it's an t first step ensuring that as a nation we live within or means." yet there are continuing conversations about passing a
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short-term continuing resolution that would fund the government at a level above the established budget control act for next year. i shouldn't have to remind no one thawrnd the budget control act passing a budget control act at anything higher than the $967 billion figure limit would trigger another statutory across-the-board sequester in january that will bring spending down to the $967 billion budget level for the rest of the fiscal year, 2014. i can see why there are those who would like to take such action. passing a c.r. at a higher-than-b.c.a.-appropriate level would create another fiscal cliff, with hopes i'm sure of causing pressure -- enough pressure to finally do away with the sequester. that's what some would like. however, such a scenario does little to add pressure to address the sequester. it provides a pretense that the
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b.c.a. levels don't mean anything, if even for a short while, and it further complicates agencies implementing what are sure to be the required cuts. make no mistake, i understand the sequester process is a blunt instrument and not a preferred method of fiscal restraint. however, it was put in place because congress failed to do what is needed to rein in reckless spending. i also understand the difficult position it puts agencies in, particularly the department of defense, and i am hope open to allowing reasonable flexibility and to replacing the sequester with changes to mandatory spending and entitlements, not hiking taxes. but that deal, much like the supercommittee's success, has been elusive and to seek to pass a c.r. that doesn't reflect the reality of the post-c. -- of a post-b.c.a. world raises it's own set of problems.
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however, such a scenario does little to add pressure to address the sequester. as i mentioned, it simply would make it more difficult for agencies to address their needs and to bring down their own spending. certainly, passing a budget bill for next yea at levels in excesf those in the budget control act makes any promise to "live within our means." in addition, passing a short-term c.r. that would allow agencies to spend money as if the sequester isn't imminent only complicated their situation. this would force agencies to squeeze all the necessary spending reductions in just over nine months instead of an entire year. you can imagine the burdens that that puts on agencies, particularly the department of defense that has unique procurement requirements. a less charitable view why anyone would seek the realities of the b.c. a,they would think
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that our fiscal state is in a longer need. president told an audience that we don't have an convent deficit crisis. the only crisis we have is one that is manufactured in washington. i beg to differ. our fiscal problems aren't solved. in fact we're still on track to add $753 billion to our national debt i in 2013. this is an improvement on past years, yet trillion dollar deficits of the past four years are hardly appropriate benchmarks for today. even at th 753 billion, this year's deficit is larger than any of those under any previous administration. meanwhile, our entitlement programs are still on track to be insolvent, with social security disability set to go broke by 2016, medicare by 2026, and social security by 2033. this is simply not the time to
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back-pedal on the agreement we made in 2011. congress and the president agreed that the budget control act was a first step needed toward budget deficit reduction. we must complete the first stride to set our nation on the right course and prove to the public we can address the even larger looming challenges that we face such as the insolve insy of our entitlement programs. there is no doubt that this will be a difficult job in the days to come but we must address it. i urge my colleagues to keep their promises and push for appropriate bills that reflect -- that responsibly reflect the spending limits outlined in the budget control act. to that i invite my colleagues to join me in sending a letter to the majority leader asking him to bring to the senate floor an fy 2014 spending bill that abides by the $967 billion discretionary limit required by law enforcement let us continue the process -- or the progress that has been made so far and
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keep our promise to fight for a more sound fiscal future. madam president, i yield the floor. madam president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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