Rep. Pete Hoekstra (MI), Ranking Republican on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, made the following statement at the preconference meeting on the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2010:
"Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The Armed Services Committee and the Intelligence Committee share jurisdiction on a range of critical national security issues, particularly with respect to the military intelligence program, overhead intelligence architecture, and intelligence collection from detainees. I appreciate the constructive work we have been able to do together in the past on a bipartisan basis and look forward to continuing that work as we move toward a conference for the FY10 Defense Authorization.
Today I want to concentrate my remarks on provisions of the bill that relate to the transfer or release of individuals detained at Guantanamo, particularly House section 1023, for which I understand there is no direct counterpart in the Senate bill. A similar provision was adopted in the Intelligence Committee as a watered down substitute to what I believe was a much stronger Republican amendment offered by Congresswoman Sue Myrick that would have prohibited the use of any funds in the bill to bring Guantanamo detainees into the United States.
Let me be clear – the purpose of this legislation should be to protect the American people from the trained al Qaeda terrorists at Guantanamo, and not to provide cover for what I believe was a hasty and ill-considered political decision by the President to declare the facility closed without a plan and before fully considering the very real practical and legal obstacles to closing the facility that are now evident.
I have particularly serious concerns about the potential impact the Administration’s actions may have on my home state of Michigan. The Department of Defense has acknowledged that it is considering the potential movement of Guantanamo detainees to the state’s maximum security facility at Standish, and yet it has refused almost entirely to provide any information either to me or to Michiganders with respect to its potential plans and intentions, despite repeated direct requests by me and the Intelligence Committee staff. In fact, the Department of Defense is no longer even returning our phone calls on behalf of Michigan’s citizens on the matter.
This is highly offensive and plainly unacceptable. The citizens of Michigan – particularly those in and around the community that will be directly affected – must be fully involved in any decision that is made, and they must receive the information that they need to make a completely informed decision based on all of the relevant facts. As the Ranking Member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I am aware of highly relevant facts that strongly suggest a significant potential impact on the communities and families of any area that holds these detainees. While I cannot disclose these facts, I can express my strong view that the people deserve to know them before the al Qaeda terrorist network is brought to their small town in the Midwest.
Instead of providing full and honest disclosure of the steps that it is considering in order to allow open public discussion, the Department of Defense instead informed me that it would provide the requested information "When the interagency task force completes its review and the President approves a decision regarding plans for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facilities." In other words, the Department is completely closed to any input or discussion until after they have already made a decision.
Mr. Chairman, this is a recipe for disaster. It should go without saying that the Department should receive input and coordinate its proposed activities with all stakeholders – particularly the residents of any potentially affected community – before rather than after it decides on its plan. Not only is this is the hallmark that separates democracy from autocracy, but it should clearly be in the interest of the Department of Defense to ensure that it has full support before moving ahead. It simply cannot do this by developing a plan for Michigan confined 500 miles away within the five walls of the Pentagon.
The conference must resolve this issue in a way that fully protects the interests of citizens in states to which detainees may be relocated. I believe that the bill must include a provision similar to one that I helped draft in HR 2294 that would require approval by state governments prior to any transfer of Guantanamo detainees into their states, rather than the very limited consultation that is contained in the House bill. I also hope that the conference will mandate full and complete information sharing with the residents of a state prior to any transfer, rather than unilaterally imposing a federal solution. This is a critical problem that directly affects the citizens of all of our states, and it needs to be seriously addressed in this conference.
I also have concerns with respect to provisions relating to the notification of detainees of Miranda rights, which I believe should be clarified to better ensure that our intelligence collection from detainees is not impaired. This is even more important in light of the Administration’s recent unilateral policy change with respect to the detention facility at Bagram, which declared that intelligence value alone would not be a sufficient basis to hold even a combatant detainee.
There are other intelligence-related provisions that I also believe will require attention during this conference, such as specifics of the provisions dealing with contractor interrogations, the provision dealing with videotaping of interrogations, and the access to sensitive intelligence information by the National Defense Panel, and I look forward to work on those issues.
My paramount concern, however, is to protect our soldiers and sailors and our communities inside the United States. With respect to Michigan, right now I believe that the legislation does not adequately do so. The conference must address the detainee transfer issue honestly and decisively, and I look forward to working with you to do so."