Comments Of Senator Patrick Leahy On The President’s National Security Address

The President’s speech today underscores that in order to keep our nation safe and secure, we must do so in ways consistent with our values and in accordance with the rule of law.  I applaud his renewed vow to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, which I have long said contradicts our most basic principles of justice, undermines our national security, and degrades our standing abroad. 

I am also encouraged that the administration is taking steps to improve transparency as it pertains to the use of lethal force, particularly when it comes to the possible targeting of U.S. citizens.  This is a controversial issue about which I have serious concerns.  I intend to work with the President and Attorney General to ensure that we have a proper framework of accountability in place.  In addition, the President was right to say that armed drones should not be deployed over U.S. soil. 

A free and open press plays an important role in our democracy.  Just as the President said today, I have concerns about government’s infringement of that.  I have pushed for more support for U.S. embassy operations and programs across the board, including for security. Those Republicans who have blamed the administration for failing to protect our diplomats should work with the President and others to make sure that vital resources are in place instead of blocking the money my committee has set aside for embassy security.

The Judiciary Committee just demonstrated the Senate’s ability to debate, consider and compromise on legislation addressing one of the most important issues facing the nation today.  On important matters of national security, I hope Congress can work in that same constructive manner.

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