Shelby Statement Highlights Controversies Engulfing DOJ and Attorney General Holder
Thursday, June 6, 2013, Washington D.C. U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), ranking member of the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today delivered the following statement at a subcommittee hearing on the Department of Justice's budget request for fiscal year 2014:
"Thank you Madam Chair.
"Today we will hear from Attorney General Holder about the Department of Justice and its Fiscal Year 2014 budget request. We will also hear from the Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, who has taken a very active oversight role within the Department.
"First, I want to take a moment to recognize the men and women of the Department of Justice who protect this country from crime and terrorism. They work hard to keep us safe and for that we owe them a debt of gratitude.
"The 2014 budget request for the Department of Justice totals $28.1 billion; a 3.9 percent increase over the fiscal year 2013 enacted level. That increase however, comes largely in the form of funding for new gun control measures while the majority of law enforcement accounts remain flat.
"The budget also proposes a number of gimmicks to find additional, so called savings, within the Department. I believe this approach is misguided and look forward to working with the Chair to put the Department's budget on the right track in 2014.
"The budget also proposes to remove language that prohibits the transfer of GITMO detainees to US soil. This provision received broad bipartisan support last year and I am troubled by the Administration's recommendation that it be removed. The proposal is particularly disconcerting in light of the President's renewed declaration on May 23rd to close GITMO.
"Aside from his broad declarations regarding the closure of GITMO, the President has made no specific proposal for dealing with the current detainees. The President has not even attempted to remove those detainees his own administration has determined can be returned to their home country.
"The budget proposal however, leads me to believe that the President is planning to move GITMO detainees here, to the United States. Why else would the budget delete the transfer language
"Either this is a real proposal or it is political posturing. In my view, political posturing is unnecessary and frankly, detrimental to any real discussion about terrorist detainees.
"I am adamantly opposed to moving any terrorist detainees to the United States and I believe many of my colleagues agree with me. Such a move would unnecessarily place Americans in harm's way. These are dangerous individuals and they need to be isolated. GITMO provides that isolation.
"Madam Chair, I would be remiss if I did not mention the controversy that has engulfed the Department and the Attorney General in recent weeks. These issues have overwhelmed the Department and cast a shadow of doubt upon the Attorney General.
"The Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer of the Federal Government and as the head of the Department of Justice, it is his responsibility to ensure that laws are enforced and the interests of the United States are defended. The controversy that has embroiled the Department has called into question its ability to fairly administer the law and justice. Further, the questionable actions of this Attorney General have tarnished the integrity, impartiality and efficacy of the position.
"It is the responsibility of this Committee to provide the resources necessary to ensure that the Department of Justice can efficiently and effectively enforce the laws, protect our citizens, and administer justice. Similarly, it is the responsibility of the Department to ensure that it carries out its duties; that it is responsible and responsive to the citizens of the United States; and that it operates with and tolerates no less than the highest degree of honesty and integrity. Unfortunately, I believe that until these issues are resolved and the controversy laid to rest, a hue of distrust will hover over the Department of Justice.
"Mr. Attorney General, it is my hope that you will move swiftly to address these issues -- to put this controversy to rest in a full and open manner so that the Department can get back to focusing on the issues central to its mission.
"Madam Chair, thank you for the time and I look forward to hearing more from the Attorney General and from the Inspector General."