Floor Statement on the Nomination of Peter Flory to be Assistant Secretary of Defense
MR REED: Mr. President, there are two issues with respect to Mr. Flory. The first is access to documents which are necessary for the Senate to do its job. We can't formulate policy, we can't draft legislation, we can't properly review the activities of the Department of Defense if we are denied critical information. This Defense Department persistently, constantly denies information of that sort. This is something about which Senator Levin has made the point very well, made the point about his attempts to get information with respect to issues that touch on the activities of Mr. Flory and the activities of others. Senator Levin has been denied. Without any justification, without any legal precedent, they simply said we are not giving it to you--and that is outrageous. Frankly, because we have acquiesced in this policy over many years, we have not done our job in the Senate. We allowed this Defense Department to take military forces to war without a plan for occupation because we didn't ask--demand that they give us the information in that plan. We have done this repeatedly. It has to stop because it has real consequences in the activities of our military and the effect on these young men and women across the globe. We have to do our job. Our job begins with getting this type of information. It is outrageous that we continue to sit here and literally beg the Defense Department to give us information that is rightfully ours because of our responsibilities under the Constitution to supervise the activities of the Department of Defense. That is point No. 1. Point No. 2 is Mr. Flory, by his own job description, was involved with the formulation and coordination of international security strategy and policy for several areas including the Middle East in 2001. As Senator Levin pointed out, he was part of this team that developed this alternate intelligence view--alternate in the sense that it was inaccurate, grossly inaccurate. Now we propose to promote him. There are millions of Americans who are wondering who planned this operation in Iraq so poorly. And if they find out, it is not to give these individuals a promotion. There is real responsibility here and that is the other point I find very difficult to accept. No one seems to be accountable for palpable mistakes that have been made by the Department of Defense in the conduct of these operations--not the Secretary of Defense, not the new Secretary of State, who was the National Security Advisor--and now we are promoting someone who is deeply involved in the Feith operation that created the alternate intelligence view that was at dramatic odds with the intelligence community, with the suggestion that there were serious links between Saddam Hussein, al-Qaida, and other terrorist groups. I think on both these points we should not proceed to this nomination. We have to have the information necessary to do our jobs. If we do not, we are not doing our jobs. We are not doing our duty. Today I hope is an opportunity to focus attention on, No. 1, the fact we need the information from the Department of Defense, and also I think it is about time someone is held in some degree responsible for errors that have been made by the Department of Defense. I yield my time.