[Congressional Record: June 21, 2011 (Senate)]
[Page S3952-S3962]

                           EXECUTIVE SESSION



  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
proceed to the consideration of the following nomination, which the 
clerk will report.
  The legislative clerk read the nomination of Leon E. Panetta, of 
California, to be Secretary of Defense.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, there will be 2 
hours of debate, equally divided, between the two leaders or their 
  The Senator from Michigan.
  Mr. LEVIN. Mr. President, I understand there is a time agreement on 
this nomination; is that correct?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator is correct--2 hours of debate, 
equally divided.
  Mr. LEVIN. I thank the Presiding Officer, and I yield myself 10 
  Mr. President, the nomination of Leon Panetta to be Secretary of 
Defense is a wise and a solid nomination. Director Panetta has given 
decades of dedicated public service to this Nation, and we should all 
be grateful he is once again willing to answer the call and take the 
helm at the Department of Defense. We are also grateful to his wife 
Sylvia for her significant sacrifices over the last 50 years in 
supporting Leon Panetta's efforts in the public and private sectors.
  When Mr. Panetta appeared before the Armed Services Committee at his 
nomination hearing, all of our Members commented invariably in the same 
way--reflecting the view that we are grateful Mr. Panetta is willing to 
take on this position. He is going to bring a reassuring level of 
continuity and in-depth experience. He has been a critical member of 
President Obama's national security team during his tenure as Director 
of the Central Intelligence Agency. The Department of Defense will need 
Director Panetta's skill and his wisdom to navigate the extraordinarily 
complex set of challenges in the years ahead.
  Foremost among those demands are the demands on our Armed Forces, and 
these are exemplified by the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. 
Between those two conflicts, we continue to have approximately 150,000 
troops deployed. The U.S. military is also providing support to NATO 
operations to protect the Libyan people. In addition, even after the 
extraordinary raid that killed Osama bin Laden, we face potential 
terrorist threats against us and against our allies which emanate from 
Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and other places.
  The risk of a terrorist organization getting their hands on and 
detonating an improvised nuclear device or other weapon of mass 
destruction remains one of the gravest possible threats to the United 
States. To counter that threat, the Defense Department is working with 
the Departments of State, Energy, Homeland Security, and other U.S. 
Government agencies to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, 
fissile materials, and dangerous technologies. As Secretary of Defense, 
Director Panetta's leadership in this area will be of vital importance. 
Here again, it is that experience as Director of the CIA which will be 
so invaluable.
  In the coming weeks, President Obama and his advisers will face a 
number of key national security decisions. While the drawdown of U.S. 
forces in Iraq remains on track, there have been recent signs of 
instability in that country. As a result, it is possible that Iraq's 
political leadership may ask for some kind of continuing U.S. military 
presence beyond the December 31 withdrawal deadline which was agreed to 
by President Bush and Prime Minister Maliki in the 2008 Security 
  Another key decision point is looming in Afghanistan regarding 
reductions in U.S. forces starting next month. President Obama said the 
other day:

       It's now time for us to recognize that we have accomplished 
     a big chunk of our mission and that it's time for Afghans to 
     take more responsibility.

  The President also said a few months ago that the reductions starting 
next month will be ``significant.'' Hopefully, they will be. Director 
Panetta, while not assigning a specific number, agreed they need to be 
significant. A significant reduction in our troop level this year would 
send a critical signal to Afghan leaders that we mean it when we say 
our commitment is not open-ended and that they need to be urgently 
focused on preparing Afghanistan's security forces to assume security 
responsibility for all of Afghanistan. The more that Afghan security 
forces do that, the better the chances of success because the Taliban's 
biggest nightmare is facing a large, effective Afghan Army--an army 
which is already respected by the Afghan people, but now, hopefully--
and soon--in control of Afghanistan's security.
  Another major issue facing the Department is the stress that 10 years 
of unbroken war has placed on our Armed Forces. Over the last decade, 
many of our service men and women have been away from their families 
and homes for multiple tours. Not only is our force stressed, so are 
our military families. We owe them our best efforts to reduce the 
number of deployments and increase the time between deployments.
  The next Secretary of Defense will have to struggle with the 
competing demands on our forces while Washington struggles with an 
extremely challenging fiscal environment. The

[[Page S3953]]

Defense budget will not and should not be exempt from cuts. But 
Congress, working with the next Secretary of Defense, will need to 
scrub each Defense program and expenditure and make the tough choices 
and tradeoffs between our war fighters' requirements today and 
preparations for the threats of tomorrow.
  Last week, the Armed Services Committee marked up the fiscal year 
2012 National Defense Authorization Act. The committee cut about $6 
billion from the President's budget request. However, the President has 
decided to reduce the national security budgets for the next 12 years 
by $400 billion. What we don't know is how much of that $400 billion he 
will recommend to come from the Defense budget and how much from the 
intelligence and homeland security budgets or how much is recommended 
to be in the first of that 12-year period--fiscal year 2012.
  The Nation is fortunate that Director Panetta's compelling record of 
achievement and experience is well suited to the demands of the 
position of the Secretary of Defense. Mr. Panetta is the right person 
to help our military through the fiscal challenges that confront this 
Nation. His service as President Clinton's Director of the Office of 
Management and Budget is invaluable because he understands the budget 
process and because he shaped the decisions that helped achieve the 
budget surpluses of the late 1990s.
  Leon Panetta has repeatedly demonstrated an ability to reach across 
party lines and work in a bipartisan spirit since entering public 
service 45 years ago. He worked on the staff of the Republican whip in 
the Senate and headed the Office of Civil Rights in the Nixon 
administration. He later won election to the House of Representatives 
as a Democrat, where he served 16 years, earning the respect of his 
peers and becoming the chairman of the House Budget Committee.
  Throughout his time in public service, Leon Panetta has been guided 
by a clear moral compass. He has said:

       In politics there has to be a line beyond which you don't 
     go--the line that marks the difference between right and 
     wrong, what your conscience tells you is right. Too often 
     people don't know where the line is. My family, how I was 
     raised, my education, all reinforced my being able to see 
     that line.

  Leon Panetta has been intimately involved in the most pressing 
national security issues of our time. During his tenure as Director of 
the Central Intelligence Agency, President Obama turned to Director 
Panetta to personally oversee the manhunt for Osama bin Laden and the 
awe-inspiring operation that brought an end to al-Qaida's murderous 
leader and provided a measure of relief to the families and friends who 
have suffered since September 11, 2001. The raid on the bin Laden 
compound epitomizes the way in which the CIA and the Defense Department 
are finally working together to support each other in counterterrorism 
operations, and Director Panetta deserves credit for this close 
  Before concluding, I wish to pass along my gratitude and deep 
admiration for the man who is stepping down as head of the Department 
of Defense, Secretary Robert Gates. Secretary Gates has provided 
extraordinary service to this country, spanning the administrations of 
eight Presidents. Four and a half years ago, he left the comfort and 
rewards of private life, following a long career in government, to once 
again serve the critical post of President Bush's Secretary of Defense 
at one of the most difficult times in recent history. Throughout his 
tenure, across the Bush and Obama administrations, Secretary Gates' 
leadership, judgment, and candor have earned him the trust and respect 
of all who have worked with him.
  Secretary Gates has combined vision and thoughtfulness with 
toughness, clarity and courageous decisionmaking. Secretary Gates 
established a direct and open relationship with Congress and with our 
Senate Armed Services Committee in particular. As chairman of that 
committee, I will always be personally grateful for that.
  Secretary Gates' tenure as Secretary of Defense will be judged by 
history to have been truly exceptional. So our next Secretary of 
Defense will have enormous responsibilities but also big shoes to fill. 
I am confident Leon Panetta is the right person to take on that 
challenge, and I urge our colleagues to support this nomination.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor, I suggest the absence of a quorum, 
and I ask unanimous consent that any time consumed during the quorum 
call be equally divided.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent the order for the 
quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I rise in strong support of President 
Obama's nominee to serve as our 23rd Secretary of Defense, Mr. Leon 
Panetta. These are big shoes to fill. Secretary Gates has had a 
remarkable term as Secretary and a remarkable career in public service. 
In addition, the challenges our military faces in this economic climate 
are significant. We must have a serious discussion about crafting a 
sustainable way forward.
  I sat down with Director Panetta earlier this month to discuss these 
challenges. I can say with certainty, Leon Panetta is up to the test. 
He has the experience and wisdom required, and I look forward to 
working with him once the Senate gives its advice and consent to his 
  I have known Leon Panetta for a long time. We served together in the 
House of Representatives, and we worked together in government for many 
years. He has an amazing history of public service to America. We 
served together on the House Budget Committee when we were both 
Congressmen in the early 1990s, and he chaired that committee. He 
understands budgets and the challenges they present.
  As Director of the Office of Management and Budget, he took that 
skill to the executive branch; and as Chief of Staff to President 
William Jefferson Clinton, he crafted the proposal which brought us to 
balance in our budget as a nation.
  It is hard to imagine it was only 10 years ago that we had a balanced 
Federal budget. In fact, we were generating a surplus, putting that 
money into the Social Security trust fund to make it stronger. Ten 
years later, mired deep in debt, it is hard to imagine that happened, 
but it did, and Leon Panetta was a big part of that occurrence.
  He advised President George W. Bush on how to bring a close to the 
Iraq war in a responsible way. For the last 2 years he has had an 
awesome responsibility as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
  Thanks to the President's strategic focus and Director Panetta's 
extraordinary leadership, Special Forces and CIA operatives were able 
to locate and capture Osama bin Laden last month in Pakistan. These are 
precisely the skills and experiences we need at the table at this 
  I know Leon Panetta as more than just a fellow colleague in the House 
and a person who shared some time in public service when I did. I know 
him as a person. I know his family. I know what he thinks. I know his 
values. I have to tell you, President Obama and America are fortunate 
to have a person of this quality who is willing to give even more of 
his life in public service. He could have stayed out in Monterey, CA, 
his home area, and no hardship assignment, but he chose not to. He came 
to Washington to head up the Central Intelligence Agency and now has 
accepted this invitation to head up the Department of Defense. There is 
no question in my mind that he will bring to it an extraordinary skill 
level and amazing values.
  Director Panetta and I have talked a little bit about some subjects, 
and one near and dear to my heart, the DREAM Act. The DREAM Act is 
legislation I introduced almost 10 years ago allowing immigrant 
students who have no country an opportunity to contribute to America. 
These young people came to the United States with their parents when 
they were just kids and infants. They have lived here all their lives. 
All they want is a chance to prove how much they love this country. The 
bill I introduced said there are two ways they should be allowed to do 
it: No. 1, to complete at least 2 years of college, to have, obviously, 
a high school diploma and good background; but another, to serve in our 
Nation's military.

[[Page S3954]]

  I have been proud to have the support of Secretary of Defense Gates 
in this effort, and I look forward to the same support from the next, 
Secretary Panetta. The DREAM Act would strengthen our military and 
strengthen our Nation, and I am sure, as General Colin Powell has said, 
``Immigration is what's keeping this country's lifeblood moving 
forward.'' These young people can help us move forward as a nation to 
be safer and create more opportunity.
  We have a number of challenges ahead. Our men and women are fighting 
wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Libya. Servicemembers and their 
families have borne an incredible burden of sacrifice in these 
conflicts over the last decade. As a nation, we are spending tens of 
billions of dollars a month to sustain them in their efforts.
  At the same time, public support for these undertakings will not last 
forever. The current situation needs to change, and the President is 
about to make an announcement when it comes to our troop levels in 
Afghanistan. We have to craft a way forward and deal honestly and 
responsibly with what is possibly one of our most challenging 
situations in Afghanistan. I believe it has to begin with a substantial 
redeployment of U.S. troops back to America from Afghanistan.
  Last week I joined Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon and 24 of my 
colleagues in a letter to the President expressing these concerns. I 
trust the President and incoming Secretary of Defense and Congress can 
find a responsible path forward. We need to take a hard look at every 
aspect of our Federal budget, including our Department of Defense, to 
sustain our men and women in uniform but not to waste money on 
privatization, on contractors, and on runaway contracts.
  As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mullen has 
commented that our greatest national security threat is our ballooning 
deficit. Of course, we need to protect our country, but we need to do 
it in a fiscally responsible manner. Even as we address the path 
forward in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, even as we trim the spending 
in the defense budget, we will not back away from our commitment to the 
men and women in uniform. I know Leon shares that statement.
  I support Leon Panetta as our next Secretary of Defense because now 
more than ever we need his steady hand, his leadership, to tackle these 
challenges in budgets, in management, and in the critical conflicts we 
are engaged in around the world. I congratulate President Obama for 
selecting Leon Panetta for this awesome responsibility, and I look 
forward to working with him on these issues and others in the years to 
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Rhode Island.
  Mr. REED. Mr. President, I rise today to express my strong support 
for the nomination of Leon Panetta as the next Secretary of Defense. 
Director Panetta comes to this job at an extraordinarily challenging 
time for the Department of Defense and for our Nation. Among the many 
issues he will confront, Mr. Panetta will oversee the completion of our 
direct military operations in Iraq, the beginning of the transition of 
our forces out of Afghanistan, the enhancement of our cyber defenses, 
and the reduction of our defense budget.
  I have known Leon Panetta for many years, and I know he is 
particularly well suited to address all of these challenges. He is a 
man of great intellect, of great decency, and great determination.
  At the end of this year, for example, in compliance with the Status 
of Forces Agreement, we will complete the withdrawal of our forces from 
Iraq and hand over primary responsibility for our ongoing relationship 
with Iraq to the Department of State. It remains to be seen whether the 
Iraqi Government will ask us to extend our military presence past 
December 31. But for now, we are thoroughly and determinately preparing 
our troops to leave. Having served as a member of the Iraq Study Group, 
Mr. Panetta certainly understands the importance of this transition and 
will carry it out.
  As the next Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta will also continue to 
focus our efforts on fighting terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We 
are facing a critical turning point in our operations. This week, we 
expect President Obama to announce his plan to begin reducing our force 
levels in Afghanistan this summer, a commitment he made in his speech 
at West Point in 2009.
  Along with the reduction in forces we must sustain the security gains 
that we have accomplished during the past year and further build the 
capacity of the Afghan forces so they are able to take full 
responsibility for their own security. Mr. Panetta understands how 
important it is for all of our agencies to work together in this effort 
and all security missions; that using military force may be our primary 
weapon of securing areas but enduring success comes from coordination 
among the intelligence and law enforcement communities, from effective 
diplomacy, and from assistance programs administered by the Department 
of State and the USAID.
  The conditions on the ground in Afghanistan are directly related to 
our ability to successfully attack the terrorist networks that are 
operating along the border in Pakistan. In his current position as 
Director of the CIA, Mr. Panetta has reinvigorated these efforts, most 
notably with the successful raid on Osama bin Laden. Indeed, I believe 
when history looks back, outside of the critical and ultimate decision 
by the President of the United States, one of the most important roles 
played in this effort to prepare the way for those courageous SEALs was 
the steady leadership of Leon Panetta at the Central Intelligence 
Agency. He understands the complexities of our relationship with 
Pakistan and, indeed, throughout the world. This expertise will be 
critical as we move forward, and critical for our next Secretary of 
  He will also lead the Department of Defense in preparing for the 
emerging threats to our national security, such as attacks to our cyber 
infrastructure. Indeed, every branch of government is working to define 
the roles various organizations will play in protecting people, 
infrastructure, and information within cyberspace.
  During his confirmation hearings before the Senate Armed Services 
Committee, I discussed with Director Panetta the strategy the 
Department of Defense would employ in confronting the potential of a 
cyber attack against the United States. He responded in no uncertain 
terms. His words:

       I have often said that there is a strong likelihood that 
     the next Pearl Harbor that we confront could very well be a 
     cyberattack that cripples our power system, our grid, our 
     security systems, our financial systems, our governmental 
     systems. This is a real possibility in today's world. And as 
     a result, I think we have to aggressively be able to counter 

  Indeed, Mr. Panetta understands the future as well as the present, 
and he will bring his experience as well as his vision to bear on the 
emerging challenges that face the United States.
  Perhaps most challenging of all, Leon Panetta will lead the 
Department at a time of great fiscal constraints. As our Nation 
continues to find a path forward to rebound from the economic 
challenges of the last few years, there is an ever-growing pressure to 
reduce the size of the defense budget, which has nearly doubled over 
the past 10 years. But we must be careful to do so in a way that 
removes unsustainable costs without losing vital capability.
  As a result of the high operational tempo and the duration of 
multiple overseas operations, all of our services are facing serious 
reset and recapitalization needs. Serious decisions will have to be 
made to ensure that we have the right systems in place to meet the 
threats we face, all at a price level that we can afford.
  Having served as the House Budget Committee chairman, and as the 
Director of the Office of Management and Budget, there is no one who 
has more knowledge, more experience, more sense of the details than 
Leon Panetta, and I believe he is the most well qualified individual to 
tackle the huge budgetary issues that are facing the Department of 
  Leon will have an extraordinary role to play, particularly in the 
wake of the extraordinary service of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. 
I can't think of anyone I respect or admire more. I can't think of 
anyone who has served this country with more distinction,

[[Page S3955]]

who has served with more selfless dedication to the Nation, and 
fundamentally who has made his decisions knowing full well that at the 
end of the day young Americans in the uniform of the United States will 
carry out his orders.
  Bob Gates has done a superb job. But I have every confidence that 
Leon Panetta will continue to carry on, will continue to meet those 
standards, will continue to lead the Department of Defense with 
distinction, with dedication and great loyalty, just as Secretary Gates 
has done, and ultimately we will know that at the end of all the 
decisions emanating from the Pentagon there is a young American willing 
and able and ready to serve, to support this Nation and defend it.
  With that, I rise to express my great support for Secretary-designee 
Panetta and wish him well in all of his endeavors and pledge to work 
with him closely.
  I yield the floor.
  I note the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Franken). The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. MANCHIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. MANCHIN. Mr. President, first of all, I rise in total support of 
Mr. Leon Panetta as the new Secretary of Defense. He is an outstanding 
public servant who has served in many capacities and he has been a 
tremendous leader in every role he has held.

                    The Debt Ceiling and Afghanistan

  With that being said, I rise to speak on our war in Afghanistan. Very 
soon our Nation, this esteemed body, and particularly the President of 
the United States will address two of the greatest challenges our 
Nation currently faces. The first is Afghanistan.
  The second issue is raising the debt ceiling and confronting our 
Nation's unsustainable spending and debt. To the average American, 
Afghanistan and raising our debt ceiling may seem unrelated, but they 
are, in fact, directly related. They are directly related to the hard 
fiscal and strategic choices our Nation must make if we are to remain 
safe and secure in the coming decades.
  With respect to raising the debt ceiling, the budget realities we 
face are both striking and frightening. While some may choose to ignore 
this threat, mere words cannot give weight to the fiscal peril our 
Nation now faces. Only numbers can.
  Since 1992, we have raised the debt ceiling 16 times. In 1992, our 
national debt stood at $4.1 trillion. Between 2002 and today, our 
national debt rose from $5.9 trillion to over $14.3 trillion. Now for 
the first time in our Nation's history, our yearly budget deficits may 
exceed $1 trillion for 4 years in a row. At the current pace of deficit 
spending, CRS projects our national debt will exceed $23.1 trillion by 
  In order to pay for the financial hole we have dug, the Congressional 
Budget Office projects that net interest payments will increase 
fourfold over the next 10 years, from $197 billion in fiscal year 2011 
to $792 billion in fiscal year 2021. To put that number into 
perspective, one decade from today, interest payments on our $23.1 
trillion debt will exceed the amount we currently spend on education, 
energy, and national defense combined. Numbers of this size are not 
only unimaginable, they will prove catastrophic for our Nation's 
  The fiscal peril we face reminds me of the words a former Senator 
said on this floor in declaring why he chose in 2006 to vote against 
raising the debt ceiling when our national debt stood at that time at 
$8.18 trillion. He said:

       The rising debt is a hidden domestic enemy, robbing our 
     cities and States of the critical investments and 
     infrastructure like bridges, ports, and levees; robbing our 
     families and our children of critical investments in 
     education and health care reform; robbing our seniors of the 
     retirement and health security they counted on. Every dollar 
     we pay in interest is a dollar that is not going to 
     investment in America's priorities.

  That former Senator was President Barack Obama.
  While his perspective on these words may ring differently today, I 
believe they accurately capture the difficult choices we face today. 
The choice is this: Will we rebuild America's future?
  Today, with our Nation facing a stagnant economy and a death spiral 
of debt, we can no longer have it all--or pretend we can. We must 
choose what as a nation we can and cannot afford to do. Our risky debt 
will not only undermine our economic security, it also threatens our 
national security. As ADM Michael Mullen said:

       I believe that our debt is the greatest threat to our 
     national security. If we as a country do not address our 
     fiscal imbalances in the near-term, our national power will 
     erode, and the costs to our ability to maintain and sustain 
     influences could be great.

  We can no longer in good conscience cut services and programs at 
home, raise taxes, or--this is very important--lift the debt ceiling in 
order to fund nation building in Afghanistan.
  Ten years ago, when our mission in Afghanistan began, it was a just 
and rightful mission to seek out and destroy those responsible for the 
terrorist attacks on 9/11 and the deaths of thousands of innocent 
Americans. We overthrew the Taliban government to provide a safe haven 
to al-Qaida. We have hunted down and killed Osama bin Laden as well as 
most of the senior members of this terrorist group. Today, in 
Afghanistan, in a nation of 30 million people, intelligence estimates 
suggest there are only between 50 and 100 al-Qaida terrorists harbored 
there. Because of the incredible work of our military men and women, 
the mission of destroying al-Qaida in Afghanistan by all accounts has 
been a success. But the real truth is, after 10 years, our current 
mission in Afghanistan has become less about destroying al-Qaida and 
more about building a country where, frankly, one has never existed.
  In February, I saw firsthand the significant challenges our brave 
troops face as they pursue this nation building mission. During the 
trip I heard from Ambassador Eikenberry and General Petraeus. I visited 
Helmand Province and Kandahar. I met with local tribal leaders and 
President Karzai of Afghanistan. What I heard from many officials and 
diplomats was that progress could be just around the corner but only if 
we give it more time and more money. I heard we must stay to counter 
the threat of al-Qaida but then was told that only a handful of al-
Qaida members existed in Afghanistan. I was told that governance was 
improving, but that corruption was so rampant that billions--yes, 
billions--of dollars were lost to corrupt officials who seemed more 
interested in improving their own lives than the lives of their own 
people. I was told we need a sizable force to diffuse the threat posed 
by the Taliban but that estimating the size of the enemy was difficult. 
Still, everyone acknowledges that their force is a fraction of the 
number of troops we have there now. I was told that because of rampant 
corruption and theft, the very cost of moving our supplies was 
indirectly funding the very enemy we face.
  I was told that China--yes, China--could reap billions by extracting 
resources from Afghanistan, but guess what. They are not contributing 
anything to the cost of security. I was told that after years of 
spending billions training a new Afghanistan military and police force, 
it could be years longer before they could fully defend their nation 
and their people, and even then it would demand billions more in 
funding from us. I was also told we were building schools, roads, and 
infrastructure as well as providing billions in aid for small 
businesses and job creation so Afghanistan could become more self-
sufficient. But today, 97 percent of the Afghan economy is based on 
foreign aid, and that is after 10 long years. I have been told again 
and again that American aid is critical to rebuilding Afghanistan but 
that local projects built with American tax dollars could not be 
branded as American-funded projects out of fear of reprisals. I was 
told the people of Afghanistan truly want us there but was then told in 
a meeting with President Karzai that it was time for America to leave.
  The American people have been hearing all of these arguments and the 
sad facts for nearly a decade. Now, after 10 years, I had truly hoped 
progress in Afghanistan would be clear and the Afghan people would be 
united and their government and leaders would be one defined by 
honesty, integrity, and a shared determination to build a better state. 
But the real truth is impossible to ignore. After 10 years, we face the 
choice of whether we will continue to spend tens of billions of tax 
dollars and lose precious American lives not on

[[Page S3956]]

fighting and killing al-Qaida terrorists in Afghanistan but policing 
and building a state where the leaders seem indifferent to the 
difficulties of their people and their people seem indifferent at best, 
if not hostile, to our presence.
  Tomorrow, President Obama will present to the American people his 
latest review on the war in Afghanistan and whether our mission will 
change. As is already clear, some in this esteemed body will argue for 
the President to stay the course and others will suggest a very 
different course. The question the President faces--and we all face--
is quite simple: Will we choose to rebuild America or Afghanistan? In 
light of our Nation's fiscal perils, we cannot do both.

  I believe if we are being honest with the American people about the 
depth of fiscal challenges we face at home, it is impossible to defend 
the mission in Afghanistan in which we are rebuilding schools, training 
police, teaching people to read--in other words, building a country--
even at the expense of our own.
  Neither the President nor any Senator can divorce the difficult 
decisions we must now make on Afghanistan from the equally difficult 
decisions we must now make on cutting domestic spending in order to 
raise the debt ceiling.
  While the truth is the war on terrorism must be fought and it must be 
won, that war is not in Afghanistan. Yet, with every passing month, we 
are choosing to spend billions we can't afford to fight a war against 
an enemy that is no longer there.
  Since the day I was sworn in, I have heard from countless of my 
fellow West Virginians who ask, How is it possible we are willing to 
spend hundreds of billions of dollars in Afghanistan while we face 
mountains of debt and spending cuts here at home? How is it possible we 
will choose to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to build 
Afghanistan when our children, our seniors, our veterans, the poor, and 
the middle class are being asked to bear the brunt of massive spending 
  I have carefully thought over these questions over these many months, 
and after hearing from my constituents, seeing Afghanistan again with 
my own eyes, listening to our soldiers on the ground, hearing from 
dozens of diplomats, foreign policy experts, and the military leaders 
over these many months, as well as confronting the truth about the 
fiscal and economic peril our Nation faces in the coming years, I 
believe it is time for President Obama to begin a substantial and 
responsible reduction in our military presence in Afghanistan. I 
believe it is time for us to rebuild America, not Afghanistan.
  That is why I strongly agreed with Senators Merkley and Lee, and the 
words of 27 of my Republican and Democratic colleagues, who made it 
clear in a letter they sent to the President last Thursday that:

       . . . we must accelerate the transfer responsibility for 
     Afghanistan's development to the Afghan people and their 
     government. We should maintain our capacity to eliminate any 
     new terrorist threats, continue to train the Afghan National 
     Security Forces, and maintain our diplomatic and humanitarian 
     efforts. However, these objectives do not require the 
     presence of over 100,000 American troops engaged in intensive 
     combat operations.

  I believe it is time for us to compel the elected leaders of 
Afghanistan and its people to take responsibility for the destiny of 
their nation so we can ensure the destiny of ours. In that spirit, I 
have sent President Obama a letter calling on him to pursue significant 
reductions and end the scope of our current mission in Afghanistan well 
before 2014. I believe any further mission in Afghanistan should, as my 
Senate colleagues suggested in their letter, focus primarily on 
responding to any resurgent terrorist threat as well as providing 
targeted training for the Afghan military and police.
  Throughout this transition period and beyond, I have asked the 
President to provide the American taxpayer a monthly accounting, to be 
published online, of every dollar that will be provided to Afghanistan 
government officials and agencies so as to ensure that no American tax 
dollars are lost to corruption and greed.
  As for those on the right or the left who believe that leaving 
Afghanistan sooner is irresponsible, I simply ask them: Is 10 years not 
long enough? I ask them to tell the families of our brave military men 
and women who are on their third and fourth tour of duty, how much 
longer must they wait to come home. I ask them to look into the eyes of 
any American child and ask them to surrender our Nation's future for 
the sake of another. I ask all of them to explain to the American 
people the sanity of spending $485 billion more, on top of the $443 
billion we have spent, to build Afghanistan over the next decade at the 
very same time our Nation drowns in a sea of debt.
  The time has come to make the difficult decision. Charity begins at 
home. We can no longer afford to rebuild Afghanistan and America. We 
must choose, and I choose America.

  As I made clear when I ran for this esteemed office, I would not put 
my political party before country, but I would do my best to do what is 
right for the people of my beloved State and great Nation. To that end, 
I promised to speak out and take positions, as difficult as they may 
be, not for the benefit of my next election but that are best for the 
next generation.
  It is why I spoke out about the debt, to tell the American people and 
the people of West Virginia that I would not vote to raise the debt 
ceiling without a long-term permanent fix. I did this not because it 
was popular or easy but because we, as elected leaders of this great 
Nation, have a solemn obligation to rebuild our Nation before all 
  Our economy, our prosperity, our schools, our children, our veterans, 
our soldiers, our workers, our seniors, our Nation's future must come 
first. I, for one, will not look West Virginians in the eye and tell 
them that in order to raise the debt ceiling, vital programs and 
funding for Social Security, Medicare, our schools, roads, health care, 
veterans, seniors, and infrastructure will be slashed but we will 
continue to spend billions building schools, roads, and infrastructure 
in Afghanistan.
  The time has come for us to realize the people of Afghanistan have to 
choose their own destiny. We cannot build it for them. The time has 
come for us to realize that in this time of fiscal peril, our solemn 
obligation is to build our own Nation, and that by doing so we will 
make America safer and stronger for generations to come.
  The words of the great West Virginia statesman Robert C. Byrd ring 
even more true today than in October 2009 when he gave his last floor 
speech about the war in Afghanistan. Our friend said this:

       During a time of record deficits, some actually continue to 
     suggest that the United States should sink hundreds of 
     billions of borrowed dollars into Afghanistan, effectively 
     turning our backs on our own substantial domestic needs, all 
     the while deferring the costs and deferring the problems for 
     future generations to address. Our national security 
     interests lie in defeating--no, I go further, in destroying 
     al-Qaida. Until we take that and only that mission seriously, 
     we risk adding the United States to the long, long list of 
     nations whose best laid plans have died on the cold, barren, 
     rocky slopes of that far off country, Afghanistan.

  May God bless the brave men and women who serve this Nation and the 
United States of America.
  Thank you, Mr. President.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arizona.
  Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I rise in support of the nomination of 
Leon Panetta to succeed Robert Gates. But first I feel compelled to 
respond to the statements by the Senator from West Virginia which 
characterize the isolationist, withdrawal, lack of knowledge, of 
history attitude that seems to be on the rise in America.
  In case the Senator from West Virginia forgot it or never knew it, we 
withdrew from Afghanistan one time. We withdrew from Afghanistan, and 
the Taliban came, eventually followed by al-Qaida, followed by attacks 
on the United States of America.
  The Senator from West Virginia has expressed his admiration for the 
men and women who are serving. I hope he would pay attention to the 
finest military leader who will now be the head of the CIA, General 
Petraeus, whose knowledge and background may exceed that of the Senator 
from West Virginia.
  If we leave Afghanistan in defeat, we will repeat the lessons of 
history. It is not our expenditures on Afghanistan that are the reasons 
we are now experiencing budget difficulties.

[[Page S3957]]

  I am pleased the Senator from West Virginia went to Afghanistan once. 
I would suggest he consult with the people who know best that since 
2009, when the surge began, we have had success on the ground in 
Afghanistan, and we are succeeding.
  There are enormous challenges ahead of us. But as Secretary Gates has 
said: Withdrawal to ``Fortress America''--which is basically the 
message of the Senator from West Virginia--will inevitably lead to 
attacks from them on the United States of America. I view the remarks 
of the Senator from West Virginia as at least uninformed about history 
and strategy and the challenges we face from radical Islamic extremism, 
including al-Qaida.
  I urge my colleagues in the Senate to vote in favor of this 
nomination today.
  Director Panetta has had an extraordinary career of public service. 
He served in the House of Representatives, representing his California 
district for eight terms. He served in the White House as President 
Clinton's Chief of Staff and Director of the Office of Management and 
  Since February 2009 he has been the Director of the Central 
Intelligence Agency, strengthening that agency and forging positive 
relationships in the interagency process and with the congressional 
intelligence oversight committees. It is my expectation that Director 
Panetta will work closely with GEN David Petraeus, the nominee to 
succeed him at the CIA, and continue the cooperation and commitment 
that enabled the finding and elimination of Osama bin Laden.
  I am certainly hopeful that as Secretary of Defense Director Panetta 
will successfully lead the effort to find and eliminate Ayman al-
Zawahiri, who we are told has assumed leadership of al-Qaida, and other 
al-Qaida leaders. Zawahiri is a sworn enemy of the United States and 
our way of life and, like bin Laden, must be dealt with in similar 
  Before discussing the challenges Mr. Panetta will encounter, I want 
to express my thanks and admiration for the service of Secretary Gates 
as he nears the end of his 4\1/2\-year tenure as Secretary of Defense. 
I recall that through much of 2007 and 2008 we heard about Secretary 
Gates' countdown wristwatch that displayed the number of days until a 
new administration would take over in January 2009, and he and his wife 
Becky could finally return to their peaceful lakeside home and 
retirement in Washington State. It is fortunate for the country that 
President Obama asked, and Secretary Gates agreed to postpone 
retirement, and that he continued to serve and, presumably, discarded 
that wristwatch.
  Secretary Gates testified at his nomination hearing on December 5, 
2006, that he agreed to leave Texas A&M University and return to 
government out of love for his country, and he and his family have 
provided one of the greatest examples I have seen of that kind of 
patriotism, answering the call to duty when his talents were most 
needed. For this, and for innumerable other contributions he has made 
to the men and women of the Armed Forces, he has truly earned a place 
in history as one of America's greatest Secretaries of Defense.
  In December 2006, at a time when so many Senators were clamoring for 
a cut-and-run strategy in Iraq--just as they are calling for a cut-and-
run strategy in Afghanistan--Secretary Gates made the following 
statement at his nomination hearing:

       While I am open to alternative ideas about our future 
     strategy and tactics in Iraq, I feel quite strongly about one 
     point. Developments in Iraq over the next year or two will, I 
     believe, shape the entire Middle East and greatly influence 
     global geopolitics for many years to come. Our course over 
     the next year or two will determine whether the American and 
     Iraqi people, and the next President of the United States, 
     will face a slowly, but steadily improving situation in Iraq 
     and in the region or will face the very real risk, and 
     possible reality, of a regional conflagration. We need to 
     work together to develop a strategy that does not leave Iraq 
     in chaos and that protects our long-term interests in, and 
     hopes for the region.

  Mr. President, you could substitute the word ``Afghanistan'' for 
exactly what Secretary Gates then said in December 2006. Then we had 
the surge. There were 59 votes against the surge that would have called 
for withdrawal in the summer of 2007. Some of us knew what was right 
and fought for it, and we have succeeded in Iraq, just as we will fight 
to continue the surge in Afghanistan. We will succeed in Afghanistan, 
and we will come home with honor, and Afghanistan will not deteriorate 
to a cockpit of conflict between regional countries that will then 
cause again the threat of radical Islamic extremism to threaten our 
very existence--certainly pose threats of attacks on the United States.
  Secretary Gates was, of course, correct then about Iraq. Today we 
must add Afghanistan and Libya to his warning about the future 
consequences of the decisions we make today. In the next few months, 
our country faces decisions related to our national security and 
defense that will echo for decades to come--decisions that will 
determine whether we remain the world's leading global military power, 
able to meet our many commitments worldwide, or whether we will begin 
abandoning that role.
  One of these decisions that will have perhaps the most impact on this 
outcome is our response to the President's stated goal of cutting $400 
billion in national security spending by 2023--on top of the $178 
billion in efficiencies and top line reductions that Secretary Gates 
already has imposed.
  Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen have sounded the alarm against 
misguided and excessive reductions in defense spending that cut into 
the muscle of our military capabilities. If we get this wrong, it will 
result in a dramatic drop in U.S. influence and, as Secretary Gates has 
said, ``a smaller military able to go fewer places and do fewer 
  Defense spending is not what is sinking this country into fiscal 
crisis, and if the President and Congress act on that flawed assumption 
they will create a situation that is truly unaffordable: the decline of 
U.S. military power and influence.
  It is inevitable there will be cuts to defense spending, and some 
reductions are no doubt necessary to improve the efficiency of the 
Department of Defense. But I also remember GEN Edward Meyer, then-Chief 
of Staff of the Army, who warned in 1980 that excessive defense cuts 
over many years had produced a ``hollow army.'' That is not an 
experience we can or should repeat in the years to come. We must learn 
the lessons of history.
  I sincerely hope Director Panetta, upon assuming office, will not 
focus exclusively on how but on whether the President's proposal should 
be implemented and will apply his independent judgment in providing 
advice to the President on the cuts that can be made without damage to 
our national security.
  Last week, the Committee on Armed Services completed its markup for 
the Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2012. In a very tough 
fiscal environment, this markup represents an effort to support our 
warfighters and bolster the readiness of the U.S. military. 
Unfortunately, the committee chose to authorize hundreds of millions of 
dollars in unnecessary and unrequested porkbarrel projects and rejected 
my efforts to stop the out-of-control cost overruns of the F-35 
  The Defense authorization bill is an important piece of legislation 
while our country continues to be engaged in two wars; therefore, I 
voted to move the bill out of committee. Nevertheless, I will continue 
my efforts to fight the egregious and wasteful spending during debate 
on the floor of the Senate, and I will urge Director Panetta, once he 
is confirmed, to favorably endorse the proposals I will make to 
properly use precious national defense dollars.
  In addition, especially in this budget environment, it will be 
important to continue to eliminate weapons programs that are over cost, 
behind schedule, and not providing improvements in combat power and 
capabilities. After 10 years of war, we must continue to eliminate 
every dollar of wasteful spending that siphons resources away from our 
most vital need: enabling our troops to succeed in combat.
  One of the key criteria I am looking for in the next Secretary of 
Defense is continuity--the continuation of the wise judgment, policies, 
and decisionmaking that have characterized Secretary Gates' leadership 
of the Department of Defense. As Director of the CIA, Mr. Panetta has 
demonstrated that he possesses the experience and

[[Page S3958]]

ability to ensure that we achieve our objectives in the three conflicts 
in which U.S. forces are now engaged: Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya.
  In Iraq, the key question now is whether some presence of U.S. forces 
will remain beyond the end of this year, pending an Iraqi request and 
approval, to support Iraq's continuing needs and our enduring national 
interests. I believe such a presence is necessary, and I encourage the 
administration to work closely with the Maliki government to bring 
about this outcome.
  In Afghanistan, the main question is the size and scope of the 
drawdown of forces beginning this July. Here, too, I agree with 
Secretary Gates that any drawdown should be modest so as to maximize 
our ability to lock in the hard-won gains of our troops through the 
next fighting season. I hope Director Panetta, as the Secretary of 
Defense, will support ``modest'' reductions and take no action that 
would undermine the hard-won gains in Afghanistan.
  Finally, we know that there is growing opposition to continuing the 
U.S. involvement in Libya. There has already been one legislative 
attempt to bind the President's authority as Commander-in-Chief, and 
there will likely be others. In short, the accumulated consequences of 
the administration's delay, confusion, and lack of meaningful 
consultation have been a wholesale revolt in Congress against the 
administration's policy.
  Although I have disagreed, and disagreed strongly at times, with 
aspects of the administration's policy in Libya, I believe the 
President did the right thing by intervening to stop a humanitarian 
disaster in Libya. Amid all of our present arguments about legal and 
constitutional interpretations, we cannot forget the main point: In the 
midst of the most groundbreaking geopolitical event in two decades, as 
peaceful protests for democracy were sweeping the Middle East, with 
Qadhafi's forces ready to strike Benghazi, and with Arabs and Muslims 
in Libya and across the region pleading for the U.S. military to stop 
the bloodshed, the United States and our allies took action and 
prevented the massacre that Qadhafi had promised to commit in a city of 
700,000 people. By doing so, we began creating conditions that are 
increasing the pressure on Qadhafi to give up power.
  Director Panetta has been nominated to lead our Armed Forces amid 
their tenth year of sustained overseas combat. Not surprisingly, this 
has placed a major strain on our forces and their families. And yet, 
our military is performing better today than at any time in our 
history. That is thanks to the thousands of brave young Americans in 
uniform who are writing a new chapter in the history of our great 
country. They have shown themselves to be the equals of the greatest 
generations before them. And the calling that all of us must answer, in 
our service, is to be equal and forever faithful to the sacrifice of 
these amazing Americans.
  I have outlined some of the challenges that lay before Mr. Panetta. I 
have the highest confidence, however, that he is their equal.
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I rise in strong support of the 
nomination of Leon Panetta to be the 23rd Secretary of Defense.
  Mr. Panetta, who currently serves as the Director of the Central 
Intelligence Agency, was nominated by President Obama on April 28. The 
Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on his nomination on 
June 9, and I was honored to introduce him at that hearing. His 
nomination was approved unanimously by the committee on June 14.
  I would like to speak briefly about Director Panetta's career, and in 
particular his time at the Central Intelligence Agency.
  In his 47 years of public service, Director Panetta has held the 
positions of Congressman, chairman of the House Budget Committee, 
Director of the Office of Management and Budget, chief of staff to the 
White House, codirector, with his wife, of the Leon & Sylvia Panetta 
Institute for Public Policy, which I have had the pleasure of speaking 
before, member of the Iraq Study Group, and Director of the CIA.
  His career and service started in 1964 as a second lieutenant in the 
U.S. Army, and now 47 years later he has come full circle to be 
nominated to lead the Department of Defense and U.S. Armed Forces.
  In the course of 2 years as Director of the CIA, Mr. Panetta has 
mastered the intelligence field, led the CIA through a very tumultuous 
time, restored badly damaged relationships with Congress and with the 
Director of National Intelligence, and carried out President Obama's 
personal instruction to him to find Osama bin Laden.
  It has been my pleasure to serve as the chairman of the Senate Select 
Committee on Intelligence during this time and to be able to work 
closely with Mr. Panetta.
  I have no doubt that his past experience and his capabilities prepare 
Leon Panetta to meet the major challenges before the Department of 
  With knowledge of CIA operations and analysis, he will come to the 
Pentagon with a thorough understanding of the situation in Afghanistan 
as well as the aggravating factors of our relationship with Pakistan. 
Through CIA analysis and operations, he is also well aware of the other 
contingencies around the globe where the U.S. military may be called to 
  Director Panetta is also well positioned to guide the Department 
through the constrained budget environment. The budget cuts to the 
Pentagon have already begun, for the first time in 10 years, with the 
appropriations bills now moving through the Congress.
  The Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, on which I serve, held a 
hearing last week with Secretary Robert Gates and the Chairman of the 
Joint Chiefs of Staff, ADM Mike Mullen. Both of them expressed concerns 
that budget cuts not lead to a ``hollow force'' or deprive the 
Department and the Nation of needed capabilities.
  I am confident that Leon Panetta possesses the credentials and 
experience to make cuts where needed and where prudent, but that he 
will do so in a way that keeps the military strong and capable, and in 
a way that maintains the cohesion of the Department and its services.
  Beyond Director Panetta's experience is his leadership style, his 
character, and a deft personal touch. As we all know, personal 
relationships and the way one approaches things matter a great deal, 
whether within Cabinet meetings or negotiating with foreign 
counterparts. Mr. Panetta's approach is effective, and it provides for 
a very good working relationship with the Congress.
  Positions like the Director of the CIA or the Secretary of Defense 
require a strong character and a strong moral compass, qualities that 
this nominee possesses.
  Let me give you an example. Early in his tenure at the CIA in 2009, 
Director Panetta was briefed on a number of active and recent 
intelligence programs. One of them, which I can't describe here, was 
particularly sensitive and provoked questions and concern. Director 
Panetta asked the CIA staff if the congressional intelligence 
committees had been briefed on this program. He was told they had not.
  Mr. Panetta immediately requested an urgent meeting with the 
Intelligence Committee to brief us. He said he found it unacceptable 
that this program had been withheld from Congress, and terminated it in 
large part on that basis.
  In the 2 years since, he has never declined to answer a question or 
provide us with his candid views. He has been completely forthright, 
and motivated only by what is best for the CIA, and more importantly, 
this nation.
  The Department of Defense is the largest Department in the Federal 
Government. As Secretary Gates recently noted, the health care budget 
of the Department of Defense is bigger than the entire budget of the 
CIA. The Secretary of Defense is responsible for thousands of young men 
and women serving in Afghanistan, Iraq, and deployed around the world, 
and bears the burden of every death and casualty we suffer.
  I agree with Secretary Gates that no other position can fully prepare 
someone to be Secretary of Defense. But I believe that Leon Panetta, 
who has served honorably and successfully in Congress, at the Office of 
Management and Budget, at the White House, and now the CIA, is uniquely 
qualified to be

[[Page S3959]]

another outstanding Secretary of Defense in this very challenging time.
  I urge his confirmation.
  Ms. SNOWE. Mr. President, I rise today to enthusiastically support 
the nomination of Leon Panetta, the current Director of the Central 
Intelligence Agency, to be the 23rd Secretary of Defense.
  Director Panetta has contributed nearly five decades of public 
service to our Nation, including as an officer in the U.S. Army, a 
distinguished Congressman, and most recently as Director of the Central 
Intelligence Agency, a position for which he was confirmed by the 
Senate on February 12, 2009. He and I served together in the House of 
Representatives from my first term in 1979 until he departed in 1993 to 
become Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Over the past 
2\1/2\ years, I have had the opportunity to frequently work with 
Director Panetta, in my role as a senior member of the Senate Select 
Committee on Intelligence.
  Like his predecessor, Dr. Robert Gates--who also served as CIA 
Director before becoming Secretary of Defense--Director Panetta brings 
to the Pentagon a wealth of experience built over a lifetime of service 
to his Nation and his fellow Americans. Over the past 2\1/2\ years, 
Director Panetta has repaired a damaged relationship between the CIA 
and Congress, an impressive accomplishment, to say the least, and led 
the agency and the Nation's human intelligence activities at a time 
when the Nation waged two wars and contended with such threats as 
Islamic extremism, terrorism, and cyber intrusion and attack.
  And of course, Director Panetta will forever be remembered as the CIA 
Director during the May 1, 2011, mission in which U.S. forces once and 
for all rid the world of public enemy No. 1 and brought justice to the 
evil incarnate that was Osama bin Laden. On that night, the combined 
might of our Nations military, intelligence, and counterterrorism 
professionals sent the unmistakable message to the terrorists of the 
world that America will prevail in this fight.
  I deeply appreciate Director Panetta's efforts at the CIA, and 
believe he leaves the entire Agency, from the halls of Langley to its 
agents in the farthest reaches of the world, a better and more capable 
organization than it was when he arrived. I am confident that Director 
Panetta's unique experiences within the military, the Congress, and the 
intelligence communities will serve him, the Department of Defense, and 
the Nation well when he assumes the role of Secretary of Defense.
  More than 4\1/2\ years ago, in December 2006, I rose in support of 
the nomination of Dr. Gates for the position for which we consider 
Director Panetta today. At the time, I said that Dr. Gates and the 
Nation were facing the imperative of charting a new course and strategy 
in Iraq, rising violence in Afghanistan, global terrorism, the threats 
posed by nuclear states such as North Korea and possibly Iran, and the 
increasing strains on our military.
  Director Panetta faces similar challenges today. He must continue to 
help shape our role in Iraq, define our strategy for the Nation's 
future involvement in Afghanistan, and recapitalize and reconstitute 
the elements of our military that have been at war for nearly a decade, 
while ensuring that the U.S. military is prepared to meet and overcome 
any hurdle on the horizon, whether in North Korea, China, Africa, the 
Middle East, Eastern Europe, or other, as yet unknowable, places around 
this globe.
  At his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services 
Committee on June 9, Director Panetta said, ``We are no longer in the 
Cold War. This is more like the blizzard war--a blizzard of challenges 
that draws speed and intensity from terrorism, from rapidly developing 
technologies, and the rising number of powers on the world stage.''
  Director Panetta must confront the unpredictable vagaries of this 
``blizzard war'' within perhaps the most arduous budgetary environment 
our Nation has faced since the Great Depression--an environment in 
which President Obama has already called for $400 billion in reductions 
to national security spending over the next decade, much of which will 
come out of Department of Defense budgets.
  It is hard to imagine how exactly cuts of hundreds of billions of 
dollars to national security budgets can be possible without both 
significant tradeoffs and a fundamental retooling of our national 
security strategy. Perhaps more imperative than any other task 
confronting him, Director Panetta will likely be the individual most 
responsible for ensuring that our national security strategy is 
appropriate for meeting our global and national security interests, and 
that our defense budgets are sufficient to meet those challenges.
  In this era in which distance alone is insufficient to insulate the 
United States and our global interests from terrorists and nations that 
wish to do us harm, Director Panetta faces the extraordinary task of 
ensuring that our Armed Forces remain able to defeat today's 
conventional and irregular threats, project power and U.S. presence 
around the world, and develop the war fighting capabilities necessary 
for our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines to prevail in the 
conflicts of the future.
  If any nominee possesses the defense and budget bona fides required 
for such times, it is Director Panetta, who has demonstrated his 
capabilities as Director of the CIA, as former OMB Director, and as the 
former chair of the House Budget Committee. I believe that he is well 
prepared for the challenges of leading the Department of Defense, and I 
will vote to confirm Director Panetta as our 23rd Secretary of Defense.
  On a final note, Secretary Gates will soon take leave from his post 
at the Pentagon, and I believe that he will be remembered for his 
consummate role in transforming our Nation's military from a force that 
focused on Cold War operations to one that was capable of defeating 
threats in Iraq and Afghanistan, while possessing the flexibility 
necessary to successfully carry out a mission like the one that killed 
bin Laden.
  As Secretary Gates prepares to depart public life, I would like to 
thank him for the countless sacrifices he has made over a lifetime of 
contributions to the nation, which includes serving eight Presidents, 
as well as the distinctions of being the only Secretary of Defense in 
U.S. history asked to remain in that office by a newly elected 
President, and the only career officer in the CIA's history to rise 
from entry-level employee to Director. These two stand-out achievements 
speak volumes about Secretary Gates' work ethic and love of country. 
Our country and our security have been forever enhanced by his 
dedication to public service, and I wish him well in his future 
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. MANCHIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. MANCHIN. Mr. President, I have the utmost respect for the Senator 
from Arizona and his commitment to this country and his service to this 
  I can only report what I have seen. I was in Afghanistan twice--as a 
Governor in 2006, representing the National Guard of West Virginia, and 
I went back in 2010. While there, I saw deterioration. I did not see a 
country that had an infrastructure and an economy. I saw corrupt 
leadership and nothing good coming of it.
  With that, I know that the Senator has had much more experience. I 
can only speak from common sense and for the people of West Virginia 
about what they feel. We are a very hawkish State and a patriotic 
State. If 10 years is not enough, how long is enough--I think that is 
the question being asked--for the sacrifices being asked of them? When 
we cannot buy water lines and sewer lines or fix roads and repair 
bridges in West Virginia, yet they hear about the billions we are 
spending in a country that doesn't want us there, I think it is time to 
  Respectfully, that might be the disagreement we have.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.

[[Page S3960]]

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, I rise in support of the nomination of 
Leon Panetta for Secretary of Defense. The President has chosen wisely. 
He has a terrific national security team in place. General Petraeus has 
become the CIA Director. Mr. Donilon has done a great job as National 
Security Adviser. In Leon Panetta, the President could not have chosen 
better. I am pleased with Ambassador Crocker, Ambassador Eikenberry, 
and General Petraeus did a heck of a job in Afghanistan. Ambassador 
Crocker will be the best we have to offer on that side for the 
military-civilian partnership in Afghanistan.
  Leon Panetta heading up the Department of Defense is a home-run 
choice. I have known Leon for quite a while. I want to let the country 
know I think the President made a very wise decision. Tomorrow night, 
he is supposed to tell us about Afghanistan.
  Mr. SCHUMER. Will my colleague yield?
  Mr. GRAHAM. Yes.
  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, I wish to add my accolades about Leon 
Panetta. I know him well. We roomed together for 11 years here in 
Washington. He is a strong, smart, honorable, and devout man. He will 
be a great Secretary of Defense. I thank my colleague for praising him 
and add my accolades.
  Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, that shows you how bipartisan it is going 
to be--Graham and Schumer. That shows you the depth and breadth of Leon 
Panetta--the way people view him here.
  One of the first decisions he will have to make is what to tell the 
President about Afghanistan. I know we are war weary and have been 
there for 10 years. We didn't just throw a dart at the map when we 
decided to go there. That is the place the Taliban was controlling, 
they invited al-Qaida to be their honored guests, and bin Laden had a 
welcome home in Afghanistan. The rest is history.
  President Bush understood that the Taliban was a force for evil. They 
allowed bin Laden to come to Afghanistan and plan the 9/11 attacks. 
They had a choice to make, and they chose poorly. We went in there to 
take the Taliban down.
  We have a war in Iraq--and we can debate whether we should have done 
that. One of the reasons we are still not where we would like to be 10 
years later is because a lot of the resources we had in Afghanistan 
went to Iraq. Now we finally got it right.
  For the last 17 months, we have had enough troops in Afghanistan to 
make a difference. To President Obama, that was a hard decision for you 
to make--to add 30,000 additional troops at a time when most people 
said: Why are we still there? Can't we come home? But the President 
chose wisely, and 2014 is the transition goal--to transition to Afghan 
control. I think we are well on track.
  Tomorrow night, the President will tell us about withdrawing troops. 
I believe we can, not because we are tired but because of the success 
on the ground. Let me point out some successes that would allow the 
President to make a reasoned judgment to withdraw troops. The one thing 
I urge the President to do is never lose sight of why we went there and 
our national security goals in Afghanistan. We will all be judged by 
what we leave behind. We want to leave behind the ability of the Afghan 
people to say no to the Taliban and reject extremism. They have the 
will, but they don't have the capacity yet. But they are getting there. 
Anytime you have the desire of the people who are oppressed by the 
Taliban and al-Qaida and you can help them help themselves, that makes 
it all safer.
  Here is what happened since the President sent surge forces in. In 
November of 2009, there were two nations and 30 NATO trainers--two 
nations helping train the Afghan security forces from NATO. They had a 
combined 30 people. You could put them all in a bus. One thing the 
President did when he surged American forces in was that he insisted 
NATO step up their game. Here we are today, and we have 1,300 NATO 
trainers in Afghanistan with 32 countries providing assistance. We have 
49 different countries helping in some form of training.
  In the last 17 months, we have added 90,000 Afghan Army and police 
forces. So there has been a surge, far beyond the American coalition 
surge, in Afghan forces. How did that happen? We have better training. 
In September of 2009, 800 people were joining the Afghan Army per 
month. They were losing 2,000 a month. That was a terrible trend. In 
December of 2009, because of this new construct we came up with, we 
have been averaging 6,000 army recruits a month and 3,000 for the 
police. Today, we have 160,000 in the Afghan National Army and 126,000 
in the Afghan National Police. By the end of the year, we will have 
305,000 army and police under arms in Afghanistan. And the reason that 
has happened is because we have changed the way we train the Afghan 
security forces.

  So I hope the President, listening to Leon Panetta, Secretary Gates, 
and Secretary Petraeus, will tell the American people we can start 
bringing forces home beginning this summer because we have been 
successful, and we are not going to do anything to undermine that 
success because it has come at such a heavy price.
  In reality, ladies and gentlemen, we have been in Afghanistan with 
the right configuration for about 18 months. The army retention rates 
today in the Afghan Army are 69 percent--almost doubled. The literacy 
rate among the Afghan Army and police force is twice that of the 
national population because we have focused on literacy. It is hard to 
be a policeman or army officer if you can't read or write. We are 
helping a people who have been dirt poor, who have been at war for 30 
years, and who have been treated very poorly by everybody in the world. 
At the end of the day, it is in our national security interest to make 
sure the country where the Taliban took over and allowed bin Laden to 
come in as an honored guest never goes back into the hands of an 
  I am confident Leon Panetta has the wisdom and background, as the CIA 
Director, as a former Member of Congress, and as a successful 
businessperson, to lead the Pentagon at the most challenging time since 
World War II.
  He is taking over from Bob Gates. There is not enough we can say or 
do for Secretary Gates to thank him. He has had the job for 5 years. 
When he came on board, Iraq was a hopeless, lost cause in the minds of 
many, and he and General Petraeus, Ambassador Crocker, and many 
others--mainly our troops and coalition forces--took an Iraq that was 
on the verge of an abyss and we are now on the verge of a 
representative government that can defend itself and be an ally of the 
United States. Having Saddam Hussein replaced by a representative 
government in Iraq aligned with us is priceless. If we could as a 
nation take the place from which we were once attacked and turn it over 
to people who want to go a different way than the Taliban, and they 
have the ability to fight back and say no, all of us will be safer.
  I congratulate the President on picking Leon Panetta to be Secretary 
of Defense. I know he has had a lot of hard decisions in the war on 
terror, and one of the biggest decisions he will make is coming up 
maybe tomorrow night. I want to work with him, Republicans and 
Democrats together, in making sure our Nation is never attacked again 
from Afghanistan. That is possible. We are on the verge of getting that 
  As we draw down troops, I ask the President to please tell those who 
are left behind still fighting in Afghanistan that he hasn't lost sight 
of the prize. The prize is not just bringing our troops home, the prize 
is to make sure their children never have to go back and fight in the 
future. That is the goal--to withdraw from Afghanistan in a way that we 
are safer and that our national security is enhanced. We are on the 
verge of achieving that goal.
  What Secretary Panetta and others are going to be challenged with as 
we go forward in the 21st century is going to be substantial. The enemy 
is still alive, even though not well. We have punished the enemy--al-
Qaida and other extremist groups--but they will not give up easily. At 
the end of the day, the goal is for our country to be safe, and it will 
take more than killing bin Laden to do that. Killing bin Laden was a 
form of justice long overdue, and it did make us safer, but the 
ultimate security in this world lies not with our ability to kill 
individuals but with our ability to help those who need to fight in 
their own backyard and protect

[[Page S3961]]

themselves from terrorism. That really is security that is sustainable.
  If we can leave Afghanistan in 2014 in a fashion that they have the 
capacity to marry up with their will to say no to the Taliban and turn 
their country around toward the light and not the darkness, then I say 
without any doubt that our country did them right. If we cut this 
operation short because we are tired and weary, we will pay a price. 
Our values are so much better than the enemy's. They have patience and 
bad ideas. We have a lot of good ideas for the future of mankind. The 
question is, Do we have the patience to make sure those ideas can 
  This is a long, hard war, fought by a few. We are on the verge of 
success. I could not think of a better person to lead us to a complete 
success, an enduring success, than Leon Panetta. So I look forward, in 
a bipartisan fashion, to voting for I think one of the best choices the 
President could have made as Secretary of Defense.
  To Bob Gates, I would say: Whatever you do in retirement, wherever 
you go, you have my respect, my admiration, and on behalf of the 
American people you will go down in history as one of the steadiest 
hands America could have ever had during challenging times.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Shaheen). The Senator from Michigan.
  Mr. LEVIN. Madam President, first, let me thank the Senator from 
South Carolina for his analysis on Afghanistan as well as his great 
support for Leon Panetta and his comments about Bob Gates, which I very 
much share and commented about this afternoon in a very similar way.
  I particularly wish to commend Senator Graham for his analysis of 
what has changed in Afghanistan in the last 17 or 18 months, so that 
the reductions which will be announced tomorrow are not based on 
getting tired but are being based, I am sure, on the conditions on the 
ground or in Afghanistan and on the critical changes which have taken 
place in Afghanistan.
  I very much agree with his assessment about the surge in the Afghan 
forces. I was listening to his comments from a monitor, and when I 
heard his analysis about 90,000 additional Afghan forces, he is exactly 
right. The surge has not just been 30,000 of our troops but three times 
as many in terms of Afghan troops. And the importance of that is not 
just the numbers, not just the training, and not just the literacy, 
which the Senator pointed out, but also the mentoring and the 
partnering in the field with coalition forces.
  We have tracked this very carefully, and there has been a significant 
increase in the number of Afghan units that consistently are in the 
field partnering with our troops and with other coalition members' 
troops, and that makes a huge difference too because when the Afghan 
people see Afghan troops in the lead instead of foreign nations' troops 
in the lead, they understand that, in fact, the Taliban's argument that 
they are being occupied is a false propaganda argument, and that 
weakens the Taliban tremendously as well.
  Mr. GRAHAM. Will the Senator yield for a question?
  Mr. LEVIN. Yes.
  Mr. GRAHAM. This is the time to have some good bipartisanship.
  Senator Levin, is it not true--I have to ask you a question--that you 
have been saying as long as I can remember that the surge that really 
needs to occur is on the Afghan side?
  You have focused like a laser in the last couple of years on training 
capacity. Not only are we producing 90,000 additional Afghan Army and 
police forces, 97 percent of them now can pass Western shooting 
standards. Two years ago, that number was less than a third. Of the 
NCOs--noncommissioned officers--graduating from the schools in 
Afghanistan, there is about an 80-percent literacy rate. Two years ago, 
it was less than 50 percent.
  So what I wish to acknowledge is that Senator Levin has been focusing 
on what I think is the ticket home with honor and security: building up 
an Afghan army and police force that can fight the fight without 
100,000 Americans. We are well on the way. If we had not changed our 
training program--which the Senator has been focused on for a very long 
time--we would not have had this success. And General Caldwell is one 
of the unsung heroes of this war.
  But I couldn't agree more with my colleague from Michigan. The reason 
we can bring American troops home is because there are more Afghans to 
do the fighting. And the Senator mentioned that during the surge in 
Helmand, it was a 10-to-1 ratio. For every Afghan, there were 10 
American forces. It is almost 50-50 today, with a climb to where it 
will be Afghans in the lead.
  The final thought is that among the trainers themselves, the goal by 
2013 is to replace NATO trainers with Afghan trainers, and we are well 
on our way to having a majority of the training done by Afghans 
themselves. So if we can get the fighting ratios to 1-to-1 this year 
and improve on that by 2014, we will be able to turn the country over 
to the Afghan security forces. And I think we have a good plan. Let's 
just stick with it.
  Mr. LEVIN. I want to first of all thank my good friend from South 
Carolina for those comments. He has been very perceptive of the 
importance of turning this responsibility over to the Afghans as soon 
as possible, and we are clearly on track to do exactly that. It is that 
improvement in the situation on the ground that will allow, hopefully, 
for a significant reduction that will be announced tomorrow. That is 
our hope--my hope.
  But I think the Senator from South Carolina has seen this right from 
the beginning, that we wanted success and we could have success in 
Afghanistan. Indeed, we see some real evidence of that success in the 
military situation on the ground. If only that could be equivalent to 
the governance situation, we all would be a lot more comfortable.
  Mr. GRAHAM. If the Senator will yield for one final thought, the two 
big impediments to our success in Afghanistan are Pakistan and poor 
governance. The reason the Taliban came back is because the governance 
in Afghanistan was poor, not well-accepted by the people, and lack of 
security. We now have better security, and I do see signs of better 
governance. And we have to fix the Pakistan side of the equation. On 
the Afghan side of the border, we are doing about everything we can do 
to build up the Afghan people. We will deal with Pakistan and we will 
deal with better governance, but none of that is possible without 
better security. Now we have a security environment that I think will 
lead to better governance. But don't lose sight of the prize, and that 
is to leave the country in a sustainable manner.
  I look forward to working with Senator Levin to push the Afghan 
Government to do their part and also to engage Pakistan and say: What 
you are doing in Pakistan is unacceptable. Stop the double-dealing. Get 
  I thank the Senator.
  Mr. LEVIN. I think we know our Presiding Officer, Senator Shaheen, is 
very much into the issue of putting some real pressure on Pakistan to 
end the Haqqani network's intrusions and excursions into Afghanistan. 
And I think we are all together on that essential goal of changing 
Pakistani behavior in terms of what they are allowing to occur on their 
soil, which is that safe haven, particularly for the Haqqanis.
  I again thank my friend from South Carolina, and I am reminded by 
something he said of an earlier visit I made to Afghanistan, by the 
way, with a number of colleagues--I think Senator Reed and one other 
Senator were with me. We were with a bunch of Afghan leaders in a small 
town. This is what they call their Shura. It just happened that they 
were having this the day we were visiting. There were maybe 50 or 60, 
70 guys--old guys, all guys--sitting on the ground on a dirt floor. We 
intruded, barged in, and I asked one question.
  I said: Do you want us here?
  The answer: We want you to train our army and leave, and then we will 
invite you back as guests.
  You can't say it much more succinctly.
  I thank my colleague.
  I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. LEVIN. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that further 
proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with.

[[Page S3962]]

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. LEVIN. We are prepared to yield back the remainder of our time 
and do so.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. All time has expired.
  The question is, Will the Senate advise and consent to the nomination 
of Leon E. Panetta, of California, to be Secretary of Defense?
  Mr. LEVIN. I ask for the yeas and nays.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
  There is a sufficient second.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk called the roll.
  The result was announced--yeas 100, nays 0, as follows:

                       [Rollcall Vote No. 93 Ex.]


     Brown (MA)
     Brown (OH)
     Johnson (SD)
     Johnson (WI)
     Nelson (NE)
     Nelson (FL)
     Udall (CO)
     Udall (NM)
  The nomination was confirmed.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the motions to 
reconsider are considered made and laid upon the table.
  The President shall be immediately notified of the Senate's action.