Johnathan Graffeo, spokesperson for Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), send TPMDC the following statement after his boss decided to drop his holds on dozens of Obama nominees Feb. 8:
The purpose of placing numerous holds was to get the White House's attention on two issues that are critical to our national security - the Air Force's aerial refueling tanker acquisition and the FBI's Terrorist Device Analytical Center (TEDAC). With that accomplished, Sen. Shelby has decided to release his holds on all but a few nominees directly related to the Air Force tanker acquisition until the new Request for Proposal is issued.
The Air Force tanker acquisition is not an "earmark" as has been reported; it is a competition to replace the Air Force's aging aerial refueling tanker fleet. Sen. Shelby is not seeking to determine the outcome of the competition; he is seeking to ensure an open, fair and transparent competition that delivers the best equipment to our men and women in uniform. Sen. Shelby is fully justified in his concern given the history and current status of this acquisition. One would think that our Air Force's top priority would be to ensure that our men and women in uniform have the best, most capable equipment. Clearly, the draft RFP illustrates that is not the case.
Nor is the TEDAC a so-called earmark; it is a facility specifically requested by the Department of Justice and the FBI. They need such a facility to forensically examine Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) from Afghanistan, Iraq, the Horn of Africa, and elsewhere, including the device the Christmas Day Bomber was wearing. The FBI, along with their federal state and local counterparts use this forensic information from these retrieved explosive devices to catch terrorists throughout the world. This facility was to provide the FBI the capability to begin to address a 20-year backlog in collected IEDs from abroad and in the US. Forensic evidence that could help us identify and hunt down terrorists is being amassed in warehouses, while the FBI does their best to process it in a temporary and inadequate facility in a converted parking garage at Quantico.
Sen. Shelby is fully justified in his concern that the Obama Administration is seeking to rescind funds already appropriated for this vital national security purpose. He will continue to work through the appropriations process to ensure that the U.S. military, the intelligence community, and federal law enforcement personnel receive the funding and facilities they need to exploit and analyze intelligence information critical to fighting terrorism and ensuring American security worldwide. It is unacceptable that the Obama Administration wants to read terrorists our Miranda rights and try them in U.S. courts but is impeding the processing of evidence that could also lead to their conviction and the capture of others.