General Myers Confirmation Hearing

[Posted 14 November 2001]

Senate Armed Services Committee
U.S. Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) Holds Hearing On Nomination of General Richard Myers to be Chairman of The Joint Chiefs of Staff
Speaker: U.S. Senator Carl Levin (D-Mi), Chairman
Washington, D.C.

SEPTEMBER 13, 2001

LEVIN: Today, in New York City and across the Potomac in Virginia, our fellow citizens continue to sift through the ruins two days after the most deadly and cowardly attack ever against the United States. The terrorists behind this horror sought to destroy more than structures, they sought to destroy the American spirit. But those who unleashed this horror now understand you have failed. Through our rage at these attacks on our people and on our free institutions shines a focused determination to recover our loved ones and friends who are still lost, and to assist their loved ones in coping with the devastating void into which they have been plunged. Our fury at those who attack innocence is matched by our determination to protect our citizens from more terror, and by our resolve to track down, to root out, and relentlessly pursue the terrorists and those who would shelter or harbor them.

Two nights ago, Senator Warner and I joined Secretary Rumsfeld, General Shelton, and General Myers at the Pentagon, and witnessed first-hand that determination. Brave men and women were attending to the victims and fighting the fires -- all just a few feet away from loved ones and friends who were still missing or presumed killed. Many of them have been working non-stop ever since the attack. America salutes them as the genuine heroes and heroines that they are. And our prayers are with the victims and the families and friends who grieve for them.

For every person who has perpetrated a barbaric act, thousands of Americans have engaged in acts of extraordinary courage. Those acts are still unfolding, and will unfold in the days, weeks, and months ahead.

Debate is an inherent part of our democracy. And while our democratic institutions are stronger than any terrorist attack, in one regard we operate differently in times of national emergency. We set aside our differences and we ask decent people everywhere to join forces with us to seek out and defeat the common enemy of the civilized world.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Hugh Shelton, assured the nation two nights ago that America's armed forces are ready. General Shelton has served in the demanding position of chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the past four years with great distinction. The nation and every man and woman who wears our country's uniform owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude.

And now, General Richard Myers is ready to assume the duties that General Shelton so magnificently shouldered. The president has nominated General Myers to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. General Shelton's term expires on September 30. This committee must act on General Myers nomination, and we will do so.

The tragic events of the last two days vividly remind us again of the importance of this position. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the highest ranking military officer in the United States armed forces, and is the principal military adviser to the president, the National Security Council, and the secretary of defense.

General Myers is uniquely well-qualified to serve as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs. He is a decorated Vietnam veteran who knows the dangers faced by our men and women in uniform. He has led U.S. forces in Japan and in the Pacific with a steady hand. He has served as assistant to the chairman and as commander-in-chief, U. S. Space Command. Since February, 2000, he has served as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the nation's second-highest ranking military officer, at times acting as chairman in General Shelton's absence. General Myers is, I believe, the first vice chairman to be nominated as chairman.

At times when we are reminded almost daily of the dangers to our military personnel and the sacrifices of their families, we particularly want to welcome General Myers' wife, Mary Jo. Mrs. Myers, we welcome you. We thank you for your service to the nation. You, too, will be called upon for sacrifice, in addition to the extraordinary sacrifice which you and the family have already undertaken. This is no ordinary time. This will be no ordinary nomination hearing.

As vice chairman, General Myers has been personally involved in the rescue efforts at the Pentagon and in guiding the United States armed forces during these difficult days. He is in a unique position to update the committee and the country on the situation, and we have asked him to do so.

General Myers, we welcome your testimony on the status of the efforts at the Pentagon, the extent of the damage and loss of life, the role that the U.S. military forces are playing in support of rescue and relief efforts in New York City, and what steps this nation might take to strengthen our ongoing efforts to combat the scourge of terrorism.

General Myers has responded to the committee's pre-hearing policy questions and our standard questionnaire. Without objection, these responses will be made part of the record. The committee has received the required paperwork on General Myers, and will be reviewing that paperwork to make sure that it is in accordance with the committee's requirements.

I just want to make two very brief announcements before I call on Senator Warner, and then on our two colleagues who will be introducing General Myers.

First, at the conclusion of our open session, Senator Warner and I have determined that we will go into a members-only, classified session in the Intelligence Committee Hearing Room, SH 219. General Myers will be there with other members from the uniformed staff. Also, Secretary Wolfowitz will be joining us at that time.

Secondly, we are making arrangements for bus transportation -- I want to thank Senator Warner for his leadership in this -- for members of the committee who would like to go to the Pentagon at approximately 6:30 this evening. There are a number of members who have made their own arrangements to go over the last couple of days. Senator Warner and I fully concurred and thought it would be helpful to arrange for transportation for those who might wish to go to the Pentagon at approximately that time, 6:30 this evening. We will be back to you as soon as possible with details about the precise time and place. It will be after our executive session at a place to be determined.

Senator Warner?

WARNER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

And I do hope as many members who can will take this opportunity. Just moments ago, I left the site and I have been on it twice now.

WARNER: And General Myers, I want to thank you for taking the time to go up there today -- we met at the site together -- and particularly, General, that you took the time to recognize the hard- working people there, primarily from Virginia and Maryland, the District of Columbia; fire, rescue, Red Cross, engineers.

It's a remarkable scene, I say to my colleagues, and I think no matter how many times we viewed this on television, those of you who can avail themselves of the opportunity to see not only the site, the work going on, but the precise manner in which that plane was directed at the building.

So Mr. Chairman, I've just received a call from the White House. I am to meet with the president at 3:10, so I'm going to put my statement in for the record. I thank Mrs. Myers, as the chairman said, for your career opportunities, not only for yourself, but for your distinguished husband. Without doubt, it's a team effort. So often in the military, fortunately, it's a team effort.

So if you'll excuse me, I'm going to depart. I hope to return in time for your executive committee hearing.

End Part I