Sen. Paul Discusses Delay in Bin Laden Informant Trial
Appellate hearing in Pakistan for Dr. Afridi postponed indefinitely
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Sen. Rand Paul today took to the Senate floor to discuss the imprisonment of Dr. Shakil Afridi, and his appellate hearing for today in Pakistan that was postponed indefinitely.
Dr. Afridi, a key figure in finding Osama bin Laden, is being held in a Pakistani prison on a 33-year sentence. According to news sources, his appellate hearing today was postponed, and local officials fear for Dr. Afridi's safety based on reports of serious threats from militant inmates in the same facility.
Last month, Sen. Paul sent a letter to President Obama urging a delay in the release U.S. financial aid to the government of Pakistan, and to hold all aid until Dr. Afridi is released. He also has introduced legislation, S.3269, which calls for the same action.
Below is video and transcript of Sen. Paul's floor speech this afternoon:
There is a doctor in Pakistan by the name of Shakil Afridi. He has been identified as the doctor who has helped us with information in order to get bin Laden. The Pakistan government has now put him in prison for 33 years.
I think this is an abomination. While we can't tell countries what they must do with their internal affairs, we certainly don't have to reward them with taxpayer money when they put someone in prison who was attempting to help America.
My point and my message to Pakistan, if you want to be an ally, act like it. Putting this man in prison for 33 years for helping America get bin Laden, which Pakistan was ostensibly supposed to be doing, is a real travesty of justice.
Bin Laden lived for nearly a decade in Pakistan, in a city, living comfortably a mile or two from one of their military academies. We finally got him, but it doesn't appear as if we got him with much help from the Pakistani government.
So now this doctor is in prison for 33 years, and how does President Obama respond? President Obama this week gave them $1 billion, an additional $1 billion.
We're rewarding bad behavior with more money, with more of your money, money we don't even have. We have a $1 trillion deficit and we're giving them an extra $1 billion.
So yesterday we were supposed to have an appeal. Dr. Afridi, the doctor who helped us, was supposed to get a chance to try to prove his innocence, his trial has been indefinitely delayed.
We have requested information from the Pakistani embassy. We have requested:Is there going to be a trial? When's the date? When has the date been set for his appeal? We got no answer.
We requested this information from President Obama's Administration, from his State Department: Will Dr. Afridi get a trial? When will the trial be? We've gotten no answer.
If we can't get an answer, if they're going to continue to hold this man, I see no reason to send taxpayer to Pakistan. I have the votes and the ability to force a vote on this issue.
My plan is next week to force a vote on this issue. The vote will be on ending all aid to Pakistan. Ending the aid until this doctor is freed. This is not a question I take lightly. This doctor's life is now being threatened.
The information minister from that particular province in Pakistan says that they want him transferred because they have death threats on a daily basis to him. They're worried about other prisoners killing him.
I would hate to have this on the conscience of the Obama administration if this doctor, who helped us get bin Laden, is killed in prison. I would hate to have this on my conscience in Pakistan if they have an innocent man behind b whose crime is helping America if he were to be killed in prison.
At the very least, the Pakistani government ought to immediately get him into a safe prison in one of the larger cities outside the tribal regions. So we're concerned about Dr. Afridi's safety. We're concerned about imprisoning him for life, for helping America.
We're also concerned about American taxpayers' money being taken from hardworking Americans and sent to a country that seems to disrespect us.
I'm all for cooperating with Pakistan. I hope they will continue to work with us, but you shouldn't have to buy your friends. We just gave them an extra billion dollars, and yet they continue to disrespect us by holding this man in prison.
I'm very concerned about his safety. I'm concerned that his appeal was not heard today, that his trial was canceled. And next week, if we don't have answers on his trial, we will be here on the floor until I get a vote on whether or not we should continue sending money to Pakistan while they hold him.
This is a very important issue for Americans, and I hope all across America people are going to ask themselves and call their Senators and say, "you know what, I'm not so sure we should send our hard-earned dollars to Pakistan when they treat us this way."
Thank you, madam president, and I yield back my time.