DOMESTIC ANTITERRORIST REWARD ACT OF 1993 (House of Representatives - March 04, 1993)

[Page: H1035]

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from New York [Mr. Solomon] is recognized for 60 minutes.

Mr. SOLOMON. Mr. Speaker, concerning the New York Trade Center bombing, a wire service story earlier today reported that a smell of decaying flesh was coming out of the remaining debris being removed from the site indicating that more bodies may still be buried there, and that is the reason I rise today, to call attention to the Nation's problem that is deadly serious that has once again reared its head on American soil. It is terrorism.

Mr. Speaker, last Friday's bombing blast in New York City has reminded us that this threat is not something confined to Third World countries or to countries at war. It has reminded us of our own vulnerability and the great debt we all owe to the various security forces throughout this country at the Federal, the State, and local levels. It has reminded us that, yes, there are barbarians at the gate, barbarians whose cowardice, whose insidiousness, and disrespect for human life knows no bounds. Mr. Speaker, let this be a reminder of our need for vigilance.

That is why I point to this poster. Let this be a cold awakening to those who want to gut our defense budget, our intelligence budget, and our security structures in this country.

If there can be any silver lining in this tragedy, Mr. Speaker, which has claimed at least 5 innocent lives, wounded more than 1,000 people, and disrupted still thousands more lives, it would be if the Nation woke up and recognized this fact.

Despite the end of the cold war, the world remains an unstable and very dangerous place. In fact, there are reasons to believe that the terrorist threat is greater now than ever before and could even get worse in the future.

This is true for several reasons, Mr. Speaker.

First, the collapse of the Soviet Union has shattered the links between that empire and the multitudinous terrorist groups that were aligned with it in opposition to the United States and the West. It has long been known, and has now been amply documented by the new, democratic Government of Russia, that the Soviet Union funded, trained, armed, and exercised great influence over an array of terrorist groups throughout the world.

While this was heinous, and contributed to many unspeakable acts and tragic revolutions, there were times when the Soviets, in the interests of good relations with the West, encouraged restraint on their clients.

They did not do it often, but they did it at times. Today, this restraint is gone, and the terrorist groups, though perhaps less well-funded, are operating independently. This makes their movements even harder to track.

Their hatred for the United States and the West continues unabated, and what is more, they are just as well armed as ever, perhaps even more so.

With the Chinese Government continuing to arm rogue elements around the world, and with Russian military personnel and defense workers trying to turn a quick buck, obtaining arms is no problem for these terrorist groups anywhere in the world, and, as the World Trade Center bombing tragically displayed, even crude, homemade devices can cause great damage.

Another development which may actually increase the threat of terrorism is European integration. We are talking about Europe 1992. While visa-free travel in Europe is no doubt a positive phenomenon on balance, it makes the life of the terrorist that much easier. Now, once in Europe, a terrorist can shift locations endlessly, skipping from one police jurisdiction to another, without ever going near a public official.

Mr. Speaker, a few years back, we took action to help our security agents track down suspected terrorists abroad

who were suspected of terrorist acts against American citizens and their property overseas. I sponsored an amendment which eventually became law, which is cited by this poster, that created a bounty for terrorists who attacked U.S. citizens and U.S. interests abroad for up to $2 million. That is the law today. Now that American soil has again been violated by the plague, it is time to make this bounty apply to acts of terrorism here at home, as well.

That is why, Mr. Speaker, I have just today introduced a bill along with the gentleman from New York [Mr. Gilman], the ranking Republican on the Committee on Foreign Affairs who I have had the privilege of serving with for many years, along with the gentlewoman from New York [Ms. Molinari], the gentleman from Florida [Mr. Goss], and the gentleman from Indiana [Mr. Burton]. We have introduced this bill called the Domestic Antiterrorist Reward Act of 1993 which would raise the bounty for acts of domestic terrorism, currently standing at $500,000, up to the same $2 million, the same amount currently available for bounties leading to the arrest and conviction of terrorists who attack American citizens overseas, and I say to the Members of Congress, let's show the victims of this outrageous act that we will not rest until the perpetrators are caught. Let's give our security agents, so unfairly maligned in some circles, a little assistance.

Just knowing that one of their own might turn them in for a $2 million bounty is in itself a deterrence against terrorism, a deterrence that could save the lives of American citizens right here in this country, as well as overseas.

So, Mr. Speaker, at this time I yield to my very good friend, the gentleman from New York [Mr. Gilman].

[Page: H1036]

Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my good friend and colleague from the State of New York, Mr. Solomon, for organizing today's special order on terrorism. In addition, I would like to commend the Congressman from New York [Mr. Solomon] for introducing legislation to boost the maximum reward for information on domestic terrorist incidents from $500,000 to $2 million. I am pleased to be an original cosponsor of that measure.

As many of our colleagues will recall, a few years ago, Congressman Solomon led the effort in the House to increase the reward for information on international terrorist incidents from $500,000 to $2 million. Our current effort is to bring the domestic reward into parity with the international reward.

Mr. Speaker, virtually every American household saw the dramatic television footage of the World Trade Center explosion on Friday of last week. Sadly, in my district, bordering New York City, the tragedy struck close to home and claimed the life of Robert Kirkpatrick, a carpenter and locksmith, whose neighbors described as generous to a fault. Robert, whose office was on the second level of the trade center's parking garage, was one of the five people killed in that incident. In addition, over 1,000 were injured as a result of the bomb blast.

Over the years, due to the extraordinary efforts of our Nation's law enforcement officials, Customs Service and intelligence agencies, the United States has been virtually free of terrorist incidents. However, as the World Trade Center bombing tragically demonstrates, we are certainly not free of this criminal scourge.

Several years ago, I introduced legislation calling on President Reagan to convene a summit meeting of world leaders to adopt a program against international terrorism. Today, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and our growing level of cooperation with the republics, there exists an opportunity to further curtail terrorist activity. For this reason, I will be introducing next week a comprehensive antiterrorism bill, and I invite the support of my colleagues.

Terrorism ranks as a primary concern for Americans, and demands the attention of our Government, which has a clear responsibility to provide for the safety of its citizens. However, we are all frustrated that our Government, a world superpower, with vast intelligence and military powers cannot always stop terrorists. Additionally, we must beware of treating terrorists as anything other than what they are: Criminals; for if we do, we are playing their game, which is to gain publicity.

It is vital that the United States continue to adhere to the principles of the Nixon terrorism committee which stated that terrorists should be prosecuted for criminally defined acts of terrorism. While there is a significant expense involved in extraditing and trying a terrorist, the result, a public trial which removes any grandeur from the terrorist, is likely to assist in curtailing the spread of terrorism.

Following the gulf war, the world was granted a reprive from terrorism. However, terrorism has not ceased, it has temporarily gone into remission. Many of the states that previously supported terrorism have only shelved their terrorist infrastructures for temporary storage.

I believe that there are several steps which that can be taken to strengthen our Nation's approach to terrorism. While democracies must preserve the ideals upon which they are founded, I believe that democracies can and should also have a strong response to terrorism. Our Nation, working with other nations, can severely curtail the freedoms under which terrorists have operated during the past decade.

My legislation seeks to strengthen the U.N position against terrorism, to utilize our vast economic resources and political pressure against states which support terrorism to strengthen bilateral and multilateral cooperation against terrorist organizations, focus on encouraging media restraint in reporting terrorist incidents, and to strive to alleviate the social and economic problems which contribute to the rise of terrorist activity.

The United States has had an official policy on terrorism since 1972, when President Nixon created the counterterrorism office following the massacre of the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. However, over the past 20 years, it has became increasingly apparent that terrorism is a growth industry. Following the dramatic Iranian hostage ordeal of 1979, the Congress and the Executive branch cooperated to expand antiterrorist measures.

While not approaching the levels of terrorist incident in the mid-1980's, according to the U.S. State Department Patterns of Global Terrorism Report, international terrorist incidents increased by 22 percent in 1991. However, while the report clarifies that much of the 1991 increase was due to the gulf war, it is also apparent that terrorism remains a problem.

While no antiterrorism policy is 100 percent effective, there are several disturbing trends in terrorism that must be addressed. The first trend is the prevalence of state-sponsored terrorism. With the success of terrorism as a foreign policy tool demonstrated repeatedly over the past two decades, terrorism has attracted its devotees.

Second, the revelations of the post-Persian Gulf war regarding the extent of the Iraqi nuclear program, coupled with the open pursuit of nuclear weapons by Iran and North Korea, the specter of nuclear terrorism suddenly becomes very real.

The United States cannot ignore the possibility of nuclear terrorism or the real threat of continued state sponsorship of terrorist organizations. There are several important opportunities available to the United States that were not available 2 years ago. Most importantly, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Western World's current level of cooperation with the Commonwealth of Independent States presents an opportunity to form a coalition of the major economic states of the world to work toward the eradication of state sponsored terrorism. Second, the success of the coalition's actions to avert terrorist incidents during the Persian Gulf conflict indicates an opportunity to further curtail international terrorism by focusing additional resources and international political will on the terrorism problem.

The current high-intensity controls over nuclear materials will likely ensure for the short term that nuclear materials will not fall into the hands of terrorist organizations. However, with the increasing use of nuclear power worldwide, as well as the instability of the former Soviet Union's vast arsenal of nuclear weapons, the world community cannot solely rely upon the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Non-Proliferation Treaty to prevent a determined terrorist organization from obtaining nuclear material.

Because of the time, material, and expertise needed to construct even a crude nuclear device, the international community should cooperate to develop a shared intelligence and military response to realistic nuclear terrorist threats. While this issue is one that all nations will not agree upon, the United States should begin working within the United Nations to expand the convention against terrorism to include nuclear terrorism.

With adequate intelligence, the United States can monitor, and to a certain extent, predict the actions of certain international terrorist organizations. Leading up to the tragic bombing of Pan Am flight 103 in December 1988, there were several warning clues that should have alerted authorities to the potential for a disastrous incident. Since that tragedy, airline security has improved, as has international cooperation on intelligence activities. However, there is still room for improvement.

State-sponsored terrorism represents a higher intensity level of terrorism which could potentially become a serious national security threat to the United States because state sponsorship of terrorism greatly expands resources for terrorists, the level of violence and the organizational effectiveness of state-sponsored terrorist organizations represents a direct threat to our democratic institutions. A state-sponsored terrorist organization has several significant advantages, including: access to intelligence; financial support; sophisticated munitions, most notoriously plastic explosives and difficult to detect munitions; and lastly, technical expertise.

State-sponsored terrorism dropped significantly during 1991, mainly because of factors related to the Persian Gulf war, but also due to the drastically changed global balance of power. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the cessation of its support for states sponsoring terrorist organizations worldwide, dealt a blow to organized terrorism, both in terms of financial support to terrorist supporting regimes such as North Korea and Cuba, as well as to terrorist organizations such as the Palestinian Liberation Organization [PLO].

Unlike the world situation a few years ago, today's global balance presents several opportunities to address state sponsored terrorism. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States and the Western nations have an opportunity to increase the pressure on states which support terrorism, including those states that frequently pay ransoms to terrorist supporting states. With a concerted effort to pressure the six terrorist supporting states economically and politically to abandon their terrorist organizations, the United States and its allies can effectively dismantle the elaborate support apparatus that has grown over the past decade.

A national strategy against terrorism must be a coherent, coordinated, multilevel approach to all the different aspects of terrorism. The current world political situation is such that a focused effort to end state-supported terrorism would have a reasonable chance of success.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the end of the cold war struggle, the United States and the G-7 are situated to place enormous economic pressure on states which support terrorism. The current sanctions against Libya are an excellent example of a process that is sufficiently flexible.

The United States should also work with its allies to request media restraint in reporting terrorist incidents. The Chicago Sun Times and the Daily News are to be commended for their policies which include paraphrasing terrorist demands to avoid propaganda, banning the participation of reporters in negotiations, coordinating coverage through supervising editors in contact with police.

The United States also take the lead in increasing intelligence cooperation on terrorist activity, by focusing mainly on improving intelligence sharing among nations. The focus should also include improving intelligence and counterterrorism activities with business. While the number of attacks against businesses abroad has declined, American businesses remain an easy target for terrorism because of the necessary openness they must maintain in order to conduct business. On the other hand, U.S. Government facilities, following several tragic bombings during the 1980's have significantly improved their security by hardening the installations and increasing security. Because businesses with overseas interests have taken steps to improve their own counterterrorism activities, the Department of State as the lead agency for the protection of Americans abroad should take on the responsibility to coordinate with businesses overseas to coordinate counterterrorism activities. Additionally, because businesses will almost always pay ransom for abducted personnel, the terrorists have come to view business kidnapings as a prime source of funding. It would be worthwhile for the businesses to coordinate action with the U.S. Government in order to curtail future kidnaping through education and advance warnings.

Additionally, the causes of terrorism must not be overlooked. Terrorism is brought about in many cases because of serious human rights problems or economic difficulties. While efforts to promote democracy will not be a panacea to the causes of terrorism, it will strengthen international will to resist terrorism. Additionally, the current focus on peace talks in the Middle East represents an important step in bringing the parties to the conflict together to eliminate the rhetoric and hatred which has been the cause of nearly 50 percent of the terrorist incidents of the past two decades.

The Nixon committee also stated that the U.S. Government would seek the reduction or elimination of the causes of terrorism at home and abroad. In situations in which the underlying problems leading to terrorism represent legitimate concerns, the United States should work, along with the United Nations, to reduce or eliminate these threats.

U.S. policy toward terrorism has been focused and refined since its first inception in 1972, and currently represents a fairly coherent and effective strategy. However, because of the dramatic changes in the world balance of power over the past 5 years as well as the growing threat from state-sponsored and nuclear terrorism, the focus on counterterrorist activities must be strengthened and expanded.

[Page: H1038]

[TIME: 1400]

Mr. Speaker, I again commend the gentleman from New York [Mr. Solomon] for bringing up this measure today, to increase the rewards for information concerning domestic violence that is brought about by terrorists against our own people here in the United States. I urge our colleagues to join in this effort to bring about the adoption of this legislation.

Mr. SOLOMON. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from New York, the ranking Republican on the Committee on Foreign Affairs, for being a sponsor of this major piece of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I might also say I was just handed a notice that informs me that the White House is confirming that an arrest has been made concerning the Trade Center bombing. It is a person of foreign origin.

Mr. Speaker, let me just point our what the existing law does. I would take an opportunity just to read this poster. This poster appears all over the world in various countries where terrorist acts have been taken against American citizens.

This poster says:

$2 million reward. The United States Government is authorized to make payment of up to $2 million for information aiding in the prevention of terrorist acts outside the United States against U.S. citizens or property, or for information leading to the arrest or conviction of any person who has committed a terrorist act against United States citizens or property. Any person with information is urged to contact the nearest United States embassy or consulate, or, if unable to do so, to write * * *.

And it gives an address here in this country.

Here is another poster that appears in every country throughout the world. It says, `There's a price we pay for terrorism, and there's a price we will pay to stop it.'

It goes on and says:

Three American hostages have not come back from Lebanon. Their agonizing captivity ended not in freedom, but in cold blooded execution at the hands of their captors. To bring these murderers to justice, the United States Government offers rewards of up to $2 million. The money is available under a program to obtain information that helps punish past terrorist acts or to prevent future ones. If you have any information * * *.

And it goes on to explain what one should do.

Mr. Speaker, this poster carries the picture of Col. William Higgins, the marine colonel murdered in 1991, Peter Kilburn, murdered in 1986, and William Buckley, whom we all remember, murdered in 1985.

Mr. Speaker, the point of our legislation today is to make this program, which is now available for acts of terrorism overseas, available for domestic acts of terrorism within the territory of the United States, such as the U.S. Trade Center building in New York that was just recently bombed. We hope to get this legislation enacted immediately. It will go a long way toward deterring acts of terrorism against American citizens in this country.

The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Hinchey). Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Wisconsin [Mr. Obey] is recognized for 60 minutes.

[Mr. OBEY addressed the House. His remarks will appear hereafter in the Extensions of Remarks.]

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from California [Mr. Dreier] is recognized for 60 minutes.

[Mr. DREIER addressed the House. His remarks will appear hereafter in the Extensions of Remarks.]

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Missouri [Mr. Gephardt] is recognized for 60 minutes.

[Mr. GEPHARDT addressed the House. His remarks will appear hereafter in the Extensions of Remarks.]

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from California [Mr. Dornan] is recognized for 60 minutes.

[Mr. DORNAN addressed the House. His remarks will appear hereafter in the Extensions of Remarks.]

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from New York [Mr. Owens] is recognized for 60 minutes.

[Mr. OWENS addressed the House. His remarks will appear hereafter in the Extensions of Remarks.]