STOP BUREAUCRATIC TURF FIGHTS OVER TERRORISM REWARDS -- HON. OLYMPIA J. SNOWE (Extension of Remarks - July 22, 1993)
HON. OLYMPIA J. SNOWE
in the House of Representatives
WEDNESDAY, JULY 21, 1993
- Ms. SNOWE. Mr. Speaker, today I am introducing legislation to bring an end to months of irresponsible turf fights between the FBI and the State Department over who would have to pay for rewards for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of individuals responsible for the February bombing of the World Trade Center in New York. This sorry episode underlines that the U.S. Government remains psychologically, and in some cases, legislatively unprepared to cope with the arrival of international terrorism on American shores.
- In a hearing before the Foreign Affairs Committee last week, State Department and FBI witnesses admitted that neither agency had yet offered a reward for information on the World Trade Center bombing. Each agency has existing legislative authority to do so, and both witnesses agreed that such a reward should be offered.
- The FBI claims that while it is the agency with primary jurisdiction over acts of terrorism within the United States, it is unable to use its terrorism rewards program because of insufficient funding. The State Department, which has primary jurisdiction over acts of international terrorism, admits that it has sufficient funds in its own terrorism rewards program. However, the Department claims it cannot offer a reward for the World Trade Center bombing because its legislative authority prohibits rewards for international terrorist acts that occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.
- Five months have passed while this intellectual and legalistic argument has raged between the two agencies. My bill would remove the State Department's excuse for inaction by deleting the reference to the territorial jurisdiction in which an act of international terrorism occurs against Americans or American property.
- I will be working to ensure that this legislative correction is made during Senate consideration of the House-Senate conference for the State Department authorization bill, which passed the House last month. Still, I would urge the executive branch not to wait for congressional action, but to work quickly to resolve this disagreement administratively.
- To the extent that information may exist abroad that would aid in the arrest or conviction of terrorists linked with the World Trade Center bombing, the administration should realize that its failure to act is not just a regrettable bureaucratic disagreement. This is an issue of American lives, and should be given the priority it deserves.