FIGHTING THE WAR ON TERRORISM (House of Representatives - May 09, 1995)

[Page: H4600]

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. Fox] is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. FOX of Pennsylvania. Mr. Speaker, on April 19 a tragedy occurred which rocked the Nation. For the second time in recent years, terrorists struck a target in the United States and, at the same time, dealt a blow to our national sense of security. As everyone now knows, a terrorist, or group of terrorists, exploded a car bomb in front of the Federal office building in Oklahoma City, killing hundreds of adults and children and leaving scores injured.

We, as a Nation, now realize that it could happen to any of us, anywhere, and none of us are immune--not even our children.

In the painful days which have followed, citizens began to take stock of the situation and Congress will consider its legislative options to address this. How can we prevent this kind of disaster from ever happening again? The most truthful answer is that we can't completely prevent these kinds of tragedies, but we can take appropriate steps to reduce the number and severity of them.

As the magnitude of the horror in Oklahoma City was fully felt, all Americans began to realize that the terrorist bombing had profoundly changed all our lives, not just those of us who have lost loved ones in the nightmare attack.

We experienced a tragic lesson that day. Terrorism is not just something to be feared from foreign nationalists; it can be a horror from within our country as well. There are obvious and dramatic lessons to be learned by the American people in the wake of this disaster. We need to examine the balance of power between the authority of the state versus the rights of the individual.

In the House, we are considering several measures. The State-Sponsored Terrorism Responsibility Act would hold state sponsors of terrorism responsible for their actions and allow American victims to have a means of redress. This bill will amend the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act to provide specific jurisdiction for lawsuits against countries that support or condone terrorism, torture or genocide.

International terrorism poses a grave threat to the interests and security of the United States both at home and abroad. Outlaw states continue to serve as sponsors and promoters of this reprehensible activity by providing a safe haven, terrorist training and weapons. This legislation will make those states responsible for their actions and the actions of those they support in their terroristic efforts.

Other bills in the House would place new restrictions on the granting of visas to aliens linked to terrorism activities and would remove restrictions on a database that helps identify aliens with ties to terrorists seeking admission to the United States.

The House measure would also repeal the 1990 law that forbids consular officials from denying visas based solely on an alien's membership in a known terrorist organization and would establish deportation proceedings against aliens living in the United States and engaged in terrorist activities.

It would further restrict the use, purchase, sale and transfer of nuclear materials, plastic explosives and toxic gases and would encourage broader disclosure by consumer reporting agencies to the FBI for counterintelligence and counterterrorism investigations.

Finally, the House is considering legislation which would give the FBI greater access to hotel/motel records for the purpose of identifying subjects of terrorism investigations.

Each bill before Congress deserves careful consideration and I hope we will be able to incorporate the best ideas of each into a bipartisan antiterrorism package with sufficient teeth to help us put an end to the senseless criminal violence we have seen in Oklahoma City, at the World Trade Center, on the Achille Lauro and in the skies over Lockerbie, Scotland.

And for the families of those who were killed in Oklahoma City we offer our prayers and condolences. We will do everything within our power to ensure that those who committed the cowardly acts of violence will be brought to justice and punished. It won't bring back those who lost their lives, but it will send a strong signal that our Government will no longer tolerate such acts against the freedom-loving people of this great Nation.