Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, I have sought recognition to comment briefly on a series of hearings scheduled by the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Government Information of the Judiciary Committee in the wake of Oklahoma City, although one had actually been scheduled in advance.
We have so far had hearings on the statutes proposed by the administration and others. We have had a hearing in response to certain groups concerned with the issue of constitutional rights. A hearing is scheduled for this Thursday, May 11, on the so-called mayhem manuals, where you can find out how to make a bomb, and a hearing is scheduled on May 18 on the incidents involving Waco, TX and Ruby Ridge, ID.
I have received correspondence from the distinguished chairman of the full committee, Senator Hatch, who raises a question about the timeliness of the hearings and about the jurisdiction of my subcommittee. I have responded to Senator Hatch, and intend to put the correspondence in the Record so it may be available for the public, by noting that the jurisdiction is clear-cut on the subcommittee, both under the authority on terrorism and on governmental information.
It is my view, Mr. President, that it is important and the hearings are long past due on what happened at Waco, TX and what happened at Ruby Ridge, ID. There can be no misunderstanding or no question that whatever happened at Waco, TX and Ruby Ridge, ID, that there is absolutely, positively no justification for the bombing of the Federal building in Oklahoma City, OK.
But there has been a great deal of concern about whether there has been a candid response by the Government of the United States, and in the congressional oversight responsibility, we should lay all the facts on the table in the interest of full disclosure--let the chips fall where they may. The virtue of strength of a democracy is that we do not cover our mistakes; that if there are errors and if there are problems, we identify them forthrightly.
There had been some concern that a hearing on Ruby Ridge, ID might in some way prejudice the investigation by the prosecuting attorney who may intend to bring some charges, perhaps even against Federal officials. I have had an extended discussion with Randolph Day, Esq., the county attorney for Boundary County, who has advised me that he sees no problem in our going forward with hearings by the subcommittee.
A number of Senators have made public statements about the importance of having such hearings. Others of my colleagues have discussed the matters with me privately. I do think it is important that hearings proceed and that other Senators and the public be aware of the status of this matter.
So I ask unanimous consent that the text of the letter from Senator Hatch to me dated May 8, with my reply to him dated May 9, be printed in the Record.
There being no objection, the letters were ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
Committee on the Judiciary,
Washington, DC, May 8, 1995.
Hon. Arlen Specter,
Dear Arlen: I am writing with regard to your public statements concerning the convening of a hearing in the Terrorism, Technology and Government Information subcommittee to review the incidents at Waco, Texas and Ruby Ridge, Idaho. This letter is intended to settle any misunderstanding that may exist as to what the Senate Judiciary Committee's plans are surrounding a review of these matters.
As you know, I share your deep concern over these incidents and believe that a thorough Congressional review of these, and related federal law enforcement issues, is warranted. However, hearings on these matters would not be properly within the jurisdiction of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Government Information. Indeed, when your staff raised this issue with Committee staff more than one week ago, my position on this matter was promptly conveyed. Due to the important nature of these issues and their ramifications for federal law enforcement, hearings should be held at the Full Committee. I intend that hearings will be held in the near future following Senate consideration of comprehensive anti-terrorism legislation. Indeed, I believe the House Judiciary Committee has announced hearings as well. It might prove beneficial to hold our hearings after the House completes its hearing.
The hearing you propose is an important one, but I believe that it is unrelated, in any true sense, to the broader issue of the prevention of domestic terrorism. Accordingly, to hold the hearing as you propose at this time will serve only to confuse these important issues. Indeed, by linking the Waco incident to the terrorism issue through hearings at this time, the Committee could inappropriately, albeit unintentionally, convey the wrong message regarding the culpability of those responsible for the atrocity in Oklahoma City. We must not do this.
I appreciate your concern over this matter. I look forward to working with you on this and all other matters before the Judiciary Committee.
Orrin G. Hatch,
Committee on the Judiciary,
Washington, DC, May 9, 1995.
Hon. Orrin G. Hatch,
Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC
Dear Orrin: I have your letter of May 8.
I disagree with you on three counts:
1. Hearings on Waco and Ruby Ridge, Idaho, should be held promptly (actually they are long overdue) rather than waiting to some unspecified time in the `near future' or `after the House completes its hearings.'
2. My Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Government Information has clear cut jurisdiction both as our authority relates to terrorism and government information.
3. I categorically reject your assertions that the Subcommittee's scheduled hearing will `serve only to confuse these important issues' and `convey the wrong message regarding the culpability of those responsible for that atrocity in Oklahoma City.' There can be no conceivable misunderstanding that there is no possible justification for the bombing in Oklahoma City regardless of what happened in Waco or Idaho. The public interest requires full disclosure of those incidents through hearings to promote public confidence in government.
Since I have had and am continuing to have media inquiries on these hearings, for your information I am releasing this exchange of correspondence.
Mr. SPECTER. I thank the Chair and yield the floor.
Mr. DORGAN addressed the Chair.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from North Dakota.