The Senate continued with the consideration of the conference report.
Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I thank the distinguished chairman of the Judiciary Committee for his work on this bill and the distinguished ranking member for his work on this bill.
I am particularly disappointed that the House succeeded in gutting the commonsense prohibition on distributing instructions for bomb making for criminal purposes. I will talk about that in a minute. But the good news is that the conference report also restored good provisions to this bill. I am especially gratified that the conference committee restored my amendment which gives the Secretary of Treasury the authority to require taggants for tracing explosives.
The Senator from Delaware, the distinguished ranking member, just explained what taggants are: simple little coded plastic chips that are mixed with batches of commercially available explosives. They allow law enforcement to trace a bomb that has exploded, just like one would trace a car by knowing the license plate number. That is exactly what taggants are.
It was studied 16 years ago. Everybody said go ahead with it. They have been available. And it has now happened.
Incidentally, it took the Unabomber 18 years to, quite possibly, get caught. Three people have been killed, 23 people have been wounded, in bombs that really plagued nine States. This time could have been cut in half, perhaps, if we had tagging of explosives.
Unfortunately, the bill completely exempts black powder from either tagging or study requirements. I must say, how can a bill even refute the ability to study tagging of black powder? The amendment I submitted on taggants essentially provided for its addition, taggants' addition, where explosives would be bought in larger amounts. But, where small amounts of black powder were purchased to use in antique guns and for small arms, the taggant would not be included.
The NRA opposes this. What the National Rifle Association is clearly saying is they do not want any taggants in black powder explosives period, or even a study of it. Can you imagine the power of an organization that is able to successfully say we will not even study the impact of tagging black powder, which is also used as the triggering device on major explosive bombs that are used by terrorists? I have a very hard time with that.
I heard the distinguished chairman of the Judiciary Committee just say the NRA opposed excluding alien terrorists from this country. The NRA opposed excluding alien terrorists from this country--unbelievable. I think I just heard him say the NRA opposed a prohibition on fundraising in this country by terrorist groups.
Let me tell you something, if anybody believes that Hamas is in this country raising money to use it for charitable purposes, I will sell you a bridge tomorrow. I will sell you a bridge tomorrow. That is just unbelievable to me.
Nevertheless, I thank the chairman of the Judiciary Committee for standing Utah tall in the conference committee on the issue of taggants. I would like to thank Senator Biden and Senator Kennedy for their help as well. I think this is a very important step forward and I do not mean to diminish it in any way.
I also must say that I view the habeas corpus reform also as an important step forward. Abuse of the writ of habeas corpus, most egregiously by death row inmates who file petition after petition after petition on groundless charges will come to an end with the passage and the signature of this bill. I believe it is long overdue.
For anyone who believes that habeas is not abused, let me just quickly--because it has been thrown out before, and I know others want to speak--speak about the Robert Alton Harris case. It, I think, is a classic case on what happened with Federal habeas corpus, and State habeas corpus.
Mr. Harris was convicted in 1978 for killing two 17-year-old boys in a merciless way, eating their hamburgers, and then going out and robbing a bank.
His conviction became final in October of 1981. Yet, he was able to delay enforcement of the California death penalty capital sentence until April 21, 1992--for 14 years.
Over that time, he filed no fewer than 6 Federal habeas petitions and 10 State petitions. Five execution dates--five execution dates--were set during the pendency of his case. In all, Harris and his attorneys engineered almost 14 years of delay and piecemeal litigation by misuse of habeas corpus, and, I might say, it was 14 years of unresolved grief for the parents of the children.
I think cases like that one point out the need for habeas corpus reform, and, frankly, I want to commend the Judiciary Committee, and in particular the chairman, for seeing that that is included.
Senator Hatch also just mentioned the pathogens incident. In the Judiciary Committee, we had some full hearings, that were rather chilling to many of us, on how easy it is to obtain human pathogens.
I cannot help but note that the Chair is a distinguished physician and surgeon who knows this area well. But what we found out, essentially, is that one person--namely, Larry Wayne Harris--managed to order and to receive samples of bubonic plague through the mail less than a year ago.
Incredibly, although he was caught, he could be charged with only wire and mail fraud, because there were no laws on the books prohibiting the possession of bubonic plague pathogens. In fact, he made up a letterhead and sent it in to a lab, asked to purchase the plague bacteria, and it was sent to him, no questions asked. So this bill clearly takes care of that problem.
It adds that any attempt, threat, or conspiracy to acquire dangerous biological agents for use as a weapon are crimes punishable by fines or imprisonment, up to life imprisonment.
It also asks the Secretary of HHS to establish and maintain a list of biological agents which pose a severe threat to the public safety, and it directs the Secretary to establish enforcement and safety procedures for the transfer of human pathogens.
As a matter of fact, a number of us wrote a letter to the President and urged that emergency action be taken quickly because of the potential ability of people to acquire these bacteria prior to the enactment of this statute.
I want to also express my thanks that fundraising by terrorist organizations will be prohibited in the United States of America. I think it is extraordinarily important that this take place.
I am also very pleased that there is a section, known as 330, of the conference report--which, as a matter of fact, I offered--which prohibits the United States from selling weapons and defense services to countries that the President determines are not fully cooperating with U.S. antiterrorism efforts.
This is a commonsense provision, and I am amazed that there has been nothing in law that meets it. But there certainly is no reason the United States should continue to provide weaponry to any country that refuses to do all it can to combat terrorism.
My big disappointment--and I think because the Presiding Officer is relatively new to this body, he would be interested to know--is that on the Internet today, there is a volume called The Terrorist Handbook. The Terrorist Handbook describes how you can make bombs, whether those bombs are in baby food jars, in electric light bulbs or in telephones. To my knowledge, there is no legal use for a bomb in a baby food jar, for a bomb in a light bulb, or for a bomb in a telephone. You know that once you teach somebody how to do that, their only use of the knowledge is to slaughter and to kill.
So I have a very hard time understanding why simple language, which says if you knowingly publish material with the intent of enabling someone to commit a crime, shall not be permitted.
Let me quote the February 2, 1996, New York Times Metro section. Headline: `3 Boys Used Internet to Plot School Bombing, Police Say.'
Three 13-year-old boys from the Syracuse area have been charged for plotting to set off a home-made bomb in their junior high school after getting plans for the device on the Internet. The boys, all eighth graders at Pine Grove Junior High School in the suburb of Minoa, were arrested Wednesday by the police. `There is no doubt that the boys were serious,' the captain said, adding that they've recently set off a test bomb in a field behind an elementary school and that it started a small fire.
This cartoon is exactly what is happening all across the United States with young people. The cartoon is a youngster, sort of a Dennis-the-Menace type sitting at his computer, wrapping dynamite and attaching a detonation and clock device to it, while his mother is on the telephone saying `History * * * astronomy * * * science * * * Bobby is learning so much on the Internet.'
I have another article. The Los Angeles Times, just this past Saturday, April 13: `Four Teens Admit to Bombs in Mission Viejo School Yard.'
The boys, all 15- and 16-year-olds, told investigators they learned how to build the small high-pressure explosives from friends who got it off the Internet. According to the chief, who is then quoted, `It's something they're getting off the Internet. Any time you mix volatile chemicals and have a little bit of knowledge, you put yourself and others in jeopardy.'
A third article, Orange County Register, `2 Home-Made Bombs Dismantled in Orange' County.
Authorities theorize that teens are learning how to make the 2-liter bottle devices on the Internet.
Ladies and gentlemen, how far do we wish to push the envelope of the first amendment?
Let me tell you what is also in this `Terrorist Handbook.' People say, `Well, we have a first amendment right.' There is a part on breaking into a lab. This `Terrorist Handbook,' which we downloaded yesterday on the Internet, let me quote from it. The first section deals with getting chemicals legally. This section deals with procuring them.
The best place to steal chemicals is a college. Many state schools have all of their chemicals out on the shelves in the labs, and more in their chemical stockrooms. Evening is the best time to enter a lab building, as there are the least number of people in the building and most of the labs will still be unlocked. One simply takes a bookbag, wears a dress shirt and jeans, and tries to resemble a college freshman. If anyone asks what such a person is doing, the thief can simply say he's looking for the polymer chemistry lab or some other chemistry-related department other than the one they are in.
Then it goes on and it tells them how to pick the lock to break into the chem lab. It tells them what kind of chemicals to steal from the chem lab, and then to go out and how to make the bomb--baby food bomb, telephone bomb, light bulb bomb.
We know people are following this. Yet this conference committee deleted--deleted--a simple amendment which said, if you knowingly publish this kind of data with the view that someone will commit a crime, that is illegal--that is illegal. The conference committee voted it down, I would take it, at the behest of the National Rifle Association. Why? I cannot figure out why. I cannot to this day figure out why.
Let me give you one other quote that was on the Internet. It tells you where to go.
Go to the Sports Authority or Hermans sports shop and buy shotgun shells. At the Sports Authority that I go to you can actually buy shotgun shells without a parent or adult. They don't keep it behind the little glass counter or anything like that. It is $2.96 for 25 shells.
Then the computer bulletin board posting provides instructions on how to assemble and detonate the bomb. It concludes with:
If the explosion doesn't get 'em, then the glass will. If the glass doesn't get 'em, then the nails will.
This is what, by rejecting my simple amendment, the conference is saying is permissible on the Internet.
Let me give you one last thing so that it is, hopefully, indelibly etched in everybody's mind what we are doing. Following Oklahoma City, this was on the Internet.
`Are you interested in receiving information detailing the components and materials needed to construct a bomb identical to the one used in Oklahoma?' The information specifically details the construction, deployment, and detonation of high powered explosives. It also includes complete details of the bomb used in Oklahoma City and how it was used and how it could have been better.
How far are we pushing the envelope of the first amendment? What I have tried to show is that not only is this kind of thing with knowledge, with intent, on the Internet, but that youngsters are using it. They have used it within the last 2 weeks in New York, in California, and they have used it to do bodily harm to others.
So this is my big disappointment in this bill, because I believe we have as much to fear from domestic terrorism, as I think the Unabomber has pointed out, as we do from foreign terrorism. It begins right here at home. It begins with a system that lets everybody do anything they want, including telling you how to steal, break in and steal the chemicals, make the bombs, go out and deliver them.
I believe it is the job of this Congress to try to do something about it. With that in mind, I will support the amendment to recommit this to committee. I realize that that is a useless gesture, but just to make the point.
I will vote for this legislation and I will at the earliest time possible reintroduce my amendment on another bill to take another crack at saying the time has come for the United States of America to say, indeed, everything does not go. There are some restrictions and some things that we are going to do to stop criminality in this country. I thank the Chair and I yield the floor.