TESTIMONY BY SECRETARY OF STATE MADELEINE K. ALBRIGHT
BEFORE THE SENATE APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE ON
COMMERCE, STATE, THE JUDICIARY AND RELATED AGENCIES
February 4, 1999
Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee. I welcome
this opportunity to testify concerning U.S. efforts to counter the
forces of international terror. As you know, the President has
designated the Department of State as the lead agency for coordination
of our counterterrorism policy and operations abroad, while the FBI is
the lead agency for countering terrorism in the United States.
So I am delighted to be here with my colleagues, Attorney General
Janet Reno and FBI Director Louis Freeh. Their presence reflects the
fact that the battle against terror requires effective coordination
within our own government and between our government and law-abiding
nations around the globe.
It also requires a partnership between the Executive and Legislative
branches of the United States. And here I want to commend the Chairman
and members of this Subcommittee. For no one has been more aware of
the dangers to our diplomatic personnel, more supportive of our
efforts to improve security, or more helpful in providing resources to
respond to the terrorist threat, than this panel.
I look forward to the opportunity today to build on our partnership
and to explore with you the many dimensions to our strategy. In my
statement, I will provide an overview of the international threat and
discuss our diplomatic actions, policies, plans, and resource needs.
The Attorney General and the Director will then bring you up to date
on the wide range of law enforcement, technology, crisis management
and other initiatives that are underway.
We will each discuss the Five-Year Interagency Counter-terrorism and
Technology Crime Plan. This Plan serves as a baseline strategy for
coordinating our response to terrorism in the United States and
against American targets overseas. The Subcommittee has received
copies of the Plan, which was crafted under the leadership of the
Attorney General. You also have the written statements we prepared for
you this morning. We have agreed to keep our oral presentations brief
in order to honor your time for questions.
I will begin by discussing the threat posed to the United States and
the world by the forces of international terror. If you look at the
statistics, you will see that the number of terrorist incidents
worldwide is declining. This reflects the diplomatic and law
enforcement progress we have made in discrediting terrorist groups and
making it harder for them to operate. It reflects, as well, the
improved political climate that has diminished terrorist activity in
places such as Northern Ireland and Central America.
But you would not be conducting this hearing, Mr. Chairman, if the
dangers posed by international terrorism had declined. Tragically they
Last August, I had the sad honor of bringing back to U.S. soil the
bodies of Americans who perished in the embassy bombing in Kenya.
Like the members of our armed forces who died in foreign conflicts,
these Americans went in harm's way for our country. But there is a
difference -- for they were not combatants in a war as we have long
understood that term. They were casualties, instead, of a new kind of
confrontation that looms as a new century is about to begin.
In this struggle, our adversaries are likely to avoid traditional
battlefield situations because there, American dominance is well
established. They may resort instead, to weapons of mass destruction
and the cowardly instruments of sabotage and hidden bombs. As we know
from explosions over the past decade in Africa, the Khobar apartment
complex, the World Trade Center and Pan Am 103, these unconventional
threats endanger both Americans and others around the world.
Accordingly, we must be vigilant in protecting against the terrorist
triple threat posed, first, by the handful of countries that actively
sponsor terrorism; second, by long active terrorist organizations; and
third, by loosely affiliated extremists such as, among others, Osama
bin Laden, who has urged his followers to kill Americans when and
wherever they can.
Our strategy must be long-term. The Five-Year Plan is only the
beginning. Certainly, no single arrest or shutdown of a terrorist
operation will be sufficient. The advance of technology has given us
new means to counter terrorists. But it has also enabled terrorists to
develop more powerful weapons and to travel, communicate, recruit, and
raise funds on a global basis.
It is essential, therefore, that we work closely with others. The
perpetrators of terror include persons from a wide variety of creeds,
cultures and countries. And their criminality has claimed victims
almost everywhere, from Jerusalem to Japan, Tanzania to Turkey, and
Oklahoma City to Sri Lanka.
To counter this plague, law-abiding peoples everywhere must close
ranks to detect, deter, prevent and punish terrorist acts. It is not
enough for Americans to be concerned only about attacks against
Americans. We must reach out to all those victimized or threatened by
terror. The victims of the attacks orchestrated in Africa by Osama bin
Laden, after all, were predominately African, including many
practitioners of Islam. Terrorism is a highly indiscriminate form of
violence. It must be opposed not simply as a matter of national
interest, but as a fundamental question of right and wrong.
Following the embassy attacks last August, President Clinton ordered
military strikes to disrupt terrorist operations and deter new
The message he conveyed is that, in this battle, we will not simply
sit back and wait. We will take the offensive. We will do all we can
to limit terrorist movements, block terrorist funds and prevent
As the President's decision demonstrated, we will not hesitate, where
necessary, to use force to respond to or defend against acts of
terrorism. But force is only one element in our strategy.
Every day, in every part of the world, we use a full array of foreign
policy tools in our zero tolerance campaign against international
For example, we place the highest priority on measures to prevent
weapons of mass destruction from falling into the wrong hands. This
imperative is on our agenda with virtually every nation and figures in
almost every major meeting I have.
We constantly exchange information with friendly governments
concerning terrorist activities and movements, thereby preventing
attacks and facilitating arrests.
We work with other agencies and other countries to strengthen
screening procedures and increase intelligence sharing on visa
We are expanding our Anti-terrorism Training Assistance Program, which
has already instructed more than 20,000 law enforcement officers from
more than 90 countries, in subjects such as airport security, bomb
detection, maritime security, VIP protection, hostage rescue and
We are engaged, through the State Department-chaired Technical Support
Working Group, in a vigorous research and development program to
improve our ability to detect explosives, counter weapons of mass
destruction, protect against cyber sabotage and provide physical
security. In the technological race with terror, we are determined to
gain and maintain a decisive strategic edge.
We are making use of the Terrorism Information Rewards program to
encourage persons to come forward with information to prevent acts of
terrorism and apprehend those who commit them.
We impose economic sanctions against state sponsors of terror.
Currently, the seven governments on this list are Cuba, Iran, Iraq,
Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.
And both domestically and internationally, we are working to
strengthen the rule of law.
The Rule of Law
At home, we have changed our statutes to block the financial assets of
terrorist groups, prevent them from raising funds in the United
States, and allow us to bar foreigners who support such groups.
Around the world, we couple law enforcement with diplomacy in order to
bring suspected terrorists before the bar of justice. As the
Subcommittee knows, we have done this successfully in the World Trade
Center case, the CIA killings and to a very considerable extent, in
the Africa embassy bombings -- which triggered a worldwide manhunt for
bin Laden and his associates in murder. The Attorney General and
Director Freeh will provide more detail on these efforts, but let me
stress two points.
The first is that law enforcement success often depends upon
international cooperation. That cooperation has been extraordinary in
some recent cases. We cannot discuss these in public, but I did want
the record of this hearing to reflect our deep appreciation for the
timely and lifesaving help we have received.
Second, I believe every American should be proud of the work the FBI,
the Justice Department, the CIA and the State Departments Diplomatic
Security Service -- or DS -- have been doing.
When I was in Nairobi last August, I had a chance to meet some of the
FBI personnel who were literally sifting the wreckage of the Embassy
for clues. I was deeply impressed by their dedication, and I have been
even more deeply impressed by the progress made in gaining custody of
suspects. I am gratified, moreover, that the partnerships in the field
among the FBI, Department of Justice, DS and our embassies and other
agencies are excellent. Our people are working together closely and
well to investigate past crimes and prevent new ones. They are doing a
great job for America.
I cannot leave the subject of bringing terrorists to justice without
highlighting the tragic case of justice delayed with respect to the
bombing more than a decade ago of Pan Am Flight 103. As Senators know,
we have challenged the Government of Libya to meet its pledge to
deliver the two suspects in that case for trial in the Netherlands
under Scottish law. This approach has been approved by the Security
Council and is supported by Arab and African regional organizations.
It is an approach that is reasonable and fair and that has been on the
table now for more than six months.
I would like to take this opportunity once again to urge Libya to
deliver the suspects for trial and thereby gain suspension of the UN
sanctions. If this does not occur by the time those sanctions come up
for Security Council review later this month, we will seek additional
measures against the Qadhafi regime.
Our effort to strengthen the rule of law against terrorism is global.
At its heart is the message that every nation has a responsibility to
arrest or expel terrorists, shut down their finances and deny them
Attached to my testimony is a chart showing the extent to which
countries have ratified eleven international antiterrorism
conventions. Our goal is to obtain universal adherence to these
treaties. Our purpose is to weave a web of law, power, intelligence,
and political will that will entrap terrorists and deny them the
mobility and sustenance they need to operate.
As we stressed in the aftermath of the murders in Kenya and Tanzania,
terror is not a legitimate form of political expression and it is
certainly not a manifestation of religious faith. It is homicide,
plain and simple.
It is right for nations to bring terrorists to justice and those who
do so should be recognized and rewarded appropriately.
It is wrong to finance terrorist groups, whether or not specific
contributions are for terrorist purposes. It is cowardly to give
terrorist groups money in return for not being targeted. It is
irresponsible simply to look the other way when terrorists come within
one's jurisdiction. And it fools no one to pretend that terrorist
groups are something they are not.
Consider the words of Hezbollah's Sheik Hassan Nasrallah shortly after
the Wye accords were signed: "I call on any Palestinian who has a
knife, a hand grenade, a gun, a machine gun or a small bomb to go out
during these few weeks and kill the Israelis and the Accord." He also
called for the assassination of Chairman Arafat.
Some say Hezbollah is not terrorist, because it has a political
agenda. But that is sophistry. As long as it advocates indiscriminate
violence and assassination, it is terrorist. The same is true of other
groups, such as Hamas, the PKK, and Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers.
For each, the decision to use terror was a choice it did not have to
make. Law-abiding nations must unite in helping them realize that the
choice they have made is wrong.
In this connection, I was very disappointed that Germany failed to
make good on the recent opportunity to prosecute Abdullah Ocalan,
leader of the terrorist PKK; and that Italy and Turkey were unable to
find an alternative way to ensure he was brought to justice. Instead
of determination this opportunity was greeted with handwringing and
vacillation. Ocalan has left Italy and his current whereabouts are
unknown. We call upon any nation into whose jurisdiction Ocalan comes
to cooperate in ensuring that he stands trial for his alleged crimes.
Diplomatic Force Protection
The measures we take to provide physical protection for our diplomatic
personnel overseas play a major role in our strategy for countering
terror. I know this subject is a matter of great interest to the
Subcommittee. And certainly, nothing is of more urgent concern to me.
In the aftermath of the embassy bombings last August, I established
Accountability Review Boards, chaired by Admiral William Crowe, to
investigate and recommend improved security systems and procedures. I
received their report last month and will be submitting a formal
response this spring.
As you probably know, Mr. Chairman, the Boards found that the security
systems and procedures followed by the two embassies involved were in
accord with State Department policy. In both cases, the terrorists
were prevented from penetrating the perimeter of the post. In neither
case, did U.S. employees or members of the military breach their duty.
The Boards did, however, identify what they termed "a collective
failure" by the Executive and Legislative branches of our government
over the past decade "to provide adequate resources to reduce the
vulnerability of U.S. diplomatic missions."
The report suggests that responsibility for this failure must be
shared broadly, including by the Secretary of State; and I accept
that. It reminds us all that no matter how much we care, no matter how
much we do, we can always do more when the lives of our people are on
The report cites some of the steps we have taken, particularly since
August, to strengthen perimeter defense, increase security personnel
and speed necessary construction and repairs.
It notes, as well, Congressional approval of the security-related
supplemental appropriation late last year. We were, and are, very
grateful for your swift action on that measure. It has helped us to
resume, albeit in a makeshift way, our diplomatic activities in
Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam. And it is enabling us to upgrade physical
security levels worldwide through the hiring of additional diplomatic
security agents and support personnel.
The Accountability Review Boards concluded, however, and I agree, that
these measures must be viewed as just an initial deposit towards what
is required to provide for the security of our posts overseas.
According to the report, "We must undertake a comprehensive and
long-term strategy ... including sustained finding for enhanced
security measures, for long-term costs for increased security
personnel and for a capital building program based on an assessment of
requirements to meet the new range of global terrorist threats."
The Boards stress, and again I concur, that "additional funds for
security must be obtained without diverting funds from our major
foreign affairs programs." This is a key point. For it would make no
sense to enhance the security of our people overseas while, at the
same time, depriving them of the resources they need to effectively
represent American interests.
The State Department is determined to go forward with an extensive,
multi-year program for upgrading security at all our posts. The
President's budget for Fiscal Year 2000, released earlier this week,
proposes the minimum amount required to move ahead with such a
First, it includes $268 million to fund what we call the "tail" of the
supplemental. This includes the recurring costs required by additional
personnel, and security improvements not addressed in emergency
supplemental approved last fall. We expect such costs to run about
$300 million annually in subsequent years.
We recognize the need to continue an aggressive program of locating
suitable sites and building secure facilities overseas. The
President's budget includes an additional $36 million for site
acquisition and the design of new facilities; augmenting FY 1999
emergency funds available for site, design and construction. It also
proposes $3 billion in advance appropriations for new construction in
the years 2001 through 2005.
I feel strongly that in order to have a viable security construction
program, we need a long-term commitment of resources. The President's
request proposes that this be done by advanced appropriations. We have
been able to work together on such arrangements in the past and I hope
very much that we will be able to do so in this case.
I wish to stress, Mr. Chairman, that our request for support is not
special pleading. American embassies include a broad range of U.S.
Government employees and their families. They host a constant flow of
U.S. citizens who turn to our people for help on everything from
business advice to travel tips to emergency medical aid. They are open
to foreign nationals who wish to come to our country as tourists or
students or for commercial reasons. And as the casualty list for the
Africa bombings illustrates so starkly, many of our embassy employees
are locally hired.
Under international law, the host country is responsible for
protecting diplomatic missions. We hold every nation to that standard,
and will assist, where we can, those who need and want help in
fulfilling that duty. In an age of advanced technology and suicide
bombers, no one can guarantee perfect security. But our embassies
represent America. They should not be easy targets for anyone. We owe
our people and all who use or visit our facilities the best security
As I noted at the time I received Admiral Crowe's report, the
Department is already implementing or studying the best way to
implement, a significant number of its recommendations.
I cannot detail in public everything that we are doing, often in
partnership with others, to prevent and prepare for potential
I am able to say, however, that we will continue to implement
additional physical protection measures as rapidly as we can.
We are improving our programs for dealing with vehicle-bomb attacks,
such as those experienced in Africa.
We see the need for additional crisis management training and have
begun such a project at the Foreign Service Institute.
We are engaged, with other agencies, in a review of equipment and
procedural needs related to the possibility of a terrorist incident
involving the use of chemical or biological weapons.
We are striving to improve our emergency response capabilities. As the
Crowe report indicates, and our Five-Year Plan reflects, we need a
modern plane to replace the specially-configured aircraft used to
deploy the Foreign Emergency Support Team (FEST) that we dispatch
overseas when there is a major terrorist incident. The current
aircraft is 36 years old and was delayed while en route to Nairobi
last August by the need to make repairs. This is not acceptable. The
Department is currently engaged with the National Security Council and
the Defense Department in discussions on the best way to replace the
old aircraft and the Administration intends to resolve the matter as
soon as possible.
Security and Diplomacy
Finally, we agree fully with the Accountability Review Boards on the
need to demonstrate the high priority we attach to security issues.
This is one reason why I recommended to the President that he depart
from past practice and appoint an outstanding career law enforcement
professional, David Carpenter, as our Assistant Secretary of State for
Assistant Secretary Carpenter is helping us to get out the message to
all our posts that, in today's world, there is nothing automatic about
security. It is every person's responsibility. No detail should be
overlooked. No precaution should be shrugged off. No post should be
considered safe. No assumptions should be made about when, where, why,
how, or by whom, a terrorist strike might be perpetrated. Literally
nothing should be taken for granted.
We all recognize that the price tag for needed measures to improve
security is and may remain, at least for the foreseeable future,
higher than the resources we have available for that purpose. The
result is that we will continually have to make difficult and
inherently subjective decisions about how best to use the resources we
have, and about how to reconcile security imperatives with our need to
do business overseas.
Overseas Presence Advisory Panel
In making these judgments. I am pleased to announce that we will be
aided by a new Overseas Presence Advisory Panel, to be chaired by Mr.
Lewis Kaden. The Panel is charged with preparing recommendations for
criteria to be used in making decisions on the size and composition of
our overseas posts. It will also design a proposed multi-year funding
program for the Department to restructure the U.S. presence abroad.
In its deliberations, the Advisory Group will take into account the
heightened security situation, advances in technology, the
transformation of the world's political lineup, and the emergence of
new foreign policy priorities. The Panel is being asked to complete
its work by the end of this fiscal year.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, let me say a word about coordination. This
Subcommittee has stressed the need for U.S. agencies to work together
in responding to the terrorist threat, and you are absolutely right.
The Five-Year Plan will help. So has the President's designation of a
National Coordinator for Infrastructure Protection and
Counterterrorism. And I have the highest confidence in the State
Department's own new coordinator for counterterrorism, Lieutenant
Colonel (ret.) Mike Sheehan.
Personally, I am in frequent contact with my colleagues here at the
table, Attorney General Reno and FBI Director Freeh, and with the
Secretary of Defense, the Director of Central Intelligence and other
key officials regarding the full range of anti-terrorism issues. I
think we work together well and are getting better at it every day.
One reason is that the President has made it clear through both his
policies and statements that this issue is the Administration's
highest priority -- internationally and domestically. That is true for
a host of compelling substantive reasons. But I suspect it is true for
another reason as well.
Over the past six years, on too many occasions, the President has had
the job of comforting the loved ones of those murdered and maimed by
terrorists. I know from my own experience -- it is an impossible task.
After the last hand has been held, and the last words of condolence
offered, all you can really do is vow that everything within your
power will be done to prevent similar tragedies.
That is the vow of this Administration this morning. And I suspect it
is fully embraced by the members of this Subcommittee and by the
Mr. Chairman, I have quoted New Hampshire's Daniel Webster to you
before. I do so again in closing my testimony this morning. "God
grants liberty," said Webster, "only to those who love it, and are
always ready to guard and defend it."
To that, I say "Amen," and thank you again for the opportunity to
testify before you today.