Michael Sheehan
Senate Foreign Relations Committee
July 23, 1999

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:

Thank you very much for the opportunity to testify today at the
hearing for my confirmation as the coordinator for counterterrorism in
the Department of State. I have the pleasure of being accompanied by
my daughter Alexandra -- who has just finished the third grade and is
enjoying her summer vacation. In describing to her what I was doing
today I said I will have to answer questions about my job -- it is
sort of like a "big test" at school.

If I pass this test, Mr. Chairman, and I am confirmed, I very much
look forward to consulting with you and the committee on the important
issues regarding the threat of international terrorism. During my
tenure on the job as acting coordinator, it has become apparent to me
the important role that Congress has played in the past 20 years in
forging the bipartisan consensus on an approach to terrorism that has
been successful on many fronts.

This is especially apparent when I travel abroad and work with
governments that do not have an active legislature. In those cases,
their response to international terrorism is almost always weakened.
In virtually all of my meetings with other countries I urge them to
adopt the type of legislation forged in the U.S. over the past years
that has created a sound basis for our counterterrorism policy.

Mr. Chairman, in many ways this job completes a full circle for me
from when in late 1979, I was first deployed overseas as a young
lieutenant in the U.S. Army Special Forces. I was assigned to a
counterterrorism unit, as the executive officer of the "door-kicking"
team. Later I became the Detachment Commander and was promoted to
Captain. At that time, Americans were being held hostage in our
embassy in Iran and we were about to embark on a very difficult "era
of terrorism" of the 1980s. On a shoestring, we were putting together
a hostage rescue unit that although short on funding, was long on
will, determination and professionalism. Working with those dedicated
sergeants of the U.S. Army Special Forces remains one of the
highlights of my career.

Since then, the threat of terrorism has shifted. Although state
sponsorship remains a very real problem, a bipartisan and steadfast
approach to counterterrorism over the past three administrations has
succeeded in significantly reducing the threat of state-sponsored
terrorism. More needs to be done to wipe out that scourge -- but it is
important to periodically review our past accomplishments if, for no
other reason, than to redouble our efforts and determination to defeat
the new threats we face today.

And those threats remain formidable. The U.S. has been through a
grueling year as a result of the bombings of our embassies in Nairobi
and Dar es Salaam last August. The groups involved in these attacks
are more in the mold of the new terrorist threat -- groups that are
often self-financed with less direct linkage to state sponsors --
groups that also have shown less restraint in the use of murderous
violence, as in East Africa and in the domestic terrorist attacks in
Oklahoma City and on the World Trade Center -- these terrorists want a
"body count."

For this reason our efforts against terrorism must remain strong and
consistent. We must continue to de-legitimize the use of terror as an
instrument and criminalize their acts.

As Secretary Albright stated after the East African bombings:

"Terror is not a legitimate form of political expression or a
manifestation of religious faith. It is murder, and those who
perpetrate it, finance it, or otherwise support it must be opposed."

When Secretary Albright asked me to do this job in an acting capacity,
she conveyed to me her deep commitment to protecting the lives of
Americans overseas -- both official and non-official -- her
determination to bring all terrorists to justice -- to pursue a "full
court press" against terrorism from every angle -- and to employ all
the instruments at our disposal; including intelligence, the military,
law enforcement, and diplomacy.

Mr. Chairman, if confirmed, I commit to working vigorously to meet
this challenge and with the level of commitment expressed by Secretary
Albright, by you, and other members of this committee who have worked
tirelessly on behalf of our nation's counterterrorism goals.

Thank you.