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Homeland Security



NATION'S RESPONSE TO THE OKLAHOMA BOMBING (Senate - April 24, 1995)
[Page: S5564]
    

Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, I appreciate my colleague's kindness in this matter. I just have a few words to say here this morning following the Oklahoma bombing.

Today, we all continue to mourn the senseless loss of life in Oklahoma City. My heart and my prayers go out to the families and loved ones of those killed and injured in this tragic bombing. This vicious destruction of human life, particularly of the lives of so many innocent children, is tragic beyond belief.

We must not rest until all of the perpetrators are discovered and punished. I have full confidence in the ability of Federal law enforcement officials to bring the perpetrators to justice. The Judiciary Committee will support the President, the Attorney General, Director Freeh, and the hundreds of law enforcement officials involved in this effort. We will provide them with any assistance, legislative or otherwise, that they may need in that regard. I want to compliment each and every one of them, especially Director Freeh and the FBI, for their leadership in the work they have done in uncovering all the things they have, thus far.

President Clinton was correct when he described the terrorists who committed this act as `evil cowards.' If the barbaric individuals responsible for this venomous, wicked act believe they could intimidate, punish, or coerce the United States of America, they were wrong. Dead wrong. We must and we will guarantee that any terrorist, be he domestic or international, know that our Nation's policy will be one of swift and effective retribution.

For years, many in Congress have been fighting for passage of legislation aimed at enhancing our domestic and international counterterrorism efforts. I have been one of those. Much of this legislation is embodied in the Dole-Hatch crime bill that was introduced on the first day of this Congress. Recently, the administration forwarded to Congress its own counterterrorism bill that is similar to the Dole-Hatch proposal.

Since the tragic incident of last week, Senator Dole and I have been working with Senators Nickles and Inhofe on a comprehensive bill that will combine the better provisions from both the Dole-Hatch and administration bills into a single vehicle. Although this legislation is ready, we will delay its introduction until we can incorporate the additional provisions the President referred to last evening in his 60 Minutes interview. We will also hold hearings in the Judiciary Committee later this week to determine what can be done to fight terrorism.

The heinous attack on innocent men, women, and children underscores the need for tough, effective laws to fight the scourge of terrorism. We must ensure that Federal law enforcement officials have the tools to prevent and detect future terrorist attempts. Legislation is needed, and it is needed now, to give them those tools.

In addition to whatever recommendations the President may promulgate, our bill will certainly do the following:

It will increase the penalties for committing terrorist acts here in the United States;

Our legislation will add the crime of conspiracy to terrorism offenses, thus, permitting the Federal law enforcement agencies to stop terrorist organizations at their formation rather than waiting until after they have committed their terrorist acts;

Although the tragedy in Oklahoma appears to have been committed by individuals who are from the United States, it is important that we protect our citizens from foreign terrorists as well. Our bill will provide law enforcement and courts the tools they need to quickly remove alien terrorists from our midst without jeopardizing national security or the lives of law enforcement personnel;

Our legislation also seeks to prevent individuals who support or engage in terrorist activities from ever entering the United States. The bill would permit the Secretary of State to withhold visas from certain individuals who come from nations that sponsor terrorism, or from individuals who are members of organizations suspected of terrorist activities;

Our bill further includes provisions making it a crime to knowingly provide material support to groups designated by a Presidential finding to be engaged in terrorist activities;

Finally, our bill provides for numerous other needed improvements in the law to fight the scourge of terrorism. I would note that many of the provisions of this bill enjoy broad bipartisan support, and in several cases, have passed the Senate on previous occasions.

We must, however, resist the urge to leap to conclusions and unfairly tar certain political minorities with recriminations for last Wednesday's tragic events. As President Clinton said last evening, `We must be careful not to stereotype people from other groups.' Once all of the perpetrators of this act are apprehended, there will be time enough to ensure that justice is done.

As a final note, I want to commend President Clinton for his leadership that he has exhibited in the face of this tragedy. He and his administration have done a superb job in responding to this tragedy. The Department of Justice, the FBI, and all of the police and rescue workers in Oklahoma must be acknowledged for their efforts to date.

In closing, what is shocking to so many is the apparent fact that those responsible for this atrocity are U.S. citizens. To think that Americans could do this to one another, it is unbelievable.

Yet these killers are not true Americans, not in my book. Americans are the men, women, and children who died under the sea of concrete and steel. Americans are the rescue workers, the volunteers, the law enforcement officials and investigators who are clearing up the chaos that has occurred in Oklahoma City. The genuine Americans are the overwhelming number who will forever reel at the senselessness and horror of April 19, 1995. It falls on everyone as Americans in heart and spirit, to condemn this sort of political extremism. Anarchistic radicalism of this sort--be it from the left or the right--will not prevail in our freedom-loving democracy.

The rule of law and popular government will prevail. We intend by this legislation to see that it prevails, and that it prevails with the force that really should be behind the rule of law.

There are a lot of other things I will say about the bill we will file in the future, but suffice it to say these are some of the matters I wanted to cover in these few short remarks here.

Again, my lasting prayers, and that of my family, go out to those who have suffered so much through this ordeal, those who have suffered the loss of loved ones, those who have been maimed, and those who are related to those who have died or been maimed.

My love goes out to our Federal workers, too, for they are hard-working people who try to do the best they can. We want to make sure the Federal installations, as well as all other installations in this country, are secure from terrorism, terrorist activities, and from those who would subvert the very freedom fabric of our country.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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