Mr. SOLOMON. Mr. Speaker, by direction of the Committee on Rules, I call up House Resolution 416 and ask for its immediate consideration.
The Clerk read the resolution, as follows:
H. Res. 416
Resolved, That (a) there is established a Select Subcommittee on the United States Role in Iranian Arms Transfers to Croatia and Bosnia (hereinafter referred to as the `select subcommittee') of the Committee on International Relations. The select subcommittee is authorized to sit and act during this Congress at such times and places within the United States, including any common-wealth or possession thereof, or in any other country, whether the House is in session or has adjourned.
(b) The select subcommittee shall be composed of 8 members of the Committee on International Relations appointed by the chairman of the Committee on International Relations, 5 of whom shall be members of the majority party and 3 of whom shall be appointed upon the recommendation of the ranking minority party member of the committee. The chairman of the Committee on International Relations shall designate one of the majority party members as chairman. Any vacancy occurring in the membership of the select subcommittee shall be filled in the same manner in which the original appointment was made.
(c) The select subcommittee is authorized and directed to conduct a full and complete investigation, and to make such findings and recommendations to the Committee on International Relations as the select subcommittee deems appropriate relating to the following matters:
(1) The policy of the United States Government with respect to the transfer of arms and other assistance from Iran or any other country to countries or entities within the territory of the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia during any period that an international arms embargo of the former Yugoslavia was in effect.
(2) The nature and extent of the transfer of arms or other assistance from Iran or any other country to countries or entities within the territory of the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia during the period that an international arms embargo of the former Yugoslavia was in effect.
(3) Any actions taken by the United States Government to facilitate or to impede transfers described in paragraphs (1) and (2).
(4) Any communications or representations made to the Congress of the United States or the American people with respect to the matters described in paragraph (1), (2), or (3), with respect to the international arms embargo of the former Yugoslavia, or with respect to efforts to modify and terminate United States participation in that embargo.
(5) Any implication of the matters described in paragraphs (1), (2), and
(3) for the safety of United States Armed Forces deployed in and around
Bosnia, for the prompt withdrawal of United States Armed Forces from Bosnia,
for relations between
the United States and its allies, and for United States efforts to isolate Iran.
(6) Any actions taken to review, analyze, or investigate any of the matters described in paragraph (1), (2), (3), (4), or (5), or to keep such matters from being revealed.
(7) All deliberations, discussions, or communications within the United States Government relating to the matters described in paragraph (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), or (6), and all communications between the United States Government (or any of its officers or employees) and other governments, organizations, or individuals relating to such matters.
(d) The select subcommittee shall be deemed to be a subcommittee of a standing committee of the House of Representatives for all purposes of the Rules of the House, including clause 2(m) of rule XI, but not for purposes of clause 6(d) of rule X. The select subcommittee may sit while the House is reading for amendment under the five-minute rule.
(e)(1) The chairman of the select subcommittee, for purposes of its investigation, may, upon consultation with the ranking minority party member of the select subcommittee, authorize the taking of affidavits and dispositions pursuant to notice or subpoena, by a member of the select subcommittee or of the staff of the Committee on International Relations designated by the chairman of the select subcommittee, or require the furnishing of information by interrogatory, under oath administered by a person otherwise authorized by law to administer oaths.
(2) The select subcommittee shall provide other committees and Members of the House with access to information and proceedings, under procedures adopted by the select subcommittee consistent with clause 7(c) of rule XLVIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives. However, the select subcommittee may direct that particular matters or classes of matter shall not be made available to any person by its members, staff, or others, or may impose any other restriction. The select subcommittee shall, as appropriate, provide access to information and proceedings to the Speaker, the majority leader, the minority leader, and their appropriate cleared and designated staff.
(3) Authorized subpoenas may be signed by the chairman of the select subcommittee.
(f) The select subcommittee shall transmit a report to the Committee on International Relations not later than 6 months after the date on which this resolution is agreed to. The report shall contain a detailed statement of the findings of the select subcommittee, together with its recommendations.
(g) The select subcommittee shall cease to exist 6 months after the date on which this resolution is agreed to.
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Hansen). The gentleman from New York [Mr. Solomon] is recognized for 1 hour.
Mr. SOLOMON. Mr. Speaker, for the purposes of debate only, I yield the customary 30 minutes to the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Frost], pending which I yield myself such time as I might consume. Mr. Speaker, during consideration of this resolution, all time yielded is for the purpose of debate only.
Mr. Speaker, House Resolution 416 was introduced on April 29 by the distinguished chairman of the Committee on International Relations, the gentleman from New York [Mr. Gilman], and referred exclusively to the Committee on Rules as a matter of original jurisdiction. It was considered by the Rules Committee on May 2 and reported to the floor that day.
This resolution establishes a select committee of the Committee on International Relations to investigate the United States role in Iranian arms transfers to Croatia and Bosnia. The purpose of the resolution is to permit the Committee on International Relations to create a select committee, select subcommittee, for the exclusive purposes of investigating what role, if any, the United States played in the shipment of arms from Iran to Croatia and Bosnia, notwithstanding the 1991 United Nations embargo against such shipments to the former Nation of Yugoslavia.
The resolution is designed to focus in a single unit of this House the primary responsibility for investigating this matter while permitting cooperation with other committees of jurisdiction, particularly the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence , Mr. Speaker.
The resolution is also needed to provide certain additional authorities to the subcommittee to permit it to conduct a thorough, yet expeditious, investigation, and these would include the authority to sit and act both within and without the United States, the ability to sit while the House is considering legislation under the 5-minute rule, the authority for the chairman of the subcommittee, in consultation with the ranking minority member, to designate a single member of the subcommittee, or staff of the committee, to take depositions and affidavits.
The select committee would be limited in both time and scope, as it should be, as the resolution specifically outlines its parameters and contains a 6-month sunset clause.
Mr. Speaker, I do not want to go to great lengths in describing the events leading up to the need for this investigation. Needless to say, if the administration had adopted the policy that this Congress has recommended on at least two different occasions to unilaterally lift the embargo on Bosnia, then we might have avoided such a back-door approach by a country we have attempted to isolate, a terrorist Nation called Iran. What we know is that while the Clinton administration was vigorously opposing congressional attempts to lift this ill-advised, immoral arms embargo, it was simultaneously winking at one of the world's worst rogue regimes as it violated the arms embargo.
Mr. Speaker, that not only makes no sense, it is simply outrageous. Only this administration, which has proven itself so completely incompetent in the field of foreign policy, could conclude that it was better for Iran to give arms to Bosnia than for the American Government or the American private sector to give arms to Bosnia.
But even more fundamental questions arise, Mr. Speaker, as to the operations of our foreign policy and the administration's obligation to keep the Congress fully informed, which in this case it absolutely did not.
Beyond that there are serious questions as to whether the administration even attempted to keep those parts of its own executive branch charged by law with overseeing such policies fully informed. They did not. It appears that not even the CIA was aware of this policy. Can my colleagues imagine that? In addition to the Defense Department and several U.S. Embassies in the Balkan region not even knowing what was going on, I mean they are an integral part of the administration and they were not even bothered to be told.
Mr. Speaker, no one questions the need for secrecy regarding certain foreign policy initiatives or actions, certainly not this Member, but enough serious questions remain to warrant us getting to the bottom of this, and that is what this subcommittee will do, I am sure. I think we can have the greatest confidence in the leadership abilities and the fairness of the person designated to head this select committee, the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Hyde]. I served on the Committee on Foreign Affairs with him for many, many years. In addition, he is the chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary, highly respected by every Member of this body on both sides of the aisle. His foreign policy expertise, his intelligence and his integrity are certainly beyond reproach.
Mr. Speaker, I think it is important to point out that this resolution does not go as far as some previous select committees or task forces have done because this is not a select committee and it is not a task force. It is a select subcommittee of a standing committee.
For instance, a chairman of the subcommittee has not been delegated the authority to authorize subpoenas. That must be voted on by the whole subcommittee with the majority being present, just like it would be in any other standing committee.
So I want to take this opportunity to commend the gentleman from New York [Mr. Gilman] on taking this necessary but very balanced approach to this disturbing set of circumstances that have to be cleared up in order to find out and to set a precedent for what kind of foreign policy we will have in the future.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. FROST. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
(Mr. FROST asked and was given permission to include extraneous material.)
Mr. FROST. Mr. Speaker, this select committee is not only completely unnecessary but also completely political.
It is being created to investigate a policy issue and nobody is claiming wrongdoing. Make no mistake about it, the rule we are discussing is pure politics and nothing else.
The creation of this committee and the subsequent expenditure will amount to $1 million of work for the Dole campaign.
The issue my Republican colleagues claim needs investigating, the issue of Iranian arms shipments to Bosnia and Croatia, has been common knowledge to every single Member of this House since early 1994 and absolutely no one objected to those shipments. In fact, in October of that same year, Congress voted to look the other way on enforcing the arms embargo. Furthermore, the Intelligence Oversight Board determines that there was no covert action and no violation of laws whatsoever.
Mr. Speaker, here are the facts: Everyone knew these arms transfers were taking place; nobody objected; a majority of the House voted not to enforce sanctions; and absolutely no one is accusing the White House of any wrongdoing.
So why on earth, Mr. Speaker, do my Republican colleagues want to spend $1 million to investigate nothing at all?
Frankly, I don't see how anyone can stand here and tell me this ridiculous, trumped up charade which is scheduled to end the week before election day is anything more than a cheap political stunt.
And, may I remind the House, Mr. Speaker, that the creation of this committee is being dictated by the same leadership that is asking congressional committees to perform opposition research for the Dole campaign.
Mr. Speaker, I think the Republican leadership ought to be ashamed.
They are creating a whole new congressional committee just because they can and it is wrong. They are actually trying to spend $1 million to investigate something no one objected to 2 years ago, and, on top of that, they are demanding the committee finish its work a week before election day.
I don't think the creation of this committee could be any more transparent, Mr. Speaker.
If this issue really needs to be investigated, which I doubt, and if it is not a political move, then why can't it take place in the existing structure of one of the standing congressional committees?
Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to defeat the previous question in order to conduct this investigation within the existing structure of the Foreign Affairs Committee and using the existing resources instead of an additional $1 million.
If the previous question is not defeated, I urge my colleagues to vote against the resolution to keep our legislative branch out of presidential politics: It's a waste of money; it's a waste of time; and it's insulting to the American people.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. SOLOMON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 4 minutes to the gentleman from Sanibel, FL [Mr. Goss], a very valuable member of the Committee on Rules and also a very valuable member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence .
(Mr. GOSS asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. GOSS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the distinguished gentleman from New York [Mr. Solomon] for yielding this time to me.
Mr. Speaker, this resolution provides a measured and appropriate response to recent disturbing disclosures about secret administration policy with respect to Iranian arms shipments during the Bosnian conflict. I think most Members would agree that there remain many serious questions about this policy, the circumstances surrounding its formulation and the lack of information provided to the Congress regarding its execution. These questions are particularly important given the presence of thousands of United States troops in Bosnia and the serious national security consequences of encouraging an Iranian foothold in Europe. It is not only the clear right, but also the obligation of Congress, to conduct a careful review in search of more thorough answers to these questions, a point made eloquently at the Rules Committee by the distinguished ranking member of the International Relations Committee, Mr. Hamilton. Mr. Hamilton advised that he believes this is undoubtedly an issue for Congress to investigate. As stewards of the management of this House, the majority has determined that the most effective means for conducting this review is to create a special purpose, temporary, select subcommittee within the International Relations Committee, and that is precisely what House resolution 416 proposes to do. It is our judgment, and the judgment of such respected foreign policy experts in this House as Mr. Gilman and Mr. Hyde, that this matter requires the focus, expanded resources, and clearly defined authority to gather information of a special select subcommittee. Given Mr. Hamilton's reasoned words and his candid assessment of the complexity of the issues involved in this matter, I am dismayed that some of his Democratic colleagues in the House are still resisting this investigation.
This resistance is even more puzzling given news reports that the minority leader in the other body has publicly expressed no opposition to it. Although other committees, including Select Intelligence, on which I serve, will be exploring certain points of jurisdictional interest, it is sensible and practical for one body to accept the primary, exclusive and comprehensive responsibility for this task. In addition, through this resolution we are clearly defining the job description of this select subcommittee, while providing a clear and decisive end-date for the investigation.
Mr. Speaker, Members of this House and the American people have a right to know how it was that, at a time when the administration was publicly opposing bipartisan efforts in this Congress to lift the Bosnian arms embargo, the President and a few others working for him pursued a policy of tacit approval for Iranian arms shipments through Croatia to the Bosnian Government. Apparently we had Americans working against Americans in our Croatian country team--the White House reportedly working against itself and Congress. In addition to the troubling gap between the public exhortations of the Clinton administration about preserving the arms embargo and the apparent private decision to allow Iran to supply arms in contravention of the embargo--I am troubled at the apparently calculated lack of congressional notification about these events. This was not CIA; ironically they were the whistleblowers, according to the press. This was a small band of the President's men, it seems. And, perhaps most troubling of all, I am deeply concerned about the long-term impact of allowing an outlaw terrorist nation, Iran, to establish a presence in Bosnia. This goes beyond foolish policy to increased national security risks and it is not a matter to be taken lightly by this Congress. We need the truth from the White House, the whole truth. This resolution starts us in that direction. I support this resolution and urge my colleagues to do the same.
Mr. FROST. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Doggett].
Mr. DOGGETT. Mr. Speaker, this resolution is designed to implement the oft-repeated trademark of the self-styled Gingrich revolutionaries: Promises made, promises broken. They came to the floor of this Congress last January and told us they were interested in reforming the committee process and cutting the amount of taxpayer money spent in this Congress.
As a new Member, I joined with them in that effort. How do they proposed to fulfill that promise today? By adding a $1 million subcommittee, $1 million paid by the taxpayers of America; another subcommittee that is five times more expensive than the average subcommittee in this House. That is promises made, promises broken.
Who says the Republicans do not want to raise the minimum wage? They proposed to pay four of their political backers over $100,000 each to man this expensive subcommittee. They want to raise the minimum wage. They just want to do it for a handful of their political friends, instead of for the hardworking people of this country.
This subcommittee should rightfully be called the rabbit trail subcommittee, because they are down there chasing another rabbit. They have not got the slightest idea how to solve the real problems of the American people, so instead of focusing on those problems, they head off to Bosnia. Instead of focusing on solving our problems here at home, in dealing with the real troubles that hardworking families across this country have, they want to chase off to Bosnia.
Mr. Speaker, last year they caught shutdown fever and they could not seem to get rid of it. This year they are suffering another malady. It is the same malady, but there are other symptoms. They are called sinking spells. They just keep sinking right on down into the ground in the polls, because the American people understand that all they have given us is promises made, promises broken. As a solution for this sinking spell that they are now suffering, they proposed gimmicks like this subcommittee.
Mr. Speaker, I would say to my Republican colleagues, heal thyselves. Stop wasting taxpayer money on this kind of frivolity.
Mr. SOLOMON. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 1 brief minute to call attention to a report that was put out by the Democratic leadership back in 1992. It is `Management of the Federal Government: A Decade of Decline.'
As the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. Clinger] says in his letter to the gentleman from Georgia [Mr. Gingrich]:
I have enclosed for your information and your use a staff report from the former Committee on Government Operations entitled `Managing the Federal Government: A Decade of Decline.' This report chronicles mismanagement and ethical lapses which occurred throughout the Reagan and Bush administrations.
I could go on, but it is strange to hear them come here now and complain, when they went to considerable time and expense using committee staff to put out this report. I just do not understand this kind of logic.
Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Claremont, CA [Mr. Dreier], a valuable member of the Committee on Rules.
(Mr. DREIER asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. DREIER. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend for yielding time to me.
Mr. Speaker, I think some very important questions have to be addressed here. That is the reason that we are strongly supporting establishment of this subcommittee. It seems to me that as we look at these questions, to have my friends on the other side of the aisle saying this is totally unnecessary, one must ask: Was the administration telling the American people, Congress, our allies, and even most of the executive branch one thing while it was doing another? Did any of the administration's actions violate U.S. law? Was the U.S. Government's role in these arms transfers simply passive, or was it, as the Los Angeles Times stated on April 17, more hands on? Which Government officials knew about these arms transfers and when?
How extensive was the effort to keep Congress uninformed of the Iranian operations? Why did the Clinton administration allow Iran to extend its influence into Europe after the administration had announced a policy of isolating Iran? Why would the Clinton administration allow Iran, a State Department terrorist nation, as it is designated, to unilaterally violate the arms embargo, after repeatedly ignoring U.S. congressional pleas and directives for the United States to do so? Did the administration's action increase the risk to United States Armed Forces deployed in Bosnia, or decrease the likelihood of a timely withdrawal of United States Armed Forces from Bosnia?
Mr. Speaker, these are among the many questions that must be answered. For my friends on the other side of the aisle to claim that this is totally unnecessary is preposterous. These need to be answered because of our constitutional responsibility, and the fact that we are accountable to the American people and to those who are courageously standing and serving on behalf of our country.
Mr. FROST. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Connecticut [Mr. Gejdenson]
Mr. GEJDENSON. Mr. Speaker, I think it is important to look at the history here. We had 4 years of the Bush administration where they did nothing while mass murder continued in Yugoslavia. President Clinton came along and, with tremendous effort, was able to get a peace process that is now holding.
Why are we here today? The gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. Walker] and the gentleman from Iowa [Mr. Nussle], two of the gentlemen who are the gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Gingrich's, closest associates, sent out a message to committee chairmen: Use taxpayer money to get the President. What are they trying to get the President on?
Let us take a look at it. The Iranians were shipping arms to the Muslims in the former Yugoslavian area from the beginning, but in April 1994 the administration did not stop the Iranians from sending arms into Bosnia.
Mr. Speaker, there was no law, no U.N. resolution that mandated they do that. But that is what happened in April. In May, the Washington Post publishes a report of Iranian arms shipments into the former Yugoslavian Republics. That was in April 1994.
Now we are in May 1994. Everybody who reads the Washington Post now knows it is going on, or they ought to have a pretty good suspicion. What happens in June? Congress passes an amendment calling for a unilateral lifting of the arms embargo, violating our U.N. agreement, maybe putting our embargo of Libya in danger. But we are all concerned about what is happening with the slaughter there.
Just in case Members think Republicans missed the Post article, here we have on June 24 a Washington Times story: `Iranian Weapons Sent. Aid Gets U.S. Wink.' It is included in the Senate Record by Mr. McCain, who is leading the effort for Senator Dole's reelection.
Now, just in case you think Congress knew about it and wanted to stop it after it was in the papers, what did Congress do, with the gentleman from New York [Mr. Gilman] and the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Hyde] voting in favor of the resolution? It passed a resolution in the defense authorization bill which said that the President should be prohibited from interfering with arms shipments into the former Yugoslavian Republics; the President should be prohibited. It did not say the President should be prohibited except for the Iranians who have been shipping arms there to the Muslims from the beginning. It simply said, across the board, the President ought to be prohibited from interfering with arms shipments.
The U.N. resolution did not call on us to take this action. There was no congressional action to have the President interfere with Iranian arms shipments. To the contrary, this Congress passed a resolution that told the President he was not to interfere with arms shipments from other countries.
Mr. SOLOMON. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, it seems odd to see the gentleman from Connecticut, whose name has appeared on the National Taxpayers Union's list of biggest spenders since the year he came here, complaining about wasting taxpayers' money.
Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to my good friend, the distinguished gentleman from California [Mr. Cox], the chairman of the Republican Policy Committee.
Mr. COX of California. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding time to me.
Mr. Speaker, during his recent circumnavigation of the planet, President Clinton stopped at the G-7 summit to hector our allies about leaning harder on the Iranian mullahs who are shipping arms to the Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon. But while he was publicly condemning Iran, and while the administration and the President were calling Iran the main source of international terrorism, we find that President Clinton was in fact conniving for even larger Iranian shipments into the Balkans.
Mr. Speaker, let us take a look at the history of this. It was May 1992 that the United Nations imposed an arms embargo on the former Yugoslavia. The United States supported this arms embargo, but Bill Clinton, who was running for President, opposed it. He said it was a cruel arms embargo, and that we ought to lift it. He became President and completely changed his policy, and broke that promise and said, `No, we are going to have an arms embargo, because it would be wrong now for anyone to ship arms into the Balkans.'
The Congress, for its part, agreed with candidate Clinton, not President Clinton, and supported lifting the arms embargo with a view not to letting Iran into Europe but, rather, our allies such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey supply the Bosnian Muslims with arms. But the President of the United States opposed even that, and in particular, of course, he opposed the United States in any way being involved in arms shipments into the Balkans.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, we discover that the President concealed not just from the American people, not just from the Congress, but from the CIA and from the Joint Chiefs of Staff the United States' complicity, through our American Ambassador, in these direct Iranian shipments into the Balkans.
What is wrong with this? First, it is wrong to structure an operation of this type for the express purpose of concealing something from the Congress. All that has gone before about whether or not these shipments were taking place, whether or not people knew about them, elides over the fact that what we did not know and what the CIA station chief did not know and what the Joint Chiefs did not know was about the administration's and the President's and the Ambassador's own involvement, all of this structured for the purpose of concealing this from the Congress.
What about the policy? It is insane. It is absolutely insane to give Iran a toehold into Europe. That is the policy that was being concealed here. One can understand why.
Is it worthwhile for us to have a very time-limited and financially limited committee to take a look at this? Of course it is.
Mr. FROST. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman from Colorado [Mrs. Schroeder].
Mrs. SCHROEDER. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding time to me.
Mr. Speaker, there is more misinformation going on around here, and especially by people who call themselves great budget hawks. Let us talk about what is going on. They want $1 million, that is five times more than the average subcommittee has in this Congress, $1 million for a short-term subcommittee. They are going to take care of these people, too. Four are going to make over $100,000 apiece.
They have a line item in here for bottled water. This is the bottled water subcommittee. They have another line item that they get new RCA color TV's. That makes you wonder a bit, too. But the real issue is this House is already spending $37.2 million for 132 staff people to look at foreign affairs issues. There are supposedly three Bosnia investigations going on right now in those standing committees, so this will be investigation No. 4.
The only way I can read this is the three are not turning up what they want, or they figure if you have four and you keep having enough committees out there, maybe somebody will finally find something on President Clinton. This is desperation politics, I think, at its very worst.
Let us think about what else they did. We have done away with the committee on drugs, we have done away with the committee for seniors, we have even done away with the committee on hunger, children, youth, and families. Apparently those are not issues anymore. We do not have enough money to spend on those issues. But we can now have the fourth investigation on Bosnia, the fourth.
Mr. Speaker, that does not make any sense to me. I think if we do not think the other three are doing well, then fire the people who are in charge of them, put the right people in, but you do not keep piling on more. That is why we are so suspicious. Having this follow the political memo, this looks like a political subcommittee.
Mr. FROST. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Indiana [Mr. Hamilton].
Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding time to me.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to the resolution. I think it is overkill. This is really not the way to handle a dispute on American foreign policy.
The select committee is unnecessary. There are no compelling reasons for it. There really are no disputes about the facts. There are no allegations of violation of the law. It is a simple dispute over policy.
The fact is that in the spring of 1994, the President had some very tough judgments to make. Does he try to stop the arms shipment and watch the Bosnian Government go down the tubes? Does he lift the arms embargo unilaterally, and that would fracture the NATO allies? Or does he do nothing, and thereby allow shipments of arms from Iran to go through Croatia to Bosnia?
He chose the third alternative. Some people may disagree with that. Some may believe it is bad policy, but three things about it I think can be said: First, the policy worked. It produced peace, and through this peace the Iranian presence in Bosnia has been reduced practically to zero. Second, many Members knew about the arms shipment at the time and they did not protest. And third, Congress, just 3 months after the administration decision, codified into law where it directed that no funds be used to enforce the arms embargo.
The second point I would make is that creating this subcommittee is a mistake because it duplicates the efforts of a lot of other committees at a cost of about $1 million. There are already three committees in the House, I do not know how many in the Senate, looking into this matter and will continue looking into it.
Just a few minutes ago, the Committee on International Relations, the full committee, not a subcommittee, under the very able leadership of my friend from New York, Mr. Gilman, voted to subpoena the testimony of two State Department officials. That is a clear indication that the committee is conducting an investigation, and that investigation of policy is proper and reasonable, but there is no reason to set up a separate subcommittee to do this.
Finally, may I say that I think it is a mistake to establish this subcommittee simply because it falls far short in ensuring the rights of the minority. We were not consulted in drafting this resolution. The resolution gives the minority almost no role in the establishment or the operation of the subcommittee.
I want to say that I have confidence in the chairman of this select committee to be established, I assume the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Hyde]. I think we will work well together. But it is not an unreasonable request to insist that the resolution adequately protect minority rights.
Therefore, I urge my colleagues to defeat the resolution. We need instead to let the standing committees of the House do their work and report back to the House on the question. We do not need a select committee with a very large payroll to examine the wisdom of the administration's policies.
Mr. SOLOMON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the very distinguished gentleman from California [Mr. Thomas].
Mr. THOMAS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me the time.
Mr. Speaker, I would respond to my friend and colleague from Indiana that he knows full well we just went through a committee funding procedure in which the chairman of the select subcommittee made a number of statements on the record.
But before I talk about a comparison between the October Surprise Task Force, which was chaired by the gentleman from Indiana, and the current select subcommittee, I just think we need to revisit the statements made by the chairman of the October Surprise Task Force as to the rationale for the Democrats, who were then in the majority, to conduct a task force which for 8 months ran without any funding whatsoever and wound up spending five times as much, open-ended funding. This is what the gentleman from Indiana said when asked about the task force in front of the then-Committee on House Administration.
Representative Lee Hamilton said, quote, `There was no clear pervasive evidence of wrongdoing, but we ought to go forward.' He said he did not know if the allegations were true or false, but we ought to spend $4.5 million.
He then went on and said he did not know, quote, `how to get to the bottom of it unless you have a formal investigation with a body with some kind of empowerment to issue subpoenas and to take statements under oath.' He said the objective of the task force that the Democrats put in when they were in the majority was a simple one: `The objective is to simply find out what happened.'
If you heard the gentleman from California [Mr. Cox], about how this President, even within the secret inner sanctums of the national security structure, did not talk about letting Iran into Europe, I think the Congress of the United States ought to at least know what was happening.
Now, let us talk about the funding and the ratios. As I said, the October Surprise Task Force operated for over 8 months and spent virtually the entire amount of this select subcommittee before ever coming before a committee to be authorized to spend money.
Let us talk about relationships. The gentleman from Indiana said he did not know what the relationships were. Hogwash. During the hearing in front of the Committee on House Oversight, it was clearly spelled out by the chairman of the full committee and the chairman of the select subcommittee what those ratios were going to be, and guess what? In terms of the consultants, it is a 50-50 split.
In no use of staff is the now-minority being treated in any way worse than the old minority, which is the majority. As a matter of fact, the new majority is treating the old majority in a fairer way.
So there are some differences. We are putting the money up front. We have a time limit on it. But the questions, the reason for creating of the October Surprise Task Force and this one are the same. We want to get to the bottom of what could be a very smelly situation.
Mr. FROST. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Virginia [Mr. Moran].
Mr. MORAN. Mr. Speaker, it is immoral to stand by while a quarter of a million people are massacred as victims of genocide. Maybe that is why for the last 2 years the Congress has not done anything about the information that it had in June 1994. The Congress reads the papers. It listens to its colleagues on the floor of the House and Senate.
In June 1994, Senator McCain said clearly, unequivocally:
Croatia has become a major transit point for covert Iranian arms shipments to Bosnia with the tacit approval of the Clinton administration, which publicly remains opposed to a unilateral lifting of the international arms embargo.
Senator McCain said that to all the Senate. The House was aware of that information, and yet for 2 years no Member of the House or the Senate has asked for a hearing. No Member of the House or the Senate objected to what they knew the administration was doing. We said nothing. We are the ones who kept quiet about it.
I think that there is good reason why we kept quiet about it. For one thing, the majority would have as a reason that they might be embarrassed that it was the Bush administration that lost Yugoslavia, and it was the Bush administration that supported the U.N. Security Council resolution that imposed the arms embargo in the first place.
That arms embargo was supposed to apply to Serbia and Croatia, who were the aggressors in the conflict, who had plenty of arms, who had access to plenty of arms. But in effect the arms embargo only applied to Bosnia, who did not have sufficient arms to protect itself, who did not have access to arms, so it was an unfair policy.
Because it was such an unfair policy, this House of Representatives put itself on record 3 months after the Clinton administration was aware that the arms might go into Bosnia, we put ourselves on record demanding that the Clinton administration do just what we are today accusing them of doing. We told the President not to use any appropriated funds to enforce the arms embargo, and 3 months later it became law. We legally required the Clinton administration to do exactly what we are now accusing them of doing, and it was an overwhelming vote in both the House and Senate.
I think that we should also be careful, and I do not want to offer any advice to the other side, but to bring up the Iran-Contra situation in this context I think is a serious mistake, because the Iran-Contra situation was clearly illegal. This was not illegal. The Clinton administration did not supply any arms to Bosnia. It did not take any overt activity. But it was illegal for the Reagan administration to sell arms to Iran and then to use the money subsequently for another illegal operation.
We should not waste the taxpayers' money on this politically inspired witch hunt.
Mr. FROST. Mr. Speaker, I would inquire of the time remaining on each side.
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Hansen). The gentleman from New York has 11 1/2 minutes, and the gentleman from Texas has 13 1/2 minutes.
Mr. FROST. Mr. Speaker, I yield 4 1/2 minutes to the gentleman from Maryland [Mr. Hoyer].
(Mr. HOYER asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. HOYER. Mr. Speaker, it is with a certain degree of sadness that I rise. I think frankly that the specter of election-year politics raises its head very high in this instance.
I am one who consistently opposed the Clinton administration's policies and without exception supported the unilateral, immediate lifting of the arms embargo. I did that so that peoples under siege, peoples being raped, pillaged, children being killed, ethnic cleansing occurring, yes; genocide occurring could be stopped. I believed that it was immoral and wrong for the United States and its Western allies to keep from the Bosnian people the means for self-defense. But the West as a joint policy, with the British and the French leading the argument, `Do not arm. It will put our troops at risk that are on the ground.'
Contrary to the representations of the gentleman from California [Mr. Cox], the President did not lie. He said he wanted a unilateral withdrawal, but he thought it would undermine our alliance and therefore would not support it.
But the fact of the matter is we, as the gentleman from Virginia pointed out, by law, and I do not know how the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Hyde] or the gentleman from California [Mr. Dornan] or the gentleman from New York [Mr. Solomon] or the gentleman from Florida [Mr. Goss] or the gentleman from New York [Mr. Gilman] or the gentleman from New Jersey [Mr. Smith], who are on the floor, voted on that, but we said, `Mr. President, you must stop arms coming to these defenseless people.'
We said that. We directed them in the defense authorization bill of 1994. Now, as the Presidential campaign is about to get underway, we lament the fact that the President of the United States followed the law and allowed them to get from whichever source they could the arms to defend their homes, their freedom, the democracy that they wanted to establish, the multicultural society which had been a fact of life in Sarajevo and in Bosnia.
What a tragedy, Mr. Speaker, that we now found ourselves driven solely by politics to this point where we raise the issue that a President of the United States, any President of the United States, and I will tell my friend from Virginia, I thought the Bush policy initially was correct in Bosnia, which was to leave it to the Europeans. It turned out we were all wrong. The Europeans did not engage it and solve it. Ultimately the United States had to do that.
But I regret my friend from New York, who is a very close friend for whom I have great respect, and the gentleman from Illinois, for whom I have very great respect, are at this time looking at what I believe to be a very short time frame, not the long time frame where history will judge America not only by what it does, but if we had stopped the Bosnians from getting arms from whomever they could, we would have been wrong.
A gentlewoman on your side of the aisle, one of your most conservative Members walking with me yesterday said, `Well, good for the Iranians getting them arms. They needed arms, and I was for them getting arms.'
That was an honest, nonpolitical response.
Mr. SOLOMON. Mr. Speaker, I cannot imagine any conservative Republican woman in this body saying such a thing, but I will have to take the gentleman's word for it.
Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from New York [Mr. Gilman], the very distinguished chairman of the Committee on International Relations.
(Mr. GILMAN asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me time. Mr. Speaker, I regret the gentleman from Maryland has characterized this as a political action.
Mr. Speaker, in April 1994, the Clinton administration secretly decided to permit Iran to ship weapons to Bosnia in violation of an international arms embargo.
The administration took this action even as it strongly opposed the efforts of many of us in the Congress to terminate that unjust embargo against Bosnia.
The administration argued that our allies feared that terminating the embargo would endanger their troops on the ground.
The result of this foolish and deceitful policy has been to give the terrorist state of Iran a sizeable foothold in Europe, endangered our troops in Bosnia, as well as peace and security there.
The administration has argued that this is no big deal, stating that Congress forced them to stop enforcing the arms embargo in November 1994.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the idea of not enforcing the embargo was proposed by Senator Sam Nunn at a meeting in August 1994 with Ambassador Charles Redmond--then our chief negotiator in the Balkans.
The article states that Redmond discussed at length the legislative language the administration would accept.
But he never disclosed that the administration had already given Iran a go-ahead to smuggle arms into Bosnia.
This is the same Iran that the administration's own annual report on terrorism, issued just last week, states that it is a major supporter of such terrorist groups as Hizbollah and Hamas.
The report also states, and I quote: `Because of Tehran's and Hizbollah's deep antipathy towards the United States, U.S. missions and personnel abroad continue to be at risk.' Close quote.
A select subcommittee of our International Relations Committee is needed to find out just how and why the Clinton administration made this major change in policy without telling Congress, the American people, or even our NATO Allies.
A select committee is needed to find out why--if the administration did want the Bosnians to have arms, it allowed a terrorist state like Iran to provide the arms and secure a beachhead in the Balkans.
Accordingly, I urge our colleagues to support the resolution.
Mr. FROST. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from California [Mr. Berman].
(Mr. BERMAN asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. BERMAN. Mr. Speaker, my friend from New York claims this is not political. Forty-five minutes ago he, under the direction of his leadership, with the passionate support of his Republican members of the Committee on International Relations egging him on, pushed through that committee a subpoena of two of our Ambassadors, not to the select committee that we are creating for $1 million now, but to the committee on International Relations, notwithstanding the fact that the Secretary of State this very morning had called him and told him he would make these people available at any mutually agreeable time and wanted to do anything he could to cooperate with the committee's efforts.
This is purely political.
We talk about Iran and we hear these comments. I do remember a time when we gave lend-lease to the Stalinist thugs who had committed the purges and killed millions of people because we thought a national interest required us to do that. The country of Bosnia was about to go down. I remember my friend from Illinois speaking in the committee about article 51, the compelling moral and legal right to help somebody defend themselves from extinction. That was what was at stake in this particular issue.
Mr. Speaker, I have not heard one word of any question of either the legality or the morality of this particular decision.
Our options were not good, we had to make a decision based on the circumstances at the time. The administration made that decision. A country was saved. To now, for what I believe are truly political motivations as I watched what happened this morning in the Committee on International Relations, go back to the people who most passionately spoke in favor of helping this country get arms to defend itself, now wanting to make political hay out of it, I think is quite a tragedy for this House.
Mr. SOLOMON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 1/2 minutes to the gentleman from California [Mr. Dornan], another very distinguished member of this body who has served on the Committee on Foreign Affairs with me, served on the Committee on National Security and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence . He is a very outstanding member of this body.
Mr. DORNAN. Mr. Speaker, I guess it is every man for himself on both sides of the aisle, whether or not their heart is pure and they think it is political. If anybody wants to tell me that my feelings on this issue are political, I'll just laugh in your face. I have been over there in that area more than any other Member of the House or Senate, except for staffers on both sides, and administration staffers, and I am a bit offended that my good friend from Texas would get up and say that it is ridiculous, trumped up, a charade, cheap political stunts, he is ashamed of us.
I am on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in my eighth year. What was wrong with the schizophrenic Clinton policy is that the leaders of all of our committees, Intelligence , Foreign Affairs, Defense, everybody was shut out of this policy. It came down to a handful, as I predicted it would 3 1/2 years ago, to the Strobe Talbot team, figuring out how they could have their cake and eat it too.
It looked like they were licking the boots of the countries that wanted no Muslim state on European soil, the leaders of England and France, Great Britain and France principally, and then to allow the infrastructure of a terrorist state to win the hearts of the people who were being genocided was a nightmare policy.
I read the NID, the National Intelligence Daily, as assiduously as any member of our Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence . I cannot speak for the Senate. And I can feel the pressure building. I can feel the similarities to Lebanon, which occurred under my hero, President Ronald Reagan, where one suicide terrorist bomber was able to destroy 241 Navy, Army, and of them 221 young Marines. Now we have got a pressure cooker building because we did not have the guts, as I wanted to do, to go against the Bush policy and put a helicopter attack raid on the Auschwitz type camps that the Serbians were running in Bosnia. Remember with the four times more expensive, politicized Gary Sick affair, you had to accept that George Bush got on a SR-71 Blackbird, ditching his Secret Service at an Air Force base in New Jersey, flew to Spain, special refueling tankers, met with Iranian terrorists and come back from Spain. Absurd. But my friend who I hold in high esteem said let us get the facts. I am talking about Mr. Hamilton.
All I am saying is let us try to keep politics out of it. Not easy in an election year. But let us get the facts and stop the nightmarish schizophrenia of the Iranian terrorists who hate our guts and call us the great Satan and making their new friends in Bosnia. What a nightmare Clinton has created. I predicted it right here.
Mr. Speaker, here are several reasons why Congress must investigate the United States role in Iranian arms transfers to Bosnia:
First, in response to the overwhelming and horrific evidence of atrocities committed against the Bosnians, Members of this House during eight different legislative occasions either indicated, authorized, or directed the President to lift the arms embargo--unilaterally if necessary--and provide arms to the Bosnian Government and treat the Croatians fairly.
Second, at the same time that the Clinton administration was working so stridently to prevent Congress from allowing the Bosnians to arm and thus defend themselves, it connived to allow the Iranians to gain a position of influence through backdoor arms transfers.
Third, according to the administration's own assessment, the Bosnians would have needed at least 1 billion dollars' worth of arms to defend themselves--so no one can argue that Iran's program was a suitable alternative to United States support.
Fourth, President Clinton's policy of don't pursue the truth on the Iranian arms supply operation was unnecessary and dangerous in the extreme. Clinton's small inexperienced Strobe Talbot team withheld from Congress, our allies, the CIA and the American people, information about Iran's dangerous involvement because they knew it could not withstand public scrutiny.
Fifth, the Clinton administration has been claiming that Congress supported their policy of acquiescence toward Iranian arms transfers by enacting the Nunn legislation which prohibited United States enforcement of the international arms embargo.
Sixth, according to the May 2 Los Angeles Times, Senator Sam Nunn acknowledged that the Clinton administration had encouraged him to offer language to terminate United States participation in efforts to enforce the embargo--subsequently viewed by the Clinton administration as in effect ratifying their policy of inviting Iran into Bosnia. This legislation was also political cover for those who were unwilling to fight to lift the arms embargo.
Here are six more facts to consider:
First, Clinton and other key officials knew about Iranian involvement in Bosnia and the approximate scope of their presence from 1993 onward.
Second, as we learned from the tragedy in Beirut on October 23, 1983, it only takes one determined suicide terrorist to slaughter our troops.
Third, the capture of two Iranian passport holders at a terrorist training center in Bosnia by NATO troops last February should cause sufficient alarm about Iranian involvement and intentions.
Fourth, Iran's large diplomatic presence conflicts with the mission of IFOR.
Fifth, Iran has been classified by the United States State Department as a terrorist state.
Sixth, it is characteristic of Clinton's schizophrenic policies and leadership that he can sign an antiterrorism bill and at the same time introduce a terrorist infrastructure into southern Europe.
Mr. FROST. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Colorado [Mr. Skaggs].
Mr. SKAGGS. Mr. Speaker, I have three ideas that come to mind in this debate right now: footholds; duplication; and the legitimate interests of my Republican colleagues.
There has been, I think, fairly casual use of language and logic in suggesting that the President's `no instructions' instruction in the spring of 1994 occasioned the Iranians gaining a foothold in Bosnia. Unclassified intelligence makes it very, very clear that there were hundreds of Iranian revolutionary guards and others, unfortunately, in Bosnia in 1993, way before any of the events in question here took place.
Second point, the question of duplication. Are we going to learn anything new from creating this select subcommittee that we are not already going to learn?
Mr. Speaker, this matter is already under investigation by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence , the Committee on National Security has jurisdiction, the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight has jurisdiction. The Committee on International Relations can have plenty of jurisdiction, too, without spending one million bucks to create another select committee. We have so many people looking at this they are going to be stepping all over each other trying to schedule witnesses and everything else during the next few months.
Finally, the question, and it is a very legitimate one, should not the opposition in the Government; that is, the Republican majority here in Congress, in the opposition as to the administration, have a right to have their own look at this?
Of course they should. But let us also keep in mind that the distinguished former Senator from New Hampshire, Warren Rudman, a Republican who serves on the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, who used to serve on the Senate Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence , has reviewed the Intelligence Oversight Board investigation of this matter and found nothing illegal, no violation of U.S. law. This already has the blessing, if you will, of a distinguished Republican overseer of the matter. I think that is terribly important.
Mr. SOLOMON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 30 seconds to the gentleman from Florida [Mr. Goss].
Mr. GOSS. Mr. Speaker, I think the distinguished gentleman from Colorado would agree that the comments and the allegations he made about Senator Rudman go to a very narrow issue with regard to covert action findings, and do not go the broad comprehensive policy we are talking about.
Mr. SKAGGS. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. GOSS. I yield to the gentleman from Colorado.
Mr. SKAGGS. Mr. Speaker, the point is that Senator Rudman said no illegality, no covert action. What is left, as he put it in his words, is a matter of politics.
Mr. GOSS. Mr. Speaker, reclaiming my time, to a very narrow point that they were looking into, which we cannot talk about, regrettably, too much in the open, I agree that was a correct finding, but it is not the whole story.
Mr. SOLOMON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Indiana [Mr. Buyer], a member of the Committee on National Security.
Mr. BUYER. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me time.
Mr. Speaker, with quite a bit of interest I listened to the debate, because I was not here in the Congress back during the Bush administration, but I recognize that in 1991, the United Nations, with the full support of the United States Government imposed the arms embargo on the entire former Yugoslavia. Then, as outgunned, the Bosnian military suffered repeated defeats and the Bosnian civilian casualties mounted, many people came to see the embargo as unfair to the Bosnians.
In January 1993, when President Clinton took office, he attempted to persuade our allies to multilaterally lift the embargo. This attempt was not successful, but President Clinton would not support a unilateral lifting of the embargo. They continued to support the embargo and enforced it with U.S. Naval forces. The Clinton administration has always opposed the unilateral lifting of the embargo, until the Dayton peace accords were signed in late 1995.
Now the Undersecretary of State has confirmed the United States officially, by this alleged secret agreement with Croatia, turned a blind eye to covert arms shipments by Iran into Croatia and Bosnia. This leads to the potential of a terrorist state such as Iran claiming a foothold into Europe.
I think that there are many important questions to be asked. What prompted the President to enter into a secret agreement with Croatia to allow the shipments of large quantities of arms into Bosnia and Iran, in violation of the U.N. arms embargo, at the time he was lobbying Congress not to lift the arms embargo? Did the administration officials initiate this deal, and did it involve them directly or indirectly with Iranian officials? Why did the President not notify Congress of the secret agreement when it was made at that time? Has the administration been honest with the public and private statements on the issue during its testimony before Congress, in statements to the American people that it is diplomatic dialog with our European allies? And were any laws violated?
We do not know the answers to those questions, and I think it is very, very appropriate to ask.
Mr. FROST. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from West Virginia [Mr. Wise].
Mr. WISE. Mr. Speaker, now I just want to get this straight, myself and a lot of taxpayers. This Congress is about to approve a million-dollar select committee to hold hearings into matters that three other subcommittees are already holding hearings into.
The complaint apparently is that the United States knew that Iran was sending arms to the Bosnian Muslims. Now, this is the same Congress that voted overwhelmingly to lift the arms embargo so that the Bosnian Muslims could get arms from wherever to defend themselves.
Was not this the same Congress, headed by Senate Majority Leader Dole, who led the effort to lift the arms embargo so the Bosnian Muslims could get arms from wherever to defend themselves? Mr. Speaker, the most open secret around here, if indeed published news reports are secret, was that the Bosnian Muslims were getting arms to defend themselves from the Iranians, which was what everybody said they wanted to happen, that they have arms from somewhere to defend themselves.
Now that requires a million-dollar select subcommittee, in addition to the three subcommittees already investigating it?
Mr. Speaker, this is a group that likes hearings. I have sat in on a bunch of them myself on the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight. The record so far is that this million-dollar subcommittee will be added to the 44 days of hearings and $30 million that has so far been spent on Whitewater; 14 days of hearings on Ruby Ridge; 10 days of hearings on Waco, that certainly changed national policy; and countless wasted hours and taxpayer dollars on other types of politically motivated investigations.
We have three committees already looking into this. Mr. Speaker, there is no need to spend a million dollars, add more staff, add more fluff, to do what those three committees are already charged with doing and are doing.
Mr. SOLOMON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 1/2 minutes to the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Hyde], someone very important in this debate. He will be the chairman of this new select subcommittee. He is one of the most respected Members of this body.
(Mr. HYDE asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, you will miss my tirade about October Surprise. How soon we forget the greatest wild goose chase in history which spent $1.3 million. I have quotations about how important that quest was for the Emerald City that my friends on the other side of the aisle led us on. Oh, it was not political; it was just 10 years old in an election year. But my friends do not know anything about politics, and I will not raise the issue.
Mr. Speaker, we are not talking about the wisdom of the embargo. Everybody agreed, except the Clinton administration while they lived under it, that the embargo was wrong and immoral. We agree with that. But what we are concerned about is the wisdom, the propriety, the common sense of standing by while the most terrorist nation on Earth comes into the bosom of the most volatile place on Earth. The wisdom of that is a legitimate inquiry of the Committee on International Relations. It is legitimate.
We want to know the genesis of this brainstorm, because we need to know if there were options? Was Iran the only country that could supply training and arms? Is not Turkey nearby? Is not Egypt nearby? Is not Pakistan nearby?
What about the countries that were on our side, the Muslim countries in Operation Desert Storm? Why, of all the countries in the world, do we turn a blind eye to terrorist Iran? That is a legitimate inquiry.
Politics? We did not learn about this until April 5, until the Los Angeles Times did what the administration should have done: Let us in on it. Oh, my Democrat colleagues say we had notices that arms were trickling in. Sure. We never knew that we had a policy of looking the other way while the most terrorist nation on Earth was getting a foothold in the most volatile place on Earth.
Well, the timing is yours; it is not ours. Politics? Listen, I cannot help it if it is an election year. We are not going to abandon our responsibility to find out who dreamed up this policy, what is our role, what are the options, and most significantly, what are the consequences for our troops there? Our credibility as a country, saying one thing and doing another, those are important issues. We have a responsibility to get at the bottom of them. I wish it was last year, but it is not.
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