Clinton and the Taliban
Now I wanted to bring something to your attention something that I think hasnt received any real coverage by the media. I don't want to sound too presumptuous, but it would seem that Bill Clinton authorized and created the terrorist Taliban group and backed them from 1994 to 1997.
It seems he and his administration had a sympathetic view of the Taliban seizing power in Afghanistan. A certain book coincidentally called Taliban may have some information on the Clinton administration's support of the Taliban. The author is one Ahmed Rashid. The primary source was Dana Rohrabacher, a representative and a republican in California has been very vocal about this very thing and has been critical of this long before the Sept. 11th attacks.
According to Rohrabacher, the Clinton administration played a role in creating the Taliban by giving a 'green light' to Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and other gulf states to fund, direct, and organize the Taliban. Rohrabacher said at one point on the house floor in a Sept. 17th  speech that the Clinton administration promised Pakistan and Saudi Arabia that it wouldnt overthrow the Taliban. The UPI reported it.
Also he made all to familiar accusations during the past eight years. He accused a department; the state department to be exact, of key withholding documents that would show the Clinton administration supported the terrorist Taliban movement and its seizure of power in Afghanistan. The official he blamed specifically was assistant secretary at that time, one Karl Inderfurth.
Furthermore it seems one Robin Raphel, Clinton's assistant secretary of state for south Asia affairs until mid-1997, is believed to be instrumental in the rise of the Taliban. She lived in Pakistan for a number of years and her husband was U.S. ambassador to that country. He was killed in a bombing that also removed a Pakistani dictator.
One report suggested that several Islamic states expressed the belief that Raphel and other U.S. officials along with Afghans in the U.S. were on the payroll of Unocal's payroll. They cite that she provided a fiery defense of Unocal and especially the Taliban in negotiations with the Afghanistan government.
During such an encounter, Raphel's words -- in effect asking the government to "give it up" -- were so insulting that Ahmad Shah Masood, Afghanistan's two-decade national resistance leader, threw down his trademark pakol cap, pointed to it and said, "I will continue to defend Afghanistan even if I control no more land than the size of this cap!"
It seems this teeth-shattering reply and unexpected blow to Raphel was the last straw. According to Afghan government intelligence sources, soon after this heated negotiation session the Taliban -- newly supplied with night-vision instruments, satellite maps, and other sophisticated gear -- aided by hundreds of Arab militants, Pakistani extremists and camouflaged Pakistan Army regulars stormed into Jalalabad and then into the Afghan capital.
Suffice it to say that during both terms in office, Clinton and his State Department were pulling for a Taliban military victory. Clinton administration jubilation at such a victory was mainly rooted in its support of oil and gas pipelines. Dana Rohrabacher in his 19 May 2000 interview with Omaid Weekly accused the Clinton administration of providing covert support to the Taliban.
Those people who are just infatuated with Clinton know they cant defend such a thing and with that they merely seek to counter balance it with Reagans support of Afghan fighters in their fight with the Soviets. If anything they in some way feel they can balance a Clinton failure with a brilliant Reagan success. Reagan took an action that crippled our worst enemy, the Soviet Union, and that played a crucial role in the downfall of the Soviet Union.
As for Bin Laden, he worked closely with Pakistani military officials and Saudi intelligence officials, but he did not have a relationship with the Central Intelligence Agency, which also supported the Afghan resistance. Milt Bearden, the CIA station chief in Pakistan from 1986 to 1989, denied cooperating with bin Laden, but he knew of his efforts. Bin Laden was there using his familys 5 billion dollar fortune and construction business.
It seems Bin Laden served primarily as a fund-raiser and recruiter who publicized the jihad and helped transport Arab volunteers to Afghanistan. He became more involved in the logistics of supporting the jihad, bringing earth-moving equipment from his familys construction company to carve out roads and bunkers in the rugged terrain of eastern Afghanistan along the border with Pakistan. It is important to point out he became a terrorist threat during the Clinton administration, which missed at least to key opportunities to get him.
As for the stinger missiles we supplied to Afghanistan, the U.S. had a buyback program. It was estimated that we supplied them with over a thousand. Out of that we managed to by some 450 of them, plus you have to minus the ones used and it would seem that there were very few left. Then factoring in time and deterioration, it would seem unlikely that there are any operable stingers left supplied by the U.S.
So as we now began to introduce troops in Afghanistan, we must be keenly aware of the Clinton administration's support of the terrorist Taliban, we must be aware of the Clinton administration's failure to capture or take out Bin Laden on two occasions, and we must stand for people deflecting from these facts by dredging up Reagan's overwhelming success in the region.
Was Clinton pro-Taliban?
Congressman charges Afghan extremists were coddled, oversight efforts 'belittled'
President Clinton incubated the Taliban regime in Afghanistan for at least three years, despite the fact that it was harboring Osama bin Laden, was responsible for growing 60 percent of the world's heroin and denied basic human rights to the nation, a U.S. congressman charges.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., says he was belittled, stonewalled and ridiculed for three years for asserting the congressional oversight role in the formulation of foreign policy toward Afghanistan during the last term of the Clinton administration.
Using his seat on the House International Affairs Committee, Rohrabacher attempted, he says, for several years to secure communiqus, cables and other State Department documents that would reveal what was behind U.S. policy toward Kabul. He says he and his committee were "stonewalled" and "belittled" in all their attempts.
Rohrabacher renewed his requests for those documents in a committee hearing with Secretary of State Colin Powell last week. Powell pledged to look into the matter.
The congressman has some first-hand experience with Afghanistan, having traveled there during the Mujahedin's war with the Soviet Union invaders just prior to entering the House.
He blames Saudi Arabia and Pakistan for sponsoring the brutal Taliban regime, and U.S. neglect of Afghanistan following the Soviet withdrawal for its rise to power.
"The U.S. spent $1 billion a year aiding the Mujahedin during the war with the Russians," Rohrabacher says. "When the war was over, the U.S. walked away, leaving Afghanistan to its own fate after years of death and destruction. We didn't even help them clear the land mines we gave them to plant. Afghan children by the hundreds were still getting their arms and legs blown off by American land mines long after the war was over, because we did nothing to help them."
Rohrabacher blames the first Bush administration for this policy of neglect.
But he reserves more passion for criticism of the Clinton administration, which, he says, bailed out the Taliban in its most fateful days.
"In 1997, the Taliban overextended themselves," he says. "Thousands of troops were captured in the north. Much of their equipment was destroyed by the Northern Alliance. Nothing prevented the opposition from taking Kabul. The Taliban was more vulnerable than it ever was before."
But instead of seizing the opportunity to support the Northern Alliance, Rohrabacher says the Clinton administration imposed a ceasefire and arms embargo that was supposed to apply to both sides. Instead, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia took the opportunity to resupply and rebuild the Taliban army.
President Clinton, Rohrabacher maintains, knew about this but withheld information from Congress and the Northern Alliance.
Two years ago, Rohrabacher says, a friend very knowledgeable about Afghanistan called him to say he knew exactly where Osama bin Laden was in Afghanistan. If the U.S. wanted to take him out, this was the opportunity.
Rohrabacher contacted the Central Intelligence Agency and asked officials to talk to his friend. A week went by and nothing happened, he says. He called again. Another week went by with no contact. Rohrabacher got in touch with Rep. Porter Goss, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who set up a meeting with the Bin Laden Task Force, a group comprised of members of the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency. Rohrabacher met with the task force, which assured him it would get right on the matter.
"It took a month before anyone from the task force ever got in touch with my friend," he says. By then, bin Laden had moved.
Rohrabacher accuses the U.S. intelligence establishment of gross negligence and incompetence over what he calls the "biggest intelligence failure in the history of the country."
"Here we were paying hundreds of people to conduct a secret war against bin Laden for years, yet they allowed this attack against these buildings in New York," he says. "They were evidently more concerned about their own little turf wars than they were about protecting the lives of thousands of Americans."
Rohrabacher says people should be fired over this failure or Americans will pay an even bigger price in the future.
"I think this is evidence that our CIA and our intelligence apparatus are run by nincompoops and incompetents," he says. "People should lose their jobs over this."
Rohrabacher, a major supporter of the Afghan resistance during the Soviet invasion, says, contrary to popular opinion, the U.S. did not support bin Laden and his allies during the war. Bin Laden got his support from Saudi Arabia and the Taliban, which arose "seemingly from nowhere in 1996." It was a creation of the Pakistan ISI, that nation's equivalent of the CIA.
He says Pakistan wanted a regime it could control, while Saudi Arabia, which also supported the Taliban, wanted to block the development of an oil pipeline through Afghanistan that would drive down the price of oil. In addition, he says, the Pakistan ISI siphoned off money from the Afghan heroin trade, controlled by the Taliban.
Rohrabacher organized several humanitarian relief efforts on behalf of the Northern Alliance, but, he says, he could never interest the Clinton administration in helping. In fact, he says, the administration threw up roadblocks to his efforts on more than one occasion.
During the Clinton administration, the congressman says, Voice of America became known in Afghanistan as the "Voice of the Taliban."
"When I tell people that President Clinton supported the Taliban, they go berserk," he said. "But that is the truth."
Top Taliban Sought U.S. Help in 1999
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- A senior Taliban official said he approached U.S. representatives three years ago for help in replacing the hard-line Islamic leadership but was told Washington was leery of becoming involved in internal Afghan politics, the former official said Sunday.
Mullah Mohammed Khaksar, a former Taliban intelligence chief and later Afghan deputy interior minister, said he met with U.S. diplomats Gregory Marchese and J. Peter McIllwain in Peshawar, Pakistan, in April 1999 and told them he wanted to oust Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar because of his support for Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network.
The two Americans promised to contact Washington, Khaksar said. Later, he received a letter -- which he showed to The Associated Press -- from Marchese saying the United Sates was nervous about backing Afghan factions because of its experience supporting hardline Islamic movements during the war against the Soviets.
``We don't want to make mistakes like we made in the holy war,'' Marchese said in the letter, written in Afghanistan's Pashto language and translated by Khaksar. ``We gave much help and it later went against us.''
Marchese added that ``my boss is interested'' -- without identifying him by name. However, Khaksar said that was his last contact with the Americans.
Marchese, now posted in Washington, confirmed the meeting with Khaksar but refused to say what was discussed.
``I can confirm that I met Mullah Khaksar, then the Taliban regime's deputy interior minister, at my home in Peshawar in April 1999,'' Marchese said in an e-mail. ``I can't get into the content of the meeting, however.''
It was unclear whether Khaksar's overture was relayed to the highest levels of the Clinton Administration. Nor is it clear whether the United States lost an opportunity to neutralize bin Laden and his Taliban protectors before the devastating attacks of Sept. 11.
The State Department on Sunday said it had ``no immediate comment'' on Khaksar's comments.
Khaksar, a founding member of the Taliban, said he contacted the Americans because he feared the Islamic movement had been hijacked -- first by Pakistan's powerful intelligence agency and then by bin Laden and his al-Qaida group.
Khaksar said he and others in the Taliban wanted to ``keep Afghanistan for Afghans'' but found themselves marginalized because of bin Laden's influence over Mullah Omar. Bin Laden donated suitcases full of money to finance the Taliban's war-effort against the northern-based alliance led by the late guerrilla leader, Ahmed Shah Massood.
Mullah Omar, meanwhile, had fallen under the influence of bin Laden and a clique of Afghan clerics who were graduates from Pakistani religious schools with links to Pakistani intelligence.
``They told him he could be the leader of all the Muslims, bring all Muslims together,'' said Khaksar, who lives in Kabul. ``What were they doing? It wasn't Afghanistan anymore. My thinking was that they would destroy my country.''
To meet the Americans, Khaksar journeyed to Pakistan, telling associates he needed medical treatment for a stomach ailment. After a brief stay in Islamabad's Shifa Hospital, he stopped in Peshawar on his way home.
Some low-ranking Taliban friends introduced him to an American teacher at a Christian school, who told him to telephone the Peshawar consulate and mention his name. Kkaksar refused to identify the teacher.
Khaksar said Marchese asked to meet at his home rather than the consulate so that Pakistani intelligence would not learn of the meeting.
``He was there with two other men, an American and an Afghan interpreter,'' Khaksar said. ``He asked me: 'What do you want from us and what can you give us about Osama bin Laden?'''
Khaksar said he told the Americans that he was worried about bin Laden's Arab associations because ``one day they would do something in the world, but everything would be on the head of Afghanistan.''
Khaksar said he told the Americans that Mullah Omar's clique could be undermined through political action inside Afghanistan.
``I told them the Taliban militarily are too strong, but politically you can defeat them. I told them it is not something you can do in one or two days, but it can be done,'' he said.
Before leaving, Khaksar said he tore in half a Pakistani five rupee note and gave one part if it to Marchese.
``If anyone comes to you and says they represent me, ask them for my half of the five rupee note,'' Khaksar told Marchese. ``If he doesn't have it, don't believe him. He is a fake.''
Aside from the letter, Khaksar said he never heard from U.S. officials again. In his letter, Marchese reminded him of the $5 million U.S. reward -- since raised to $25 million -- for bin Laden.
``But for me, it wasn't bin Laden that I wanted a program for,'' Khaksar said. ``But for the Americans, it was. For me, it was my country. I was waiting for a program from the Americans, a program to defeat the Taliban and a program to hand over bin Laden.
``Back then, bin Laden's security was not so tight. It was easier to get him. But people would not be crazy enough to try to kill bin Laden unless they could be guaranteed of support behind them.''
Associated Press | Sunday, June 09, 2002 | KATHY GANNON
RELATING TO REESTABLISHMENT OF REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT IN AFGHANISTAN -- (House of Representatives - October 24, 2000)
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman from California (Mr. ROHRABACHER), the sponsor of this resolution, who has a very special expertise in matters of Afghanistan.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Speaker, the Taliban represent one of the great threats to stability and peace and civility on this planet. They, in fact, represent an aspect of Islam that if accepted and if influencing other areas of the world will have a tremendously, tremendously negative impact on the peace of the world but also the well-being of women who are in these Muslim countries who would then become chattel and treated like slaves, which is what happens under the Taliban's rule.
The Taliban is anti-Western beyond belief. They treat their own people like tyrants, and vicious tyrants at that. They are engaged in terrorism against the West. They are involved up to their eyeballs in the drug trade. One-third of all of the world's heroin is grown in Taliban -controlled territory in Afghanistan. These people are evil, and they pose a threat to the Western world; but also they pose a threat to those positive elements among the Muslim world that would seek to be part of the world community and are responsible in their behavior and believe in the Western-style democracy or at least Western-style freedom for their people.
Unfortunately, over the years, as I have worked with the pro-Western elements within Afghanistan, I have been undermined over and again by our own State Department. This administration, and I really am sorry that I have to say this on the floor, this administration I honestly believe has had a policy, a covert policy, of supporting the Taliban, believing that the Taliban will at least create stability in Afghanistan. This is like the stability that Adolf Hitler brought to Europe, or the stability that prison guards bring to a prison. Yet we know that the Taliban's repression, their involvement with drugs and terrorism, is almost unconscionable.
Now, why do I say this administration has failed on this point? Because the administration has time and again undermined efforts on this Congressman's part to support those people who are opposing the Taliban in Afghanistan. My efforts and the efforts of other moderate Muslims have been undermined over and over again. In fact, this administration disarmed the opposition, was part and parcel of disarming the opposition to the Taliban, who then moved forward and wiped out their opposition in northern Afghanistan. It is a horrendous, horrendous legacy that we have to deal with now that this administration's policies have led to bolstering this horrible regime.
I would ask that this resolution be supported because it does offer another alternative. There is a king of Afghanistan who is pro-Western and a very reasonable person and tried to lead his country, where women had their rights respected under the former king. He was overthrown at a time just before the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. We need to work with that former king to bring about a democratic government. The people are not fanatics in Afghanistan. They are devoted Muslims, but they are not fanatics like the Taliban. They are dedicated people who love their families; yet they have been abandoned after their fight with the Soviet Union; they have been abandoned to forces like the Taliban.
Let me just say that the Taliban, by and large, and I know this very well because I, probably the only Member of this body now, was in Afghanistan during the war, fighting the Russians with the Mujadin, and I was there in 1988 with the Mujadin and I know the commanders. The Taliban are not the Mujadin who fought the Russians. Unfortunately, once the Mujadin had defeated the Russians, the United States walked away and we did not support the type of elements that would have created a more positive country in Afghanistan, and other anti-Western Muslim countries moved in to get control of the drug trade and to create this monstrous regime.
We need to reassert ourselves and to become a positive force for the people of Afghanistan so they can determine their own destiny through elections, and this Loya Jirgah would be the first step in doing that. That is part of their culture.
I would like to commend the gentleman from New York (Chairman GILMAN), who over the years of me trying to find peace and getting rid of this horrible Taliban regime, he has been so active and supportive of my efforts, and over and over again he joined with me in calling for the State Department to provide me the documents to find out if indeed our State Department had this horrible policy of supporting the Taliban, and the State Department has not provided us the documents that we need to determine whether or not these charges are false or not.
What does that say if the State Department is unwilling to provide those documents? So I would like to commend the gentleman from New York (Chairman GILMAN). He has done so much for the cause of peace and justice in this part of the world and to create a more stable world, especially concerning the Taliban.
VOICING CONCERN ABOUT SERIOUS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS IN MOST STATES OF CENTRAL ASIA -- (House of Representatives - October 30, 2000)
On top of that, there is one other factor that needs to be looked at about what is creating the cycle of violence which will lead to such turmoil. That is what? American policy towards Afghanistan.
This Member, and anyone who is in the Committee on International Relations will testify, for years I have been warning what the results of this administration's policy towards Afghanistan would be. Years, I predicted over and over again that, unless we did something in Afghanistan to change the situation, that we would end up with Afghanistan as a center of, number one, terrorism, a base for terrorism for the Central Asia but also for the world; that it would be repressive and have one of the most repressive and fanatic regimes and anti-Western regimes on the planet; and, number three, it would be the center for the growth of heroin and that it would put all of the resources that, the billions of dollars one receives from the growth of one-third of the world's heroin in the hands of these religious fanatics. That is exactly what has happened.
Yes, it is heroin money in the hands of the Taliban leaders that are fanning this, the flame of discontent and violence in Central Asia that takes advantage of the dictatorships. The dictators should not just focus, however, on trying to wipe out their opponents and wipe out these fundamentalist movements. They should focus on trying to create a democratic alternative so that people in those countries once be attracted to this type of fanaticism.
Even the people of Afghanistan are not attracted to the fanaticism of the Taliban. The Taliban have an iron-fisted control there and have steadily refused to have democratic elections.
It is my sad, sad duty to, again, repeat the charge on the floor of the House of Representatives, as I have on numerous occasions in the Committee on International Relations, that this administration, not only has discarded human rights and democracy as a priority but has a covert police of supporting one of the worst governments and oppressive governments in the world; and I am talking about the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
I have tried to investigate this for years, and I have been repeatedly cut off by the State Department from receiving the documents that would disprove, and I would like to disprove this charge, because it is a shame for any American to think that our government would be supporting this regime.
But I can testify here today that, every time the opposition to the Taliban has had a chance of dislodging the Taliban from power in Afghanistan, this administration has run to their rescue time and time again.
Now, people do not know, even in this body, do not know the details, much less the American people. But those are the facts, and I can verify that over and over again.
AMERICAN EMBASSY SECURITY ACT OF 1999 -- (House of Representatives - July 19, 1999)
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Chairman, I rise to commend the gentleman from New York (Mr. GILMAN) on his leadership on H.R. 2415, which, of course, emphasizes the need to enhance the security of the United States overseas diplomatic missions as well as our U.S. personnel overseas.
As the gentleman from New York (Mr. GILMAN) has stated, among the greatest threats to the security of American diplomatic missions and personnel is by Osama bin Laden and his legion of terrorists who train and operate out of Afghanistan. The primary benefactors of bin Laden's terrorists are elements in Pakistan and the extremist Taliban militia, who not only host and protect bin Laden but have imposed a reign of terror on the people of Afghanistan and especially on the women of Afghanistan.
Mr. Chairman, on numerous occasions I have charged and I repeat today that the Clinton administration, despite statements to the contrary, has a covert policy of cooperating with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia that has orchestrated the creation, the rise to power, and the ongoing tyranny of the Taliban. The Taliban are now competing with SLORC, the SLORC dictatorship in Burma, for the role of the world's largest producer of opium. They are harboring anti-American terrorists such as bin Laden, and the Taliban's fanatical leaders are waging a psychotic reign of terror on millions of women in Afghanistan.
On August 25, 1998, using my oversight responsibility as a senior member of the House Committee on International Relations, I sent a letter to the Department of State requesting the pertinent cables and documents related to U.S. policy on Afghanistan, especially when it relates to the Taliban. The State Department ignored my original request.
As the Taliban's tyranny against women and human rights abuses against their entire population intensified in Afghanistan, and at committee hearings, I repeatedly restated my call and my request for documents to the Assistant Secretary of State Rick Indefurth and other State Department officials.
And even as my requests for information were ignored, actions taken by the State Department seemed to confirm my charges of a covert U.S. policy of support for the extremist Taliban cult in Afghanistan.
In November of 1998, at a closed hearing on Iraq, for the record, I asked Secretary of State Madeleine Albright when the Afghanistan material that I requested would be delivered. She said it would be coming soon.
Christmas, Hannukah, and the New Year came and went and still no documents.
At the outset of this Congressional session, in February at a full committee hearing in full public, I reminded Secretary Albright of her commitment to release the Afghan documents. At that time the gentleman from New York (Chairman GILMAN) supported my request for the record. Again Secretary Albright told us the documents were forthcoming.
During the following weeks, my staff and the committee staff of the gentleman from New York (Chairman GILMAN) continued to call on the State Department about this commitment for Afghan documents.
To cut the story down to size here, we still have not had one document from the State Department that would either confirm or disprove my charges. I am, therefore, ever more convinced and I would hope the women who have testified here today will join me in insisting that the State Department provide requested documents that would prove one way or the other whether or not this administration is again committing a sin against the people of the world whether it believes in human rights in supporting the Taliban , one of the world's worst human rights abusers and one of the world's worst enemies of women's freedom.
So I would ask my fellow colleagues to join me. After over a year of stonewalling and blockading our attempts to get to the information, I ask Members on both sides of the aisle to join me in getting the State Department to give up this stonewalling and to give us the pertinent information about Afghan policy and what the real position of this government is.
DEPARTMENTS OF COMMERCE, JUSTICE, AND STATE, THE JUDICIARY, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2000 -- (House of Representatives - August 05, 1999)
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
Mr. Chairman, as we vote today for or against the appropriation that will pay for the State Department's operating expenses, I would like to draw the attention of my colleagues to an ongoing controversy concerning the State Department's dealings with the Taliban regime that now controls Afghanistan. The Taliban, I remind my colleagues, have been ruling most of Afghanistan with an iron fist. They are competing with the SLORC dictatorship in Burma for the role of the world's largest producer of heroin. They are harboring anti-American terrorists like Osama bin Laden and other murderers who have killed and maimed Americans in attacks like those on American embassies in Africa.
The Taliban fanatical leaders are waging a psychotic war of terror and repression against anything that they deem Western and have singled out women in Afghanistan as the targets of their medieval wrath. In short, they are to women what the Nazis were to Jews in the 1930's. Specifically, they are a monstrous threat to the freedom and well-being of tens of millions of women who live in Muslim countries around the world.
Now here is the kicker. Under the Clinton administration, the Taliban has established control over most of Afghanistan and has wiped out its opposition. Rather than being a force to combat the expansion of the Taliban, it appears that the United States under this administration has acquiesced to Taliban rule and even undermined the resistance to the Taliban. In short, it appears that the United States may have a covert policy of supporting the Taliban.
As a senior member of the Committee on International Relations, I requested documents well over a year ago that would confirm or lay to rest this suspicion about possible U.S. support for the Taliban. I repeatedly requested Assistant Secretary of State Rick Indefurth and other State Department officials formally and informally, officially and unofficially, to provide the documentation.
The chairman of the Committee on International Relations, the gentleman from New York (Mr. GILMAN), joined me in this request. Secretary of State Albright made a commitment to the committee during a hearing that documents would be forthcoming, and that was November of last year. After over a year of stalling and foot dragging, a year of either cover-up or incompetence, the State Department finally turned over a small batch of documents a couple of weeks ago, and only, by the way only then, after the chairman, Chairman GILMAN, threatened to subpoena.
Mr. Chairman, the paltry packet delivered from the State Department contained for the most part photocopies of newspaper articles about Afghanistan. This arrogance should be noted as we vote for the State Department's budget. This thumbing their noses at Congressional oversight cannot and should not be tolerated. This is an issue of utmost importance, and at this point, Mr. Chairman, I insert into the RECORD a letter that I sent yesterday to Assistant Secretary of State Indefurth:
CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES,
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, DC, August 3, 1999.
Hon. KARL F. INDEFURTH,
Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs, Department of State, Washington, D.C.
DEAR SECRETARY INDEFURTH: After over a year of requesting documents and information concerning the Administration's policies and activities concerning Afghanistan and the Taliban, your office transmitted an envelope with pitifully few documents. Most of those documents were photocopies of newspaper articles. You may think this is funny, Mr. Indefurth. It is an insult to me as a senior member of the International Relations committee, it is an insult to Chairman Gilman who joined me in this request, and it is an affront to the Congress. Your actions suggest a disdain for Congress' oversight responsibility.
Let me again remind you, I have asked for all documents concerning administration policy toward Afghanistan and the Taliban, including cables and diplomatic correspondence with American diplomats engaged in foreign policy initiatives and analysis. Chairman Gilman joined me in that request over six months ago. In November of last year, Secretary Albright promised the Committee that the requested documents would be forthcoming. As far as I am concerned, you are in contempt of Congress in both a legal and personal sense. There is no excuse for the delays and stonewalling instead of providing information requested by a legitimate Congressional oversight committee.
There are only a few explanations for your continued intransigence in meeting this lawful request for documents and information. All of those explanations reflect poorly on you, Secretary Albright and the Administration as a whole. Incompetence may be a reason, raw arrogance may be a reason. However, it is also possible, considering other actions taken by you and the Administration, that what we see is a reflection of a coverup of a covert policy supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Considering the Taliban's assault on human rights, especially those of Afghan women, the charges of a convert policy of support for the Taliban deserved the utmost clarification by your office through the documents I requested. Instead, we've had delay and obfuscation. Taliban's current offensive aimed at destroying the last remnants of resistance to their tyrannical rule, makes your actions even more questionable. This letter will be sent to every member of the International Relations Committee and will be made part of the Congressional Record. Upon return from the Summer break, I will be asking that subpoenas be issued and that prosecution for contempt of Congress be considered.
Member of Congress.
At this moment the Taliban are on an offensive that it is attempting to wipe out its last resistance, and that is about 10 percent of the country that now is in the Panjer Valley and that has resisted the Taliban efforts, and that is under a man named Commander Massoud. This is a life and death struggle. Thousands of people are being killed. Unfortunately, the people of Afghanistan who fought so bravely as friends of the United States and helped us end the Cold War, we now have deserted them; and it is possible that we are actually helping their oppressors.
Unfortunately, it appears that the Saudis and the Pakistanis have sent foreign troops into Afghanistan with the acquiescence of the United States. I hope that the people of Afghanistan understand that as this offensive against Massoud and the Panjer Valley goes forward this is their chance to rise up against the Taliban and to win their own freedom, because I am afraid that as long as this administration is in Washington, D.C., that we will not be taking those efforts to support the freedom-loving people of Afghanistan who stood with us against the Soviet Union; and instead it is possible that we have a covert policy of supporting the Taliban control, which would be a monstrous violation of the principles of freedom and justice for all that our country supposedly stands for.
So I would ask my colleagues to pay attention to this, and I would ask the State Department to please provide the documentation that I have been trying and I am asking for for over a year, when the gentleman from New York (Mr. GILMAN) has been asking for it for over a year and not to arrogantly thumb their noses at us by sending us newspaper clippings in response to our request for official documents.
CHALLENGE FACING AMERICA -- (House of Representatives - September 17, 2001)
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 3, 2001, the gentleman from California (Mr. ROHRABACHER) is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the majority leader.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Speaker, it is in deep sadness that I rise today to speak to my colleagues and to set down a record that is, I believe, necessary to understand the horrible loss that we have suffered.
During these last few days, most of us have experienced a deep and painful sadness. Now that sadness, rightfully, is turning into anger. It is anger, as it should be, at those who perpetrated this monstrous crime against us; and those people who committed this crime will feel the wrath of the American people, a wrath that has not so been unleashed since Pearl Harbor.
We must and we will avenge our countrymen. Anyone with a hand or even a finger in this mass slaughter of innocent Americans will pay the ultimate price. We do this because it is our duty, and nothing will deter us.
One note of warning, Mr. Speaker: we must not permit our rage, and there is rage in my soul and the soul of all of our fellow Americans, but we must not let this rage lead to actions that will
strengthen the hand of the fanatic terrorists with whom we now do battle. These monsters are counting on us to strike out blindly and to attack people who are our potential allies and friends, thus alienating them and turning them into enemies.
What bin Laden wants is for the United States, us, to turn this into a battle between us, the United States, and every Muslim in the world. He wants to push the world's Muslims, into his camp. We must not do that, and, in order not to, we must have a restraint and fortitude on our part so that we can guard against that outcome as we seek our retribution against the terrorists who have committed such a crime against us.
Thus, as we proceed to do our duty, we must recognize that there are Muslims throughout the world who are on our side. These people, too, have been victimized by these terrorists and gangsters. We need to reach out and enlist freedom-loving Muslim people in the world to join us; and especially we must recognize that the many Muslim-Americans, our fellow citizens, are with us and feel even a greater sorrow for the despicable crime that has been committed against us, because they, too, are us, the United States.
Our greatest strength as a Nation is that America is a land of people of all races and religions and ethnic groups. At the prayer service at our National Cathedral, all faiths, including Islam, were represented; and we can be very proud of that. Now is the time for all of us to stand together.
So how is it that this land of liberty, this free and open society, should become the target of such hatred that it led to the slaughter of thousands of helpless, innocent, kind-hearted, working American people? Those folks were at their desks at work before 9 a.m., so why is it that they and we and America is so hated?
Let us not forget that the Nazis knew that the light of freedom from America was a force which would derail their evil plans. Hitler then declared war on us. Similarly, the Japanese militarists of the 1930s knew full well that the only force in the world that stood in their way of ruling Asia and the Pacific with an iron hand was the United States of America; and they, too, attacked us.
The attack on New York was, of course, worse than Pearl Harbor. Then our Navy, our military personnel and their weapons, were the target. What happened in New York was far more cowardly an attack, a ruthless slaughter of civilians, of unarmed and totally innocent men, women and children. A united America rose up after Pearl Harbor and righteously struck down those evil forces that threatened the world at that time.
During the years after the Second World War, it was America that stood tall and faced down the last great totalitarian evil that threatened this planet, communism. Communism, like Naziism, was defeated in a Cold War that sometimes was very hot. Victory was assured by our resolve, by our courage, and by tough decisions made by our leaders, America's leaders.
I worked in the White House during the years when Ronald Reagan brought an end to the Cold War, culminating with the dismantling of the communist dictatorship that controlled Russia and its puppet states. Essential to that great victory was President Reagan's support for various people who were fighting to free themselves from communist tyranny.
The bravest and most fierce of these anti-Soviet insurgents were in Afghanistan. The American people can be proud that we provided the Afghan people the weapons they needed to win their own freedom and independence. That Cold War battle was a major factor in breaking the will of the communist bosses in Moscow, thus ending the Cold War, making almost everyone on this planet in these last 10 years, especially in the Western democracies, safer and more prosperous.
This, however, is where we must begin to understand the grotesque crime that has now been committed against us. One of the common errors found in news reports in these last few days has been the suggestion that those holding power in Afghanistan today are the same people who we supported in the war against Soviet occupation in Afghanistan back in the 1980s. This, by and large, is wrong.
Yes, some of those currently in power in Kabul also fought the Russians. But, by and large, we are talking about two different groups, two different sets of people. Those who fought the Soviet occupation were called the Mujahedin. During my time at the White House during the 1980s, I had the opportunity to meet and get to know most of their leaders. The current Taliban leadership does not include any of those wartime leaders.
After I left the White House and was elected to Congress, but before I was sworn into Congress, I knew I had that two months between November and January to do things that I could never do once I was elected to Congress. I chose to hike into Afghanistan as part of a small Mujahedin unit and to engage in a battle against the Russian and communist forces near and around the city of Jalalabad.
The Mujahedin I marched with were incredibly brave, but they were not senseless killers. Their religious faith was devout, but they were not fanatics. They prayed daily, but I did not see them chastising those who were not joining them in prayer. They faced death, but their dreams were of life.
I will never forget one moment as I hiked in from the Khyber Pass and around to the other side of Jalalabad to join this battle. As we marched forth into the night with the Mujahedin unit, the nights were lit up by, and you could hear the thunder, of cannons and see the flash of the cannons in the distance. We knew we were hiking into a battle.
One of the Mujahedin in this unit with which I marched rushed to my side, and he was probably around 16 or 17 years old, with an AK-47 strapped across his back. He talked to me in perfect English saying, I understand that you are in politics in America. I said, yes, I am a political person in America. He said, I need to know, are you a donkey or are you an elephant?
I will never forget that young person. He knew more about our politics, and certainly none of our young people could know that much about what was going on in that part of the world. As he marched into this battle, he told me of his dream to be an architect so that someday he could help rebuild his country, Afghanistan, into a decent place for families and for people to live, and expressed to me how grateful he was to me and to all Americans for the help that we were giving them to throw off the Soviet occupation forces that were so brutal to their countrymen. I do not know if that young man ever survived that war.
It was a year later when the Russians retreated from Afghanistan and the Russians left. The United States, which had been providing $1 billion a year to finance that war, we simply walked away. We walked away and left Afghanistan to its own fate.
After years of death and destruction, we walked away; we left them with no guidance and no resources to even rebuild. We did not even help them clear the landmines which we had personally given the Mujahedin to help them defeat the Russians, much less clear the Russian landmines that were still there. We left these brave heroes who helped us end the Cold War; we left them to sleep in the rubble. Most importantly, we left them with no leadership, except that of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, two countries that have played a shameful role in Afghanistan over these last 10 years.
After the collapse of the Communist regime in Afghanistan, the Mujahedin factions who fought the Russians, but with no direction from the United States, began bickering and fighting among themselves. This went on for several years. Then, in 1996, a new force appeared, seemingly out of nowhere: the Taliban. These were fresh, well-equipped forces who had, by and large, sat out the war in Pakistan. They had been in Pakistan in what they called schools. ``Taliban,'' by the way, means student, even though most of these are older men who are totally illiterate. All of the money America provided the Mujahedin during the war had to be sent through; that is, the war against Soviet Union occupation, had to be sent through the equivalent of the Pakistani CIA, which is called the ISI. But apparently, the Pakistanis had siphoned enough off to create a third force, and since the war was over and
the other factions had been bled white, they could use this third force to dominate Afghanistan.
Also behind the Taliban is and was Saudi Arabia. During the war against the Russians, the Saudis provided the Afghan resistance with hundreds of millions of dollars. For that we can be grateful. They are one of the few countries that stepped up to the plate during the Cold War to actually confront the Soviet Union aggression. Unfortunately, however, the Saudis were financing antiwestern as well as AntiCommunist Muslims, and one of those who they financed was bin Laden.
I cannot forget also as I marched with that Mujahedin unit to the battle of Jalalabad and, by the way, that battle was a long-time siege that had been taking place around the city, we at one point in that march came across a camp of tents. They were white tents and you could see them in the distance, and I was told at that point I must not speak English for at least another 3 hours, because the people in those tents were Saudi Arabians under a crazy commander named bin Laden, and that bin Laden was so crazy that he wanted to kill Americans as much as he wanted to kill Russians. Thus, I must keep my mouth shut or we would be attacked by those forces, by those forces under bin Laden.
Later, much later, after I had become a Congressman, I met with the head of Saudi intelligence, the man responsible for providing that money to the Afghans during the war, the $200 million or so, or whatever it was that the Saudis provided to the Afghans. His name was General Turkey. I suggested to General Turkey that what we needed to do now that the Russians had left Afghanistan was to bring back to Afghanistan the exiled king of Afghanistan. It was King Zahir Shah who was overthrown in 1972. It was that overthrow of this king who had been a very good person and a good man, it was his overthrow that started the bloody cycle of events which eventually led to the Soviet Union invasion of 1979 and the subsequent war against Soviet Union occupation.
I suggested to bring back the king of Afghanistan because he was a wonderful person and beloved by his people. He was a person who was a moderate in his approach and never killed other people. He, in fact, was truly a moderate and, I might say, pro-western or western oriented, although a devout Muslim. But the Saudis wanted nothing to do with bringing back a moderate good-hearted king from exile. They and their Pakistani allies were in the process of creating a secret third force that I did not know anything about: the Taliban. But during my conversation, it was mentioned that a third force was being created, one that could take over Afghanistan and bring stability, but, of course, one that would do the bidding of their Pakistani and Saudi handlers.
One must wonder why the Saudi Arabians and the Pakistanis are even to this day so involved in Afghanistan. This is an important fact of history that we need to understand. Number one, the type of religious fervor they have and the type of Islam they have in Saudi Arabia is very similar to that in Afghanistan. It is unbending and intolerant and they do not permit any other faith in their country. Also, the Pakistanis, a large number of the Pakistanis, especially those who were the Pastuns up near the border of Afghanistan, they too share the same type of extremist and fanatic branch of Islam, even though that has nothing to do, it is an aberration, with the rest of Islam throughout the world. So that is number one. They have that in common.
But the Pakistanis and the Saudis have two other things in common. As long as chaos was able to reign and continues in Afghanistan, there will never be a pipeline built through Afghanistan that permits the oil from central Asia. This vast quantity of oil that we know exists in central Asia, it cannot be brought to market because a pipeline will never be built through Afghanistan while the Taliban is in power and while chaos reins. What does that mean? That means oil prices have been much higher, maybe $5 a barrel higher, than they would have been had Afghanistan been under a good king and a stable government and a pipeline built that would have brought that oil out into the world market; and there are vast quantities of oil in central Asia waiting, just waiting to come to market.
The other factor is drugs. Unfortunately, there are many corrupt people and there are corrupt people all over the world, but there are many corrupt people in the Pakistani intelligence system, people who have been involved with drugs right up to their eyeballs. And what has Afghanistan produced in these last 10 years? Sixty percent of the world's heroin. Sixty percent of the world's heroin comes from Afghanistan. That huge amount of money, I knew, would bring down the government of Pakistan, the democracy of Pakistan.
Today, instead of a democracy, Pakistan has a military government because of the instability that is created by a Taliban regime of fanatics right next door. But there were people in Pakistan that profited by that regime.
When the Taliban fist arrived on the scene, people believed that they would be a force for stability. So, by and large, they were welcomed by many Afghan people, except in the northern provinces. And let me note that when the Taliban first arrived on the scene, they were carrying pictures of the old exiled king, Zahir Shah, claiming they were going to bring back the king, as I say, a much beloved figure. Well, the people in the northern provinces were not fooled, and the Taliban, they did not want the Taliban to take over their areas; and the Taliban were blocked by local commanders unwilling to permit these unfamiliar troops, as I say, many of whom totally sat out the war against the Russians. They were not going to let them just come in and take over their territory. And all too soon, the people of Afghanistan and the rest of the world were to discover that the Pakistanis and the Saudis had created a monster.
The Taliban were and are medieval in their words, in their world view, and their religious view. They are violent, they are intolerant, they are fanatics that are totally out of sync with Muslims throughout the world, even Muslims in their own country, and they are especially out of sync with Muslims living in the western democracies.
The Taliban are best known for their horrific treatment of women, but they are violators of human rights across the board. They have jailed and threatened to execute Christian aid workers. And let us not forget those Christian aid workers who are in Afghanistan being held under arrest as we speak. In fact, they have jailed and threatened to execute these Christian aid workers, people who came there to help their people, for allegedly, allegedly daring to espouse a belief in Jesus Christ. That is enough to get them executed in Afghanistan.
The Taliban have ended all personal freedoms. Freedom of speech and press are not even under consideration. And the Taliban ruled by fear and force and when they were asked, and I challenged them to have an election so the people of Afghanistan could choose their government and if they chose the Taliban, so be it, the Taliban only laughed and stonewalled and refused to even consider permitting the Afghan people to have an election and choose their leaders.
Mr. Speaker, the Taliban are as big an enemy of the United States and, yes, as big an enemy to the Afghan people as they are to the people of the United States. The Talibans believe they have a private line to God, and the rest of us, with our religious constrictions are, according to the Taliban, we are not only wrong, but we are evil. That is why they have been willing to give safe haven to the likes of bin Laden, the Saudi terrorist who has been now in Afghanistan for several years. About 5 years he has been in Afghanistan, we have known he has been there, he has been visible. And while he has been there, he has been clearly training terrorists and planning out his attacks. This is nothing new. We have known about that. And oh, yes, bin Laden has an army of several thousand gunmen who he has brought in from various parts of the world, so they are foreigners to the people of Afghanistan, and this group of gunmen have been running around Afghanistan like a pack of mad dogs killing anyone who is an enemy to Taliban power. These foreign religious fanatics have killed thousands of Afghans, so the Taliban and bin Laden are as despised
in that country as they are in our country today.
For these last few years, the Taliban, with the support of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, have captured control of all but a small portion of Afghanistan. Only the Panjshir Valley territory in northeastern Afghanistan and the Shamali Plains north of Kabul are under the control and have been under the control of a legendary and dashing leader named Commander Massoud and they remain free of Taliban domination.
The day before the attack on the world trade towers and the Pentagon, there was an attempt to kill Commander Massoud. Many of us thought he was dead, he was reported dead, but he struggled for life for another 5 days and just died 2 days ago.
However, the attack on Commander Massoud; and I knew him, I had met him in Afghanistan. By the way, I will just say that I have been in and out of Afghanistan several times in these last few years.
The last time I went in was to see Commander Massoud. The attack on the commander told me something terrible was about to happen, something terrible was about to happen, because Massoud was someone that bin Laden understood that if he did something that would make the United States or someone else very angry at him, that Massoud was someone that would be turned to immediately by our side to ally with.
So before the attack on the World Trade Towers and on the Pentagon, bin Laden and his terrorists attacked Commander Massoud and, unfortunately, succeeded in killing him and eliminating Commander Massoud from the equation today.
I was so concerned about this, understanding that this was telling us that something horrible was going to happen, that I made an appointment to see the top officials in the White House in the National Security Council. My appointment with the National Security Council at the White House was to warn them that this attack on Massoud obviously meant something big was about to happen. My appointment was for 2:30 that afternoon. Unfortunately, at 8:45 that morning, the first plane slammed into the World Trade Center.
But the Taliban domination of Afghanistan was something that we could have ended long ago. Commander Massoud and the Northern Alliance were fighting the Taliban unsupported, with no help from the outside for years.
As a Member of Congress, for years I pleaded with the previous administration, I pleaded with them at the highest levels to provide some kind of help for the Northern Alliance, which was then fighting almost without bullets and weapons against the Taliban. They could have done something, and no one in that administration was willing to do it. So I believe that in many ways the previous administration was responsible for keeping the Taliban in power, even though during this very same time period, this very same time period, bin Laden was openly declaring war in the United States, planning attacks against us and building a terrorist network.
Every time I suggest that the last administration was in some way acquiescing to the Taliban being in power, there are those who just go ballistic because they believe I am being partisan at a moment when national unity is obviously the order of the day.
Let me emphasize that I am not being partisan. As a senior member of the Committee on International Relations, I officially requested State Department documents that would prove or disprove my suspicion that the last administration was secretly supporting the Taliban, and I was stonewalled in that request.
Let me make this clear. I am a senior member of the Committee on International Relations. It is my job to oversee the State Department. Other people have other committees, and they oversee those agencies and departments. As a member of that committee, that is part of my job.
The gentleman from New York (Mr. GILMAN) joined me in a request for these. Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State, promised I would have the documents. I wanted the documents pertaining to the development of our government's policy toward the Taliban. Yet, as an elected official, I had unelected officials, executives at the State Department, refusing to grant me the access to understand what our policy was toward the Taliban. I was instead given meaningless documents.
Members will hear in answer to this charge: ``We gave the gentleman from California (Mr. ROHRABACHER) documents,'' but these were meaningless documents that had nothing to do with the development of the Taliban strategy. I never saw any of the documents about how we should approach the Taliban.
The State Department made a joke out of Congress' right to oversee America's foreign policy, especially towards Afghanistan. I pleaded with my colleagues to back me up in that demand. I will say that several Democrats did back me up in demanding that the previous administration provide me with that documentation.
But why? Why is it that I was stonewalled? Why is it that they never gave me those documents? I have to believe because those documents would show that the previous administration did consciously acquiesce to having the Taliban in power, probably as some kind of agreement with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan that they would be permitted to dominate this country, even though it was clear that a terrorist network was being set up there and that America was the target of that terrorist network. Americans had already been murdered by that time, in Saudi Arabia, with barracks blown up and such.
By the way, in Afghanistan and in that region, it is commonly believed by the people that the United States
created the Taliban and that we support the Taliban. There are reasons that they believe that we supported the Taliban.
In 1996, for example, and this is a very poignant example, and I hope people will look at this example very closely, in 1996, the Taliban overextended their forces and thousands of their best fighters were captured in northern Afghanistan. The Taliban regime was vulnerable as never before and never since. It was a tremendous opportunity. The Northern Alliance could easily have dealt a knock-out punch to the Taliban.
At that time, I was in personal contact with the leader of the Northern Alliance, and I recommended to them a quick attack and that they bring back the old king, Zahir Shah, and he is in exile in Rome, and that they bring him back until some form of democratic process could be established. Thus, they would have a figurehead government with the old king for a period of time, and then they could establish a democratic process.
This was a turning point. That was doable. It could have been easily accomplished. The Taliban were vulnerable. Who saved the Taliban? Again, please, I am not being partisan when I say this, who saved the Taliban when they were vulnerable? It is my belief that President Bill Clinton saved the Taliban when they were the most vulnerable.
I beg Members, do not dismiss what I say as being partisan. I would never sink to that level at a time like this, when American lives have been taken.
What happened was at this moment, when the Taliban could have been eliminated, President Clinton dispatched Assistant Secretary of State Inderfurth and Bill Richardson, our United Nations Ambassador, to convince the leader of the Northern Alliance not to go on the offensive. That was when they were the most vulnerable. Our top leaders, our United Nations Ambassador, was dispatched, along with the top leader in the State Department, to go and tell them not to attack the Taliban.
These two high-level American officials were sent by President Clinton to propose a cease-fire and a supposed arms embargo on all sides. Of course, the minute that the cease-fire went into effect, and of course the Northern Alliance agreed to that, because they thought we were being sincere and they could trust the United States, but the minute that cease-fire went into effect, the Saudis and Pakistanis began a massive rearming and resupply effort to rebuild the Taliban forces in an equivalent to the Berlin airlift, and that was easy to spot.
It was easy to see that tons and tons, airplane after airplane was landing at
Kabul Airport with military supplies from Saudi Arabia and from Pakistan. I knew about it. Our intelligence services had to know about it. But guess what, the Northern Alliance was kept in the dark until the Taliban were totally restored to their strength. When they were, the Taliban went on the offensive. They drove the Northern Alliance, which had had an arms embargo against them during this time period, which we enforced, and we convinced people not to give them weapons, they drove the Taliban, drove them out of the country.
For years, I begged the previous administration, our government, to support those resisting the Taliban regime, to support the former King Zahir Shah, and to let him head an interim government until a more democratic process could be put in place. This was an alternative we had. Instead, the only response that I got from the previous administration was stonewalling, stonewalling that and stonewalling my request to find out what the government's real policies were.
All the while, bin Laden, had killed American military personnel at that time, had declared war on the United States, and was running around Afghanistan openly, using it as a base of operations, a safe haven for terrorists. This man even tried to organize an attack on the Pope in the Philippines. His terrorists are responsible for the kidnapping there in the southern Philippines, and we have given him a safe haven all these years. We did nothing.
We were, in fact, I believe, acquiescing to Taliban control because I believe it was an understanding, as I say, between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to let them dominate Afghanistan. This understanding was obviously turning into a nightmare. Even if it made sense in the beginning to have such an understanding, we should have seen what was going on, but our leaders lacked the will to change that situation.
Over and over again, I warned that our policy toward the Taliban would come back to hurt us. I was ignored and at times belittled.
Mr. Speaker, I have an example of 7 times, and of the many, by the way, not just 7, not just 14, but many, many more times that I stood either on the House floor or in subcommittee warning that if we did not do something about the Taliban, that it would come back and dramatically hurt the United States of America. These warnings that were ignored over and over again, even while the State Department stonewalled my efforts to get the information.
Mr. Speaker, I include these documents for the RECORD.
The material referred to is as follows:
September 9, 1999--IR Committee Hearing: ``I would again alert my fellow members of this committee that what is going on in Afghanistan is as important to America's National security as what is going on in Iran, because we have a terrorist base camp.''
August 11, 1998--Letter to Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister Pakistan: ``International Terrorists like Osama bin Laden will become the deans of terrorism schools in Afghanistan. For example, the recent bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa are tied to Osama bin Laden and his thugs.''
May 21, 1998--Letter to Newt Gingrich, Speaker of the House: ``As you may know, Afghanistan has become the world's largest source of heroin. It is also one of the key terrorist training and staging areas in the world. Further, instability in Afghanistan limits the economic and democratic development of Central Asian states and negatively impacts U.S. Policy toward Iran. In short events in Afghanistan affect the lives of more than 200 million people in the Central and South Asian region.''
August 10, 1998--Letter to Karl Indefurth: ``I have been preparing serious alternatives for Afghan policy for the past six years. I have found no willingness on the part of this administration to even try the alternatives that I have suggested. I have come to the conclusion that our goals are different. But for the time being I will give you the benefit of the doubt. The Stakes go far beyond Afghanistan. There will be no peace in central Asia, or on the subcontinent between India and Pakistan until the U.S. decides that there will be no peace on this region or elsewhere with a policy that is not based on the fundamental principles of representative government and opposition to tyranny.''
June 29, 2001--IR Committee Hearing: ``This regime has permitted terrorists to use Afghanistan as a base of operations from which their country has been used as a springboard for operations that have cost the lives of people throughout the Middle East, as well as targeted Americans. That alone should giveaways a message about the regime and our commitment and what ultimately should have been done.''
July 19, 1999--Floor Debate on the American Embassy Security Act of 1999: ``As the gentleman from New York (Mr. Gilman) has stated, among the greatest threats to the security of American diplomatic missions and personnel is by Osama bin Laden and his legion of terrorists who train and operate out of Afghanistan. The primary benefactors of bin Laden's terrorists are elements in Pakistan and the extremist Taliban militia, who not only host and protect bin Laden but have imposed a reign of terror on the people of Afghanistan and especially on the women of Afghanistan.''
October 30, 2000--Floor Debate on State Department authorization: ``This member and anyone who is in the Committee on International Relations will testify, for years I have been warning what results of this administration's policy towards Afghanistan would be. For years, I predicted over and over again that, unless we did something in Afghanistan to change the situation, that we would end up with Afghanistan as the center of terrorism, a base for terrorism not only in Central Asia but for the world.''
November 9, 1999--House Floor Debate on Afghanistan: ``A terrorist trained in Afghanistan helped blow up a building which housed our military people in Saudi Arabia. There was an assassination attempt on the Pope. They found out that the terrorist who was going to assassinate the Pope was trained in Afghanistan. We can not let this go on, because not only is it immoral to let this go on, but practically speaking, if we do, it will come back and hurt us.''
But why were we not warned then? It was clear something was going on in Afghanistan. Why were we not warned by others of the horrific attack that was about to be launched on us, the American people?
There was a headline in The Washington Post on September 14 suggesting that America's intelligence services have been conducting a secret war against bin Laden for several years. If that is true, then we need to fire all of the incompetent leaders of that covert war, because they were responsible for protecting us from this heinous and cowardly gang; and they obviously have dramatically failed.
Instead, there was no warning. Yet, we were told the heads of our intelligence organizations were focused on bin Laden. There is a war being conducted against bin Laden, we were focused on him, and he was able to attack us and slaughter thousands of our people without any warning from these people who were supposedly focused on him?
We spend tens of billions of dollars annually for good intelligence, and we have tens of thousands of people committed to this endeavor. And they totally missed a terrorist operation of this magnitude run by their number one targeted terrorist. This was clearly the worst failure of American intelligence in our history.
I cannot help but remember, in another poignant story, I cannot help but remember a few years ago I was called by a friend who had worked in Afghanistan during the war against the Russians. This man has thousands of friends in Afghanistan because he had been there, and he had helped thousands of Afghans who were his friends and looked at him as a wonderful person. He had kept in touch with them.
He indicated to me that he could pinpoint bin Laden's location. I passed on his phone number to the CIA. After a week, he had yet to be contacted, so I called them again. For another week there was no response. When I gave them this man's credentials, I told them, ``This is a man who knows about Afghanistan. He has sources that you do not have.'' They did not call him for 2 weeks. Another week, no response.
Finally, I contacted the gentleman from Florida (Mr. GOSS), the chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence here in the Congress. He set up a meeting with me and the bin Laden task force. There they were, the CIA, the NSA, the FBI. Guess what? They, too, left my friend waiting by his phone and did not follow up.
After weeks, finally, a second time when the gentleman from Florida (Mr. GOSS) had to call them on the carpet, my friend was at last contacted. He described the agents who talked to him as being somewhat disinterested. That may have been because by the time they got to him, over a month had passed and perhaps the tip-off was a little stale. Or perhaps, as we are learning in the paper today, or not today but yesterday, when there were reports in the paper, that our intelligence services knew about the location of bin Laden several times but were not permitted to attack him. So there are people in the intelligence services that wanted to go forward and did not end and could not because of decisions
made by people higher up, or perhaps in their own agencies, people who were incompetent.
My friends, the slaughter of these thousands of Americans must be avenged, there is no doubt about it; and we must see to it that such a monstrous crime can never happen again. To accomplish this, we must be strong and we must be smart. Now, we do not need our troops, the worst thing we could do is just try to send an army into Afghanistan. If there are two rules of modern warfare it is you do not march on Moscow and you do not invade Afghanistan. That does not mean, however, that we cannot commit military action. I think this calls for military action.
We should already be dispatching special forces teams and rangers to those countries on the northern border of Afghanistan. Those teams and other military units should establish a system of supply and equip those Afghans friendly to the United States so that they can free themselves, with our help, from Taliban rule. We can then join them. Once Taliban rule has been eliminated in Afghanistan, we can join them in hunting down and killing every member of bin Laden's terrorist gang and hanging their bodies from the gate.
But revenge is not an end in itself. We cannot permit ourselves to strike out blindly, to hurt people who have nothing to do with this. Some people have said, oh, let us bomb Kabul. Kabul is filled with people who hate the Taliban. Afghanistan is filled with people who hate the Taliban. We cannot make enemies out of people who will be our allies.
We must be smart and not just strong. Revenge in itself is not the answer, even though revenge is called for. By killing bin Laden and his gang, it is not just revenge; it is an act also of deterrence, of saving lives. We must keep in mind that our motive is to prevent further terrorist attacks slaughtering our own citizens, and especially by making sure we work with other people in the Muslim world and elsewhere who will join us in this effort, and not just the Muslim world and not just others who are on the periphery.
We need to lead this world, as our President, George W. Bush, is doing, to set a new moral standard. We have to keep to that moral standard as we proceed to seek justice and vengeance for the death of our people. That new moral standard has got to be that noncombatants will not be attacked. We will not kill unarmed innocent people in order to achieve a political objective.
Now, when people attack other people's military, as the Japanese did in the beginning of World War II, that was an act of war; it was not an act of terrorism. Yes, people can commit acts of war; but let us set a standard, a moral standard that we will proceed and demand and enforce that no longer will anyone be able to set a bomb off in a pizza place or retaliation will not take place against unarmed civilians, no matter what that crime was. And there are legitimate concerns in the Middle East by all sides that both sides of the Palestinian-Israeli battle have over the time of this conflict attacked unarmed people or retaliated against unarmed people when someone else's unarmed people were attacked.
The new standard should be for this world that we will not tolerate women and children be used as targets or unarmed combatants being used for targets for any reason. First, our dead Americans, yes, they will be avenged; but they will be avenged by establishing this new standard. Hopefully, that will deter at least some of those swine who contemplate such attacks in the future. And by affirming that the targeting of unarmed combatants anywhere in the world for whatever reason will not be tolerated, we have taken a major step forward.
We will be building a better world even if it is being built on the ashes of this tragedy. We will do it by seeing to it that the bin Ladens of this planet are never again, which is a corollary to this, those people who are committing such terrorist attacks against unarmed people, nowhere will they be given safe haven. And any country that provides safe haven for the terrorists who target these innocents, that will not be tolerated; and they will be held responsible for the terrorist acts that are being committed by people who use their country as a staging area. And those countries which harbor the criminals, those countries which help them launder their money, those countries that give them support, they themselves will pay a heavy price for this criminal disregard for the victims of terrorism. There will and must be an accounting across the board.
At home, those top government executives whose policies protected the Taliban must be held accountable. Those people who stonewalled the Congress' efforts to get that information of what our policy was; those officials who in the Taliban were vulnerable convinced their enemies not to attack. The intelligence officers who were supposed to be protecting us, those people in the State Department who should have been adhering to America's moral and ethical and political standards and supporting those opposed to the Taliban rather than acquiescing to leaving the Taliban in power because of the argument of stability, those State Department people, those intelligence officers, these are executives, are not political appointees. These are top-level executives who have been there for years. They need to be cleared out. They need to be held responsible for the slaughter of thousands of Americans without any warning.
We had no warning here in Washington, D.C. at all. They could have destroyed this Capitol building. We had no warning. With a massive operation like this, and we had no warning. It is incompetence on our side. We have to do that; we have to correct this in order to make sure it does not happen again. All of this pounding of our chests and expressing our moral outrage means nothing unless we are willing to take that type of action. And it is not easy telling someone, I am sorry you're out of your job because you were incompetent.
Those countries, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, they have a price to pay. We will figure out what it is. First and foremost they have to do a reversal on what they are doing to protect the Taliban and protect the terrorists right now. And we will figure out what they have to do to make up for what they have done that led to this crime.
And, finally, the murdering terrorists themselves will pay the ultimate price. They will pay this price. We will have victory over those ghouls who murdered our defenseless fellow Americans. We will win, because we are united as never before, and because this generation of Americans, as these terrorists will find out, have the courage, the tenacity, and the ideals that have always been America's greatest source of strength.
It is up to us to do this. Past generations of Americans met the challenge. They saved the world time and again. It is up to us to do it again, and we will. We will do it because it is our duty and nothing will deter us.