The Office of Congresswoman Cythnia McKinney
Special Order Remarks
September 21, 2001
September 21, 2001
Our armed forces are poised to conduct military strikes in foreign lands. My
own State of Georgia is contributing significantly to our overseas forces
with troops being committed from the:
116th Bomb Wing from Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins in Savannah
117th Air Control Squadron, from Hunter Army Airfield in Warner Robins
293rd MP Company from Fort Stewart in Augusta
224th Joint Communications Support Squad. Brunswick, GA
I have no doubt that men of the elite 75th Ranger Battalion from Fort Benning
are currently, or will soon be, deploying overseas.
I pray for God's intervention in ensuring the safe return of our many young
men and women who are now being sent off to fight this war against terrorism.
They face tremendous dangers and uncertain futures and their families will
endure many long and sleepless nights waiting for their safe return. We must
remember them all, including their families and loved ones, and acknowledge
the great personal sacrifices they are going to have to make on our behalves
in the coming days.
Mr. Speaker, our nation suffered a terrible injury last week with the attacks
in New York, Washington DC and Pennsylvania. Many thousands of our innocent
civilians were unjustly taken from their families and loved ones and we as a
nation must now respond. We must find and hold accountable all those who
perpetrated those most terrible crimes against our nation and its people. But
just how we should do that and how should we respond to these attacks, both
internationally and domestically, is now giving rise to considerable debate.
We have read and heard the Bush Administration's call to arms to fight the
first war of the 21st century. I understand that our nation's full military
resources are soon to be turned against, not just the terrorists responsible
for last week's attacks, but international terrorism generally. Our
intelligence agencies have allegedly identified terror cells in some 60
countries and that, whether or not Afghanistan actually surrenders Osama Bin
Laden, the alleged master mind of last weeks attacks, our military intends
fighting a long and bitter worldwide campaign against international terrorism
in many of those 60 countries. Or as Secretary of Defense Rumsfield announced
this earlier this week, "We intend to drain the swamp".
And now we hear calls from the Bush Administration asking, cajoling and even
demanding additional wide ranging law enforcement powers and suspensions of
fundamental civil liberties in order that our nation might better fight
I understand a draft bill, which is the first of a far larger package of
anti-terrorist legislation, is now circulating Capitol Hill and I am told it
proposes giving law enforcement the power to detain non-US citizens for
indefinite periods without charge, giving immigration authorities greater and
accelerated powers to deport non-US citizens, and at the same time curtailing
rights of non-US citizens to judicial review and appeal. Many of these
reforms that the Bush Administration is now proposing are the very same types
of state powers that we routinely criticize other nations for possessing in
our State Department's annual report on international human rights -
prolonged and arbitrary detention, denial of access to legal counsel and
limited judicial review of government decision making to name but a few.
I am greatly concerned that we are about to engage in an extremely hazardous
military campaign of unknown duration, with unrealistic objectives and
perhaps even ultimately harmful long-term consequences for our nation.
Already there is growing disquiet in the Muslim world that the US is poised
to turn its terrorist campaign into a war against Islam. The Bush
Administration has already had to change the name of the military mission
once when it used the term Crusade and they are now about to change it a
second time because of the term Infinite Justice is still offensive to the
world Muslim community. All these gaffes feed the growing Muslim fear that
this impending US military action could become a broader campaign against
them. Mr. Speaker, I know I don't need to address the impending catastrophe
should large sections of the world's 1.2 billion Muslims unify and turn
against the US.
I am also worried that by enacting the anti-terrorist legislation proposed by
the Bush Administration we will be eroding long standing fundamental
freedoms, many of which form the bed rock of our nation's political and
social justice systems. And more importantly, we still won't know that by
enacting this legislation if we will really have any positive impact on
preventing or even reducing terrorist acts at all. It would be ironic indeed
if we as a nation destroyed democracy in the name of saving democracy.
Surely, before we grant more powers and massive resources to our law
enforcement, military and intelligence communities we should be examining why
they didn't detect the threat of these and other attacks. Especially, since
we're being told the attacks last week were sophisticated, involved many
people over a considerable period of time and maybe even involved assistance
from a foreign government. We knew, or should have known, that Bin Laden was
capable of attacking our major cities. Just 7 months ago during the trial of
suspects charged with the embassy bombings in Africa federal prosecutors
detailed the Bin Laden network in open court. Details of Bin Laden's business
and financial history, his international terror network, as well as, his
hatred for America were all systematically dissected by federal prosecutors.
Given these revelations it was clear, or should have been clear, that our
nation and its citizens were in grave danger from Bin Laden and his
I don't understand how our intelligence services have the ability to
penetrate, analyze and publicly distribute records of Bin Laden's alleged
cellular phone traffic in the hours immediately after the bombings and from
these conversations we learnt of Bin Laden's alleged celebrations with
supporters. But in stark contrast these same US intelligence services appear
to have heard nothing at all of Bin Laden's planning and preparations of the
attacks, or any of the other attacks that we attributed to him, in the months
and years prior to September 11th.
I am deeply concerned at recent reports in the press of specific, credible
and quite extraordinary warnings of terrorist attacks on our citizenry, which
were ignored by our government. And Mr. Speaker, some of these warnings
directly referred to the use of hijacked aircraft attacking the WTC. For
The LA Times reported on 20 September, 2001 that MOSSAD, the Israeli
Intelligence Service, had warned FBI and CIA officials that a major terrorist
force of some 200 individuals was entering the US and planning a major
assault on the United States. MOSSAD cautioned that it had picked indications
that a major US target had been selected and that Americans would be very
The Advertiser Newspaper from the Murdoch Group reported on Monday 17th
September, 2001 that a man in the Cayman Islands wrote to US authorities on
August 29th and warned them that he had just overheard 3 Afghan men in a bar
talking of impending attack on US targets. The CIA is said to have followed
up the report on September 6th but apparently did not take it any further
because of a shortage of staff. And then it's also reported that a week later
an Iranian in Hamburg, Germany contacted police and warned them of an
impending terrorist attack against the United States using hijacked planes.
Apparently, his warning specifically mentioned the World Trade Center. The
same news paper report also speaks of FBI agents tracking some of the alleged
terrorists at their flight schools in the US and that the CIA was told as
long as 2 years ago that a suspicious group of Middle Eastern men were
gathering in Florida.
But Mr. Speaker, NOTHING, and I repeat NOTHING was done with any of this
extraordinary information. Mr. Speaker, it appears that possible that the
tragic attacks on New York, Washington DC and Pennsylvania could have, or
indeed should have, been prevented.
And tragically I am forced to say this doesn't appear to be the first time
our intelligence services have been caught flatfooted. Earlier this year
Jamal Ahmed al-Fadl, a former aide to Osama Bin Laden, while testifying in
New York against the four men accused of the US Embassy bombings in Africa,
said that he told US officials that Bin Laden's group was trying to make war
on the United States and in particular would bomb a US embassy. Similarly,
Prudence Bushnell, the US Ambassador in Nairobi, warned the State Department
of the poor security of her embassy in Nairobi. Regrettably, and with tragic
consequences, these warnings appeared to be ignored. Not surprisingly, our
government now finds itself subject to civil actions by survivors and family
representatives of those killed in the US Embassy bombings in Africa for
failing to heed these warnings.
But whatever the state of our intelligence agencies precise knowledge of
these attacks surely, given Bin Laden's history of violence against our
nation in recent years I would have thought that our law enforcement and
intelligence agencies would have long had Bin Laden and his network under a
I don't want to be unduly critical, but I do think the observation needs to
be made at this time. Count up the combined assets of our nations law
enforcement, military and intelligence agencies charged with fighting
terrorism over the last 10-15 years and you have budgets worth billions and
billions of dollars, space age technology that most nations only dream of and
staffing levels made up of tens of thousands of men and women. And despite
all these resources we've sustained terrible attacks upon our military bases,
our embassies, our warships and now even our own cities. In my view this is
not a problem of resources but rather a failure of implementation on a scale
that shames us all. Indeed, I note that yesterday Senator Richard Shelby
(R-Alabama) a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee told CNN: "I think
it was a debacle. It was a real massive failure...In my judgement too many
bureaucratic failures, not enough coordination between the Agencies."
But what frustrates me most is that no one in a position of leadership in our
nation has yet sought to seriously ask why has our nation been attacked in
this way. Why have our cities, our embassies and our military forces been
systematically targeted by terrorist organizations. Why is it that our nation
and its people are being attacked in these ways? Our politicians and
political observers have for years been ready, willing and able to analyze
and then discuss the complex reasons why groups such as the IRA waged war on
England, why the Shining Path fought in Peru and why Red Brigade terrorized
Italy. But now when it comes to our own recent exposures to terrorism all our
national debate appears to be focused on the "how to respond to" question
without ever really stopping to ask the "why did it happen" question. And
unless and until we analyze why these attacks against us occurred then how
can we realistically ever really hope to develop a coordinated course of
actions that will ensure that they will never happen again.
People I have spoken to who have lived in cities under siege from terrorism,
like London for example, tell me that increased law enforcement and military
measures only go so far to combat terrorism. Indeed, they only seem to deal
with the symptoms and not the root cause. These people have told me that
ultimately, the long-term solution to terrorism is found in policy and not
war, diplomacy not military subjugation. Secretary of State Colin Powell is
absolutely right: Give diplomacy a chance.
We must honestly ask ourselves what is the root cause of this war being waged
on our people and our country. I suspect that we will need to look at
altering some of our foreign policy positions in some parts of the world.
Unless we do this I fear that a military campaign, unsupported by sound
foreign policy strategies, will only cause immeasurable civilian suffering
throughout the world and may well actually lead to more terrifying attacks
upon our cities and our citizenry.
I would ask our President to sidestep the rambos in the White House and The
Pentagon who are reported to want to use nuclear weapons and free our
Secretary of State to do his job.
Finally, I pray that common sense and reason will prevail.