I cosponsored and supported the Helms amendment simply because I am convinced that America cannot expect to fight an effective war against terrorists by negotiating with and legitimizing terrorists.
In June, the State Department commenced negotiations with Abu Iyad, the PLO terrorist who is widely believed to have ordered the assassination of our Ambassador to the Sudan in 1983. By treating this terrorist as a legitimate diplomat, the State Department unfortunately, if not unintentionally, sent a signal that terrorism can pay. And this is something the Senate cannot allow to occur if our Nation is to conduct a serious war against terrorism.
This very same point was raised by Bruce Herschensohn in an eloquent television commentary broadcast on KABC in Los Angeles on July 21, 1989.
He pointed out that the negotiations being conducted by the State Department with Abu Iyad `provides a tremendous incentive for terrorists.' With the United States now again embroiled in a hostage and terrorism crisis, Mr. Herschensohn's remarks may unfortunately prove prophetic.
Mr. President, I hope all Senators will take a moment to review Mr. Herschensohn's remarks, and I ask that a transcript of his commentary be printed in the Record at this point.
The transcript follows:
To this day if you mention the 1972 Olympics in Munich, one quick image comes to the mind of all those who watched those games on television. The image is one of terrorists from the PLO clad in sweatsuits holding Israeli athletes as hostages and in the end, after twenty hours, eleven of those athletes were killed. It served as the definition of terrorism; people who were killed who were not the military and, in fact, had no involvement in the foreign policy of their country; they were athletes. The person who planned the operation, the founder and leader of the PLO's Black September Group, was Abu Iyad. His name was well known at the time. Since then he's had more public fame. Within a year of that attack, his organization killed an American, an American this time, our Ambassador to the Sudan, Ambassador Cleo Noel. And just last month, June, Abu Iyad, still around, was indicted in Italy on charges that he helped supply arms to the Red Brigades. But that wasn't the key even on Abu Iyad's calendar of June.
The United States Government, last month, was dealing with him as a diplomat. He was representing the PLO in our continuing talks with that organization. The fact that he was negotiating with us provides a tremendous incentive for terrorists. When this came to light, Senator Jesse Helms hit the ceiling. The question was, what are we doing, dealing with someone like that as though he was a recognized diplomat? Senator Helms immediately proposed an amendment to a bill that would prohibit negotiating with any one like that unless the President certifies to Congress that the representative did not take part or conspire in terrorist activity that resulted in `the death, injury or kidnapping of an American citizen.' That to me seems more than reasonable. It came to a vote in the Senate yesterday--and it lost!
Just so you know where our two California Senators stood, Senator Wilson agreed with Senator Helms, he voted for the Helms Amendment, Senator Cranston was opposed to the Helms Amendment, he voted against it. There was a substitute amendment passed. This one says that no federal funds may be `made available for the conduct of the current dialogue on the Middle East peace process with any representative of the PLO if the President knows and advises the Congress that that representative directly participated in the planning or execution of a particular terrorist activity which resulted in the death or kidnapping of an American citizen.' Sound the same? It isn't. It's one of those congressional tricks. You have to examine every word. It was worded in such a way that all the President has to do is not inform the Congress we're dealing with a terrorist that killed an American, that's all. It doesn't say he has to inform anyone, just that the funds will be cut off if he informs the Congress.
Look, in truth, I believe that the President should have authority in foreign affairs, but as long as the Congress has consistently tied the President's hands so he can't help any number of friendly governments, it consistently has done that with the support of Senator Cranston, I'm glad there are some, in the Congress like Senator Helms who attempts to balance the political direction of the ropes, by ensuring that we can't help an unfriendly organization responsible for the death of an American, as well as being responsible for other acts of terrorism--beyond a shadow of a doubt.