Mr. DASCHLE. Mr. President, the day after the tragic bombing in Oklahoma City, when it became more evident that the terrorist attack was launched by Americans, President Clinton said he would seek prompt action on counterterrorism proposals he had already made, and promised to develop additional tools for Federal law enforcement to use.
Yesterday evening, the President hosted a meeting of the bipartisan congressional leadership to present his proposals and ask for timely, bipartisan consideration and enactment.
The President's proposals result from the well-considered experience of Federal law enforcement officials. They are designed to provide the additional legal authority Government needs to effectively combat terrorism, whether domestic or foreign.
These additional authorities will give Federal law enforcement agencies tools to combat terrorism more effectively without undermining or curtailing the constitutional rights of law-abiding American citizens.
Briefly, the proposal would extend the authority the FBI now has in national security cases to access credit reports and financial data for counterterrorism investigations.
The same standards as now apply in routine criminal cases would be used in counterterrorism cases for the orders that permit the FBI to use pen registers and trap-and-trace devices in investigations. These devices are not wiretaps; they simply capture phone numbers dialed, like a caller ID device that many people use in their own homes.
It would require hotel and motel operators and common carriers to provide records to the FBI for national security cases as they now routinely do for State and local law enforcement purposes.
It would fully fund the costs of implementing the digital telephony law, so that the ability of law enforcement to carry out court-authorized electronic surveillance would not be impeded by the shift to digital transmissions.
It would add 1,000 additional agents, prosecutors, and other personnel to increase the resources devoted to counterterrorism investigations, and establish an interagency counterterrorism center that would make sure the information and expertise of all Federal law enforcement agencies in this field are properly integrated in investigations.
It includes practical issues such as the requirement that chemical taggants be included in the raw materials from which explosive charges are created. This is essential to tracing the sources of such explosions as the one in Oklahoma City in the future.
Additionally, the proposal would enhance the penalties for crimes related to explosives, and directed against Federal employees. The proposal has been released by the White House, so all my colleagues have the opportunity to review these proposals in detail.
In addition, the President asked that we approve the Omnibus Counterterrorism Act of 1995, legislation which is primarily directed at foreign terrorists.
This package of proposals, along with the existing legislation, are carefully designed to give additional tools to law enforcement without weakening in any way the constitutional rights of any American.
The President has been particularly clear that we will fight against terrorists at home and abroad with all constitutional tools. Anything less would give the terrorists the victory over us that they seek: They would have destroyed the fundamental rule of law in our country.
As Americans, we all understand that we cannot and must not allow the cowardly attack on civilian Federal workers to incite us to such anger that we take shortcuts with American citizens' rights.
The President's proposals are sound, moderate, and effective. They reflect the advice of practical, hands-on law enforcement agents who have experience in this field. They deserve careful and thorough review by the Congress, and they deserve timely enactment.
It had been the President's hope, and mine as well, that on this matter, where there is truly broad agreement across partisan lines, the Congress could work in a bipartisan fashion to enact this package of security enhancements in the not too distant future.
I also hoped that we could have a bipartisan, narrowly tailored package of proposals that could be enacted without divisive debates over controversial issues of long standing.
I believe that the American people expect us to put partisanship and political advantage aside and respond with unity to the immediate and urgent needs of Federal law enforcement agencies.
Last night, at the meeting with the President, there was every indication that there would be a bipartisan, focused proposal on which Congress and the President could agree to move us forward in the effort to combat terrorism. Each of us in attendance pledged our support toward that end. Regrettably, today the majority leader introduced a bill that threatens to slow our progress and mire the Senate in divisive, partisan, rhetorical debate.
Americans know that we can and undoubtedly will debate matters such as habeus corpus reform later this year. We have debated the issue in virtually every Congress in the past decade. But that debate involves persons who are already incarcerated with no chance for parole and who no longer pose a threat to society.
I think this is a time when we should instead be concentrating on measures that will have an effect on those who may be planning an attack, and from whom we are not at all safe, as the bombing in Oklahoma City so dramatically proved last week.
I sincerely hope prompt action on these needed law enforcement tools will not be held hostage to political priorities. I believe Americans expect more of us. I know the Federal workers who lost their lives and their children certainly deserve that and more.
Mr. KYL. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
Mr. KYL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. KYL. Mr. President, pending one other matter of business, I am going to ask for some unanimous-consent agreements that have been cleared with the minority and represent the minority's position as well as the majority leader's position.