The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 21, 1997, the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Stearns) is recognized during morning hour debates for 5 minutes.
Mr. STEARNS. Mr. Speaker, several weeks ago the President addressed the Nation and told the American people that based on convincing evidence he had linked the bombings of the embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to Osama bin Ladin, the Saudi millionaire whose base of operations is in Afghanistan. He went on to say that he had given our Armed Forces orders to launch cruise missile attacks against these targets. The first, of course, was a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan. The second target was a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan where evidence pointed to the fact that it was being used to manufacture chemical weapons.
Mr. Speaker, what troubles me about this is that since these strikes were made, we have not heard anything more from the President or his administration about this matter. The question is, did we achieve our bombing objectives at these two sites? Where is Mr. Ladin today? Is he still alive and still operating in secret and conspiring against the United States, or was he in the training camp when we destroyed its base of operation in Afghanistan?
As the days went by after these retaliatory strikes were carried out, new information surfaced about the pharmaceutical plant in Sudan. On September 1st, the Los Angeles Times reported that Shifa Pharmaceutical Plant produced human and veterinarian medicines for the impoverished nation and the evidence about Mr. Ladin's financial stake in the facility had been overstated.
Mr. Speaker, the President owes this country a full accounting, because the orders he gave, which were carried out, could have far-reaching effects that impact every U.S. citizen living both here and abroad. There is a long history of terrorist activity against the United States. Sadly, our response has been weak at best.
I would like to read you a quote from Mr. Jensen, an international editor of the Rocky Mountain News in Denver in his article entitled `Responding to Terrorist Attacks.' He states,
Our government imposes sanctions on so-called rogue nations that sponsor terrorism, which hasn't altered their behavior one bit, but one makes no effort to go after terrorists on the ground. In most cases it does not even retaliate for terrorist attacks.
Mr. Speaker, we are a civilized nation and thus far have refrained from fighting terror with terror. Is that the answer? Mr. Jensen goes on to say that Israel, through the Mossad, has perfected the art of fighting terror with terror.
Mr. Jensen's article also points out that over the last few years, 90 foreign hostages, including 11 Americans, have been held in captivity by Hezbollah and its operatives. Eleven were killed or died while in captivity.
Such atrocities cannot be allowed. Do we as a nation deal with such vicious attacks against our citizens by seeking to use the rule of law? According to Mr. Jensen, in the few instances where we have retaliated, such as President Reagan's bombing of Libya and President Clinton's use of the Tomahawk missiles, the civilian casualties that resulted have caused such international outrage that our reasons for taking such actions were totally obliterated.
We must make our enemies realize that if they take action against our country, we will take swift and decisive action against them as well.
Therefore, it is not my intention this morning to criticize the President's actions, because I think they were justified, based upon American intelligence and foreign intelligence. Thousands of people were killed in Kenya and Tanzania, and I do not think we should stand idly by and pretend it did not happen. However, I am concerned that we have lost credibility in the international community because of the confusion about why we took the actions we did against these specific targets.
Mr. Speaker, my message is simple today: Mr. President, do you not think the American people have a right to know whether our mission was successful? Please tell us today.