Mr. WHITFIELD. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to bring to the attention of the Congress and the American people disturbing new details of national policy decisions made in the aftermath of the bombing of the U.S. embassies in East Africa last month. This emerging information focuses on the Clinton administration's decision to retaliate against terrorists it suspected of carrying out the embassy attacks and in particular the decision to attack a pharmaceutical factory in the Sudan suspected of producing chemical weapons for the use of the terrorists led by Mr. bin Laden.
This new insight is contained in an article in the September 21, 1998 issue of the New York Times by reporters Tim Weiner and James Risen. It raises serious questions regarding the accuracy of intelligence information on which the decision was made and the credibility of statements made by senior officials in the Clinton administration as they sought to justify their decisions after the bombing in which it is estimated 20 to 50 people were killed.
The article reconstructs how a group of 6 senior administration officials and the President picked the bombing targets. It is based on interviews with participants and others at high levels of the national security apparatus and recounts how an act of war was approved on the basis of fragmented and disputed intelligence.
I quote from the article: Within days of the attack, some of the administration's explanations for destroying the factory in the Sudan proved inaccurate. Many people inside and outside the American government began to ask whether the questionable intelligence had prompted the United States to blow up this factory under false information.
I note that today former President Jimmy Carter asked for a congressional investigation about this matter.
Quoting further, Senior officials now say their case for attacking the factory relied on inference, as well as evidence that it produced chemical weapons for Mr. bin Laden's use. However, in analyzing more closely the efforts of those officials to justify their actions, it should be noted that since United States spies were withdrawn from the Sudan more than 2 years ago reliable information about the plant was scarce. In fact, in January 1996, weeks after American diplomats and spies were pulled out of the Sudan, the CIA withdrew as fabrications over 100 reports furnished to it by an outside source regarding terrorist threats against U.S. personnel in the Sudan.
A month after the attack, the same senior national security advisors, who had described the pharmaceutical plant as a secret chemical weapons factory, financed by bin Laden, are now conceding that they had no evidence to substantiate that claim or the President's decision to order the strike. It is now clear that the decision to bomb the factory was made amidst a three-year history of confusion in the intelligence community and conflicting foreign policy views within the administration regarding the Sudan.
It is with sadness that we must acknowledge the inevitable probability that these revelations will feed public suspicion that the heightened domestic turmoil enveloping the White House may cause other acts of misjudgment. This is regrettable but it is a graphic illustration of the debilitating consequences of the commander in chief's unfortunate personal behavior.
Of more concern are the important national security questions that are raised by the decision-making process that let the President target a factory in the Sudan that may not have been manufacturing chemical weapons. More hard information, however, needs to be developed and I urge the appropriate committees in the Congress to investigate this matter in more detail.
SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from California (Mr. Riggs) is recognized for 5 minutes.
(Mr. RIGGS addressed the House. His remarks will appear hereafter in the Extension of Remarks.)