September 11, 2001 : Attack on America
Congressional Record House - U.S. Policy in the Fight Against International Terrorism Originating in South Asia; September 25, 2001


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Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, a regional approach to the war on terrorism is critical to success.

The U.S. national security team must fully understand the dynamics between actors, as well as the strategic considerations which are guiding the responses to U.S. requests in this battle of good versus evil.

In developing our policy toward Pakistan, for example, some have argued that it is imperative that we address the long-standing relationship between the ISI and the Taliban and between the ISI and Osama bin Laden. We must not ignore facts such as the ISI's past warnings to bin Laden about U.S. military action.

There are reports that on August 20, 1998, when the United States launched cruise missile strikes on bin Laden terrorist training camps in southeastern Afghanistan, it was the head of Pakistan's ISI at the time who contacted bin Laden to warn him about U.S. surveillance and attempts to track down his whereabouts. He also cautioned bin Laden to relocate immediately because U.S. strikes were imminent.

We must also address the power relations within the Pakistani government to accurately assess the General's ability to contain challenges from the ISI. These and other factors have a direct bearing on U.S. short-term capabilities and long-term response to terrorism originating in this region.

In looking at Afghanistan, we must be careful not to follow a microcosmic view of the problem. While an immediate, comprehensive and multi-tiered military and political response to the September 11 terrorist attacks is necessary, the U.S. must also prepare a strategy which takes into consideration the myriad of factors contributing to the proliferation of terrorist activities in Afghanistan.

For one, we must look at the nature of the regime. This is not a reference to the process offered by the administration to evaluate intelligence sources. However, when formulating and implementing U.S. foreign policy toward a state, the nature and behavior of the regimes or governments which rule these countries is a critical variable to be considered.

As chairman of the Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights, I bear witness on a regular basis to the carnage that some regimes undertake against their own people and how this abhorrent behavior manifests itself in their views and approach to global relations.

As the President stated during his address to the Congress last week, a regime such as the Taliban which tortures its own people and shows no regard for human life can never be trusted.

A regime such as the Taliban can never understand or appreciate the magnitude of the loss suffered by our country 2 weeks ago.

Secretary of State Powell stated, when he was chairman to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that our military objective must also have a political objective. This political objective in Afghanistan and elsewhere in south Asia should be to support and promote pluralistic representative systems guided by respect for human rights, civil liberties and religious freedoms; governments who would not promote and foster terrorism. Only then can we hope to achieve our long-term goal of eradicating the world of the cancer of terrorism.

As many have stated in the aftermath of the brutal attacks of September 11, democracy is the best antidote for Islamic militancy and radicalism. In studying the nature of the leadership which rules these countries and these regions, we must also differentiate between those who oppress and those who are guided by democratic tenets.

The U.S. must, as the Financial Times stated on September 17, be careful not to align itself too closely with authoritarian regimes that have dreadful records of suppressing minority groups. This view was echoed in a Washington Post editorial of September 24 that warned against forming tactical bonds with central Asian republics. It stated that in forming such bonds, America must not forget what it is fighting for as well as what it is fighting against.

Further, cooperation with the U.S. should not require inducements. Support for the U.S. and the war against terrorism should come from an understanding of the abhorrent nature of terrorist methods and tactics, not from a quid pro quo.

As President Bush has underscored, you are either with us or you are with the terrorists.

Ultimately, having learned the lessons of the Cold War, the U.S. must embark on this battle from a position

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of overwhelming strength if we are to be victorious.

I fully support the President and his advisors in this difficult journey and I wish them Godspeed.


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