Congressman Scott: How Safe Are We 5 Years After 9/11
Scott Leads House Floor Discussion on National Security
Sep 6 -
Thank you very much. It is good to be here with you and my good friend, Congressman Van Hollen, always a pleasure, and I commend both of you on your expert comments and thought-provoking comments here today.
Accountability is the issue that we just left trippingly off our tongues. Accountability. The timing is right now for accountability. ``The buck stops here,'' as Harry Truman said. ``The buck stops here.'' And the buck is stopping within 9 or 10 weeks, for we are right around the corner from true accountability. That is accountability with our customers, our clients, the people who put us here. They want some accountability.
We have all just come back from our August recess. Paramount on their minds is security. The American people have lost faith with the direction in which we are headed. Every poll speaks that. I don't care if it is the Fox poll, the CNN poll, the Washington Post poll, the ABC poll, every poll that has been taken speaks clearly; 63 percent of the American people are dissatisfied with the direction this country is moving in, in Iraq, and half of the people in this country are finally getting the picture, the ability to separate the war in Iraq from the war on terror.
That is very fundamental. That is a sea change. That has been a very serious part of our problem, and it has really been the Achilles' heel of this administration, of the Bush administration. I think a serious mistake was made in trying to link the war on terror with the war in Iraq, and we have had a muddled policy ever since.
It is no wonder then that here we are on the eve of the fifth anniversary of Ð9/11. If you would have told me 5 years ago, right after 9/11, Mr. Schiff, Mr. Van Hollen, that 5 years from now we would not have been able to catch Osama bin Laden; if you had told me 5 years ago that we will have expended 2,600 precious lives of our American soldiers in the so-called war on terror, and yet and still al Qaeda is still running around stronger than ever before and Osama bin Laden is turning out more videotapes and CDs than Michael Jackson ever did, 25 at the last count that he has turned out.
And yet for this President to say that we are winning this, that we are succeeding, that we are safer? We are not safer, Mr. Schiff, when the butcher that masterminded that mass murder of our citizens and citizens of the world on 9/11 is still alive, and yet we know where he is. And, Mr. Schiff, he is not in Iraq.
That was the mistake.
What have we done? We have wasted precious resources, not only just in the lives of our precious soldiers there, but to the tune of nearly $3 billion every week. But Osama bin Laden is alive. Al Qaeda is alive. Terrorist attacks have increased over 250 percent since 9/11.
No, we are not safer than where we were. And, yes, we have an accountability coming, and the American people are saying one important thing; they are saying we need a change. We don't need more of the same.
Yes, the Republicans will throw out to us, if you get up here and criticize the President here, you are being un-American or you are not being patriotic or you are talking about ``cutting and running.''
We are talking as Democrats about being courageous, being bold and being smart. We will win this war on terror, but we will never win the war on terror as long as Osama bin Laden is running around on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan. We will never win this war on terror if we do not realize we are going to have to develop better intelligence.
Military might alone won't do it, not in this war. We are not fighting states or countries. We are fighting non-state actors. We are fighting rogues. We are fighting folks who, like rats in the night, are looking for holes to scurry in. Now they are secure in that hole over there on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. And you tell me how far we have come, when the government of Pakistan just last week condescended to them to give the terrorists safe haven in that section of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
No, no, no, that is not winning this war. That strategy is not right. There is something wrong with this picture.
They can talk and say all they want to say about Democrats, but the American people are very delighted and very pleased that Democrats are finally getting this Congress to stand up and be Congress. That is what they elected us for, to provide the oversight, to ask the questions.
We control the purse strings. And before we turn loose these purse strings, we have to ask the questions the American people want to know. They want to know when are we getting to get and cut off the head of bin Laden? They want to know when are we going to arrest and solve this worldwide terror problem?
Who would have thought, 5 years? On this anniversary, as we look, let us look at the landscape. Let's look at it clearly. Who would have thought that a terrorist group named Hezbollah would be basically running the nation of Lebanon? Who would have thought that a terrorist group, Hamas, would be running the Palestinians over in Palestine? Who would have thought that Iran would be on the verge of nuclear weapons? Who would have thought that North Korea would have eight nuclear weapons as we speak and the capacity of producing at least six or seven in a year's cycle? Unstable regimes.
And who would have thought that China would be eating our lunch in two ways, two essential ways; not only in terms of the free market and the market economy that they are developing over there at the same time they have a planned socialist economy, but the fact that they are one of our largest creditors, and we are one of their largest debtors. We are borrowing $328 billion from China, a huge debt.
Are we safer? I don't think so. And this administration has some serious questions that they have got to answer, and the American people are expecting it.
I hope, Mr. Schiff, that each night that we can come on this floor, and we are going to take this national security, and we are going to show the American people that Democrats are stronger on national security. You know why? Because we are smarter.
We are going to find bin Laden, and we are going to destroy him. We are going to beef up our resources in intelligence and the State Department because we know that this war on terror cannot be won strictly with bullets and bombs. It cannot be, for we are not dealing with a standing target to bomb. Nations we can. But we need to make friends with these nations.
We have got the world's best military, but because we are in Iraq, our military is coming off at the wheels. I am not going to get into very direct specifics on that; I don't want the enemy to know. This is going over C-SPAN to the Nation. I don't want our enemies to know just what our situation is. But you know what it is, and I know what it is.
Without question, we are the superior force. But, by Jove, we have got to keep it that way. That is the greatest deterrent to these terrorists, to know that we have that military capacity.
But we won't be able to win the war on military alone. We have got to beef up the State Department. We have got to make sure we have the kinds of relationships with these countries that no nation would do what Pakistan has done. That is unconscionable. That is one of the great defeats that we have had.
Democrats can change that. No, we don't want the same course. We want to get smart. We want to fight this war on terror, and we want to win it. And in order to win it, we have got to be smart.
I think a part of that is those who are at the helm, President Bush and those in the White House, are good decent people, but they are oil people. I mean, they think like oil people.
That is it, when our future is not in that way. We have got to have a clean energy policy. We have got to invest in our own farms and our agriculture products like corn and soybeans and sugar cane so that we can develop ethanol as an alternative. We have got to have a robust economy in this country that is based upon our own self-sufficiency of oil.
We should be going down to Brazil by the planeloads, learning and seeing what they have done. If Brazil can take their own automotive industry, their main means of transportation, and run it 80 percent on ethanol made from sugar cane, what is keeping us from doing that? Why must we be so dependent on Middle Eastern oil? It is the way they think in the White House.
Now, I am telling you, it is not just me here. You have been around this country; all the polls are saying it. Americans want a difference. They want a change in direction. Quite honestly, that is why you have two parties. That is why you have parties here. That is why the Founding Fathers made it that way.
One party cannot have it all the time, and the American people deserve a change. I am convinced President Bush has stayed the course. America says, no, no, we want a new direction.
Well, you can't take a new direction with somebody who says stay the course, do what the job has done, we are here, this is the way we are going with the Republican-led Congress. We have got to have some changes. Democrats are aggressive. Democrats are smart. We have shown time and time in the history of this country, when this country was in a world war. This President was in the world, the business talks about Nazism, he talks about fascism and he talks about all of that about Hitler.
All that time, who stood up to Hitler? Who was it who said the only thing we have to fear is fear itself? A Democrat, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. When the communists were threatening in South Korea and North Korea, who was there? Harry S. Truman, who said, the buck stops here.
When we had that missile crisis down in Cuba, when we were on the throes, right on the edge of what many say meant the end of the world if that had happened, can you imagine? It was a Democrat with steely eyes who stood there and looked Khrushchev in the eyes and had the courage. It was John Fitzgerald Kennedy, a Democrat.
Now, the world can rest assured this Nation will be secure in the hands of Democrats. We are waiting on the chance to provide the change and direction. I am just proud of our national security review by myself and Mr. Israel, who for the past 3 years have provided leadership on this very issue where we have had great leaders like Senator Nunn, Senator Sam Nunn, who has provided the way, my friend from Georgia all the way in; and Sandy Berger, we have had men and women at the helm of national security that have done a fine job and we are here to do that job. This is the way for us to go, strong and smart.
No, it is not, and more of the same means this, Mr. Schiff: this is the latest report on terrorism, what the facts are. On 9/11, more than 5 years ago, there was an estimated number of al Qaeda numbers worldwide, and on 9/11/2001 it was 20,000. Now, the estimated number of al Qaeda numbers worldwide is 50,000. Then on 9/11/2001, the number of al Qaeda terrorist attacks in the 5 years before 9/11, three.
The number of al Qaeda attacks in the 5 years since 9/11, 30. The number of days Osama bin Laden has been at large since U.S. military operations commenced in Afghanistan, 1,784 days and counting. What do we have to show for that?
If we look again at the 2,600 American soldiers that we have loss in this war on terror, good brave soldiers, where we score the more of the same, no more of the same, no more of this staying the course on this course. We have got to correct the course and stay and fight the war on terror, deal with the situation in Iraq, but do it smartly with the resources we have.