[Congressional Record: June 7, 2002 (Senate)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
THE FBI REFORM ACT, THE TERRORIST BOMBING CONVENTION AND THE
SUPPRESSION OF THE FINANCING OF TERRORISM CONVENTION IMPLEMENTATION
ACT, THE ANTI-ATROCITY ALIEN DEPORTATION ACT AND THE MYCHAL JUDGE
POLICE AND FIRE CHAPLAINS SAFETY OFFICERS' BENEFIT ACT
Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I rise today to speak principally on behalf
of four important pieces of legislation. Two have important
implications for national security, a third would help keep war
criminals and those who commit atrocities abroad out of our country and
the fourth would add a degree of fairness for law enforcement victims
of September 11. All have been cleared on the Democratic side of the
Three are being blocked by holds placed by anonymous Republican
Senators. One has passed the Senate and is being held up by the
Republican leadership in the House. I appeal, again, today to our
Republican colleagues to stop holding these important bills hostage,
remove your secret hold, or at least come forward and identify yourself
and your concern so that we may debate and make bipartisan progress on
these important legislative matters.
First is S. 1974, the FBI Reform Act, which I introduced with Senator
Grassley in February, after extensive oversight hearings.
This bill would strengthen the FBI in its fight against terrorism,
and was reported unanimously by the Judiciary Committee in April of
Since the attacks of September 11, and the anthrax attacks last fall,
we have relied on the FBI to detect and prevent acts of catastrophic
terrorism that endanger the lives of the American people and the
institutions of our country. FBI reform was already important, but the
terrorist attacks suffered by this country last year have imposed even
greater urgency on improving the FBI. The Bureau is our front line of
domestic defense against terrorists.
Even before those attacks, the Judiciary Committee's oversight
hearings revealed serious problems at the FBI that needed strong
congressional action to fix. We heard about a double standard in
evaluations and discipline. We heard about record and information
management problems and communications breakdowns between field offices
and Headquarters that led to the belated production of documents in the
Oklahoma City bombing case. Despite the fact that we have poured money
into the FBI over the last 5 years, we heard that the FBI's computer
systems were in dire need of modernization.
We heard about how an FBI supervisor, Robert Hanssen, was able to
sell critical secrets to the Russians undetected for years without ever
getting a polygraph. We heard that there were no fewer than 15
different areas of security at the FBI that needed fixing.
The FBI Reform Act tackles these problems with improved
accountability, improved security both inside and outside the FBI and
required planning to ensure the FBI is prepared to deal with the
multitude of challenges we are facing.
Just over the past month, the FBI Director has referred to the
Justice Department inspector general important matters about the
handling of probative information like the Phoenix report before the 9-
11 attacks. The FBI reform bill expands the Justice Department
inspector general's authority to investigate all allegations of
misconduct at the FBI. The FBI Reform Act also strengthens
whistleblower protections for FBI employees who report misconduct to
Members of Congress, as Minneapolis Field Office Agent Coleen M. Rowley
The FBI Reform Act also puts an end to statutory restrictions that
contribute to the ``double standard,'' where senior management
officials are not disciplined as harshly for misconduct as line agents
are. Agent Rowley complained about this double standard in her May 21
letter criticizing Bureau Headquarters about its handling of the
Just this week the Judiciary Committee held an extensive hearing with
the FBI Director, the Department of Justice inspector general and
Special Agent Rowley. Any doubts that this legislation is needed and
needed without further delay had to be erased by their candid
The FBI Reform Act was unanimously reported by the oversight
committee for the FBI and reflects our determination to make sure that
the FBI is as good and strong as it can be, and, all the more today,
given the higher stakes, as good and as strong as America needs the FBI
to be. This reform bill is a long stride toward that goal. I urge the
Republican Members who have blocked passage of this bill to come
forward and identify themselves, to speak to Senator Grassley and me
about the importance of this legislation, and to share any concerns
they may have so that we may proceed without further delay.
Last December I introduced S. 1770 to implement two antiterrorism
treaties, the Terrorist Bombing Convention and the Suppression of the
Financing of Terrorism Convention. The antiterrorist bombing bill would
bring the United States into immediate compliance with important
international conventions signed by the United States under President
The two antiterrorism treaties at issue were transmitted to the
Senate for ratification by President Clinton in 1999 and 2000, but not
acted upon until the Senate reorganized under a Democratic majority
The United States signed these treaties after the tragic terrorist
bombings at the United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Before
control of the Senate changed hands, there was no action taken on these
treaties in the Foreign Relations Committee. The antibombing treaty in
particular sat in the Foreign Relations Committee for approximately 2
years without action during the Clinton administration when the Senate
was under Republican control. Senator Biden deserves credit for acting
quickly to report these treaties within weeks after he assumed
chairmanship of the Foreign Relations Committee.
Yet even as Senator Biden was pushing to move the treaties themselves
through the Senate, the Bush administration did not transmit proposed
implementing legislation to the Judiciary Committee before or during
the time that we were working together day and night to write the USA
Patriot Act, the bipartisan antiterrorism legislation responding to the
events of September 11. I remain puzzled why the administration felt
that this measure should be separated from that effort.
Both treaties require the signatory nations to enact certain,
precisely worded criminal provisions in their laws in order to be in
compliance. That is what S.1770, the Leahy bill, does. I introduced
S.1770, on December 5, 2001, shortly after passage of the USA Patriot
Act, as a separate bill. This was the same day that the Senate agreed
to ratify both treaties. I then tried to move the bill quickly through
the Senate, but an anonymous Republican hold blocked passage.
Again this year I tried to move the bill through the Senate, but
again there was an anonymous hold from the Republican side of the aisle
which blocked its passage. Had there not been a hold placed on the bill
last year, I am quite sure that we could have resolved any remaining
issues in conference, as the Republican-controlled House was
simultaneously passing its own version of my bill.
After the anonymous hold was placed on S. 1770 at the end of the last
session, we received a letter from the Department of Justice in late
January of this year about the bill.
The letter stated that the Department ``support[ed] the legislation
but recommend[ed] several modifications.'' None of the modifications
which the Department recommended dealt with issues that were necessary
for compliance with the treaties, the basic purpose of the bill. The
Leahy bill would bring us into full compliance with those important
obligations and take away an excuse from nations that are hesitant to
cooperate in the war against terrorism.
The recent spate of horrible suicide bombings around the world and
the fact that the convention prohibiting terrorist financing entered
into force on April 10, 2002, demonstrate the pressing need for this
legislation. As if that was not enough, last month the FBI Director
warned that he believes that suicide bombings in the United States are
``inevitable,'' bringing home the point that this legislation is
required both to fight terrorism at home and abroad. Nevertheless, S.
1770 has been subjected to an anonymous Republican hold since December
of last year.
In the post-September 11 environment it is almost beyond my
understanding why any Member of this body would secretly obstruct
passage of an important piece of antiterrorism legislation--yet here we
are in June, blocked from compliance with two international terrorism
treaties by a secret Republican hold.
The third bill is S. 864, the Anti-Atrocity Alien Deportation Act,
which I introduced year and was reported by the Judiciary Committee,
with bipartisan support, to close loopholes in our immigration laws
that have allowed war criminals and human rights abusers to enter and
remain in this country.
I have been appalled that this country has become a safe haven for
those who exercised power in foreign countries to terrorize, rape,
murder, and torture innocent civilians. A recent report by Amnesty
International claims that nearly 150 alleged human rights abusers have
been identified living here, but warns that this number may be as high
Observers have noted the irony that in the wake of the September 11,
attacks, hundreds of foreigners have been rounded up though not charged
with any terrorism-related crime.
Yet at the same time, ``hundreds, if not thousands, of foreign
nationals who have been plausibly accused of the most heinous human
rights crimes, including torture and assassination, either have lived
or still live freely in the U.S.'' [William Schulz, ``The Torturers
Among Us,'' New York Review, p. 22, April 25, 2002.]
This bill would not only add the new grounds, but also expand current
grounds, for inadmissibility and deportation, by barring those aliens
who have engaged, outside the United States, in ``torture'' and
``extrajudicial killing'' and removing artificial limitations on the
current grounds for exclusion for aliens who commit ``genocide'' and
``particularly severe violations of religious freedom.'' This bill is
important for the victims of these heinous crimes who seek refuge in
this country and important for Americans to show that we will not
tolerate perpetrators of genocide, extrajudicial killing and torture,
living among us.
I urge the Republican Members who have blocked passage of this bill
to come forward and identify themselves, to share any concerns they may
have so that we may proceed without further delay.
I was pleased when the Senate did take up and pass the Mychal Judge
Police and Fire Chaplains Public Safety Officers' Benefit Act of 2002
that I sponsored with Senators Campbell, Schumer, Clinton, and Biden.
Named for Chaplain Mychal Judge, who was killed while responding with
the New York City Fire Department to the September 11 terrorist attacks
on the World Trade Center, this legislation recognizes the invaluable
service of police and fire chaplains in crisis situations by allowing
for their eligibility in the Public Safety Officers' Benefit Program.
Father Judge, while deemed eligible for public safety officer benefits,
was survived by his two sisters who, under current law, are ineligible
to receive payments through the PSOB Program. This is simply wrong and
must be remedied.
Indeed, Father Judge is among 10 public safety officers who were
killed on September 11, but who are ineligible for Federal death
benefits because they died without spouses, children, or parents. This
bill would retroactively correct this injustice by expanding the list
of those who may receive public safety officer benefits to the
beneficiaries named on the most recently executed life insurance policy
of the deceased officer. This change would go into effect on September
11 of last year to make sure the families of Father Judge and the nine
other fallen heroes receive their public safety officer benefits.
In addition, this bill would retroactively restructure the Public
Safety Officers' Benefit Program to specifically include chaplains as
members of the law enforcement and fire units they serve, and would
make these chaplains eligible for the one-time $250,000 benefit
available to public safety officers who have been permanently disabled
as a result of injuries sustained in the line of duty, or to the
survivors of officers who have died.
This measure is strongly supported by the National Association of
Police Organization, the Fraternal Order of Police, and the American
Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Despite its Senate's passage and in spite of the fact that the House
Judiciary Committee has favorably reported the House companion bill
with bipartisan support to the House, the House Republican leadership
has refused to follow through with passage of these measure. I urge the
House Republican leadership to reconsider its decision and allow this
important matter to proceed to final passage.
These bills are not alone in being blocked by anonymous Republican
holds. Holds have been placed on other important bills that the
Judiciary Committee has acted upon and reported favorably to the
Senate. Let me just cite a couple examples: S. 2010, the Corporate and
Criminal Fraud Accountability Act, which I introduced after the Enron
debacle to restore confidence in our securities; S. 2179, the Law
Enforcement Tribute Act, which was introduced by Senator Carnahan to
help State and local police pay for memorials to honor fallen officers;
and S. 407, the Madrid Protocol Implementation Act, to help American
businesses better protect their intellectual property in the
In addition to the Mychal Judge Police and Fire Chaplains Public
Safety Officers Benefit Act, many other Senate-passed are languishing
in the House of Representatives. These include the Federal Judiciary
Protection Act, S. 1099, which I cosponsored with Senator Gordon Smith;
the James Guelff and Chris McCurley Body Armor Act, S. 166, which was
sponsored by Senator Feinstein; and the TEACH Act, S. 487, which I
sponsored with Senator Hatch. These bipartisan measures were passed by
unanimous consent through the Senate last year, but have been held
hostage without action in the House for too many months.
None of these 10 matters should be partisan, yet again and again,
anonymous Republican holds have stopped Senate and congressional
action. I appeal to my Republican colleagues in the Senate to lift
their secret holds and to the Republicans in both Houses to stop
obstructing these bipartisan bills, that are intended to protect our
national security, our public safety, America's borders, and American
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