NATIONAL SECURITY -- (House of Representatives - September 06, 2006)
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 4, 2005, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Carter) is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the majority leader.
Mr. CARTER. Mr. Speaker, we have had a month here in August where we have gone back home and talked to folks back home and visited with them, and we are moving forward on issues that are vital to America. But nothing is more vital to the United States of America than its national security.
So I rise this evening to discuss with my colleagues and my neighbors the view that I am a little concerned about and want to talk about on the issue of national security. National security, the term itself, has a broad umbrella. It has an umbrella that we have a lot of historical experience to look at.
I am an old history buff. I like history. I study history. I think we learn lessons from history. I think when we forget history, we forget lessons we have learned, sometimes the hard way.
So, tonight, I want to talk a little bit about the national security of the United States today and compare that national security to a little bit of our history, and then also to discuss a little bit about what our response is, how we are now viewing our lives that we live in this country in light of national security. Now, national security means, are we secure as a Nation in the scope of our world, which means we have to think about our own common defense, promoting our own general welfare, the things that our founders talked about. That is part of it.
National security is securing our Nation's borders, and this debate has been ongoing now in this Congress for quite some time concerning our Nation's borders, and we may talk a little bit about that tonight.
But I think that anyone who establishes a nation, and of course I believe with my whole heart our Founders, when they established our Nation, had in mind securing our lives in the United States of America by protecting the life, liberty, and property of Americans.
And they had in mind when those who would do us harm would put the life, liberty, or property of Americans at risk, that we would have the resources with which to protect those citizens and their holdings.
In our recent memory, and I was actually born 1 month, I am going to show my age here, 1 month before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, so I am a prewar human being by 1 month. Almost 1 month to a day. I want to look at that event and how our Nation responded to that event.
On December 7, 1941, the Imperial Navy of Japan attacked the United States of America basically from the air. They killed 2,402 Americans, 57 of them were civilians and 2,345 were Americans who were in the service. They attacked our military with their military all in uniform. It was a dastardly sneak attack. The American citizens were irate.
But what is kind of interesting, that particular day my dad tells the story, that was the first day under the way doctors looked at babies that people could visit the new baby. So on December 7, 1941, a group of friends came to my house to see me as a 1-month-old baby.
When this was announced on the radio, the first question they asked was, where is Pearl Harbor? When they found out American citizens were attacked, American soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines were attacked, the American public was irate. The next day we went to war with Japan by declaration of this Congress. We followed that by going to war with Germany and Italy, supporters, allies of Japan, people who had the same agenda.
The American public went wholeheartedly into that war. They suffered things on the homefront. A whole lot of women had to take men's jobs on the assembly line so men could go to war. They rationed gasoline and food. They rationed sugar. They rationed lots of things. The American public saved scrap iron and they got involved in selling war bonds. They supported our soldiers as our soldiers went to war.
On the 11th day of September, 9/11 as we call it, 2001, a group of people attacked the United States of America again. These people didn't wear uniforms. These people didn't attack a military target. Well, sort of. Their last attack was on the Pentagon, but their initial attack was a civilian target, a symbol of international freedom and economy. The total number of United States citizens killed that day was 3,025, the vast majority of whom were civilians, not military soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines; and they were not attacked by someone's army. They were totally and completely sneak attacked on 9/11 to kill innocent American civilians who had done absolutely no imaginable harm to the people who attacked them.
You know, this Congress gathered on the steps of the Capitol in a very touching moment and sang ``God Bless America,'' Republicans and Democrats alike. For 48 hours this country was united, and we sit there and say that is when it all started. Actually, that is not when it all started.
Actually, if you want to go back a little bit, you can look at this same ideology, if you will, related groups of people attacked the embassy in Baghdad in 1983, attacked the Marines barracks in Lebanon in 1983 killing an additional 242 and 120 in those two attacks; hijacked a TWA airplane, the Pan Am 103 bombing; the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993; attempted assassination of President George H.W. Bush; the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996; the embassy bombing in east Africa in 1998; and the USS Cole bombing in 2000, followed by an attack on our country for a total of American citizens killed of 4,037. And we were really upset about it. But who sacrificed? Where are we in the support of enemies who would bring down our Nation? That is something I find very curious.
Tonight I heard some of my colleagues, my Democrat colleagues over here, saying the Iraqi war is wrong. They had nothing to do with 9/11.
Well, the first people we whipped in the Second World War were the Italians. They had nothing to do with Pearl Harbor. And the second group of people we whipped in the Second World War was the Germans. They had nothing to do with Pearl Harbor by their definition, but they lent allied support to the country that attacked this country. How can they argue when Saddam Hussein paid $25,000 to every terrorist family that attacked the United States of America? How can they say they were not aiding and abetting our enemies?
The President of the United States said something I thought was right. He said: Folks, you are either with us or you are against us. If you are helping our enemies, you are our enemies.
Now, sort of like the Monday morning quarterback at a football game, and I know about that, it is fun to sit in the stands and watch everybody second-guess your kid, all of a sudden we have people who knew all along, even though President Clinton thought they had weapons of mass destruction and said so publicly, those in his administration said the same thing, all indications were that they did, and the British intelligence, along with others around the world confirmed that they thought that they had the potential to get to the hands of terrorists weapons of mass destruction. But in addition, they aided and abetted through at least a $25,000 reward to aid the terrorists who attacked us, our enemies.
The Germans didn't do that and neither did the Italians, and yet we had to take care of those who would bring down our Nation. This Congress, the government in 1941, recognized the threat to the United States and knew that national security required us to get rid of the evil that was coming after our Nation.
Mr. Speaker, that evil is still out there in this war we are fighting right now. You know what, we have been successful, very successful in taking down an awful lot of evil people. And we have used tools that are constitutional and legal to maintain our national security.
Our intelligence network had been gutted in the 1980s and in the 1990s. And all of a sudden we are all very critical of our intelligence network. But if you go back and look at the history of our intelligence network, we basically took the on-the-ground resources out of the hands of our intelligence people. We have had to replace those. We have had to do a lot of hard work communicating. We have the best electronics in the world, but our human resources were lacking.
But that doesn't excuse the fact that we have an enemy who as recently as about 3 weeks ago was planning on blowing up, the estimate is nine or ten, airplanes headed to the United States with American citizens on board, with us the target, with our airline industry the target. And thank goodness for good British intelligence and information-gathering by the Brits that they were able to stop this from happening.
But it tells us something. I am not trying to scare anybody. It tells us commitment counts. Here tonight we have heard some of my Democrat colleagues say we need a new strategy in the Middle East. We need to pull our troops out of Iraq and do it today. A passionate plea to the President, Mr. President, pull back the troops.
You know, if you read about the battles, and I use as an example the Civil War, sometimes those people bashed each other for 3 or 4 days to a bloody pulp. But when one army left the field, the other side was the victor. The Battle of Gettysburg, which was probably the turning point in the war, when the Confederate Army left the field, the Union Army was the victor. That is the definition.
I would propose, we are talking about a battle in Iraq and Afghanistan. The war is worldwide, but the battles are in Afghanistan and Iraq. Hopefully, that is the only place we will have to fight.
Mr. Speaker, if we retire from the field, it is a victory for evil, evil that wishes to bring down the United States of America. It is the wrong thing to do.
I hesitate to talk about this, but it is something that concerns me. We are constantly examining ourselves and looking at our warts, but whenever evil is defined by our enemies, we say it is just too bad to talk about. Has anybody thought about the fact that American guys who were just working for a living trying to help rebuild Iraq got kidnapped and their heads sawed off with an 8-inch knife? Has anybody thought about that? Because it was so gruesome we didn't see it on television, thank God. That horrible incident alone ought to inflame Americans against our enemies. Don't we care any more about the safety of American citizens around the world? Aren't we willing to stand up and say we are not going to tolerate this?
We have some fine people in this country who are willing to do that. God bless each and every one of them. That is the American soldier, sailor, airman, marine and Coast Guard. It is unsafe right now. Because of kidnappings and decapitations and murder and terror around the world, it is unsafe for Americans. We have a bunch of people walking around Afghanistan and Iraq flying the American flag on their shoulders. They are not afraid. They are standing up for what it takes to win the war on terrorism, the war on Islamic fascism. And even a better definition, the war on evil. When you do what they did to these contractors, when you do something like that to a human being, the whole world, but especially the United States of America, ought to be fighting mad.
Mr. Speaker, I think that in our hearts we know that we have to confront evil where it is and we have to do hard jobs. You know, somebody said in 3 years there has been no progress. Once again I went back to my thoughts about history. I said, okay, we were bombed in 1941 and we landed on the beaches at Normandy on June 6, 1944. So that very argument could have been made in this House on the Second World War in the spring of 1944. We have been fighting 3 years, and we have made relatively no progress because we haven't gotten after the Germans where they are. We had to fight the Italians, we had to fight in North Africa, and we had to fight the Japanese. We were still fighting the Germans, and we have made no progress against the people who attacked us.
But that is not how our fathers and grandfathers and great grandfathers felt about this country. They were in it to get it done. That is why they are the Greatest Generation. That is why we talk about them as the Greatest Generation.
You can sit around and make excuses, and you can get in folks' faces on things, and you can put politics before country.
But, Mr. Speaker, this is not about politics. This is about the safety of this country.
I think we have got a lot to be proud of. I think we have done a lot of good. We have revitalized an intelligence group that is doing the job, accomplishing the mission, getting us good intelligence. It is substantially, substantially better than what we inherited and what we started with. But I think that there are some fuzzy thinking people out there that have got strange ideas about what entitles our enemy, for instance, to sue us in court. That is fuzzy thinking.
The American people know what is right and what is wrong. The American people do not need to be scared because they know whatever the United States of America sets its mind to it gets done. And I think that is really the message that we have got.
We have increased funding for our intelligence community. We have got all of our law enforcement communities talking to each other now and sharing information. We have poured $30 billion into our first responders so that we are ready to protect our homeland. This House has passed a bill to address the border, and hopefully, we will get that bill passed and written into law, and we will work out all of the issues that involve immigration and work them out in a way that they will be manageable and we can do what is right for all the people of the United States. But we first have got to defend our borders.
Mr. Speaker, this is national security. It is a big picture. And it is one we have to be concerned about. We have to realize that the only realistic thing for us to do is to continue to support our soldiers as they do a very tough job. I have the only two division posts in the entire world in my district. No one has more compassion for those young men and women that go to war, on their third rotation now. We are getting the 4th Infantry Division back early this fall, and we have got the 1st Cav going back again. And it is hard. But do you know what? Those soldiers know that they are doing their duty, and they are doing what they have to do and they are doing what it takes to keep our Nation secure.
I am confident, Mr. Speaker, that we will examine each and every day in light of protecting the American citizen wherever he may be, and that is what national security is all about. I am confident the American people will give us the resources. I am confident that this government will do the right thing to protect Americans.
I have got colleagues here that have joined me, and I am going to ask Mr. Gingrey from Georgia, one of my best friends in this Congress, to talk to us a little bit about this issue. I yield to the gentleman.
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Mr. CARTER. Mr. Speaker, I thank Mr. Wamp, and I thank him for sharing that letter from that Navy captain. I think that was very well expressed by that captain in the Navy.
Mr. Speaker, there is a lot of rhetoric going on. What we really need is we need, as Mr. Wamp has so very accurately described, we need to meet on the water's edge. We are waiting to hear plans for solutions. Mr. Speaker, if we do not stay the course, as hard as it is, whether it is hard politically, whether it is hard socially, whatever, if we do not stay the course, Mr. Speaker, I honestly think, as Mr. Wamp said, all the investment in freedom that we have made in the past will pale to the surrender that follows.
I thank you for your time, Mr. Speaker, and I thank you for allowing us to share this concern and this little bit of history. I yield back.