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Foreign Service Victims of Terrorism Act of 2007

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

FOREIGN SERVICE VICTIMS OF TERRORISM ACT OF 2007 -- (House of Representatives - October 02, 2007)

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Mr. JACKSON of Illinois. I thank you, Chairman Payne, for the time.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 2828, a bill to compensate relatives of U.S. citizens killed in the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

I introduced this bill with Republican Whip ROY BLUNT, and it has solid bipartisan support, including 19 members of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

On August 7, 1998, an al Qaeda truck bomb exploded at the American embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and in Nairobi, Kenya. The embassy bombing in Nairobi killed 12 Americans serving their government. The Americans killed in the embassy bombings were, and Mr. Blunt will now join me in calling their names, Sergeant Nathan Aliganga, United States Marine Corps; Consul General Julian Bartley; his son, Jay Bartley; Jean Rose Dalizu; Molly Huckaby Hardy; Staff Sergeant Kenneth Hobson II.

Mr. BLUNT. I thank the sponsor of the bill for not only allowing me to cosponsor it with him, but for allowing me today to assist and recognize the 12 individuals whose lives were lost in this terrible attack on our embassies. And let me do that now.

First of all, Prabhi Kavaler, Arlene Kirk, Dr. Louise Martin, Michelle O'Connor, Master Sergeant Sherry Lynn Olds from the Air Force, and Tom Shah.

Mr. JACKSON of Illinois. The State Department was negligent in not responding to concerns raised about the danger and exposure of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi to a vehicle bomb attack. The U.S. intelligence community had been surveilling several al Qaeda associates in Nairobi for 2 years, yet that information was not shared with the diplomats bidding on assignments in Nairobi, Kenya. Prior to the attack, then-U.S. Ambassador Prudence Bushnell warned the State Department about the vulnerability of the Nairobi Embassy and requested more security.

Members of al Qaeda were convicted of the bombing in New York Federal District Court in 2001. Government witnesses at the trial testified that intelligence and security reports from several different sources had confirmed the presence of an al Qaeda cell in Nairobi and the likelihood that the location of the embassy exposed the employees to an attack given the proximity of the street, but the State Department failed to act on these intelligence reports.

The Accountability Review Board, established to examine the facts and circumstances surrounding the embassy bombings, found that the bombings were the result of a ``collective failure of several administrations and Congresses over the past decade to invest adequate efforts and resources to reduce the vulnerability of U.S. diplomatic missions around the world to terrorist attacks.''

Like the families of those killed on 9/11, the families compensated in H.R. 2828 also suffer a similar heartache and pain from an al Qaeda attack on U.S. soil. Several of the victims' children still suffer from serious emotional problems. However, unlike quick action taken by Congress and the executive branch to respond to the needs of families of 9/11, these families have waited more than 9 years without any meaningful compensation.

Former Secretary of State Albright has stated publicly that her administration failed to help the families because the attacks happened thousands of miles away and because the Department failed to respond to the pre-attack intelligence report of the serious threat of the al Qaeda organization in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. Mr. Speaker, this bill is the very least that a grateful Nation can do.

I would like to thank Republican Whip ROY BLUNT and his staff member, Brian Diffel, for working with us on this bill. I would also like to thank CBC Chairwoman KILPATRICK and her staff member, James Williams; DAN BURTON and his staff member, Brian Fauls, as well as the committee staff of Chairman Lantos, Chairman Payne and Ranking Member Ros-Lehtinen for all the work they did on this bill.

I want to recognize the work of Karen Williams, counsel for the Nairobi Embassy families, and especially Consul General Bartley's daughter, Edith, who has brought this issue to the attention of the Congress and has worked tirelessly to get us to where we are today.

Mr. Speaker, present with us today in the House are members of the Bartley family, members of Ms. Kavaler's family, and members of the Kirk family. And I understand that it's not appropriate or within House rules to acknowledge specifically their location in the House Chamber, but they are here today on this momentous occasion.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the time. I urge an ``aye'' vote on H.R. 2828.

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