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Federal News Service - Hearing of the House International Relations Committee - Transcript

Location: Washington, DC

Federal News Service









REP. STEVE CHABOT (R-OH): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Following up on Chairman Hyde's comments about Egypt and the distorted government-controlled media that we're up against there, you know, most recently we're seeing, in Darfur I'm told, that we're being criticized that our only interest there, even though what we're basically trying to do is stop genocide and the murder of thousands and thousands people, that apparently our only interest is allegedly that, you know, we hate Arabs or we want to take their oil, and this is the type of stuff that is in the official, government-controlled Egyptian press. So it's just one the things we're up against.

One of the things we're up against, however, I think is also somewhat self-inflicted in this own country. You know, when you look at some of the rhetoric that is over the top, some in our own media-I won't dignify a particular movie by mentioning its name here in an official hearing, but some of the allegations in that and some that's taken unfortunately serious and that's used by enemies of this country to say, yeah, see here, even in the American media they're saying how the president lied, for example, when we know that not only was our intelligence saying, for example, that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, but so were the Germans and the French and the British and many others. That was one thing that they all agreed on. Now ultimately they haven't been found, and we may never know the answer to all that. I hope we certainly do. But in any event, some of the over-the-top allegations-and this is a political season, so we're going to see some in this country unfortunately, but that's somewhat self-inflicted in our political process.

But let me shift gears. Mr. Lantos had said something which I very much agree with. He said so many things that I do agree with, but he said that it's not just winning the hearts and minds over there; we have to win this war. And what I've been concerned about-and I hear this from my constituents back in Cincinnati, and that's the frustration sometimes about actually getting bin Laden because we think he's in that Wild West region of Pakistan, the tribal-controlled areas up there. And our-some people will say, oh, well, Iraq was a distraction and that's why we didn't get bin Laden and that sort of thing, which is trash as far as I'm concerned.

But the question I have is, should we be more aggressive in working with the Pakistani government?

And I was in Pakistan back in January. We met with President Musharraf. This was a couple of weeks after the second assassination attempt on his life. And he told us that he was making every effort to get them, because these are the folks that are trying to assassinate him. That's logical. But-and he complained that we can't provided helicopters, for example, and that by the time they hear that bin Laden's here or there, he's gotten word of it, they can't get up there quick enough to get him.

But what more can we do, relative to Pakistan, or ought we to be doing? And you mentioned, Governor Kean, about the madrassas, for example. We were told that they're either closing them down or making sure that they're not spewing this hatred and teaching those kids over there who grow up to be the terrorists, and whether or not you get different stories about that-but I'm particularly concerned about Pakistan and what you gentlemen think we should be doing differently there or doing better.

MR. HAMILTON: Well, I-Mr. Chabot, I believe that we do have to support Musharraf, in every way possible, to seal that border. We hear about the Taliban now reconstituting itself in Afghanistan. It's a very difficult political problem for Musharraf. Remember, there was an assassination attempt on him not very long ago. So we have to make allowance for that.

But there isn't any doubt that we have to have, in your words, a very aggressive policy, and that it means military policy and searching out al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden specifically. And in order to do that, we have to have the cooperation of Musharraf. We can't do it without him. And that's why we're in this difficult spot. Even though that government is doing a lot of things we're not pleased with, we have to be very aggressive on it.

Now I want to say a word about Osama bin Laden. Removing Osama bin Laden is greatly to be desired, but we don't think removing him changes the war on terrorism all that much. As of today, it's our analysis that Osama bin Laden is an inspirational leader for a lot of people across the Islamic world, but not an operational leader.

So I'm all for-we're all for-removing Osama bin Laden, and we think that effort has to be a very aggressive effort to do so. But neither should we believe that once we remove him, we've solved the problem, because I don't think we really have. The problem is more-much, much more deep-seated than Osama bin Laden.

MR. KEAN: Yeah, I might say just-Musharraf is a real ally. You know, when people try to kill you twice, it concentrates your mind wonderfully. And he is devoted to the war on terror, as are we. And he would like to get bin Laden just as much as we would.

Inside his own country, though, to say, "Get rid of the madrassas" when there's no alternative, there's no public school, there's no place for a mother and father to send their child, except the local madrass(a) -- so we've got to work with them-and we're starting to now-to help them in an alliance to build alternatives to those madrassas, real schools that will teach people real things, so they can gain jobs and have some hope for the future.

REP. CHABOT: Thank you very much.


REP. CHABOT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. HYDE: I would request that you restrict your statement to three minutes so we can finish by 1:00.

REP. CHABOT: I will do that, Mr. Chairman.

REP. HYDE: Thank you.

REP. STEVEN CHABOT (R-OH): I want to thank you for holding this hearing. I want to thank especially Governor Kean and Mr. Hamilton as well for their leadership and what they've done for our country. It's very important. I would hope that Congress cam work in a bipartisan fashion-it would be nice to think that we could-to address some of the things that we are facing in this country.

I'm particularly frustrated with some of the diplomatic problems. I had the opportunity, along with my colleague, Mr. Faleomavaega from American Samoa, to serve for a year as the representative from Congress up at the U.N. And one would hope that some of our nominal allies, like the French and the Germans and some others, would be more cooperative, when they are at risk as well, but I've seen very little of that hoped-for cooperation.

Oftentimes they work to undermine the American position on not just fighting terrorism but so many other things. And it's something that we oftentimes in this country take too much for granted-our allies who aren't really allies, especially the French-but we could go far beyond that.

I also-one thing that often goes unsaid-some of the Middle Eastern nations and some others, much of their activity up there is basically devising new anti-Israeli strategies, and everything comes down to that up there far too often.

That's some of the things-some of the things that I heard here today I thought-that the chairman said-I think were particularly worth repeating. He said that we may never-there may never be an end to this conflict. And that may sound discouraging, but nonetheless it may well be true. It may only be a matter of degree to the extent that this war is either hot or not quite so hot at that time. He also said that our enemies seek not our defeat but our annihilation. And I think that's another absolutely accurate thing.

Mr. Lantos said something which I agreed with, again, saying that we're not just fighting for the hearts and minds of some of the folks over in the Middle East, but we have to win that war as well. And I can go on and on.

But one of the things I wanted to point out that didn't get a lot of attention-Saudi Arabia. There was a vote in which it showed our Congress's dissatisfaction with Saudi cooperation, saying that no money under a particular bill that we pass could go to the Saudis, and a lot of that shows how fed up many of us in Congress are with the lack of cooperation from the Saudis.

And I'll keep within the three minutes. I thank the chairman. I could talk for an hour.

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