Haqqani Network Terrorist Designation Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:  Ted Deutch
Date: July 17, 2012
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. DEUTCH. Mr. Speaker, I rise in cautious support of S. 1959, the Haqqani Network Terrorist Designation Act.

Despite its name, this bill does not require the U.S. Department of State to formally designate the Haqqani Network as a terrorist organization. Rather, it imposes a one-time reporting requirement on the State Department to explain whether the Haqqani Network meets the statutory requirements for that designation. More importantly, the bill preserves the authority of the State Department to make this determination without congressional interference.

Let's be clear: the Haqqani Network is a dangerous organization and sworn enemy of the United States. From its base along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, the network of insurgents led by Jalaluddin Haqqani and his family has, for years, fought U.S. and allied forces in eastern Afghanistan. The Haqqanis are responsible for several high-profile acts of terror--including an attack on the United States Embassy on September 13, 2011, that left 16 Afghans dead.

One tool--one tool out of many--for fighting an organization like the Haqqani Network is to designate the group a terrorist organization under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Once a group receives that formal designation, the full weight of the Federal Government is brought to bear, including criminal penalties for the provision of material support to the organization, restrictions on travel, and seizure of assets. Designating an organization a terrorist organization is often an appropriate tool when the circumstances are unambiguous.

But the circumstances in eastern Afghanistan and northwest Pakistan are anything but unambiguous. The United States is engaged in delicate negotiations with the Government of Pakistan as it prepares to draw down troops and end the war in Afghanistan. In just the last few weeks, our diplomatic corps has achieved the monumental task of reopening our lines of communication with the Pakistani Government. It may be that, in this context, there is a diplomatic or strategic benefit to holding back on the formal designation of the Haqqani Network as a terrorist organization--perhaps just for the time being.

The State Department has already designated several individuals in the Haqqani Network as terrorists. If there's a reason that Secretary of State Clinton has not yet formally designated the entire network, then we ought to defer to her judgment.

Still, a modest reporting requirement as to some of the legal reasoning behind that decision is a fair request. Even if the Haqqani Network meets the statutory criteria for designation as a foreign terrorist organization--even if that tool is available to us--Secretary Clinton will make that decision when she determines that it is useful and appropriate to do so.

I thank the Speaker, and I yield back the balance of my time.


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