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Public Statements

Threats to the United States

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. GOHMERT. Mr. Speaker, I want to follow up on what my friend from Arizona (Mr. Franks) was talking about with regard to Iran. It should be pretty clear to most people that Iran is a threat to any group of people who believe that we do not need a religious zealot telling us how we have to live; that we do not need someone taking over, arising out of the chaos to create a one-world caliphate under which we have to live with a ruling religious zealot making sure that we do not get involved in any type of self-government that they believe inevitably leads to depravity. So some of us don't think it's a good idea to give Iran more power to carry out the threats of wiping out Israel, which they refer to as the ``little Satan,'' or to wipe out the United States, which their leaders refer to as the ``big Satan.''

Yet we have nominated by the President of the United States a man who thinks we need to cozy up to Iran. His idea of national security is cozying up to a country who's made very clear they want to destroy Israel and they want to destroy us. So for those yesterday who saw that the Senate did not move forward, was not able to get the votes to move forward on a confirmation vote on former Senator Hagel, they must be very upset if they think cozying up to Iran and betraying Israel further than this administration already has is a good idea--get closer to Iran, further betray Israel, yesterday was a bad day, and you should be very angry with most of the Senate Republicans, and especially my friend, Senator Ted Cruz. Because they have to be concerned about our ally, Israel. They have to be concerned about the threats of madmen running the country of Iran.

So look, though, at the speeches that have belatedly come out after all the things were made public. And then this stuff keeps trickling out. Another speech saying, Hey, let's put a consulate in Iran--while they're trying to destroy us.

Apparently, some people just cannot remember past 10 or 12 years. I think it's very important to remember our history. In 1979, I was at Fort Benning, Georgia, in the United States Army, and we were paying attention to what was happening. Some of us haven't forgotten what was happening.

As we have seen new things arise, as we have seen the horrors of what is going on in the Middle East, it is just heartbreaking to see people proposed as leaders who absolutely refuse to learn from history: a man proposed for Secretary of Defense who cannot recall what those of us who were in the military in 1979 recall, and that is that we had a President in Jimmy Carter who thought it was a good idea for the Shah of Iran to be gone--not a nice man, had not treated well the people of Iran, but had been able to hold down the radical Islamic jihadists that want to terrorize everybody who don't believe exactly like they do.

In fact, it was President Carter that, as Ayatollah Khomeini came back from exile and took over control of Iran, it was President Carter that hailed him as a man of peace, not realizing that what President Carter, by his actions and inactions, had allowed to happen was the arising of the radical Islamic jihadists that would bring about, for over 30 years to come, the deaths of thousands and thousands of Americans, some civilians, some from foreign countries, but all innocent; some military; some having to fight the people that President Carter, in his naivete--he had no ill will, he wanted what was best for America, but he was just ignorant of what he was doing. He was a President about whom could have been said, Forgive him, Lord, he knows not what he has done, and he led to the consequences we're suffering still today.

Radical Islam is not our friend. They want to eliminate us from the map. They think that moral depravity is the rule in this Western Civilization and that we need a grand imam. They're anticipating the 12th imam to come and establish the global caliphate.

Now we have a Secretary of Defense proposed who wants to repeat the same errors that led to the deaths of so many Americans. He wants to put a consulate in Tehran. He thinks that would be a grand idea to help our relations. I don't personally understand how it will help the United States' relations to put a consulate back in Tehran, with leaders of Iran saying they want to wipe out infidels like those that would be put at the consulate, like those who were at the consulate in Benghazi, only to have that horrible chapter and nightmare for over a year replayed before new generations.

Yet there are people like Majority Leader Harry Reid, who say it's games being played, schoolboy games being played by people who have a genuine interest in not repeating the errors of our recent history.

Is 34 years ago so far away that we cannot remember, that we want a Secretary of Defense that thinks it's a good idea to try to placate radical jihadists? About the only thing that Senator Hagel hadn't done is repeat the phrase ``man of peace,'' talking about the leader of Iran.

So I am very grateful to all of those, like Ted Cruz, who stood up yesterday and said there's too much information we do not know and what we know causes concern. Now, we have some Senators that say we have to have information about Benghazi and what really happened before we can go forward in voting on this nomination. Some say: What does that have to do with defense, and, therefore, what does it have to do with the Secretary of Defense?

There are some that might be tempted to repeat Secretary Clinton's question of: What difference does it make? As a history major in college who continues to read and study all the history I can--history in the making now--I would like for the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense to be able to recall 34 years and note the mistakes that have been made that got Americans killed.

1979 was an act of war against the United States. Instead of defending ourselves and putting down what had occurred in the attack on our Embassy--which under everybody's definition of international law is an act of war--instead of doing that, we had a weak administration that simply begged the Iranians to let our people go--please. That is seen as weakness when you're dealing with terrorists, when you're dealing with people who promote terrorism, when you're dealing with people who pay for terrorism and encourage terrorism. That is what we have reigning in Iran.

So it's a legitimate concern about who the Secretary of Defense will be, and will it be a throwback to the Carter years of thinking the best way to deal with radical Islamic jihadists is to give them whatever they want. That's been tried; it doesn't work. Heck, this administration is still trying to buy off the radical Islamic jihadists that make up the Taliban. This administration has gone so far as to say, look, you don't even have to agree to quit killing Americans if you'll just agree to sit down with us and negotiate. If you'll just do that, you can keep killing American soldiers. That's okay, if you'll just agree to sit down with us. And while you're killing American soldiers, we'll show our good will. We'll buy you an incredibly nice office in Qatar that will give you an international presence and will give you credibility around the world as you keep trying to kill Americans and continue to actually kill Americans.

About 3 years ago, Dana Rohrabacher asked me to go with him to meet with Northern Alliance leaders, and we met with them. These were leaders who put their lives on the line to fight with and for America. They're Muslims, but they did not like the idea of radical Islamic jihadists being in control of Afghanistan. They were and are the enemy of our enemy. So with less than 500 people, 500 Americans put into Afghanistan--after we figured out that's where the attacks emanated because that's where the training occurred, that's where the terrorist camps were--less than 500 Americans, Special Ops and intelligence, those 4 months that followed should be hailed as one of the greatest days for American Special Ops and intelligence. The intelligence community has made plenty of mistakes--continues to make some--but that was a great time in their history and our history.

Without a single loss of American lives, the Northern Alliance, these tribal groups that this administration now refers to as war criminals because they defeated our enemies for us, they fought and defeated the Taliban. By early 2002, the Taliban had been routed. Some people forget nowadays that during the course of the Iraq war, they would refer back to Afghanistan and say, now, that's how you fight in a foreign country like Afghanistan. You let their patriots who know the country, know the terrain and know the tactics of our enemy, let them fight them.

We gave them arms, we gave them aerial support, and they defeated the Taliban for us.

Then, as our Northern Alliance allies told Dana and me--Steve King was there for the first meeting--they told us, Look, then, after we had defeated the Taliban for you, then you tell us we've got to turn back in the arms that gave us the ability to defeat the Taliban because you told us, Look, we're the United States. Now that the Taliban has been defeated, we've got you covered. There won't be any more problems. We're in charge.

Then we added tens of thousands of people to Afghanistan and became occupiers in Afghanistan. Then, again, those who know history, and I do mean distant and more recent history, you know that occupiers really don't do well in that part of the world. Someone said, Well, Alexander the Great conquered the Afghanistan area. And my reply would be, He died on the way out. I don't consider that a real great victory.

But we had a grand strategy letting the enemy of our enemies, the Northern Alliance, defeat the Taliban for us. And, now, 11 years later, we have been occupying Afghanistan, and we forced a constitution on them that required a centralized government in a place where centralized governments have not done well. We forced that on them, and we included the provision that made Afghanistan all under shari'a law.

The results of that grand victory in early 2002 and our ominous occupation for the 11 years since has been that the last Christian public worship service has happened. There are no more public Christian worship services in the country where we have lost so many valiant American heroes. The last person who admits to being Jewish in Afghanistan has left--that's what we've been advised--all under our watch and what we have done in that country.

The President announced right here just Tuesday night of this week about his plans to draw down American troops and to be all out within the next couple of years. I would humbly submit that if he had a better plan, and it is very simple, we could be out of there within the next 6 months. It would be far more effective. As our Northern Alliance friends, former Vice President Massoud, who knows about losing loved ones having lost his brother, the Lion of Panjshir, great hero of Afghanistan, he knows about losing his father-in-law to the Taliban to a man, a Taliban member who was invited to sit down with Massoud's father-in-law to talk about potential peace. Karzai had appointed Massoud's father-in-law to be his peace emissary to deal with, sit down and negotiate with the Taliban to try to work out an agreement.

So the Taliban emissary for peace came in to sit down with Massoud's father-in-law and blew himself and Massoud's father-in-law to pieces--great gesture of peace. That's the kind of people we're dealing with. That's the same kind of people that are in leadership in Iran that Chuck Hagel wants to go have better relationships with.

I would submit that whoever he was willing to see in Tehran as our emissary there, as our ambassador there, would have a high probability of suffering the same consequences that Massoud's father-in-law did, the same that his brother did. His brother, such a great warrior, political figure, great charisma, in his case, he was asked if he would give an interview to a television crew. He consented, not being aware that the television camera was full of explosives and that the cameraman and the reporter were willing to blow themselves up so they could kill such a great Afghani hero. So they did, and he's gone. How many Americans are we going to have to continue to lose in Afghanistan?

I talked to Billy and Karen Vaughn, the parents of great American patriot Aaron Vaughn, a SEAL Team Six member, one of the SEAL teams that went after Osama bin Laden. They don't want publicity while they are SEAL members actively. They don't seek it, don't want it, and there's always been the agreement that no administration will out who goes in and does the kind of actions that SEAL Team Six did, taking out Osama bin Laden. That's classified information, who went and got him, and then we have the Vice President of the United States stand up in front of a crowd and congratulate the SEAL team for taking him out.

One SEAL team member, his father, he's deceased now, but his father said that his daughter-in-law called and said within an hour of the Vice President's outing SEAL Team Six, they had a marine guard outside her quarters because they knew this administration just put a big red target on his entire family.

Billy and Karen say after that happened, Aaron called and said, Mom and Dad, there's been chatter. You're not safe. Take any reference to me off Facebook, off any e-mail, off anything. You cannot have references that you're connected with me, or you will be a target. These people are ruthless.

So after SEAL Team Six was outed and having visited Afghanistan, I was surprised, as widespread as Taliban reach has become again in Afghanistan, missions were run through the Afghan Government so that the Afghans would have known exactly where SEAL Team Six was and where they were being sent.

When one of the surviving parents of one of our heroic SEAL Team Six members asked at the briefing as to what had happened to their loved ones in the Afghanistan ambush of our troops, of our SEAL Team Six members, one of the parents asked, Look, since you knew this was such a hot spot, since you knew this information had been cleared through the Afghan Government, which has Taliban running through it, since you knew all these things about how desperate the situation was in that space, why didn't you just send in a drone? And the admiral briefing the family members said, Because we're trying to win their hearts and minds.

Now, that sounds like something the new Secretary of Defense might say, since he's all for buddying back up to Iran while they want to destroy our way of life and all Americans: Yeah, we're trying to win their hearts and minds, so let's send more people into Tehran. That's the proposal, or was the proposal, of Secretary of Defense nominee Hagel: Let's send some people, yeah, maybe they'll get blown up. That's what he should have said, because there's a good chance they will.

Some of us warned about the dangers of helping the revolutionaries in Libya. Qadhafi had blood on his hands. But ever since 2003, he had helped suppress radical Islamic jihadist activities. He had become an ally. His own son had been here negotiating with this White House.

Yet the White House has no problem, as they did with our Northern Alliance allies, throwing them under the bus, throwing Mubarak under the bus, throwing Qadhafi under the bus, and even our own Ambassador was a sacrificial lamb.

They should have known. Some of us pointed out, look, this is not a good idea to be helping revolutionaries in Libya when we already know there are al Qaeda involved in this revolution. We don't know how widespread it is, but you can't be helping people that want to destroy us. You're going to give them more arms, you're going to give them more power, they'll have a greater reach to wipe out Israel, or try--and to wipe out us, or to try.

But this President didn't listen. His Cabinet members didn't listen. We were told he didn't care what Congress thought. He was listening more to European members who wanted help protecting their oil they were buying from Libya, and because of the OIC, the 57 states that make up the OIC.

I'm like the President. I get mixed up. He said he had been to all 57 States, our President had, and I get confused. Do we have 57 States and the OIC have 50? Or they have 57, we have 50? It's confusing. I understand the President having that problem, but apparently they have 57 States because they count Palestine.

They don't learn from history. And as a result we helped--we provided weapons--those are the latest reports--and some of those weapons then found their way to Algeria where more Americans were killed even more recently than 9/11 of last year--with people that we helped empower so they could go about killing more people.

I like President Obama as a person. He's a good family man. I was hoping that with all the disclosures that have come out since 9/11 of last year and since we now know from former Secretary Panetta and from other witnesses that after the President learned that our Ambassador was under attack, he may have known that he had already been abducted and that a long battle was being undertaken by radicals against our Americans in Benghazi. We now know the President did nothing else. He said, well, do what you can, in essence, and went home. Or maybe he was home when he talked to them. And did nothing else.

I have no idea if the President required a sleep aid that night; but if he did, anybody else in America that has trouble sleeping, you better get what he had, because it works well--how the President of the United States could sleep that night as the Ambassador that he put in place, that he put in harm's way, was either under attack, had already been kidnapped, being brutalized, unspeakable things being done to his person, his body.

I remember Senator Clinton running a commercial back in 2008 that asked the question, Who do you want to take that phone call at 3 a.m.? This would have been exactly the kind of situation, except there was no phone call at 3 a.m. The phone call had been at 5-or-so in the afternoon. And there was no effort to find out, by the way, what happened to Ambassador Stevens that I put in harm's way, considered the equivalent of a four-star general in the civilian service, to awake to find out the next day that it had been over 7 hours of attacks, that our last American that we know of killed was killed in the last hour of that 7-hour attack.

And I can appreciate the loyalty of Cabinet members, Joint Chiefs, trying to protect the President, coming forward and saying, well, you know, we didn't have planes. They would have had to be refueled; they would have had to be armed.

Well, I would submit if we can't get a jet that will fly 600 miles or 700 miles an hour, 600 miles or so to Libya, if we can't get them there in an hour, an hour and a half, then it's time to clean house at the top of our Defense Department and get people that can get planes to help our embattled American civilians and Ambassador, get them some help.

I mean, I would think that if you're concerned enough to sit and watch footage of the hurricane coverage, people that you didn't put in the harm's way they were in, that you would at least be concerned about the people you did put in harm's way.

And certainly the President and Secretary Clinton and Secretary Panetta, certainly those people did not want them hurt. But it's important to learn from history. It's important to understand what difference it makes as to what happens about fiascoes that get Americans killed. It is important. It does make a difference.

We've read reports that Secretary--Ambassador now--Rice may have been involved with the decision not to send more security to our Embassy that was attacked back in the nineties that got Americans killed. And apparently no one learned from that, because if someone in the nineties after our Embassy had been attacked had had adequate hearings and gotten to the bottom of that, they would have learned, uh-oh, what difference does it make? Well, it makes a difference because now we know when an Embassy requests more security and we refuse to provide it, there's a good chance it's going to get hit and they're going to get killed.

And that would have been very helpful to have had that conventional wisdom and that institutional knowledge on 9/10 of 2011 when in Egypt we were hearing that, gee, if you don't release the Blind Sheikh, you're going to get attacked, your Embassy and Embassies may get attacked. And if we had had people in this administration with institutional knowledge from the nineties, and from '79, they would have said, you know what, on 9/9 of 2011, they're giving us a warning, you're about to be attacked unless you release the Blind Sheikh.

We weren't releasing the Blind Sheikh and I hope and pray we don't. He is a killer and will kill again. He doesn't carry them out. He plots and plans them and gives instructions. And under all criminal law in the U.S. or abroad, you plan it, you instruct on it and if your instructions are followed and people are killed, then you committed murder as well.

So the Blind Sheikh is a murderer.

If we'd learned from those lessons of the past, the difference it would have made is Ambassador Stevens should still be alive today, and he could be coming before Congress and explaining what goes wrong so that we'd know the difference that would make, which is that, in the future, we could save other Ambassadors and other consulate workers.

Now, I've read accounts that, apparently, the former SEAL team members--the two who responded--had been advised, Don't go. So it has to be a little bit hurtful for their families to know that their sons, their husbands, their brothers had been ordered not to go help at Benghazi and that they disobeyed their instructions and went and helped anyway and that, as people came before Congress to testify, the military, having given them the instructions not to go--the civilian service giving them instructions not to go--took credit for their disregarding their instructions and going and trying to save lives anyway. How ironic.

American lives are still at stake in North Africa, in the Middle East, in Afghanistan, around the world, and here at home. If we continue to put people in place in decisionmaking positions who do not understand that you cannot buy off a schoolyard bully and that you cannot buy off radical Islamic jihadists who want to destroy you, we're going to continue to have Americans lose their lives. I've mentioned on this floor before what one American soldier in Afghanistan told me over there.

He said, Look, I don't mind laying down my life for my country, but please don't waste it.

We have such heroes in the service of the United States, and they're asking, Please, we'll follow orders. Just don't waste our willingness to lay down our lives for others.

But that's the American tradition.

We were talking about some people this week even going back to Hawaii's statue just in the hallway directly below where I am right here, directly below. Father Damien was a Catholic priest who'd heard about the lepers being thrown off ships, being put on an island in Hawaii to die, having no quality of life--horrors of existence. So he went to give them a quality of life, to give them a society so they could live out their last diseased years. Eventually, as he knew he would, he acquired leprosy and died.

The words that are at the top of the plaque on Father Damien's statue, which is right below me, apply to our military members, apply to those in our U.S. service, because the words on those top two lines of that plaque say:

Greater love hath no one than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends, John 15:13.

We've got people willing to lay down their lives for their country. We would beg the President to appoint a Secretary of Defense who will not waste American lives in trying to buddy up to radical Islamic jihadists in control in Iran, who will not demonize any further than former Senator Hagel already has the Israelis and the Jewish members of an administration who just want to protect our country, because we find out in prior speeches, in prior comments from the Secretary of Defense nominee Hagel, that he has complained before that one of the big problems is that the State Department is controlled by Jews.

That's fine by me--they're Americans. They care about America, but that's a problem for him. It's not a problem for me as long as any Jewish or any Caucasian or any minority serving his country understands Israel is our friend--they're our ally--and they're the greatest democracy anywhere in that area.

So let's don't disparage our ally. Let's don't think we can throw Israel under the bus as we did Mubarak, as we did Qadhafi, as we did the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, as this administration has done with others. Don't throw Israel under the bus. Let's stop doing that to our friends, and let's recognize the real enemy.

I hope and pray the President will withdraw this nomination and, if he doesn't, that we will continue to have Senators to say, you can't have somebody serve as a Cabinet-level position, like former Senator Hagel, who thinks Israel is the problem and that Jews in the State Department are the problem and that Iran has a group of leaders in it that we need to buddy up to. If the President will do that, he will see a welcoming of bipartisanship. He will see it explode on both sides of the aisle, welcoming the President's doing the right thing by our friend Israel.

If the President refuses to do that, I still hope and pray that the people will stand as firmly as did the Republicans who voted against bringing Chuck Hagel to the floor for a vote for a nomination. I hope they'll stand firm. I'm so proud of the new Senator, Ted Cruz. He's doing great. Lindsey Graham made some great points yesterday, and I hope he'll stand by those. He's a good man. He just needs to stand by what he said yesterday. If we do that, we will help make the world a better place, and we'll show the country true bipartisanship.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.


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