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There are some things I have done that I have regretted since I have been in Congress, too, because, with all indications that we have, is that, first of all, we have to start with Argentina, the place where the Nazis went after they left Germany. They ended upmany of them ended up in Argentina. There is a reason for that, because they felt they could get safe haven there. They felt that some people would turn their head and pretend not to notice that somebody with their hands dripping with blood was walking right next to them on the street. And when people ignore these butchers and ignore people who have committed these type of crimes, people who commit such crimes tend to go to those places.
In this particular situation, we have got a history that suggests that anti-Semitism has played a role in some of the events that are happening; and then, by coincidence, we happen to have the bombing in which, was it 84 or 88—how many people lost their lives?
Ms. Ros-LEHTINEN. Eighty-six. Mr. ROHRABACHER. Eighty-six human beings lost their lives. And why? Because they were Jewish. Obviously, it was aimed at killing Jews.
How did that happen? All right, there was a large amount of explosives transported into Argentina. Somebody managed to organize this effort so that explosives were not only transported but were put in place. A plan had to be devised. I just can't understand anyone who would not just take it for granted that the authorities must have known about this.
It is to me, Madam Chairman, very similar to Agca, who shot the Pope. He was in Bulgaria before he shot the Pope, meeting people, conspiring to shoot the Pope.
Does that mean that we automatically assume that the Bulgarian Government was involved in it? At the very least, the Bulgarian Government knew about it and didn't do anything about it—at the very least. And probably it indicates the Bulgarian Government was supportive.
Well, I think the evidence that we have dealing with this horrendous act of terrorism indicates that, yes, the magnitude of the action itself would indicate that the authorities knew something was going on. Did they actually light the fuse? Did they participate in placing the explosives? That is possible. Actually, that is more possible than it is that they didn't know anything about it at all.
I think it is a very reasonable assumption, and it is reasonable for us to move forward with suggesting that the people of Argentina need to take not only a self-inspection but to inspect their government as well the motives of the people in their government. Obviously, this type of terrorism is officially unacceptable, but it sounds like to me, again, when we are talking about people that have one policy that is a stated public policy but other actions that undermine that stated policy, this may well be one of those examples. I think that it deserves all of us calling the Argentinians on the carpet and making them be held accountable.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. As I say, the government officials may not have placed the explosives, they may not have lit the fuse, but their actions or inactions led to this horrible atrocity.
One other comparison, and people may not like this, but the fact is that there are horrendous human rights abuses going on in China. Businessmen who are part of the inner circle of the Communist leadership may not personally be involved with the brutalities in Tibet or the type of murders that are going on with human rights activists, but they know that they are going on, and they are involved with the leadership of the government in many ways. And in Argentina, someone in the government obviously knew that this type of operation was going on and turned a blind eye, which resulted in this tremendous atrocity.
So I am sorry that I have to oppose this amendment.
Mr. BEREUTER. My timing has been all wrong today. I walked in during the middle of the gentleman's comments.
Ms. Ros-LEHTINEN. Every time we see you is the right time. Mr. BEREUTER. One thing I did hear from the gentleman from Ohio is his concern about the fact that we have a different government there. I notice in clause 2 that we are welcoming Argentine President Fernando de la Rua's political will, so we are recognizing that there is the intent to do something positive. We are hoping that is the case. I am just wondering if it would make the gentleman any more comfortable with the fourth clause and be acceptable to the rest of the Members if after the word "bombing," if you would simply insert the phrase "which occurred during the previous government.” I wonder if that would make the gentleman happier.
Ms. Ros-LEHTINEN. Mr. Gillmor is recognized, if you would like to respond to Mr. Bereuter.
Mr. GILLMOR. I had offered compromise language earlier.
Mr. GILLMOR. I offered it to sponsors and other Members, and that was rejected. That amendment would have simply provided that there were former Members, not current Members, at the time the attack took place, and also deleted the language “allegation that they had participated in the desecration of Jewish cemeteries," these individuals, or elements of the security forces had; and I did that based on the representations of the State Department that there was no evidence of that.
But this implies as you read it that current, serving at that time, members of the security forces were actively involved in those attacks, and I don't think that there is any evidence of that, and so I offered the amendment to say former and delete the last clause, but that was rejected.
Ms. Ros-LEHTINEN. Thank you.
I think it is accurate to say that this occurred during the previous government. I don't think that it is accurate to say that the security people who could have been involved in this atrocity are former members. We have no idea whether they are not serving as of this afternoon, because for 6 years the Argentinian authorities have failed to close this case.
I, for one, would welcome Mr. Bereuter's suggestion that the government was a former government, but the individuals may well be currently serving in the Argentine police and security forces.
Ms. Ros-LEHTINEN. That would be U.S. evidence indicates that this bombing which occurred during the previous administration; is that correct, Mr. Bereuter?
Mr. BEREUTER. It would be, but I have not written it out and sent it to the clerk.
Ms. Ros-LEHTINEN. We have Mr. Gillmor's amendment.
Ms. Ros-LEHTINEN. If there is no further debate on Mr. Gillmor's amendment, we would like to bring it to a vote. The question is on Mr. Gillmor's amendment. As many in favor, say aye.
As many as are opposed, say no.
Mr. Bereuter, would you like to offer your amendment at this
Ms. BLOOMER. Amendment offered by Mr. Gillmor. Insert the following after the third whereas clause: Whereas the current government has made a commitment to combating international terrorism as illustrated by
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Without objection, the amendment is considered as read.
[The amendment appears in the appendix.) Ms. Ros-LEHTINEN. Mr. Gillmor is recognized.
Mr. GILLMOR. I think, at least in my view, it is the good guys that are now running the government down there, not the bad guys. And I think one interpretation, we might say that we have slapped the good guys on the cheek instead of the bad guys. Maybe this amendment will give them a kiss on the other cheek, commending the government.
Before I explain the amendment, I want to say to my good friend from California who is still here that this bombing
Mr. LANTOS. Which of your two good friends from California?
Mr. GILLMOR [continuing). Your indicating that this could not have happened without the active involvement of the security forces is like saying that the U.S. Government and its officials must have been involved in the Oklahoma City bombing which was carried out without any active government participation, but was just as effective. So terrorists, wherever they are from, can be terrorists without government involvement.
The Argentine Government has begun to make a commitment. In this case they have involved 15 former police officers and three civilians. That trial is ready to begin this fall. They have acted as a host and a participant in several regional conferences on terrorism. They have contributed to the creation of the new OAS Inter-American Counterterrorism Committee. They have issued an international arrest warrant against the Islamic Jihad leader who is believed to be responsible for that act of terrorism. So I would propose that we add this language in further recognition of the contribution that they are making now to the antiterrorism effort.
Mr. LANTOS. Madam Chair.
Mr. LANTOS. Madam Chair, as a freestanding issue, commending the new government in participating in antiterrorism efforts is certainly not objectionable, but that is not the topic of this resolution. This resolution condemns the 1994 attack on the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires in which 86 innocent people were killed.
I mean, it seems to me that when we deal with Nazi atrocities, we are not then praising the Schroeder government for accelerating the European Union. This is a different topic, and I will oppose this amendment as being totally nongermane to the topic.
The topic of the resolution that we are dealing with that you and I and others have cosponsored deals with the condemnation of the terrorist attack on the Jewish Community Center 6 years ago, the perpetrators of which still have not been apprehended and brought to justice. That is the issue.
I am prepared to offer any number of gracious resolutions about Argentinian actions, public or private, but that is not the topic of this resolution, and I will be compelled to oppose the gentleman's amendment.
Ms. Ros-LEHTINEN. Thank you, Mr. Lantos.
I recognize myself for 5 minutes also in opposition to the amendment, not that there is anything in the amendment that is offensive, but it does not get to the heart of what this resolution is all about, as Mr. Lantos so eloquently described, and I will read two other whereas clauses where I believe we are sufficiently in praise.
It says, “Whereas the United States welcomes Argentine President Fernando de la Rua's political will to pursue the investigation of the bombing of the AMIĀ Jewish Community Center to its ultimate conclusion,” and later on, "Whereas the Government of Argentina supports the 1996 Declaration of Lima to Prevent Combat and Eliminate Terrorism, which refers to terrorism as a serious form of organized and systematic violence that is intended to generate chaos and fear among the population, results in death and destruction, and is a reprehensible criminal activity, as well as the 1998 Commitment of Mar del Plata which calls terrorist acts serious common crimes that erode peaceful and civilized coexistence, affect the rule of law and exercise of democracy, and endanger the stability of democratically elected constitutional governments and the socioeconomic development of our countries.” We say later in the resolution "That the House of Representatives desires a lasting, warm relationship between the United States and Argentina built on a mutual abhorrence of terrorism and commitments to peace, stability, and democracy in the Western Hemisphere."
Those are three parts of the resolution where we praise the new administration. We commend them for being signers of two declarations of international commitment to eliminate terrorist acts, and we confirm and reaffirm our established bonds of cooperation.
I think we are going to love this to death by further commending Argentina. I think three times in a bill is more than enough, especially because the purpose of the bill is to draw attention to the fact that over 6 years have gone by, and we are no closer to the resolution of this crime. And once again I will say that resulted in the deaths of 86 innocent human beings and the injury of over 300, and their crime was to be Jewish.
Is there any further debate on the amendment? If not, the question is on the amendment.
Mr. Rohrabacher is recognized to speak on the amendment for 5 minutes.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. I oppose the amendment for the reasons stated, but I would like to give my colleague Mr. Gillmor a chance to reply because he had used his 5 minutes.
Ms. Ros-LEHTINEN. Mr. Gillmor is recognized.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. I would yield to the gentleman. I believe my colleague is a very well-intended person, he is a very smart person. I respect him greatly, and I disagree with him. If he has anything
Ms. Ros-LEHTINEN. Mr. Rohrabacher yields to Mr. Gillmor.
Mr. GILLMOR. Let me read the language again, and then people can tell me why they disagree with it.
The current government-we are not talking about the past government—the current government has made a commitment to combating international terrorism. Now, there is no question about that, that is true, and why we find that difficult to say is beyond me—as illustrated by their
contribution to the creation of the new Organization of American States Inter-American Counterterrorism Committee.
Now, if our goal is to encourage other countries in this case, specifically Argentina, to help combat terrorism, I find it hard to see after reading the language how that is offensive to anyone. Certainly it is not any more offensive than the language that we have put in there about desiring a lasting, warm relationship between the United States and Argentina, and I would simply submit that maybe this language would help us achieve that.
Ms. Ros-LEHTINEN. Mr. Lantos is recognized.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. I have the time, and I would be happy to yield to Mr. Lantos.
Mr. LANTOS. I thank my good friend from California for yielding.
As Mr. Gillmor will remember, my opening sentence in reacting to his amendment was to indicate that I don't find his statement objectionable at all standing on its own. But there is a balance in this resolution. The resolution deals with a heinous crime against the Jewish people perpetrated in Argentina. That is what we are dealing with. We are not dealing with a series of accolades given to the Government of Argentina. The gentlelady who crafted this resolution did a brilliant job. She has made three highly laudatory statements concerning the current Government of Argentina. That is enough.
I think it is important to realize what the purpose of this resolution is. It is not to congratulate Argentina. It is to call attention