Congressman Robert Andrews' House Speech on Iran


March 3, 2004

House of Representatives

Representative Robert E. Andrews


Floor Statements by Representative Robert E. Andrews - House of Representatives - March 3, 2004


IRAN -- (House of Representatives - March 3, 2004)


The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Carter). Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 7, 2003, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Andrews) is recognized for 60 minutes.


Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Speaker, I must begin by thanking the staff of the House of Representatives for enduring these long nights so we have a chance to speak our minds about the important subjects of the day. We certainly appreciate the Speaker and the staff who stay here into the wee hours.


I also extend my appreciation to the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. Tancredo) for the intense causes in which he believes and for his patriotism. I must say, one of the reasons I love my country so much is we have the academic freedom that decisions about what we teach and how we teach it are made by educators and teachers and not by those of us in this Chamber, and I hope that is always the case.


Mr. Speaker, I want to talk about a challenge to the values that I just made reference to, probably the most important challenge to these values that we have faced in many generations in this country.


In the 1970s a young man named Ghollam Nikbin came to the United States from Iran. He came here to study at an American university. While he was here, the fundamentalist revolution in Iran took place and in 1979 his country changed dramatically and he chose not to return to Iran. At the time he came to the United States he was a person who practiced the Islamic faith. While he was in the United States, he met an American citizen who was a member of the Mormon faith and he married this American citizen and he converted. Mr. Nikbin converted to the Mormon faith himself. That marriage subsequently ended in divorce and in 1991, Mr. Nikbin returned to his native Iran to live his life. While there, he met another woman and they decided to get married and he had a wedding. During his wedding, members of the police force in Iran raided the wedding because the men and women at the wedding were engaged in dancing. Men were dancing with women. For this hideous offense, Mr. Nikbin was publicly lashed 40 times with a whip to punish him for his transgression against the prevailing culture.


Things grew worse for Mr. Nikbin in Iran. He was a suspicious person because he had converted to the Mormon faith and then attempted to convert back to his native Islamic faith. So in 1995 he tried to leave the country. As he was at the airport, he was intercepted by Iranian authorities who refused to let him leave the country. He was beaten with an electric cable and he was hung upside down by his ankles for extended periods of time. Today he is 56 years old. He has returned to the United States. His family says he was able to return to the United States because they were able to bribe the appropriate officials in Iran to get him released from the country. His crime was that he converted to a faith other than radical Islam.


A woman named Zahara Kazemi, a woman of both Iranian and Canadian descent, a 54-year-old woman, last June 23 took an assignment. She was a photo journalist. She took an assignment to go to Iran to do her work as a photo journalist. On the 23rd of June of last year, she was taking photographs of a student demonstration outside of the Evin prison in Iran. She was apprehended by authorities for the hideous crime of taking a photograph of a demonstration. After 77 hours of interrogation in an Iranian prison, she took sick. On the 11th of July of last year, 18 days after she arrived in Iran, she died in an Iranian hospital while in the custody of the Iranian authorities. At first, their report is that she had suffered a stroke and died of natural causes. Many in our sister nation of Canada expressed outrage as to the conditions around Ms. Kazemi's death and the Canadian government was persistent and, finally, 5 days after she died, authorities of the Iranian government indicated that it was not a stroke at all, that she had died from beatings that led to a cerebral hemorrhage, a 54-year-old woman beaten to death in an Iranian prison because she dared to take photographs of a peaceful demonstration.


What kind of monstrous spirit would give rise to these atrocities? It is a spirit we have seen before. It is the spirit, the horrible spirit, the horrible poisonous spirit that led 6 million Jews to the gas chambers during the Holocaust. It is the horrifying spirit that sees people strap C4 to their waists and walk into hotels and onto buses and near schools in the Middle East every day. It is the awful animus that led to the bombings in Riyadh, in Ankara within the last year. The victims are of all faiths, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, agnostic. They are of all races and all nationalities. What these horrific acts have in common is they are rooted in the poisonous well of an intolerant hatred of anyone who is not like those who practice that intolerant hatred.


This poisonous attitude is contrary to everything that we are as Americans. It is against inclusion of people of other races and cultures. It is an attitude that despises the equal treatment of men and women under the law. It is an attitude that looks at other faiths not as an opportunity to learn how other people might live but as a threat to one's own twisted faith. By no means is this poisonous attitude representative of the Islamic faith. I believe the Islamic faith is a faith of peace, of humanity, of inclusion. By no means is this twisted attitude wholly representative of the Arab culture or the Arab ethnicity. I believe that the vast majority of men and women of Arab descent love peace, respect others and wish that their children would grow up in a world where others share those values. But make no mistake about it, the poisonous well from which these acts spring is an attitude that identifies everything Western, everything modern, everything progressive, everything that America loves and everything that Americans are. It is an attitude that identifies all those things as a threat to be detested, defeated and destroyed. It is an attitude that we saw in the rubble of the World Trade Center on September 11 of 2001. It is an attitude that literally blew a hole in the Pentagon.


It is an attitude that led dozens of brave Americans to their death in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.


Many of us believe that September 11, 2001, was not an isolated criminal act. It was an act of war that shocked Americans into a realization that we are in the midst of a great global struggle between those who love and tolerate diversity and those who deplore it and try to destroy it. So the reason we should care about the stories I told you about Ghollam Nikbin, Zahara Kazemi, the stories that I could have told about hundreds of Iranian students who are in Iranian prisons tonight, the reason we should care is that the hateful attitude from which the attacks on them sprung is an attitude that targets us next, an attitude that seeks to destroy us and our way of life.


By no means is it fair or accurate to say that such an attitude is common or characteristic of the Iranian people, by no means is it fair or accurate to say that it is characteristic of the history of their nation, and by no means is it accurate to say that this hatred will mar and define the future of the people of Iran. I aspire to a future where the people of the United States and the people of Iran are partners in peace and freedom, where we celebrate each other's differences and respect each other's values. But that is not the case today.


Mr. Speaker, I would hope that we in this House and we in this country could focus on the very grave and real threat posed to the peace that we enjoy tonight by the presence of the terrorist incubator in Iran. When we consider what our policy should be toward Iran, we should not think about September 11 of 2001 because there frankly is no evidence that I have seen that would suggest that the Iranian government was in any way a sponsor of the atrocious attacks on our country on September 11. In fact, the evidence is rather replete with examples that Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda organization have been at odds with the radical fundamentalist Iranian leadership.


But the question is not who allied to attack us on September 11. The issue is who wishes to attack us in the future, where the threats exist for our future. To understand why we want to prevent the next 9/11, why we want to limit the next attack on this country so it does not succeed and so we can defeat such an attack, we need to understand where the first 9/11 came from. In order for terrorists to succeed, they need personnel, they need leadership, they need financial and logistical support, and their leaders need sanctuary. Their leaders need a place where they can plan, plot and eventually execute attacks against the people of the United States of America. September 11 happened because Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda organization had all four of those elements to attack us. They had the personnel, the 19 twisted individuals who hated us more than they loved life to the point that they were able to turn civilian airliners into weapons of mass destruction. They had the leadership, the odious cadre of dark men who surround Osama bin Laden, who conceived of such a horrific plot. They had the finances and the logistics, passing through international financial organizations, in many cases laundered through Saudi Arabia, laundered through other institutions, many of which to this day refuse to disclose their banking records to us. The terrorists were able to gather the logistics they needed to place the hijackers in America, buy their plane tickets, acquire their training, keep their cover and let them prepare to do their horrible deeds.


And, finally, and I think crucially, the September 11 attackers flourished in the terrorist sanctuary of Afghanistan. At the time Afghanistan was run by the Taliban regime, a group that not only tolerated the presence of al Qaeda but actively facilitated the presence of al Qaeda. I think the argument is rather clear. Without a sanctuary in Afghanistan, there would have been no place for Osama bin Laden to plot this attack. Without a place to plot this attack and gather his resources, there would not have been an opportunity to carry out the attack. Without the opportunity to carry out the attack, there certainly would not have been the carnage and pain this country felt and still feels emanating from September 11.


What is the lesson of September 11? There are two lessons. The first is if you give terrorists sanctuary, they will exploit that sanctuary and, like a snake that is coiled in the corner, they will wait till precisely the right moment to strike. And the second lesson of September 11 is if you wait for the snake to strike, it always will. If our strategy in the face of this global struggle is to wait and see if terrorists who enjoy sanctuary will attack us, I do not think, Mr. Speaker, that is a question. I think history is conclusive on this point. If you wait for terrorists to attack you, they will. This is the context in which we must understand what is happening in Iran today and


why it is important to the United States of America to rethink the way we approach this problem.


Iran is a place where terrorist organizations who disrupt the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations find refuge, find weaponry, find cash. It is a place where admittedly significant al Qaeda elements are present tonight. There is an argument as to exactly what they are doing. The Iranian authorities would tell us that they are in the custody of the Iranian government. Some would suggest that the Iranian government are using these al Qaeda leaders as pawns to try to facilitate the release of terrorists held by the Israelis and other law-abiding nations of the world. But irrespective of the purpose for which the Iranian government holds al Qaeda terrorists tonight, the fact is they are present in Iran tonight.


They found Iran to be a place that was a willing sanctuary for their activities. There can be no good inured to America's benefit from that sanctuary continuing.


What do terrorists need? They need leadership. They need people who are willing to conceive of these terrible plans that spring from this awful wellspring of intolerance and hatred. They need personnel. They need to recruit young men and young women and, in some cases, children who are willing to put their own lives at stake to manifest that hatred by killing thousands of others. They need money and logistics to carry out their attack. They need weaponry, and they need sanctuary. I think it is indisputable that Iran is such a sanctuary. It is indisputable that if tonight the CIA, the National Security Agency, other U.S. intelligence operatives had information that there were terrorists at loose in Iran and they asked for the cooperation of the Iranian government, I think it is indisputable that at best, at best, we would get noninterference; at worst we would get active resistance.


Mr. Speaker, if those same terrorists were loose in Jordan, the Jordanian government would help us. If those terrorists were loose in Kuwait, the Kuwaiti government would help us. If they were loose in Israel, the Israeli government would not need our help. They would just find them and take care of the problem. If they were loose in the countries of our European allies, I am quite confident that we would have the assistance of those allies, in South America, in the Philippines. Iran is a place where terrorists will find the medium in which their peculiar form of bacteria need to grow.


What logistics might Iran supply to a terrorist who wants to attack the United States of America? Today for every 100 containers that enter the ports of the United States in these huge containers we see out by the ports, for every 100 of those containers that enter the United States, two of them were inspected, 98 were not. It is commonly known that one of the ways that we are at risk is that as the huge influx of trade comes and goes from our country in container ships, that the planting of a small nuclear weapon on a container ship could cause catastrophic results in this country that would dwarf the pain of September 11.


Where might terrorists find such a nuclear bomb? Sadly, there are a number of places. One of those places is from hungry former Soviet scientists who were living relatively well under the old regime in the USSR and then found themselves driving cabs and waiting on tables and very hungry and very anxious in the years that follow. It is one of the great bipartisan failures of this country for which we all should take responsibility, myself included, that we have not been sufficiently vigilant since the waning days of the Soviet Empire in identifying, corralling, and destroying weapons of mass destruction that were held by the Soviet Union. There are too many of them in too many places. They are too cheap and too portable. We owe thanks to the great work of former Senator Nunn and present Senator Lugar for giving us the legal authority to solve this problem. We are sadly negligent in not using that legal authority to its greatest extent.


Where else might a terrorist find a small nuclear bomb that could be transported in a container ship to the United States? Mr. Speaker, if we would have asked the Iranian government that question 2 years ago, they would have said not here; we are not in the business of trying to make nuclear bombs, not us. For years, for 23 years, since the installation of the present regime in Tehran, the official party line was that the Iranian government was not interested in the manufacture of a nuclear weapon.


In December of 2002, that all changed. Iranian dissidents who were fortunate to escape the country began talking to intelligence leaders around the world, and they talked with specificity. They talked about centrifuges, fissile materials. They talked about the enrichment of uranium. They talked about a program of plutonium separation that could lead to the manufacture of a nuclear bomb. And enough of them talked to enough people, and enough enlightened people paid attention, that in December of 2002, while our country was fixated upon the very grave question of what to do about Saddam Hussein in Iraq, while we were grappling with many other problems in our own country, in December of 2002, the government of Iran acknowledged that reports that it was building facilities capable of producing the fissile materials that would lead to a nuclear weapon were true. The Iranian government admitted this. After 23 years of deception, the Iranian government admitted that facilities at Iraq and Natanz in Iran were, in fact, facilities which were capable of producing the fissile materials necessary to make a nuclear bomb.


On February 21 of last year, 2003, the leader of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mr. ElBaradei, visited Iran after extreme international pressure following the Iranian disclosure. On June 6 of 2003, Mr. ElBaradei issued a report saying that the facilities that I mentioned, in particular the Natanz facility, was an advanced uranium enrichment facility capable of performing the steps necessary and essential to the creation of a nuclear bomb. On September 12 of 2003, the International Atomic Energy Agency issued an ultimatum to the Iranians which said by October 31 of last year, Iranians were to prove to the world that they were not working on building nuclear bombs. The clock ticked. The world was not very specific as to what we would do if the Iranians failed to provide that proof, reminiscent of how the world was similarly negligent in dealing with Saddam Hussein for 12 long years.


Finally, on October 21 of 2003, the Iranians invited representatives of the French, German, and British governments to Tehran. They began to negotiate and they worked out a joint communique with the governments of France and Germany and the United Kingdom, which said that the Iranians would permit full inspections, they would suspend their uranium enrichment program, that they would sign international agreements that civilized nations follow with respect to the production of nuclear weapons, and that essentially they would stop trying to build a nuclear weapon. The world reacted with cautious optimism.


The Iranians handed over files and files of documents that described what they had been doing over the course of more than 2 decades in the past. Those documents showed that the Iranians had engaged in a secretive uranium enrichment program over at least a 19-year period for which there could be no plausible explanation other than it was leading to the production of a nuclear bomb. The world was divided as to what to do about this, and the consensus on the International Atomic Energy Agency was that we should criticize the Iranians for what they had done and lied about in the past and then warn them not to do it again. Warnings like the ones we gave to the Taliban repeatedly throughout the 1990s not to cooperate with Osama bin Laden, warnings like we gave to Saddam Hussein repeatedly throughout the 1990s that he was to disengage his weapons programs and to leave his neighbors alone. Warnings.


The warnings have not had the intended effect. Two weeks ago, the latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency released on February 24 of 2004 found some curious evidence, and that is that the Iranians had agreed to stop their program of uranium enrichment, which is one path to build a nuclear bomb; but another path to build a nuclear bomb is called plutonium separation. Obviously, the


Iranians who signed this agreement got very good legal advice because they learned how to define their way out of the problem because the Iranians did not breach apparently in the last few months their responsibility not to carry out uranium enrichment programs, but they did evidently step up a program that is involved in the separation of plutonium, yet another path to reach the same horrible result. Mr. ElBaradei said Iran is moving in the right direction with respect to this weapons program, that there is reason for optimism, that there are moderate influences beginning to influence the Iranian government. Well, can we afford to take the chance that he is wrong?


International experts suspected for 2 decades that Iran was pursuing the development of a nuclear bomb, but they never knew for sure; and I know that the annals of intelligence estimates are filled with conclusions that the best judgment was that Iran was not marching toward the creation of a nuclear bomb. Those assessments were wrong. If this new set of assessments is wrong, we will find out to our peril what the consequences of that error are.


Is the present leadership of Iran capable of placing a small nuclear bomb on a cargo ship in a container and floating it into the harbor of a major American city? Some would say, no, they are not capable. It would not be in their interest to do so. There would be massive retaliation against them by the United States. Others would say they are imminently capable of such atrocities. The family of Zahara Kazemi I would assume would agree with that proposition. Mr. Ghollam Nikbin I assume would agree with that proposition. Those who sit tonight in Iranian prisons and those who have been executed in Iranian prisons in recent days and weeks, if they were alive, would agree with that proposition.


Should we wait and see? Should it be our policy to take an educated guess and find out? Many intelligence analysts took an educated guess about the Taliban in Afghanistan 10 years ago, 5 years ago, 3 years ago, and here is what their assessment was: the Taliban are terrible people. Osama bin Laden is an awful force in the world. He was behind the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993. He was behind the attack of the USS Cole in the year 2000. He was involved in the Khobar Towers bombing. Something needs to be done. But the assessment about the Taliban's role in this was that it was ludicrous to think that the Taliban government was a threat to the United States.


It is certainly not an imminent threat to the United States. A government that could barely manage its own affairs, a government that was not a threat to its own neighbors militarily, was certainly not a threat to the United States of America.


There would have been those who would stand on this floor 3 years ago and argue passionately that for us to aggressively pursue a policy of regime change in Afghanistan would be a gross overreaction. Why should we worry about a regime as weak as that one? On September 11, 2001, we got our answer. Regimes that harbor terrorists, regimes that have the capability of arming terrorists with nuclear, biological or chemical weapons, regimes that finance and facilitate terrorism, are a threat to the people of the United States of America. These regimes should not be negotiated with, they should not be heeded, they should not be abided. They should be replaced.


Which American tonight would not agree that we would have prospered from regime change in Afghanistan 3 years ago? There is lots of dispute tonight as to whether we are prospering from regime change in Baghdad tonight. I certainly think we are. I think it is one of the reasons that Mu'ammar Qadhafi voluntarily surrendered his nuclear weapons, so he will not wind up living in a spider hole at the end of this year.


I think it is one of the reasons that President Assad in Syria for the first time in his tenure as president is furtively working behind the scenes to open negotiations with the Israelis, so that maybe some day he will expel Hamas and Hizbollah from his countries. I think it is one of the reasons why the Saudi Arabians, after years of culpability in terrorism, years of a ``deal with the devil'' in which they looked the other way when terrorists operated within their country, are now more actively cooperating in the crackdown on those terrorists. And I think it is one of the reasons why the Iranians in December of 2002, on the verge of the United States action against Iraq, decided to come clean about 23 years of lying about the development of a nuclear weapon.


Regime change in Iran should be the policy of the United States of America; not negotiation, not cooperation, regime change. Regime change does not mean military action. Military action is the final step. Military action is the last, and, if necessary, essential step, if necessary, to regime change.


Far more effective to the pursuit of this goal are the diplomatic, economic and moral assets of the United States of America. I am not calling for the use of military force against Iran; I am calling for the concerted, coordinated use of this country's diplomatic, economic force to achieve a regime change in Tehran. I believe it is not only in the interests of human rights, of persecuted citizens of that country, it is in the interests of the national security of the United States of America.


What does regime change mean in Iran? Who is the regime? The answer to this question is not self-evident. Iran is a schizophrenic state. On the surface, it is conducting what appears to be a parliamentary government with what appear to be reasonably free elections with what appears to be something resembling democracy.


These appearances are lethally deceptive. The President of Iran got 77 percent of the vote in the popular election, but I think realistically he has zero percent of the power in that country. Instead, a council of elders, 12 men, 12, have effective control over the military, over the economic institutions of that country, over the meaningful ebb and flow of life in Iran. Even though those 12 have such control, they are wary, they are reluctant to even let the appearance of that control stray too far.


In the last month or so in Iran there were elections scheduled for the national legislative body of that country, and most outside analysts saw those elections as a struggle between the so-called more moderate liberalizing forces of the country and the more conservative cultural forces of that country. 3,600 candidates of the moderate persuasion were removed from the ballot by the council of elders. Twelve people, none of whom were elected, each of whom was appointed through the religious oligarchy of Iran, 12 people used their power to remove 3,600 people from the ballot. 1,000 or so were restored after huge public protests.


But I believe that the only conclusion one can draw from this is that the feeble images of democracy in Iran are only a deceptive image, and not a meaningful reality for that country.


These are foreboding and difficult thoughts, but there is great reason to be optimistic that the regime change that would benefit America is very much on the minds of young men and women, and older men and women, who live under the oppressive yoke of the medieval government of Iran.


So many Iranian Americans are engaged in conversations with their brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers back home. Iranian Americans make a magnificent contribution to this country every day, in our hospitals, in our universities, in our corporations, in our governments, in our military, and these loyal and patriotic Americans, who have had a taste of freedom, a taste of what it means to be respected for your religious differences and not reviled, they have spread the word of this intoxicating freedom to their loved ones back in Iran.


Even though Iran is a place where you can be whipped for dancing at a wedding, even though it is a place where you can be beaten to death in prison for taking a photograph of a peaceful demonstration, it is a place where the rulers still cannot stop the flow of technology. The Internet, the fax machine, the cellular phone, these are the most powerful weapons against tyranny in the history of mankind. And even in a place like Iran, the leaders cannot make themselves impervious to the rush of truth that comes into their country in greater torrents with each passing day.


I think that people in Iran are looking for a signal from the United States of America. They are not looking for weakness or ambiguity or vacillation.


We are students of our own history, and we know that at the time the colonies rebelled against the British, there were many naysayers in America. There were many who said that this was a foolish experiment; that it was reckless for people to pledge their lives and their fortunes and their sacred honor to try to do something better. It was suicidal, it was crazy.


Some were active opponents of the revolution. Others, and these others may have been more dangerous, sat on the fence. They were not sure what signal they should send. They were not sure whether they were ready to fight for their freedom or not.


The United States has sent a powerful signal I think to the world by saying that we are willing to take on, with our allies, the difficult work of introducing that sacred gift of freedom to the people of Iraq. We should not be ambiguous in offering that same gift to the people of Iran.


We should not, we should not, be engaged in any overt military acts, unless intelligence would warrant action to the contrary, specific intelligence. I repeat, I am not calling for a policy of military engagement against the Iranian government. But I am absolutely calling for an expression as clear as a bell that the freedom that we enjoy here, the freedom that we aspire to see the people of Iraq enjoy, is the freedom that we wish to see the people of Iran enjoy, and we will not be fooled or deceived by the false front of a faux democratic government. We will not relent in our opposition to that government's effort to build a nuclear bomb. We will not back down in the face of any international criticism as to the purity and import of this evil.


It would be horribly wrong and horribly prejudicial to leave anyone with the impression that any significant portion of the 1 billion Muslims in this world are dedicated to the eradication of us and our way of life. They are not. It would be horribly wrong and horribly false to leave anyone with the impression that people of the Arab culture and descent or the Persian culture and descent are dedicated to the destruction of our way of life. They are most emphatically not.


I believe that the vast majority of people of the Islamic faith, of the Arab and Persian ethnicities, wish to live in freedom and to celebrate diversity and to join the future, rather than wallowing in the past.


But it is irrefutable that there is a force present in the world, a small but malignant force present in the world, that wishes to do us grave harm, that wishes to destroy our way of life and destroy the chance to spread our way of life to those in all corners of the world who would wish to enjoy it, and that force calls itself radical Islam.


It is a perversion of the Islamic faith. It is a hijacking of that faith of peace. But it is what those who practice this poisonous attitude call themselves. And where they find sanctuary and where they find money and where they find weaponry and where they find personnel and where they find leadership, these are the places that will incubate the next September 11.


There are really two views about terrorism in America, and they are not liberal and conservative, or Republican and Democrat, or military and diplomatic. The two views are these:


Some people view terrorism as a series of essentially unrelated crimes; horrible crimes, but crimes that spring from independent criminals. With the exception of the link between the USS Cole bombing and the first World Trade Center and the second one, all of which can be attributed to al Qaeda, proponents of this view would argue that we need to react to each one of these isolated incidents by prosecuting those who committed the offense, shoring up our defenses so it cannot happen again.


The other view of terrorism, which I hold and I believe that history teaches us is the correct view, is that these are not a series of isolated incidents; that we are engaged in a struggle between those who would destroy our way of life and those who would stand by us and protect our way of life.


The most horrific example of that struggle was the one that he experienced in September of 2001. Shame on us if we do not learn from that example. If we draw the lesson that September 11 was about one terrorist organization operating out of one country that on one occasion was able to succeed in a massive terrorist attack against this country, we are misreading history to our great peril.


If instead we understand what happened then differently, if instead we say that the lesson that we learn is that when you give terrorists leadership and personnel and money and weaponry and sanctuary, they will attack. It is not in our interest to make lists of countries that we want to attack. It diminishes our strength. It lessens our standing in the world, and we should not do it. But it is most emphatically in our interest to categorize and understand where the next sanctuary might be.


Everyone in this Chamber wishes that he or she had the foresight to know that Afghanistan was such a sanctuary 3 years ago. We could have avoided a calamity of unspeakable proportions in this country. The issue tonight, Mr. Speaker, is where is the next sanctuary.


I believe that the heroic actions accomplished by American troops and allied troops in Iraq has gone a long way toward removing Iraq as such a sanctuary. I am certain that the heroic efforts of our troops in Afghanistan have essentially removed Afghanistan as such a potential sanctuary.


Tonight our attention should very much be focused on Iran as such a sanctuary. It is a state that is capable of imprisoning and beating innocent people for dancing and taking photographs. It is a state that for 23 years lied about its development of nuclear bombs. It is a state that is either trying to put a good-faith effort forward to stop its weapons program or trying to put the best face on an effort that really is not taking place as the weapons program continues.


The lesson of September 11 is do not take chances on estimates. Act and make sure others cannot act against you.


I believe that this country should engage in three steps immediately. First, we should unambiguously announce that the policy of the United States of America is to encourage regime change in Iran, by which I mean the Council of Elders that runs the country; and by which I mean the replacement of that Council of Elders with a truly representative group of people chosen by the Iranian people.


The second thing we should do is fully enforce the Iran Sanctions Act passed by this Congress a few years ago. We should inventory every trade, aid, economic and regulatory tool at our disposal and use those tools. We should broadcast freedom into Iran more aggressively. We should break down the information barriers and tell young Iranians that we will be on their side if they rise up and fight for freedom. We should encourage the patriotic, law abiding citizens of this country who are of Iranian descent to become actively engaged in encouraging their brothers and sisters in their native land to make the regime change that will benefit them and us.


The third step is that we should seek international cooperation on every level for this effort. It will not be easy. There will be those who will say this is yet another American overreaction, that this is a further policy of American unilateralism. We should never be unilateral. We should always seek the cooperation of allies.


We should also understand the attacks that are launched by terrorists will be unilateral. They will have one target. They will start with the Israelis. They always do. But they will eventually get to the United States of America. We should ask for and actively seek the cooperation of our European and Asian friends in meeting these efforts. Frankly, the actions of the International Atomic Energy Agency have been very helpful in this regard. We should continue those efforts, but we should not make the mistake of assuming that their security risk here is the same as our security risk.


When there is a demonstration sponsored by the medieval elements in a country like Iran, it is not the German flag that they burn. They do not shout death to Germany. They do not destroy likenesses of the Eiffel Tower or Big Ben. They burn the American flag. They smash likenesses of the American Capitol, and they clearly let us know that we are the ones who are in their sights. So be it.


If we understand that we are the targets, then we must understand we have a special responsibility to act. I believe that this is a program for peace. I think the best way to achieve peace is to show those who would disrupt peace that you will not tolerate it. It is peace through strength, and after we have been lied to for 23 years about the creation of a nuclear bomb, a nuclear bomb which could be floated into the harbors of this country and used as a weapon of awful destruction against the people of America, after we have seen the torture against innocent people that takes place in Iran every day and is taking place tonight, I think the stakes are clear. If we are true to our conviction of peace through strength, we will make regime change the policy of the United States of America. Not through violence, not through attack, not through aggression, not through war. We should always reserve the right to act in our defense. But we should always understand that the best way to project our power is through our freedom, our economic might, our diplomatic credibility which sadly needs to be rebuilt in many ways.


It is my objective as a Member of the United States Congress that I will never again have another day like September 12, 2001, when I came to this building not sure whether it was safe to be in, after a sleepless night, and asked myself what I had failed to do to prevent the mayhem that had occurred in my country the day before. I asked myself whether any of the trillion of the taxpayers' money I had voted to spend on intelligence and defense of this country had done us any good the previous day. I never want to live another September 12. I never again want to have to think what we could have done to learn the lessons of terrorism and stop another terrorist attack.


If we take decisive action and, among other things, if we pursue the policy of regime change in Iran, I believe that the likelihood of having another September 12, 2001, will diminish; and more importantly, the likelihood of a catastrophic repeat of September 11, 2001, using a nuclear weapon will diminish greatly.


We owe our country nothing less. We owe the decent people of Iran nothing less; and we owe it to our sense of history to get this very important job done.


Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank Mr. Paul Bauer of my staff who was very instrumental in getting the research done for this effort. And, again, I would like to thank the staff of the House of Representatives for being with us so I would have this opportunity to speak. 


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