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Last Updated:6/19/02
Speech by Sen. Bob Graham (D-Florida), June 6, 2002
Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, on behalf of my colleagues, Senators DEWINE, MCCAIN, MILLER, THOMPSON, SESSIONS, ROCKEFELLER, BAYH, NELSON of Florida, NELSON of Nebraska, and ALLARD, I rise today to offer an amendment to provide the Department of Defense the authority necessary to support Colombia's war against narcotics trafficking and terrorist activities.

September 11 served as a horrible moment in history--a moment that revealed the evils, the hatred, and the degree to which those who wish to do us harm are prepared to go. Unfortunately, this reality is not limited to North America. It is not limited to the Middle East or to central Asia. It is a global phenomenon.

The United States, at home and around the world, must do better with our intelligence, law enforcement, and foreign policy efforts. We must do more as well to work with our allies.

In Latin America, the evil hand of terror has been an everyday reality for too long, a fact which I believe most Americans of the United States will find stunning, but not to Americans who live in other parts of the Western Hemisphere.

In the year 2000, over 44 percent of all of the worldwide incidents of terrorism against U.S. citizens and U.S. interests were committed in one country. That country was Colombia. Three groups that were responsible for these atrocities are all on the U.S. Department of State's list of foreign terrorist organizations. These attacks pose a threat to the democratic institutions of Colombia, to the stability of Latin America, and to the security of the Western Hemisphere.

The Taliban and al-Qaida networks derived much of their funds from the illegal narcotics trade--heroin, primarily. But the linkage is no more pervasive anywhere in the world between illegal narcotics and terrorism than it is in Colombia where former guerrillas have evolved into drug trafficking terrorists.

That is why a large number of our colleagues and I are offering this amendment that would allow the Department of Defense to use its appropriated funds to provide additional equipment, training, and intelligence to Colombia to combat both narcotics trafficking and terrorism.

Current law allows the U.S. equipment and funds from the Department of Defense to be used solely for counterdrug operations.

In Colombia, the reality is that the line between narcotics and terrorism is extremely thin. It is virtually mythical.

The House of Representatives has already passed an authorization bill as part of the legislation that we consider this evening, and these authorities to expand the use of defense funds to combat the twin evils of narcotics and terrorism are provided in the House bill; these authorities are being aggressively sought by the President of the United States.

The administration seeks more explicit legal authority to support ``Colombia's unified campaign against narcotics trafficking and terrorist activities.''

This provides greater flexibility to counter the threat from groups using narcotics trafficking to fund both terrorist and criminal activities.

I assure our colleagues that I am not proposing any changes to previous requirements in human rights, certifications, and limits on personnel--civilian and military. And in no way am I suggesting the Department of Defense deploy U.S. troops to a

combat role.

The Government of Colombia, both under its current President, President Pastrana, and under its newly elected President, Alvaro Uribe, has stated its intention to carry the war to the terrorist drug traffickers.

What we are being asked to do is to allow equipment that has been procured in part with funds from the U.S. Department of Defense to be used in both wars, terrorism and narcotics.

These counterterrorism efforts will not hurt our counternarcotics program. In fact, they will be of great assistance to our counternarcotics program.

The Department of Defense has assured me that it remains committed to a robust counternarcotics program in Colombia, and it will bear that in mind as the details are developed regarding the use of defense-funded equipment, training, and intelligence for counterterrorist missions.

I am also pleased, despite the rampant violence in Colombia on May 26 of this year, that the citizens and Government of Colombia carried out democratic elections which were deemed by international standards and observers to be free, fair, and the expression of the will of the Colombian people.

When the United States first authorized Plan Colombia in 2000, we made a commitment. The commitment was to help our Colombian neighbors in their long struggle against the drug trade and the violence it causes. Anything less than that would not only be a violation of our promise to be good neighbors but a neglected front on the war against terrorism.

I ask my colleagues to support Colombia, an important democratic and hemispheric ally by supporting this amendment.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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