[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1995, Book I)]
[May 27, 1995]
[Pages 757-758]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

The President's Radio Address
May 27, 1995

    Good morning. It has now been over 5 weeks since the tragic bombing 
in Oklahoma City. In the days immediately after that tragedy, 
congressional leaders pledged to have the legislation I proposed to 
crack down on terrorism on my desk by Memorial Day. The Senate is now 
considering the antiterrorism bill. I'm glad they're working on it. At 
the same time, I disagree with the position of some Senators from both 
parties that three crucial weapons in the fight against terrorism should 
be stripped from the bill.
    The first concerns my proposal to expand the wiretap capabilities of 
Federal investigators. Terrorists move around. They don't want to be 
caught. They go from State to State, from motel to motel, from pay phone 
to pay phone. We need the power to move our taps and surveillance as 
fast as the terrorist moves his base of operations. But those who want 
to weaken my antiterrorism bill want law enforcement to go back to court 
for a new wiretap order each and every time a terrorist moves, unless we 
can specifically show that he's trying to evade our surveillance.
    We should protect citizens' privacy rights. But we shouldn't force 
law enforcement to lose valuable time by making them get a court to 
agree that a terrorist is trying to knowingly evade us. Have you ever 
heard of a terrorist who wasn't trying to evade the police? I don't care 
whether a terrorist is trying to knowingly evade the police. I care that 
he or she may be trying to

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plan another Oklahoma City bombing. And I want the police to stop those 
people cold.
    The restrictive view taken by some people in Congress would handicap 
our ability to track terrorists down, follow them when they move, and 
prevent their attacks on innocent people.
    The second disagreement I have is about my request that we should be 
able to use the full resources of the military to combat terrorists who 
are contemplating the use of biological or chemical weapons. In general, 
the military should not be involved in domestic law enforcement in any 
way. That's why it's against the law. But there is a limited exception 
to this authority, granting the authority to cooperate with law 
enforcement to the military where nuclear weapons are involved. There's 
a good reason for this. The military has the unique technical expertise, 
sophisticated equipment, and highly specialized personnel to fight a 
nuclear threat. Well, the same is true for biological and chemical 
weapons, which seem even more likely to be used in terrorist attacks in 
the future, as we saw recently in the terrible incident in the Japanese 
    Therefore, I can't understand how some Senators could actually 
suggest that it's okay to use the military for nuclear terrorism but not 
to use them for chemical and biological terrorism. We need their unique 
knowledge in all instances. I want law enforcement to have the authority 
to call in the military to deal with these chemical or biological 
weapons threats when they lack that expertise, equipment, or personnel. 
There's simply no reason why we should use anything less than the very 
best we have to fight and stop the extraordinary threat now posed by 
chemical and biological terrorism all around the world.
    Finally, I strongly disagree with Senators who want to remove a 
provision of my bill that will help us track down terrorists by marking 
the explosive materials they use to build their weapons. It would be a 
relatively simple matter to include something called a taggant in 
materials used to build explosive devices. That way, law enforcement 
could track bomb materials back to their source and dramatically 
increase their ability to find and apprehend terrorists.
    There is no reason to delay enactment of a law that would require 
taggants in explosive materials. Every day that goes by without a law 
like that is another day a terrorist can walk into a store and buy 
material that is virtually untraceable. As long as the basic building 
blocks of bombs are sold without taggants, we can only hope they're not 
being bought by terrorists.
    The Senators who want to oppose my bill on these points simply argue 
that these provisions will open the door to an overly broad domestic use 
of military troops, to overly invasive wiretapping, or to an erosion of 
the constitutional rights of those who buy explosives. I disagree. 
Constitutional protections and legal restrictions are not being 
repealed. We are simply giving law enforcement agencies who are 
committed to fighting terrorists for us the tools they need to succeed 
in the modern world.
    I want to work with Congress to resolve these differences and to 
make my antiterrorism bill the law as soon as possible.
    On this Memorial Day weekend, we honor those who fought and died in 
our Nation's wars to keep America free. In the 21st century, the 
security of the American people will require us to fight terrorism all 
around the world and, unfortunately, here at home. It's a fight we have 
to be able to win.
    Thanks for listening.

Note: The address was recorded at 2:22 p.m. on May 26 in the Oval Office 
at the White House for broadcast at 10:06 a.m. on May 27.