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Archive for Friday, February 24, 2006

Roberts lauds Baker, calls for U.S. resolve in war on terror

February 24, 2006

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The following is the text of a speech given Thursday by U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., at Baker University:

The high road of humility is not often bothered by heavy traffic in Washington but, it is certainly quite an honor to join with students, alumni, faculty and others from the community on your founder's day, the 148th anniversary of Kansas' oldest university.

Today we have all come together to commemorate Baker University's commitment to education and celebrate its religious heritage to the United Methodist Church and Bishop Osmon C. Baker. I also want to point out that I have a personal connection with Baker University - my uncle, John Roberts, was a Baker graduate.

Uncle John always hoped I would be a Baker University Wildcat. Well, as it turned out this average student from a small town wavered and took my father's advice and finally matriculated from another home of Wildcats. I must admit when I think Wildcats, I think purple, but if you really think about it, if I had just done both and sought an advanced degree at Baker, who in the Senate would ever tangle with a purple and orange wildcat?

It is no secret that this university has a strong tradition of success. As a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, I appreciate and support the important part independent colleges play in our higher education system. Simply put, Baker offers students from all walks of life an opportunity to learn in a teacher-to-student environment, without having to sacrifice top-notch faculty members or academic excellence.

Baker serves over 3,000 students at its three schools and multiple campuses in Kansas and Missouri and it is a nationally recognized liberal arts school. U.S. News and World Report and the Princeton Review consistently rank the university as a top school in the Midwest. Baker has also been recognized for its value by Money magazine and Barron's Best Buys in College Education. This is especially important for many students or their parents who may believe that a private school education is out of reach. It is not!

Tribute to Lambert

Now, we cannot talk about the success of Baker University without recognizing the president of this fine institution, Dr. Dan Lambert. As the university's 27th president and having served the second-longest tenure, Dan has had a most distinguished career. He is truly a renaissance president for all seasons even to the point of offering counsel, support, solace and good cheer to public officials at Dan's patio sanctuary where good and great thoughts are a welcome change..

He has served on the boards of the Kansas City Board of Trade and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. He has chaired the Kansas Independent College Assn., and is a trustee for Midwest Research Institute. He serves on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and the Douglas County Community Foundation. Dr. Lambert was included in Ingram's magazine's "Power Elite Class of 99" which listed the Kansas City area's most outstanding and influential leaders to recognize his corporate and civic dedication.

Dan was elected president of Baker University in 1987, and he has grown Baker University to where it is today. The university now offers professional and graduate study courses for 2,500 working adults on campuses in Topeka, Lawrence, Overland Park, Wichita and Lee's Summit. President Lambert guided the opening of the School of Nursing at Stormont-Vail in Topeka in 1991, and it now boasts 140 urgently needed nursing students. Earlier this month, years of planning came to fruition when Baker University became the first private school in Kansas to offer a doctorate of education in educational leadership - 25 students are now taking classes at the Overland Park campus. The main campus enrolls over 900 undergraduate students seeking a top quality liberal arts degree.

Under Dan's tenure, the school has made more than $20 million in improvements to buildings and grounds, including a renovated library, student union, and sports facility. The university has doubled its endowment to about $30 million. In 1996, President Lambert helped Baker welcome a 19th century chapel from Sproxton, England. Margaret Thatcher visited the campus to commemorate this historic event. Baker got the Iron Lady, K-State got Bush. I told Dan I could get Cheney but he did not seem to be too interested..

In addition to his incredible efforts at the university, President Lambert has led the charge for Baker University and the Baldwin community to develop close ties to the surrounding areas. Baldwin City provides the perfect backdrop for Baker University - it is a small town with a positive quality of life, but it also enjoys the cities of Kansas City and Lawrence. The location will provide a great link to the life sciences initiative happening in Kansas City, Lawrence, Leavenworth, Topeka and Manhattan.

Ever since I was elected to the Senate in 1996, I have been a strong personal supporter of the life science initiatives in Kansas and am pleased our efforts are now moving to other parts of the state. I firmly believe that the bioscience industry will be as key to the future of the Kansas economy as agriculture, aerospace or telecommunications. And Baldwin and Baker University will play a leading role.

President Lambert sees this vision and has played a major role in the South Lawrence Trafficway efforts. I thank him for his willingness to wade into this issue. Someday we will realize completion of what really will be the Kansas Technology Corridor. President Dan, thank you for all of your hard work and unique leadership over the years. Everyone wants to make a difference in their chosen field. This man with his self depreciating, gracious manner, strong conviction and tireless efforts has enabled Baker to make a difference in the lives of thousands of students and they in turn, a positive contribution to Kansas and our society.

Dan Lambert, Mr. President, Mr. Baker University, my friend, our friend, thank you.

On national security

There is another issue I want to emphasize and that is our paramount responsibility in the Congress: our national security.

In this regard, I speak to you not as a partisan but as a Kansan, former Marine and the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. I am concerned about our resolve regarding our national security and the global war against terrorism.

While we may wish otherwise, the blunt truth of it is there is no exit from either Iraq or the global war on terrorism but through success. Our lives and our way of life and those of our allies are at stake. As we all know, the road to this success has been and will continue to be extremely difficult. Many of our brave troops have already made the ultimate sacrifice in this struggle on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, 25 in Kansas.

A word of caution. We did not ask for this war but in fighting worldwide terrorism, a war that must be successful, we need to restrain growing messianic instincts, a sort of global social engineering where the United States feels it is both entitled and obligated to promote democracy - by force if necessary.

The United States must be willing to use force unilaterally, if necessary to protect our security and that of our allies. But it is also a time for some hardheaded assessment of American interests and how we achieve them.

As we work our way through the daunting challenges of Iraq and the Mideast and throughout the Muslim world, let us remember the tender roots of freedom, the rights of all people must be planted carefully in stony soil. Liberty cannot be laid down like so much astro turf.

Recently, Congressman Henry Hyde of Illinois, a beloved veteran of the House and a strong supporter of the Bush Administration, cautioned:

"Rather than being a quick fix to U.S. challenges overseas, pushing democracy in places that have no history or desire for it may well result in an uncontrolled experiment with an outcome akin to that faced by the Sorcerer's Apprentice.

"Promoting democracy is a long process and planting democracy in virtually all areas around the world would require unbounded power and undertake an open-ended commitment of time and resources and sacrifice which we cannot and will not do."

Food for thought

Nevertheless, regardless of future policy, current and future presidents, our ultimate success against terrorism will only be won through resolve.

I have three concerns.

First. In the recent debate in the Congress regarding Iraq and the continuing threat of U.S. and worldwide terrorism, let's talk about the one thing missing in this often heated and partisan debate: consequences.

It should be obvious that, if we just withdraw, the terrorists will simply wait us out and the aftermath of that would be chaotic, not only in Iraq, but worldwide.

Calling for withdrawal is one thing; facing the consequences of that action and the responsibility for it, is another.

I fully understand the need and value for debate in a free society. But we should do so with the understanding that words do have consequences and their effect not only influences the intended audience, a partisan base or otherwise, but they also affect the morale of our troops in the midst of war and the terrorists who question our resolve.

If America cuts and runs, our adversaries will rejoice.

Last year, we received an intercepted letter that Osama bin Laden's deputy sent to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the terrorist leader in Iraq, which urged Zarqawi to prepare for what the terrorists clearly believe will be a U.S. retreat from Iraq.

Such a retreat would do more than encourage the Bin Ladens of the world. Jihadist terrorist cells throughout the world - and in our own country - would be rethinking their attack plans with ominous repercussions.

And imagine how such a withdrawal would be viewed in places like Iran, in the midst of aggressively building up its nuclear capacity; North Korea, with its existing capacity; China, with its continued military expansion, the largest since World War II, and growing blue water navy capability; Russia where we are now witnessing a return to totalitarianism Round II with Ukranian democracy, and Venezuela, where Hugo Chavez has become the next Castro, empowered with money from the sale of oil to fund his designs on Latin America.

Imagine what doubts the lack of resolve would create in the minds of our allies - now working with us with unprecedented intelligence cooperation - and the impact lack of resolve would have on the progress we have made in Pakistan and Afghanistan, leading to a radical Islamic take over of the Mushariff and Karzi governments, further leading to increased threats within the next terrorist nerve centers in Indonesia and Africa.

And, those are the fellows with the black hats who pose problems. What about those who have trusted American resolve and seen progress? Jordan, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Qatar, Kuwait, even Saudi Arabia, and of course Israel.

Don't underestimate enemy

Second. I am also concerned some are becoming complacent and make the mistake of underestimating our enemies. Let us truly understand the mentality of the likes of bin Laden and Zarqawi.

Every American should understand, our terrorist adversaries think of us as dust. Think about that. In their extremist absolutism, our lives and the lives of those we hold dear, have no value.

Their fanaticism reveals the undertow of evil within the human spirit, a belief that human life has no value as compared to personal passion and conviction or simply the barbaric pleasure of killing, public execution, suicide, martyrdom, to die in battle in an act of private worship irrespective of what happens to others. I have seen the mass graves of men, women and children raped, tortured and buried alive in Iraq. Civilization is again witnessing man's inhumanity against man.

We have never faced this kind of enemy before. In this conflict, worldwide, there are no rules of war, no rules of engagement, no Geneva Convention or even the high moral ground of Islam. And given the proliferation of the knowledge of how to make weapons of mass destruction, the world has indeed become a very dangerous place.

We must comprehend this is an ongoing global war and that the members of al-Qaida and their affiliated groups are resolved in their twisted religious fervor to commit and justify murderous acts. They are not giving up.

Third. I am also concerned about the debate surrounding the question of what must be done to safeguard the American people. I understand that certain actions that must be taken to keep America safe make some people uncomfortable. Americans have usually been more comfortable dealing with criminals than with enemies. But we cannot cannot treat international terrorism as a crime. It must be dealt with as an act of war.

After 9-11, the president authorized the National Security Agency to intercept the international communications of individuals within the United States - BUT - only when our intelligence community has probable cause to believe that they are members and associates of collaborating with, al-Qaida. AND planning attacks on our homeland.

This past December, The New York Times reported the existence of this program. I am gravely concerned this information and the following cascade of leaks and misinformation have enabled our enemies to better plan future attacks whether from caves in northwest Pakistan or waiting in an American city for the orders to activate their sleeper cell.

I am a former newspaperman. I must say that today there is something dangerously wrong and askew. Leakers and some within the major media are deciding today what is classified and what is not. In the end, nothing seems protected. Not even the highest classified capability that we have to prevent another terrorist attack upon the United States! That is remarkable. Amidst all of the misinformation and politics, we may well lose this threat-warning capability and cost American lives. America is less safe.

Since this damaging disclosure occurred, some have said these efforts by the president to fight the war on terror are illegal or unconstitutional.

No domestic spying

The fact is, this is not domestic spying, it is a very limited, but effective, terrorist threat-warning capability; and I believe it is vital for the protection of the American people. I have been briefed on numerous occasions over the past three years on the operational details of the program. I am comfortable in my belief that it is necessary, effective and lawful not only for this president but for the next. This is not a Bush issue; this is a commander in chief, constitutional authority issue during a time of unprecedented threat.

Numerous federal courts, including several circuit courts, have recognized that any president has the authority under the Constitution to conduct "warrantless" surveillance. This authority flows naturally from the president's constitutional responsibility to protect the national security and conduct foreign relations.

Most of the argument involves the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 or (FISA). We use the FISA court to gain information in criminal proceedings.

But, in a time of war and probable attack, FISA also ties our hands. Even with procedures for emergency approvals, FISA surveillance is beholden to a bureaucratic process that makes real agility, flexibility and hot pursuit nearly impossible to achieve.

Every president - from Jimmy Carter to George W. Bush - has consistently maintained that FISA can't take away the constitutional authority to conduct intelligence surveillance within the United States.

And that, my friends, brings me back to this undeniable fact: We are at war with al-Qaida. Congress recognized as much when we passed the authorization for the use of military force. We told the president to "use all necessary and appropriate force" against al-Qaida to prevent future attacks against America.

Addressing a joint session of the Congress and the American people he said:

"Americans are asking, how will we fight and win this war? We will direct every resource at our command, every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence and every necessary weapon of war to defeat the global terror network."

Then, with 9-11 emblazoned in our minds, we stood and cheered. Today, we engage in partisan debate.

Osama bin Laden made it clear again just a couple of weeks ago. Terrorists want to attack us here again - with weapons of mass destruction, if possible. When al-Qaida collaborators in the United States plan an attack, our commander in chief needs to know about it as soon as possible. He (or she) needs to use every Constitutional mechanism at their disposal to find and capture or kill the enemies of this nation.

Finally, I know some are concerned about congressional oversight of this program, and I understand those concerns.

As with all of the nation's intelligence activities, Congress must exercise proper oversight.

The fact is, the leadership of both the House and Senate and of the congressional intelligence committees have been briefed repeatedly on the program. While some complain that this is too small a representation of Congress, I would point out that the Congress itself has passed a law allowing the president to limit access to certain ongoing intelligence activities to protect sensitive information (sources and methods and lives) from unauthorized disclosure.

Nevertheless, some of my colleagues have expressed concerns that the program needs greater oversight by the Intelligence Committee and some form of legislative authorization. Some my friends across the aisle on the committee have even gone so far as to propose a far-reaching investigation into the surveillance program with 44 members, an investigation that would last at least a year in the midst of a war. The patriotic and dedicated professionals at NSA would not be conducting surveillance, they would be testifying before 44 members of a body that has difficulty keeping anything quiet and cannot decide when to adjourn!

I believe that such an investigation is currently unwarranted and would be detrimental to this highly classified program. However, respecting these views, for the past month I have been working diligently with the administration to fashion an accommodation which would permit legislative measures and increased oversight while protecting this vital surveillance capability.

Last week, we reached an agreement in principle with administration officials. The administration is now committed to legislation and has agreed to brief more Intelligence Committee members on the nature of the surveillance program. The details of this agreement will take some time to work out.

In light of these developments, last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee decided to postpone a vote on the proposed investigation. This will permit more time for negotiation with the administration. The committee will reconvene on March 7 to consider the progress made at that point. If, by that time, we have reached no detailed accommodation, it is possible that the committee may vote to conduct an inquiry into the program.

I hope my colleagues will keep in mind that, in this war, the president must be able to move with all possible constitutionally mandated speed and agility to respond to the threats we face.

Lesson from the past

Let us take a lesson from our parents and grandparents who were part of the greatest generation. They overcame isolationism, military unpreparedness, battlefield defeats and the scorn of our enemies and even some allies to lead the world to victory in World War II.

Upon learning of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Sir Winston Churchill said:

"Silly people, that was the description many gave in discounting the force of the United States. Some said they were soft, others that they would never be united, that they would never come to grips. They would never stand for bloodletting, that their system of government and democracy would paralyze their effort.

"Now we will see the weakness of this numerous but remote, wealthy and talkative people. But I had studied the American Civil War, fought out to the last desperate inch. American blood flowed in my veins. I thought of a remark made to me years before: the United States is like a gigantic boiler. Once the fire of freedom is lighted under it, there is no limit to the power it can generate. It is a matter of resolve."

Ladies and gentlemen, we must maintain our resolve to defeat terrorism and achieve stability in Iraq and where terrorism threatens in other parts of the world. Just like our forefathers in 1941, we did not ask for war. Yet today we find ourselves in a unique global conflict which will likely continue for a generation. As a people we must resolve to rise above pettiness and political self interest to defeat our enemy. Our parents and grandparents did as much for us; our children and grandchildren deserve the same.

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