U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) yesterday delivered a speech on the Senate floor, emphasizing the need to address the growing threat of radical Islamic terrorism in the wake of the horrific act of terror in Orlando last weekend. Cruz specifically called on Congress to take up and pass his Expatriate Terrorist Act (ETA) and Terrorist Refugee Infiltration Prevention Act (TRIPA) in order to better secure our country.
Below is the transcript of his speech:
Madam President, our nation is at war. Five days ago, we saw a horrific terror attack in Orlando, Florida. From 9/11 to the Boston Marathon, from Fort Hood to Chattanooga, from San Bernardino to this attack in Orlando, radical Islamic terrorism has declared jihad on America. As the facts have unfolded, it now indicates that the Orlando terrorist has pledged his allegiance to ISIS in the process of murdering 49 and wounding more than 50 at a nightclub.
All of us, our hearts go out to those who were murdered, to the families of those who were victims and who are grieving. We stand in solidarity. We lift them up in prayer at this horrific act of terrorism.
But it is also a time for action. We need a Commander-in-Chief who will speak the truth, who will address the enemy we face, who will unleash the full force and fury of the American military on defeating ISIS and defeating radical Islamic terrorists.
In the wake of the attack, many of us predicted what would unfold, and it was sadly the same political tale we have seen over and over again. Many of us predicted that Democrats would, as a matter of rigid partisan ideology, refuse even to say the words ’radical Islamist terrorism;’ that they would suggest this attack was yet another isolated incident, one lone criminal not connected to any global ideology, not connected to any global jihad, and that even worse they would try to use it as an excuse to go after the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.
Madam President, I wish when we predicted that that we had been proven incorrect, but this week played out all too predictably. Yesterday, we saw a political show on the Senate floor. Democrat after Democrat standing for hours incensed, not at ISIS, incensed, not at radical Islamic terrorism, incensed that Americans have a right to keep and bear arms. This is political distraction. This is political gamesmanship. And I think the American people find it ridiculous that in response to an ISIS terror attack, the Democrats go on high dungeon that we’ve got to restrict the second amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. This is not a gun control issue. This is a terrorism issue. And it is nothing less than political gamesmanship for them to try to shift for their favorite hobby horse of taking away the Bill of Rights from law-abiding citizens.
I have spent years defending the Second Amendment, the right to keep and bear arms, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and I along with you, Madam President, along with a great many members of this chamber, are committed to defending the constitutional rights of every American. You don’t defeat terrorism by taking away our guns. You defeat terrorism by using our guns. And this body should not be engaged in a political circus trying to restrict the Second Amendment. Instead, we should be focusing on the problem at hand. Why did we see yesterday’s series of speeches? Because Senate Democrats have an election coming up in November. And they don’t want to talk about the real issue. Let’s talk about ISIS. Let’s talk about radical Islamic terrorism. Let’s talk about the failures of the last seven years of this Administration to keep this country safe.
Now, in response to my criticism and that of many others, President Obama gave a press conference where he said, echoing the words of Hillary Clinton, ‘what difference does it make if we call it radical Islamic terrorism?’ Well, Mr. President, it makes a world of difference because the failure to address the enemy impacts every action taken to fight that enemy, and I want to talk in particular about three areas where this Administration and the Senate Democrats’ refusal to confront radical Islamic terrorism has made America less safe and what we need to do about it.
Let’s start with prevention. Over and over again, we have seen the Obama administration having ample information to stop a terrorist attack, and yet because of the political correctness, because of the ideology of this administration that won’t even say the word ’jihad,’ won’t even say the words ’radical Islamic terrorism,’ they look the other way and the attacks go forward.
In my home state of Texas, Fort Hood, Nidal Hasan, the Obama administration knew that Nidal Hasan had been in communication with a radical Islamic cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki. The Obama administration knew that Nidal Hasan had asked al-Awlaki about the permissibility of waging jihad against his fellow soldiers. All of that was known beforehand, and yet they did nothing. They did nothing, and on that fateful day, Nidal Hasan murdered 14 innocent souls, yelling ‘Allahu Akbar’ as he pulled the trigger. And yet, just to underscore the blindness of this administration, even after the terror attack, the administration insisted on characterizing that terror attack as ‘workplace violence.’ That is nothing short of delusion, and it’s a delusion that cost 14 lives. If we know of a U.S. service member who is communicating with a radical Islamic cleric and asking about waging jihad against his fellow soldiers, MPs should show up at that individual’s door within minutes. And if we didn’t have an administration that plunged its head in the sand like an ostrich and refused to acknowledge radical Islamic terrorism, Nidal Hasan would have been stopped before he carried out that horrific act of terrorism.
Likewise, the Boston bombing: the Tsarnaev brothers. Russia had informed the Obama administration they were connected with radical Islamic terrorism. We knew that. The FBI had gone and interviewed them. And yet once again, they dropped the ball. They stopped monitoring them, so they didn’t even note when the elder Tsarnaev brother posted on YouTube a public call to jihad. Now, mind you, this was not requiring complicated surveillance. This was YouTube. Anyone with a computer who could type in Google could see this. And yet, because the administration will not acknowledge that we’re fighting radical Islamic terrorism, they were not watching and monitoring the Tsarnaev brothers; so when they called for public jihad, they then carried out that public jihad with pressure cookers at the Boston marathon. Yet another example where we knew about the individual beforehand, and if we had focused prevention on the problem, we could have stopped it.
A third example was San Bernardino. San Bernardino, that horrific terror attack. Once again, we had ample information about the individuals in question. The female terrorist who came to San Bernardino had given the administration a fake address in Pakistan, and yet the so-called vetting that this administration tells us they do had failed to discover that it was a fake address. She had made calls for jihad, and yet the administration failed to discover that. In San Bernardino, we saw yet another horrific terror attack.
And how about Orlando? Let’s talk about what the facts are in Orlando. Now, we’re only five days in. The facts will develop further as they’re more fully developed, but here is what’s been publicly reported. What’s been publicly reported is that Omar Mateen was interviewed not once, not twice but three times by the FBI in 2013 and 2014; that one of the reasons why he was interviewed by the FBI was because he was talking in his place of employment, which ironically, which shockingly enough, was a contractor to the Department of Homeland Security, and he was talking about being connected to terrorist organizations including the Boston bombers.
Now, to any rational person, that is a big red flag. And yet it’s also been reported that his coworkers were afraid to say anything because they didn’t want to be labeled as somehow anti-Muslim by speaking out about someone claiming to be connected to radical Islamic terrorists. We also know that when he was questioned by the FBI in 2014, according to public reports, it was because he was believed to have been connected to Moner Mohammad Abusalha, who traveled to Syria to join the terrorist organization Al-Nusra Front, and who became the first known American suicide bomber in the Syrian conflict.
Now that, Madam President, is yet another big red flag. If you’re palling around with Al-Nusra suicide bombers, that ought to be a real flag. If the administration is focused on radical Islamic terrorism, this is an individual we ought to be watching. We know that Mateen, as it’s been reported, traveled to Mecca in Saudi Arabia for ten days in March, 2011, and for eight days in March, 2012. And we also have indications that the FBI may have been aware that he was a follower of the Islamist educational web site run by a radical imam. And not only that, that his father had posted videos online expressing not only sympathy, but arguably support for the Taliban. All of that is what the Obama administration knew.
And yet, by Sunday morning, they were no longer watching Omar Mateen. They were no longer watching Omar Mateen. They were not monitoring him, and he was able to go in and commit a horrific act of murder. The question that every member of this body should be asking is why is the ball being dropped over and over and over again? It’s not once, it’s not twice, it is a pattern. It is a pattern of failing to connect the dots, and I would suggest, Madam President, it is directly connected to President Obama and this administration’s refusal to acknowledge what it is we’re fighting. If you direct the prevention efforts to stopping radical Islamic terrorism, you know what? We had all the information we need on Mateen to keep a very close eye on him. And yet if that’s not what you’re fighting, then you close the investigation and yet another attack goes forward.
I would suggest that this willful blindness is one of the reasons why we saw the circus yesterday on the Senate floor. Senate Democrats should be asking these questions, and yet we don’t hear them asking those questions. Instead, they want to shift this to gun control. They want to shift this to putting the federal government in charge of approving every firearms transaction between law-abiding citizens in America. Mind you, that would not have prevented this attack. Mind you, it was not directed at the evil of this attack. Mind you, it ignores the global jihad we’re facing, but it is a convenient political dodge. We need serious leadership focused on keeping this country safe.
A second component of keeping this country safe that identifying the enemy would produce is defeating ISIS — utterly and completely defeating ISIS. In yesterday’s circus when calling for taking away your and my constitutional rights, how often did Senate Democrats say ’let’s utterly destroy ISIS?’ Not with the pinprick attacks we’re seeing, not with a photo op foreign policy of this administration, a failed effort that leaves the terrorists laughing at us, but instead using overwhelming air power, instead using the concerted power of the United States military with rules of engagement that allow us to fight and win.
Madam President, right now we’re sending our service men and women into combat with rules of engagement tying their hands behind their backs, it is wrong, it is immoral and it’s not accomplishing the task. You want a response to the Orlando attack? President Obama and Vice President Biden will no doubt give a self-righteous speech about gun control trying to strip away the rights of law-abiding Americans. How about them standing up and having the President pledge that ISIS will be driven from the face of the Earth? You want to see a response to murdering innocent Americans? If you declare war on America, you’re signing your death warrant. That is the response of a Commander-in-Chief. That’s the seriousness we need.
And a third component of focusing on the enemy is that we should focus on keeping us safe, and in particular, passing two pieces of legislation, both of which I’ve introduced — the first of which is the Expatriate Terrorist Act. This is legislation that provides that if any American citizen goes and takes up arms and joins ISIS, joins a radical Islamic terrorist group, that he or she forfeits their U.S. citizenship. So you do not have American citizens coming back to America with U.S. Passports to wage jihad on America.
We’ve seen Americans like Jose Padilla, Anwar al-Awlaki, like Faisal Shazad, who have abandoned their country and gone and joined up with the terrorists in waging war against us. And just this week the CIA Director testified to the Senate that more are coming, that ISIS intends to send individuals back here to wage jihad.
Rather than engaging in political showmanship, trying to gain partisan advantage in the November election, how about we come together and say if you join ISIS, you’re not using a U.S. Passport to come back here and murder American citizens. That ought to be a unanimous agreement if we were focused on keeping this country safe.
And likewise, let’s talk about the problem of refugees. What are the consequences of the willful blindness of this administration? That President Obama, in the face of this terror attack, says that he will admit some 10,000 Syrian Muslim refugees, despite the fact that the FBI Director has told Congress he cannot possibly vet them to determine if they’re terrorists. Indeed here’s what FBI Director Comey said: ‘we can only query against that which we have collected. If someone has never made a ripple in the pond in Syria in a way we could get their identity or their interests reflected in our database, we can query our database until the cows come home, but there will be nothing to show up because we have no record of them.’ This is an FBI Director appointed by President Obama who is telling the administration they cannot vet these refugees, yet what does the administration say? What does Hillary Clinton say? Who do the Senate Democrats say? Let the refugees in even though ISIS is telling us they’re going to use those refugees to send terrorists here to come and murder us.
This transcends mere partisan disagreement. This is lunacy. We know the Paris attack was carried out in part by people who came in using the refugee program, taking advantage of the refugee program. Indeed earlier this year, January 6, 2016, Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan, a Palestinian born in Iraq who entered the United States as a refugee in 2009, was charged with attempting to provide support to ISIS, and he wanted to set off bombs using cell phone detonators at two malls at my hometown of Houston, Texas. This is a refugee who came from Iraq, and yet do you hear the administration saying ‘this is a dangerous world. Jihadists are attempting to kill us. We have to keep us safe.’ They don’t say that.
The legislation I’ve introduced which I would urge this body to take up would impose a three-year moratorium on refugees coming from any nation where ISIS or Al Qaeda or radical Islamic terrorists control a substantial portion of the territory. We can help with humanitarian efforts. We can help resettling refugees in the majority Muslim countries in the Middle East. America is a compassionate country that has given more than ten times as much money as any country on Earth to caring for refugees. But being compassionate doesn’t mean we’re suicidal. It doesn’t mean we invite to America, we invite to our homes, people who the FBI cannot tell us if they are terrorists or not.
What should this Senate be doing? We shouldn’t be engaging in a sideshow of gun control. By the way, I will say on behalf of a lot of American citizens in the wake of this terror attack, it is offensive. I sat in that chair and presided yesterday over some of the show. It was offensive to see Democrat after Democrat prattling on about the NRA. It wasn’t the NRA who murdered 49 people in Orlando. It wasn’t the NRA who set up pressure cookers in the Boston bombing. It wasn’t the NRA who murdered 14 innocent souls at Fort Hood. And it is offensive to play political games with the constitutional rights of American citizens instead of getting serious about keeping this country safe.
I would urge this body to take up both pieces of legislation, the Expatriate Terrorist Act, to prevent terrorists from using U.S. Passports to come back to America, and TRIPA, to prevent refugees from countries with majority control, major control from ISIS or Al Qaeda from coming in as ISIS terrorists as refugees. Those would be commonsense steps the overwhelming majority of Americans would agree with. And yet in this politicized environment, that is not what our friends on the other side of the aisle want to talk about. Until we get serious about defeating radical Islamic terrorism, we will continue to lose innocence.
I would note one aspect of the attack on Sunday morning widely reported was that it was at a gay bar. And there are great many Democrats who are fond of calling themselves champions of the LGBT community. I would suggest there is no more important issue to champion in that regard than protecting Americans from murder by a vicious ideology that systematically murders homosexuals, that throws them off buildings, that buries them under rocks. The regime in Iran now supported by billions of dollars of American taxpayer dollars at the behest of President Obama murders homosexuals regularly.
And I will confess some in the press pool were a little bit puzzled. Well, how could a Republican be speaking out against this? Let me be very clear, Madam President. I am against murder. I am against murder of any American, and nobody has a right to murder anybody because they differ in faith, because they differ in sexual orientation, because they differ in any respect. We’re a nation founded on protecting the rights of everyone to live according to their conscience, according to their faith, and this murder in Orlando was not random. It was part of a global jihad, an ideology, an Islamist ideology, that commands its adherence to murder or forcibly convert the infidels, by whom they mean every one of us.
This body should not be engaged in political games. We should be focused on the threat and keeping America safe and defeating radical Islamic terrorism. And as we remember the victims of this latest terror attack, the greatest memorial we can give to them is to redouble ourselves to a seriousness of purpose to prevent the next terror attack from taking innocent American lives. I hope that’s what this body does. I hope we do so in a bipartisan manner. I yield the floor.