Shelby has strong words on the war against terrorism

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 27, 2002

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U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R.-Ala., didn’t mince words on Friday night.

"President Bush has stepped up to the podium, and we should – I believe – support him," Shelby said about the ongoing War on Terrorism.

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"In 1993, when the United States World Trade Center was attacked, killing six people, we did nothing," Shelby said. "In 1996, when terrorist attacked military barracks in Saudi Arabia (killing 19), again we did nothing."

In 1998, when terrorists attacked U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Tanzania, killing 224 people, "Again, we did nothing."

In 2000, when terrorists attacked the U.S.S. Cole and killed 17 people, "again, we did nothing."

In September 2001, when terrorists destroyed the World Trade Centers and attacked the Pentagon, killing thousands of people, that cycle changed. "And yes, this time, we did something," Shelby said. "And we will continue to do something because we have a new administration in Washington, D.C."

Shelby was in Troy to speak at the annual meeting of the Pike County Chamber of Commerce. He took the opportunity to address the most pressing national issues, from energy policy to the economy, as they relate to the War on Terrorism.

"President Bush’s national security team … is the strongest one I’ve seen since I’ve been in Washington these 24 years," Shelby said. "This war is going to be long – probably a generation – and it’s going to be costly."

But it is, he said, "a war we will win."

Issues such as strengthening the United States’ intelligence capabilities will be key to that strategy. "We must improve our intelligence capabilities to prevent future attacks and win this war," he said. "And we’re going to make some necessary changes. We need to reveal, reform and restructure the intelligence community. The American people deserve no less."

And, Shelby said, Congress must move quickly to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil. "Right now, 57 percent of our oil is imported," he said. ‘That will go up to 70 percent if we continue like this."

Congress needs to draft legislation to encourage exploration and production in America, he said. "And we need to do it ‘now,’ as President Bush said. This is not just good economic sense, but critical to our national security," Shelby said.

Domestic issues – from education to economic stability – also face Congress this year. In setting the stage for upcoming debate, Shelby briefly addressed the partisan divide over economic strategy. "The Senate is currently considering what some people call an ‘economic stimulus,’" he said. "It’s mostly comprised of more federal spending that is not going to promote job growth.

"I think we should focus on real change that would stimulate the economy, like capital gains tax relief and permanent estate tax relief."

And, he said the reinstating "credibility" in the stock markets would be critical, particularly in the wake of the scandal over the collapse of energy giant Enron. "We must have efficient markets," he said. "And efficient markets rely on accurate and credible information."