Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2016—Motion to Proceedby Senator Johnny Isakson
Posted on 2015-11-04
ISAKSON. Mr. President, 36 years ago today, 53 Americans in the
American Embassy in Tehran were captured, beaten, held hostage, and
tortured. As I speak on the floor of the Senate today, in the streets
of downtown Tehran, Iranian people are marching in the streets, burning
American flags, yelling ``Death to America'' and celebrating the
capture of our citizens 36 years ago today.
From the moment of their release in January of 1981, they have been promised justice and compensation. But 5 administrations and 17 Congresses have gone by, and there has been no justice and there has been no compensation. Unfortunately, cynicism has set in, and the remaining 38 of the 53 who were originally held hostage wonder when their justice is coming.
Many have suffered. One, a former CIA agent, committed suicide. Another attempted suicide but failed. Many families have been torn apart and asunder by PTSD and other ramifications of torture and capture. It is a sad chapter in the history of our country, at the hands of a tyrannical dictatorship in the nation of Iran. But don't just take my word for it. Let me read you the words of two American citizens who were taken hostage in Tehran 36 years ago.
William Daugherty from Savannah, GA, said the following: I'd like to remind the Congress that the corporations and banks have long ago received their ``compensation'' in whatever form it took. I'd like to remind the Congress that the Carter administration intended for us to be compensated. They told us we would be, and today it's pretty much now or never for many of us.
Their lives are passing.
Or there is Joe Hall of Lenox, GA, who told me: 35 years after our release from confinement, one fourth of our group has passed away. Those who remain are aging, ailing, and frustrated. Yet, they remain loyal, law-abiding, and patriotic; the very characteristics they took to Iran when they [were captured and] stepped forward to serve their country, so many years ago.
Still there is no justice, still no reward.
Four years ago I introduced the Iranian Hostage Compensation Act. To this date, it has been supported by every Member of the Senate and House who I have talked to. Minority Leader Harry Reid came to me the other day seeking help to make sure we get this bill passed. Ben Cardin, the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker, the chairman of [[Page S7752]] the Foreign Relations Committee, the members of the House Foreign Relations Committee--everyone I have talked to has said: Yes, it is right for us to do this. The money is in the bank in the control of the Department of Justice--Iranian money that is available to pay the hostages the compensation they deserve. The amounts have been negotiated--$6,750 per hostage per day of captivity. They are the only American hostages ever held captured and never been recompensed for the tragedy they suffered.
It is time for America to act now. While the Iranians celebrate in the streets and burn our flag and say ``Death to America,'' we should say to the survivors of the Iranian hostage crisis: We are going to see to it that you get the compensation and the justice you deserve.
In the weeks ahead before this year ends, I will talk to each Member of the Senate and to each Member of the House to find a way--whatever way we can and whatever vehicle is necessary--to get that authorization out of Congress and in the hands of the Justice Department and the administration so each and every one of those survivors can be compensated because they deserve it. They risked their lives for the United States of America just as every State Department employee and every Ambassador does around the world. We never need the State Department employees or our Ambassadors to think that one day America might look the other way if they are ever captured or taken hostage.
I appeal to my colleagues in the Senate and the House and to all the people in the United States of America to come together and see to it that those remaining hostages who have survived so far are compensated for the horror and the terror they endured. While the Iranians celebrate the capture and the horror they administered to their victims in the streets, let's do what we as Congressmen and as Members of the Senate came here to do and see to it that they get their justice and compensation and that we do what America always does: stand by our citizens who went in harm's way to protect our country.
I yield back the remainder of my time and suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Scott). The clerk will call the roll.
The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.