|2:08 PM EDT||
Mark Steven Kirk, R-IL 10th
Mr. KIRK. Mr. Chairman, I congratulate the gentleman from Arizona on his birthday, rise in support of this bill, and compliment the ranking member, the gentlewoman from New York (Mrs. Lowey), for her work.
This bill is vital to winning the war on terror. I am particularly happy that we have focused the soft power of the United States, USAID, the Board for International Broadcasting, et cetera, on key parts of Pakistan where the leaders of al Qaeda are hiding.
I do want to strike one note of warning, though. In the last 2 years, we have witnessed an explosion of heroin production in Afghanistan. Last year, drug lords in Afghanistan made over $6 billion in drug profits with some of the proceeds supporting terrorist groups. Al Qaeda and the Taliban now depend on the sale of heroin to wage their war on terror. Two years ago, drug profits sustained just two terror groups. Today, drug profits sustain four terror groups.
Last year, more drug money arrived in Afghanistan than it had in any other country, including Colombia, in history. Two years ago, only 8 percent of Afghan heroin arrived in the United States; now it is up to 12 percent, a 50 percent increase. Two months ago, the United States arrested Osama bin Laden's banker, Haji Bashir Noorzai, for attempting to smuggle $50 million of heroin into the United States. His attempt provides a stark warning that if Afghan drug dealers can smuggle heroin into the
United States, they can also smuggle terrorists. [Page: H5286]
To date, our program to reduce the Afghan heroin crop has failed. From a low of only a few hundred acres in 2001, the Afghan heroin crop topped over 200,000 acres last year.
Alternative development programs for Afghan farmers are key, and we fully fund such programs to help farmers switch from poppies to the traditional products of Afghanistan, like wheat. But even the best legal crop can only command one-twelfth the price of heroin, so we also must fund enforcement programs.
Congress approved $92 million in the fiscal year 2005 supplemental to provide helicopters for the Afghan police to catch drug lords. The program inside the administration is now adrift, and we have wasted 6 months in designing a helicopter program to help Afghan police officers. Repeatedly, some in the administration have proposed cutting this program by half to fund other programs, proposing that we largely ignore the narcoterror threat in Afghanistan.
Mr. Chairman, Afghanistan now teeters on the brink of becoming a failed narco-state. Violence against American and other NATO peacekeepers is picking up, much of it funded by narcoterrorists. As our full committee chairman, the gentleman from California (Mr. Lewis), advised Secretary Zoellick, Congress is looking for strong action against Afghan heroin; and we want the fiscal year 2005 funding for the helicopter program to move forward, and an end to rumors that the administration is
cutting the fiscal year 2007 budget for this activity.