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20 June 1997: Link to text of amendment passed on June 19, 1997
19 June 1997
On June 19, 1997, the Senate voted 94 to 0 to approve the Feinstein Amendment to S.936, the National Defense Authorization for 1998 Bill. The amendment prohibits the teaching of bombmaking for criminal purposes.
The material below describes the amendment, debate of it and attempts to have it passed as part of other legislation.
A study requested by the Senate during the debate in 1996 on the availability of bombmaking information on the Internet was prepared by the US Justice Department and presented to the Senate in April, 1997.
As a result of the Justice report the language of the amendment passed today varied from the version below.
[Congressional Record: June 28, 1996 (Senate)] [Page S7269-S7277] From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov] [DOCID:cr28jn96-23] NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 1997 ***** Amendment No. 4428 (Purpose: To prohibit the distribution of information relating to explosive materials for a criminal purpose) Mr. NUNN. Mr. President, I send an amendment to the desk on behalf of Senator Feinstein and ask for its immediate consideration. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report. The legislative clerk read as follows: The Senator from Georgia [Mr. Nunn], for Mrs. Feinstein, for herself, and Mr. Biden, proposes an amendment numbered 4428. The amendment is as follows: At the appropriate place, insert the following: SEC. . PROHIBITION ON THE DISTRIBUTION OF INFORMATION RELATING TO EXPLOSIVE MATERIALS FOR A CRIMINAL PURPOSE. (a) Unlawful Conduct.--Section 842 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection: ``(l) It shall be unlawful for any person to teach or demonstrate the making of explosive materials, or to distribute by any means information pertaining to, in whole or in part, the manufacture of explosive materials, if the person intends or knows, that such explosive materials or information will be used for, or in furtherance of, an activity that constitutes a Federal criminal offense or a criminal purpose affecting interstate commerce.''. (b) Penalty.--Section 844(a) of title 18, United States Code, is amended-- (1) by striking ``(a) Any person'' and inserting ``(a)(1) Any person''; and (2) by adding at the end the following: ``(2) Any person who violates subsection (l) of section 842 of this chapter shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.''. Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I rise to propose an amendment, which is co-sponsored by by Senator Biden, to prohibit teaching bomb-making for criminal purposes. First, I want to express my sincere appreciation to the managers of this bill, Senators Thurmond and Nunn, and to the distinguished chairman and ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, Senators Hatch and Biden, for their cooperation in accepting this important amendment. My amendment prohibits the teaching of how to make a bomb if a person intends or knows that the bomb will be used for a criminal purpose. Additionally, the amendment prohibits the distribution of information on how to make a bomb if a person intends or knows that the information will be used for a criminal purpose. The penalty for violation of this law would be a maximum of 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. As my colleagues will recall, this amendment was accepted in the Senate as part of the anti-terrorism bill last summer. Regrettably, the House dropped it from their bill, and it was not restored in conference. I vowed then, on the floor of the Senate, to continue this fight, and attach this amendment to the next appropriate legislative vehicle. Today, that time has come. [[Page S7272]] Unfortunately, while Congress was failing to act, the need for this law has, tragically, continued to grow dramatically. Just yesterday, while I was working to add this amendment to this bill, the Los Angeles Times ran a story, ``Internet Cited for Surge in Bomb Reports,'' which demonstrated this need. I ask unanimous consent that this article be printed in the Record following my remarks. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. (See exhibit 1.) Mrs. FEINSTEIN. The Times detailed the recent alarming rise in bombmaking incidents in my State of California: reports of possible explosives to the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department have more than doubled in the last 2 months; responses by the Los Angeles Police Department to reports of suspected bombs shot up more than 35 percent from 1994 to 1995; the LAPD found 41 explosives in 1995, more than double the number 3 years earlier; and the Sheriff's Department discovered 69 bombs last year. What is especially troubling is that it appears that an increasing number of these incidents involve children, who are getting instructions for making these explosives from the Internet: Four teenagers were arrested last week for a rash of pipe bombings in Rancho Palos Verdes in May and June which destroyed four mailboxes, a guard shack, and a car. In Orange County, police say teenagers may have used the Internet to help construct acid-filled bottle bombs in Mission Viejo and Huntington Beach, one of which burned a 5-year-old boy when he found it on a school playground. Two-months ago, the Orange County Register reported that a North Carolina teenager who posted ``The Anarchist Cookbook'' on his World Wide Web page was told by a Dutch girl that she had used the recipes to blow up a neighbor's car. All Senators and Representatives should be concerned about this, for these incidents are occurring across the country. Wherever there is a computer and a phone line, this danger is present. In February, in upstate New York, three 13-year-old boys were charged with plotting to set off a homemade bomb in their junior high school, using bomb-making plans which they had gotten off of the Internet. Yesterday's Los Angeles Times article reported that computer- generated guides proved a common link in bombs built recently by teenagers from the streets of Philadelphia and Houston to rural Kansas and upstate New York. These incidents aren't just limited to dangerous teenage pranks either. One of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers was arrested with manuals in hand. My amendment gives law enforcement another tool in the war against terrorism--to combat the flow of information that is used to teach terrorist and other criminals how to build bombs. This information is not something that one would use for a legitimate purpose or information that can be found in a chemistry textbook on the back shelf of a university library. What my amendment targets is detailed information that is made available to any would-be criminal or terrorist, with the intended purpose of teaching someone how to blow things up in the commission of a serious and violent crime--to kill, injure, or destroy property. In researching this issue, I came to find that specific and detailed information on how to make a bomb is distributed far too widely. It's available on the Internet, in books, in magazines, and by mail order. According to terrorism expert Neil Livingston, there are more than 1,600 so-called mayhem manuals--books with titles like ``The Anarchist Cookbook,'' ``The New Improved Poor Man's James Bond,'' ``How To Kill'', and ``Exotic and Covert Weapons''. Let me provide some examples of the type of information I am talking about: The ``Terrorist's Handbook'' is available by mail order and on the Internet. Just recently, my staff downloaded a copy of it from the Internet; Mr. President, you could do the same thing today. The ``Terrorist's Handbook'' begins by saying: ``Whether you are planning to blow up the World Trade Center, or merely explode a few small devices on the White House lawn, the ``Terrorist's Handbook'' is an invaluable guide to having a good time. Where else can you get such wonderful ideas about how to use up all that extra ammonium triiodide left over from last year's revolution. The Handbook goes on to give step-by-step instructions on what to do: Acquiring chemicals: ``The best place to steal chemicals is a college. Many state schools have all of their chemicals out on the shelves in the labs, and more in their chemical stockrooms. Evening is the best time to enter a lab building, as there are the least number of people in the building. . .. Of course, if none of these methods are successful, there is always section 2.11 [Techniques for Picking Locks].'' It then tells the reader how to pick a lock. The Handbook lists various explosive recipes using black powders, nitroglycerine, dynamite, TNT, and ammonium nitrate. And, it provides explicit instructions for making pipe bombs, book bombs, light bulb bombs, glass container bombs, and phone bombs, just to name a few. Phone bomb: ``The phone bomb is an explosive device that has been used in the past to kill or injure a specific individual. The basic idea is simple: when the person answers the phone, the bomb explodes. . .. It is highly probable that the phone will be by his/her ear when the devise explodes.'' Light Bulb bombs: ``An automatic reaction to walking into a dark room is to turn on the light. This can be fatal, if a lightbulb bomb has been placed in the overhead light socket. A lightbulb bomb is surprisingly easy to make. It also comes with its own initiator and electric ignition system.'' Yet another handbook contains detailed schemes and diagrams for a zippered suitcase booby trap, and a shower head booby trap, triggered by the pressure of turning on the water. One of the more appalling descriptions of bomb making involves baby food bombs. The following information was taken from the Bullet'N Board computer bulletin board off the Internet: Babyfood Bombs: ``These simple, powerful bombs are not very well know even though all the material can be easily obtained by anyone (including minors). These things are so f---ing powerful that they can destroy a car. . .. Here's how they work. ``Go to the Sports Authority or Hermans sport shop and buy shotgun shells. At the Sports Authority that I go to you can actually buy shotgun shells without a parent or adult. They don't keep it behind the little glass counter or anything like that. It is $2.96 for 25 shells.'' The computer bulletin board posting then provides instructions on how to assemble and detonate the bomb. It concludes with, ``If the explosion doesn't get'em then the glass will. If the glass doesn't get'em then the nails will.'' Here are some more examples of individual postings from the Internet: ``Are you interested in receiving information detailing the components and materials needed to construct a bomb identical to the one used in Oklahoma? The information specifically details the construction, deployment and detonation of high powered explosives. It also includes complete details of the bomb used in Oklahoma City, and how it was used and could have been better.''--posted April 23, 1995. ``I want to make bombs and kill evil zionist people in the government. Teach me. . .. Give me text files!. . .. Feed my wisdom, Oh great one.''--posted April 25, 1995. The foreword to the book ``Death by Deception: Advanced Improvised Booby Traps'' states: Terrorist IEDs [improvised explosive devices] come in many shapes and forms, but these bombs, mines, and booby traps all have one thing in common: they will cripple or kill you if you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. In this sequel to his best-selling book ``Deathtrap'', Jo Jo Gonzales reveals more improvised booby-trap designs. Discover how these death-dealing devices can be constructed from such outwardly innocuous objects as computer modems, hand-held radios, toilet-paper dispensers, shower heads, talking teddy bears, and traffic cones. Detailed instructions, schematic diagrams, and typical deployment techniques for dozens of such contraptions are provided. Other titles of books that teach people how to make bombs include: ``Guerrilla's Arsenal: Advanced Techniques for Making Explosives and Time-Delay Bombs''; and ``The Advanced Anarchist Arsenal: Recipes for Improvised Incendiaries and Explosives.'' Enough is enough. Common sense should tell us that the First Amendment does not give someone the right to teach someone how to kill other people. [[Page S7273]] The right to free speech in the First Amendment is not absolute. There are several well known exceptions to the First Amendment which limit free speech. These include: obscenity; child pornography; clear and present dangers; commercial speech; defamation; speech harmful to children; time, place and manner restrictions; incidental restrictions; and radio and television broadcasting. I do not for one minute believe that the Framers of the Constitution meant for the First Amendment to be used to directly aid the teaching of how to injure and kill. In today's day and age when violent crimes, bombings, and terrorist attacks are becoming too frequent, and when technology allows for the distribution of bomb making material over computers to millions of people across the country in a matter of seconds, some restrictions on speech are appropriate. Specifically, I believe that restricting the availability of bomb making information, if there is intent or knowledge that the information will be used for a criminal purpose, is both appropriate and required in today's day and age. My amendment is an important, balanced measure to confront the problems presented by today's rapid growth in technology, and I am extremely gratified by its adoption today. I yield the floor. Exhibit 1 [From the Los Angeles Times, June 27, 1996] Internet Cited for Surge in Bomb Reports computers: police and sheriff's officials say web sites provide youngsters with information on making explosives (By Eric Lichtblau and Jim Newton) Los Angeles explosives experts have seen an alarming rise in bomb calls over the last several months, and they think they know the main culprits: youngsters on the Internet who are learning to make bombs by scanning computer sites with ominous names like ``the Anarchists Cookbook'' and ``Bombs and Stuff!'' Reports of possible explosives to the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department have more than doubled in the last two months. More troubling, the percentage of suspicious devices that turn out to be real explosives--especially homemade pipe bombs--has grown even more drastically. The Los Angeles Police Department has noted a similar rise in bomb reports, reflecting a nationwide trend that experts blame on newfound computer access to explosives recipes. ``A lot of the [cases], we're finding out, are kids getting the information off the Internet,'' said Lt. Tom Spencer, who heads the sheriff's arson/explosives detail. ``We're very worried, to be honest . . . It's frightening.'' Sheriff's officials believe that information from the Internet was used in a rash of pipe bombings in Rancho Palos Verdes in May and June that destroyed four mailboxes, a guard shack and a car. Four teenagers were arrested last week in the explosions. In Orange County, meanwhile, police said the Internet may have aided vandals in building acid-filled bottle bombs in Mission Viejo and Huntington Beach. A 5-year-old boy was burned by one of the bombs on a school playground in an April attack that led to the arrests of four teenagers. And nationwide, computer-generated guides proved a common link in bombs built recently by teenagers around the country, from the streets of Philadelphia and Houston to rural enclaves of Kansas and upstate New York. Some bookstores and libraries have long provided printed information on homemade bombs--one such manual was found this week in Torrance after a 23-year-old man allegedly blew out three windows at his parents' home with a 10-inch-long pipe bomb. But the Computer Age has cast the explosives' net far wider, experts say. LAPD spokesman Cmdr. Tim McBride said: ``There is a lot of verbiage on the Internet, where people are becoming * * * more aware of what it takes to put a bomb together.'' Indeed, a quick scan of computer sites reveals wide access to site offering enlightenment on a wide range of bombs, some cast in a serious, academic tone, others in an aggressive or even hostile bent. ``Don't be a wimp. Do it NOW!!!'' urges a file on ``making and owning an H-bomb.'' One popular site, the Anarchists Cookbook, lists no fewer than 19 chapters related to explosives, from ``Making Plastic Explosives From Bleach'' to a ``Home-Brew Blast Cannon'' and ``A Different Kind of Molitov [sic] Cocktail.'' USC terrorism expert Richard Hrair Dekmejian believes that users of such technology are often troubled youths who, without intervention, could become involved in more serious violence along the lines of the Oklahoma City, World Trade Center or Unabomber attacks. The Internet's bomb-making intrigue offers an outlet for troubled youths who are ``bored and alienated,'' he said in an interview. ``This is very, very serious. This is a new epidemic, and I see the problem getting worse,'' Dekmejian said. The numbers in Los Angeles seem to prove him right. Both the LAPD and the Sheriff's Department--the main agencies that handle bombings in the area--have seen marked increases in the last several years in reports of suspicious devices. Last year, responses at each department shop up more than 35% over 1994, reaching 972 calls to the LAPD and 595 to the Sheriff's Department. Each report of a suspected bomb automatically triggers a response by a bomb squad. The rise has been even more drastic at the Sheriff's Department in the last two months. The bomb detail, which had been averaging about 30 calls a month, handled 68 assignments in April and 62 in May. LAPD officials attribute the rise in part to the public's increased awareness and sensitivity to the threat posed by bombs, especially after terrorist bombings in Beirut, New York City and Oklahoma City, among other attacks. For that reason, an abandoned briefcase may be more likely to generate a call to police today than it was a few years ago. But the trend goes beyond public alertness, officials say, and the number of actual explosives discovered has gone up significantly as well. The LAPD found 41 explosives in 1995, more than double the number three years earlier. And the sheriff's discovery of explosives rose about 10% over that same period, to 69 bombs. The rise was particularly sharp in 1995 at the Sheriff's Department, with the number of bombs 50% higher than in the previous year. The Sheriff's Department and its 26 bomb technicians recently began using a new 4\1/2\-inch-high robot to ferret out possible explosives. Much smaller than its predecessors, it can be used to roam under trucks or through theater aisles to inspect suspicious items. But technology can be a double-edged sword, and Spencer says his people remain hamstrung as long as the Internet provides free recipes for disaster. ``We can't do anything because there's a freedom of speech mandate that says people can put on the Internet what they want, and people will access if if they want to access it,'' he said. ``The way to stop it is for parents to monitor what their kids are doing.'' Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, I stand in strong support of the Feinstein- Biden amendment, which would make it a Federal crime to teach someone how to make a bomb if you know or intend that it will be used to commit a crime. This seems pretty simple and straightforward to me. Many Americans-- no, I think most Americans--would be absolutely shocked if they knew what kind of bone-chilling information is making its way over the Internet. You can access detailed, explicit instructions on how to make and detonate pipe bombs, light bulb bombs, and even--if you can believe it--baby food bombs. Let me give you just a small sample. A guy named ``Warmaster'' sent this message out over the Internet about how to build a baby food bomb. Here's how his message goes: These simple, powerful bombs are not very well known even though all the materials can be easily obtained by anyone (including minors). These things are so [expletive deleted] powerful that they can destroy a car. The explosion can actually twist and mangle the frame. They are extremely deadly and can very easily kill you and blow the side of the house out if you mess up while building it. Here's how they work. And then the message goes into explicit detail about how to fill a baby food jar with gunpowder and how to detonate it. The thing about this bomb, The message observes, Is that the glass jar gets totally shattered and pieces of razor sharp glass gets blasted in all directions. Warmaster's recipe also elaborates on how you can make the bomb more effective still: Tape nails to the side of the thing, It says. Sharpened jacks (those little things with all the pointy sides) also work well. The good thing about those is any side it lands on is right side up. If the explosion doesn't get'em then the glass will. If the glass don't get'em then the nails will. Now, I'm not making this stuff up. And what this amendment says is that if Warmaster gives his recipe to some young kid--intending or knowing that the kid will go build one of these bombs and blow it up over at the local school playground--then Warmaster should be put behind bars. Right now, that's not a Federal crime. It should be--no ifs, ands, or buts. I take a back seat to no one when it comes to the first amendment, and the protection of our most cherished rights of free speech. But there is no right under the first amendment to help someone blow up a [[Page S7274]] building. There is no right under the first amendment to be an accessory to a crime. And there is nothing in the first amendment that says we must leave our good sense at the doorstep. This is not the first time that Senator Feinstein and I have tried to put this crime on the books. We tried to add it back to the terrorism bill in April. But our Republican colleagues derailed our effort. Evidently, there were those on the House side who didn't like this provision--who for some reason didn't think that intentionally teaching someone how to build a bomb should be a crime. I'm glad that our Republican colleagues here in the Senate have come to their senses. And I hope--and urge--that they will do all that they can to make sure their House counterparts do the right thing this time. This amendment is simple and straightforward. If you're one of these guys who has made a name for himself writing manifestos like ``The Terrorist Handbook'' or ``How To Kill With Joy''--and if someone comes to you and says: ``Tomorrow morning, a group of police officers is going to be meeting in the 5th Street precinct--and I want to blow it up.'' And if you then say: ``Here you go--I've got just the recipe for you.'' It seems to me that that should be a crime. And I'm glad the Senate has seen fit to join Senator Feinstein and me in our effort to make it a crime. Mr. NUNN. Mr. President, this amendment has been cleared with the Judiciary Committee. It is not in our jurisdiction, but it has been approved by both Senator Hatch and Senator Biden. So I urge support of the amendment. Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, the amendment has been cleared. I urge its adoption. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The question is on agreeing to the amendment. The amendment (No. 4428) was agreed to. ------------------------------------------------------------------------- [Congressional Record: September 9, 1996 (Senate)][Page S10036-S10047] From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov] [DOCID:cr09se96-38] ***** Amendment to Prohibit Criminal Bomb-Making Instruction Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I rise to express my great concern and disappointment with the conferees named by the other body who insisted on striking section 1088 of the Senate's DOD authorization bill. Section 1088, an amendment by Senator Biden and myself would have prohibited teaching bombmaking for criminal purposes. As my colleagues will recall, this amendment was accepted in the Senate as part of the antiterrorism bill last summer in addition to being part of the Senate DOD authorization bill. Regrettably, as happened this time, the other body dropped it from the bill. The bombing in Centennial Olympic Park is only the most recent pipe bombing. In just 10 days, from July 21 to July 31, my staff found seven newspaper accounts of bombing incidents. A 15-year-old boy, in Irving, TX, blew off three fingers with a bomb he learned to make using the Anarchist's Cookbook from the Internet.-- Dallas Morning News, July 26, 1996. A high school student from Providence, RI, assembled a foot-long bomb after obtaining instructions from the Internet.--Newsday, July 28, 1996. A 16-year-old boy from Plainview, TX, lost a finger when a homemade bomb exploded. The Bomb was made using information from the Internet.-- Newsday, July 28, 1969. In Pennsylvania, three teenagers carrying a list of 20 ingredients needed to build a bomb were arrested after breaking into the Penncrest High School chemistry lab. They downloaded this list from the Internet.--Chicago Tribune, July 23, 1996. In Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, sheriff's officials believe information available over the Internet was used in a series of pipe bombings which destroyed four mailboxes, a guard shack and a car. Four teenagers were arrested in this case.--Los Angeles Times, July 27, 1996. In Orange County, CA, police believe four teenagers used the Internet to get instructions on building acid-filled bottle bombs. One of those bombs burned a 5-year-old boy at a school playground in April.--Los Angeles Times, July 27, 1996. A 23-year old man, from Torrance, CA, used a 10-inch-long pipe bomb which blew out three windows in his home. He obtained the bomb making instructions from a manual on homemade bombs.--Los Angeles Times, July 27, 1996. [[Page S10041]] In addition to the explicit explanations on how to make all sorts of bombs, the Terrorist's Handbook, downloaded by my staff from the Internet, also encourages criminal behavior. Let me read a section entitled, ``Checklist for Raids on Labs.'' In the end, the serious terrorist would probably realize that if he/she wishes to make a truly useful explosive, he or she will have to steal the chemicals to make the explosive from a lab. This section ends with the needed lists of solid and liquid chemicals needed to make most bombs. This amendment would have prohibited the teaching of bomb making if a person intends or knows that the bomb will be used for a criminal purpose. Additionally, the amendment prohibits the distribution of information on how to make a bomb if a person intends or knows that the information will be used for a criminal purpose. This information is not something that one would use for a legitimate purpose or information that can be found in a chemistry textbook on the back shelf of a university library. What my amendment targets is detailed information that is made available to any would-be criminal or terrorist, with the intended purpose of teaching someone how to blow things up in the commission of a serious and violent crime--to kill, injure, or destroy property. This provision could give law enforcement another tool in the war against terrorism--to combat the flow of information that is used to teach terrorist and other criminals how to build bombs. Some question the constitutionality of this provision. Common sense should tell us that the first amendment does not give someone the right to teach someone how to kill other people. The right to free speech in the first amendment is not absolute. There are several well known exceptions to the first amendment which limit free speech. These include: Obscenity; child pornography; clear and present dangers; commercial speech; defamation; speech harmful to children; time, place and manner restrictions; incidental restrictions; and radio and television broadcasting. I do not for 1 minute believe that the Framers of the Constitution meant for the first amendment to be used to protect the teaching of methods to injure and kill. However, knowing that there would be concern over the first amendment, I carefully crafted this amendment with constitutional scholars. I'd like to read you some of what they said about this amendment. I think the language . . . is about as tight as it could be . . . the reasonable-knowledge, explosive materials, and furtherance-of-a-criminal purpose language is all clear enough; these are legal terms of art and unlikely to be found void for vagueness.--Richard Delgado, University of Colorado at Boulder. The rigorously-protected talk anticipated by the first amendment is, in brief, political discourse, in the widest sense of that term. This kind of talk does not include routine commercial speech (including advertisements), pornography and obscenity, planning for criminal activity, and related forms of expression. Commonsense distinctions should be apparent here. These distinctions would rule out anyone's instructing others in how to make explosives, especially when it is known to the instructor that the explosives being talked about are to be made and used by his students as part of an illegal enterprise.--George Anastaplo, Loyola University of Chicago. Some civil libertarians attempt to immunize virtually all talk from government regulation, but a stable community would be difficult if not impossible if this should ever become the rule. Others have gone so far as to justify actions, including some violent actions, as forms of expression that are entitled to freedom-of-speech protection. But even these theorists are reluctant to argue that blowing up public buildings should be considered a form of expression protected by the First Amendment.--George Anastaplo, Loyola University of Chicago. In today's day and age when violent crimes, bombings and terrorist attacks are becoming too frequent, and when technology allows for the distribution of bombmaking material over computers to millions of people across the country in a matter of seconds, some restrictions are appropriate. Specifically, I believe that restricting the availability of bombmaking information, if there is intent or knowledge that the information will be used for a criminal purpose, is both appropriate and required in today's day and age. My amendment to this bill was an important, balanced measure to confront the problems presented by today's rapid growth in technology, and I am extremely disappointed that it was removed during conference.