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Balancing Fear: Why Counter-Terror Legislation was Blocked after the Oklahoma City and London Bombings
Unformatted Document Text:  seen in the above section. In his weekly radio address, the President bitterly complained that House Republicans had gutted the counterterror bill, largely by removing its provision for roving wiretaps “under pressure from the Washington gun lobby” 81 . The House gave its final approval for the bill in a bipartisan 293-133 vote on April 18. Rep. Henry Hyde stated that the compromise legislation, “maintains the delicate balance between freedom and order” 82 . Five days after the one-year anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, Bill Clinton signed the new counterterrorism bill 83 . V. Why Was Clinton’s Anti-terror Legislation Blocked for One Year? There are numerous reasons for why it took Bill Clinton’s proposed anti-terror legislation over one year after the Oklahoma City bombing to pass through Congress. In this section, we will evaluate those reasons looking first at executive response and threat- shaping, then public opinion and mass fear, and finally institutional variables. The way in which President Clinton shaped the terror threat certainly hurt his legislation’s cause. He shaped the threat as a crime and though he continually spoke to the urgency of the terror threat, his framing of the conflict as one between law-abiding Americans and anti- government hate groups and right-wing extremists did not resonate with Congress or the public. One might argue that he had no choice in shaping the threat as such, but he could have pointed more often to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the original cause for the proposed legislation, as well as the 1993 siege of the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas. Instead, the President pointed fingers at right-wing personalities such as Rush 81 Editorial, “A Terrible Bill,” The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 18 April 1996. 82 Dewar, Helen. “Clinton to Sign Terrorism Bill Despite Lack of Enforcement Provisions, Aide Says,” The Washington Post, 19 April 1996. 83 Kuttler, Hillel. “Clinton signs bill aimed at dealing ‘mighty blow’ to terror,” The Jerusalem Post, 25 April 1996. 31

Authors: Rubin, Gabriel.
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seen in the above section. In his weekly radio address, the President bitterly complained
that House Republicans had gutted the counterterror bill, largely by removing its
provision for roving wiretaps “under pressure from the Washington gun lobby”
. The
House gave its final approval for the bill in a bipartisan 293-133 vote on April 18. Rep.
Henry Hyde stated that the compromise legislation, “maintains the delicate balance
between freedom and order”
. Five days after the one-year anniversary of the Oklahoma
City bombing, Bill Clinton signed the new counterterrorism bill
V. Why Was Clinton’s Anti-terror Legislation Blocked for One Year?
There are numerous reasons for why it took Bill Clinton’s proposed anti-terror
legislation over one year after the Oklahoma City bombing to pass through Congress. In
this section, we will evaluate those reasons looking first at executive response and threat-
shaping, then public opinion and mass fear, and finally institutional variables. The way
in which President Clinton shaped the terror threat certainly hurt his legislation’s cause.
He shaped the threat as a crime and though he continually spoke to the urgency of the
terror threat, his framing of the conflict as one between law-abiding Americans and anti-
government hate groups and right-wing extremists did not resonate with Congress or the
public. One might argue that he had no choice in shaping the threat as such, but he could
have pointed more often to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the original cause for
the proposed legislation, as well as the 1993 siege of the Branch Davidians in Waco,
Texas. Instead, the President pointed fingers at right-wing personalities such as Rush
81
Editorial, “A Terrible Bill,” The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 18 April 1996.
82
Dewar, Helen. “Clinton to Sign Terrorism Bill Despite Lack of Enforcement Provisions, Aide Says,” The
Washington Post, 19 April 1996.
83
Kuttler, Hillel. “Clinton signs bill aimed at dealing ‘mighty blow’ to terror,” The Jerusalem Post, 25
April 1996.
31


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