The congressman said the nation's Mideast and immigration policies made it easier for the terrorists to carry out their attacks.
By PATRICIA MEADE
and DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR STAFF REPORTERS
YOUNGSTOWN -- For those who watched CNN as members of Congress sang "God Bless America" and looked for U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr., you're right, he wasn't there.
"He was not in downtown Washington, nor was he on Capitol Hill," said spokesman Charles Straub. "He was not able to get back to Capitol Hill for that event."
In the aftermath of Tuesday's terrorists attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., members of Congress gathered for the sing-along, which was televised about 7 p.m.
Straub said Traficant of Poland, D-17th, was in Washington at a private home but declined to say whose, saying it wasn't important because the purpose was to get him away from the Capitol building.
What happened: When the federal buildings were evacuated, out of fear that they were potential targets, Traficant and other members were taken out of harm's way, Straub said.
"He didn't come back until late last night or not at all, I'm not even sure," Straub said this morning.
Members filtered back throughout the day Tuesday, and some had left town, Straub said. The sing-along was somewhat spontaneous event, put together by members through random phone calls with one another, Straub said.
"It was touching and nice to see, but it was difficult to get hold of all the members and see that everyone made it back up here," Straub said. "There was no legislative business, no call for members to come back to the House."
Back at work today, Traficant delivered one of his trademark one-minute speeches on the House floor, saying the nation's "one-sided" policy in the Mideast and its lax immigration laws made it easier for the terrorist attacks, which he called a "tragic war against America."
"Yesterday showed the failings of American policies," Traficant said. "This attack was planned for months, maybe years. Where's our intelligence network, our human intelligence network?"
His concern: Attacks such as the ones on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington show how easy it is to commit acts of terrorism in this country, Traficant said.
"Our borders are so wide open, terrorists could cross them with a nuclear warhead," he said. "And it may be unpopular to say, but I believe America's policy in the Mideast is so one-sided that we endanger now American citizens. We must be fair in our policies."
He also had advice for his fellow Congress members: "Congress must now look in the mirror and do what is right and be fair." Traficant did not explain what he believes is right and fair during the speech.