International Organizations United States. Congress. House. Committee on Forei.

U.S. relations with Colombia : joint hearing before the Subcommittees on International Security, International Organizations, and Human Rights and the Western Hemisphere of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, One Hundred Third Congress, second session, August 3, 1994 online

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Online LibraryInternational Organizations United States. Congress. House. Committee on ForeiU.S. relations with Colombia : joint hearing before the Subcommittees on International Security, International Organizations, and Human Rights and the Western Hemisphere of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, One Hundred Third Congress, second session, August 3, 1994 → online text (page 3 of 9)
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continued importation of drugs creates in the United States. There
is a discontinuity here which is profoundly disturbing.

In a totally different context, a few days ago Secretary Chris-
topher testified before us, and I asked him to reconcile a similar
discontinuity in U.S. foreign policy with respect to the question of
possible risks entailed in certain operations: Rwanda, Bosnia, So-
malia, what have you. Here is a country which apparently accepts
with equanimity the unnecessary death of hundreds of thousands
of American citizens through smoking, drinking, drug use, auto-
mobile accidents, criminal violence in our streets and in our
homes — hundreds of thousands of Americans die as a result of
these actions.

But the concept that as the only remaining superpower we ago-
nize over participation in those situations because we may sustain
a handful of losses on the part of our uniformed military, every one
of whom is a volunteer, is a discontinuity and an absurdity which,
to the rationale mind, is as incomprehensible as the legal opinion
we have been discussing.


I would like to go beyond the immediate question and basically
raise two issues. My understanding is that Colombia is interested
in being included in any expansion of NAFTA. I wonder if, Ambas-
sador Skol, you could comment on that.

Mr. Skol. Mr. Chairman, Colombia certainly has expressed a
strong interest in a free trade agreement with the United States,
as have a number of other countries around the hemisphere. And
the factual situation about economic reform, change, modernization
in Colombia, particularly under Cesar Gaviria, would certainly
qualify Colombia as one of the leading countries in the hemisphere
that would be able to benefit from free trade. And the United
States would be able to benefit from free trade with Colombia.

The issue, of course, of how fast we go. Under what cir-
cumstances there will be a stand-alone free trade agreement or ac-
cession to NAFTA has not been decided yet. But certainly Colombia
is interested.

Mr. Lantos. Let me just offer a word of caution, because what-
ever Colombia's qualifications may be in terms of economic develop-
ment and other relevant criteria, until and unless there is a dra-
matically more effective effort by the Government of Colombia to
deal with the Cali cartel and the whole issue of drugs, there isn't
a snowball's chance in hell that this body would even consider dis-
cussing the issue of NAFTA accession. And I would be grateful if
at the appropriate level you would convey this.

Mr. Skol. Mr. Chairman, with pleasure I will convey that, but
I can also tell you that the administration agrees with what you
are saying. Narcotics cooperation, an effective narcotics program is
at the cornerstone, the heart of our relationship with Colombia.
And the administration would have no interest in making any
snowballs to see whether they would survive in hell under cir-
cumstances other than those which you outlined.

Mr. Lantos. A few days ago I received a letter, I believe some
other colleagues may have received a similar letter, from the Presi-
dent-elect of Colombia. It is a remarkable letter. Without objection,
I would request that it be included in the record at this point.

Mr. Torricelli [presiding]. Without objection.

[The information appears in the appendix.]

Mr. Lantos. I would like to raise some points in this letter. And
I will invite both Ambassador Gelbard's and Ms. Roseborough's and
your comments on that, because this letter is either one of the most
cleverly written public relations documents I have seen in a long
time, or it is a ray of very significant hope for very constructive de-
velopments, both within Colombia and in our relations with Colom-

After the President talks about our common struggle against
drug trafficking, he establishes his own bona fides in this field by
saying, "I know in a very personal way the kind of threat drug traf-
fickers represent to our democracies. The four bullets still lodged
in my body are a constant reminder of the 1989 cartel attempt to
assassinate me at Bogota International Airport. I was lucky, unlike
many of my compatriots who have fallen victim to the brutal vio-
lence the cartels have wreaked in my country.

"Once again," he goes on to say, "we are the target of their dia-
bolic machinations. The taping of a telephone conversation between


a cartel leader and a journalist revealed their frustrated efforts to
infiltrate the campaign organizations of Colombian Presidential
candidates. I was perfectly aware of this threat when I entered the
Presidential race. That is why I established an independent moral
ombudsman in my campaign. That is why my campaign books and
records have always been open to public scrutiny. I also expelled
several sympathizers when it became evident that they were not up
to our rigid ethical standards. We rejected several contributions be-
cause of their unclear or obscure origin. That is why I am com-
pletely confident that my campaign was successful in rejecting drug
traffickers' undercover efforts to spread their corrupting influence.

This has been an issue much discussed in our media. I would like
you, Ambassador Skol, to state for the record the official govern-
ment position on what our judgment is concerning these charges
and allegations.

Mr. Skol. Mr. Chairman, we have reached no definitive judg-
ment on what exactly happened during the electoral campaign. We
know and we have reached a judgment that the cartels tried to
bribe their way into the campaigns. Whether they did or not

Mr. Lantos. Both campaigns?

Mr. Skol. Yes, sir. Whether they did or not, we cannot reach a
conclusion. However, given the tapes, the transcripts of many of
which have been released, and given other allegations, it is a log-
ical human response and it is a good human response of the Gov-
ernment of the United States to question, to be concerned about
these allegations.

It is our firm conclusion that the only way to test the allegations
begins this Sunday when President Samper is inaugurated — to see
just what kind of commitments, what kind of actions, what kind of
policies his regime enacts and implements in the drug area.

That is the proof of the "flan," as could be said in a country like
Colombia. It is the way it has to happen. That is our conclusion.
What physically happened during the campaign — we have not
reached a definitive conclusion.

Mr. Lantos. Do you expect to reach a definitive conclusion some-
time in the future?

Mr. Skol. I simply cannot answer that, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Lantos. What efforts are under way on the part of our Gov-
ernment to try to reach a definitive conclusion?

Mr. Skol. The Government of Colombia itself is investigating.
President-elect Samper has called for an investigation. We continue
to look into our own records and various sources.

I just simply do not know whether the normal methods, even the
extraordinary methods that are often used to find out what has
happened in the past will produce the kind of evidence which will
enable us to reach a definitive conclusion. And that is why, again,
our focus, our interest, is overwhelmingly on what physically actu-
ally happens after this Sunday in Colombia.

Mr. Lantos. Ambassador Gelbard, do you have anything to add?

Mr. Gelbard. Clearly, Mr. Chairman, there were numerous at-
tempts, numerous accusations, and considerable reports of — and
charges of campaign contributions that were made by the Cali car-
tel and others. And incidentally, it is not just the two principal can-
didates, but a third candidate too. The totality of the evidence or


the reports that have come out concerning the involvement of drug
traffickers in the campaign would cause one to think that there
was a certain amount of credence to the reports.

Samper has very strongly, vigorously denied any knowledge, any
awareness of any such acceptance of any funds from traffickers. In
fact, as you reaa in his letter, he was referring to one instance of
people in his campaign who were removed because there was credi-
ble belief that they had taken trafficker funds.

The fact remains that there are enough reports out there to real-
ly cause some serious concern. As Ambassador Skol said, when he
and Chris Arcos met with President-elect Samper a few weeks ago,
they discussed this issue in some detail. There was a commitment
from Samper that a thorough and objective investigation would be

We would certainly hope that this would be an independent in-
vestigation. And under the Colombian judicial system, the prosecu-
tor general in fact is independent of the executive branch and is
actually part of the judiciary, and in fact, happily, there is a new
prosecutor general in Colombia.

But also, as Ambassador Skol says, and as I said earlier, we feel
that it is essential to maintain and to establish with the new gov-
ernment the strongest possible counternarcotics program. We have
had very serious, thorough, and I have to say good conversations
with the three ministers designate last week when they were here.

We want to see them follow through on the commitments. I had
one follow-up conversation just yesterday with the minister des-
ignate of defense. We hope — and expect — that we will be able to de-
velop even better cooperation now that there is a new prosecutor
general replacing Gustavo de Greiff. And that is where the proof
will be.

Mr. Lantos. Ms. Roseborough, do you have anything to add?

Ms. Roseborough. No, thank you.

Mr. Lantos. I fully agree with the two of you that the proof of
the flan — and if you were in Spain you would say the proof of the
flan flan — is in the eating. And we look forward to that.

So let me just conclude with one question. In this letter of the
President-elect, he makes a very strong, powerful, flat, unequivocal
statement. Let me read it to you. This is in the context of what the
Colombians are going to do.

"We will continue doing what we have done successfully, vigor-
ously applying all our law enforcement resources to investigate,
track, and put in jail the drug lords and their accomplices."

Now comes the key sentence. "We know who the bosses of the
Cali cartel are, and we will capture them."

This is not Napoleon's campaign in Russia with all its uncertain-
ties. This is not the Second World War. This is not even the
Peloponnesian Wars. This is a relatively simple operation against
a finite number of individuals.

The President-elect claims he knows who they are. He knows
where they are. And he will capture them.

Taking your very wise comment that the proof of the flan is in
the eating, what timeframe do you think it is reasonable for the
President-elect of Colombia to live up to this promise?

Mr. Skol. A most difficult question, Mr. Chairman.


Mr. Lantos. Well, it is a very simple question, and I really ex-
pect a straight answer from both of you. We are not dealing with
complex, difficult things, such as at what point will we reach 100
percent coverage of all American citizens with medical care. That
is a more complex issue. Or at what point will we eradicate vio-
lence in American cities.

The President-elect of Colombia says he knows who these people
are, and I quote again, "We know who the bosses of the Cali cartel
are, and we will capture them."

Give me the timeframe.

Mr. Skol. Mr. Chairman, he goes on to say in that same para-
graph, "We will need the continuous help of the United States and
technical support, training, intelligence, and exchange of evidence
to attain this goal."

Mr. LANTOS. Assuming that that is forthcoming.

Mr. Skol. Assuming that that is forthcoming. How long did it
take to capture Escobar? It was 18 months. If that is a fair stand-
ard, perhaps that is a fair standard in Colombia, but I really can-
not give you a timeframe for what is — I think the Colombians
would tell you that it is somewhat more complicated and difficult
and dangerous than you have indicated.

But you are absolutely right to cite this one sentence in Presi-
dent-elect Samper's letter. We were delighted to see it and we will
want to provide, with Congress' support technical support, training,
intelligence, and exchange of evidence to attain this goal.

Mr. Lantos. In my letter congratulating the President-elect, I
asked him to respond to me with a specific date as to when this
felicitous event will take place. And I will hold him to it.

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Torricelli. Mr. Smith.

Mr. Smith. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. This is a very
enlightening hearing and it continues to be a very disturbing one.

Ambassador Gelbard, earlier you noted that Congress had im-
proved conditions on assistance to Peru for the purpose of
counternarcotics. Having just been in Peru and spoken with many
of our key personnel in our embassy, as well as with top people in
the Peruvian Government, you raise an issue which they raised as
well. You suggested the release of those funds for alternative pur-
poses. It is my understanding that some of it is conditions extend
back to fiscal year 1991.

What are the administration's plans to notify Congress about the
release of those funds, as well as subsequent funding for alter-
native development in Peru?

Mr. Gelbard. We would intend to use those funds for projects to
support the new integrated drug strategy which the Fujimori gov-
ernment has put together, for a combination of sustainable develop-
ment and alternative development programs for use in direct crop
substitution, infrastructure development, and also projects to draw
individuals who went into the coca-growing areas back to the areas
they came from and to prevent people — to encourage people not to
leave those zones.

Additionally, we intend to try to use those funds to leverage
funding from other bilateral and multilateral sources.


Within the last 2 weeks, I have been working extensively and
reached agreement with the World Bank, to begin for the first time
to provide significant funding, they have said, for alternative devel-
opment programs in Peru and Bolivia. We hope we would be able
to combine our efforts in both those countries with the World Bank
and U.S. Government bilateral funds.

Mr. Smith. Can you tell our subcommittees when the congres-
sional notification will be submitted for the use of those funds? It
seems to me the ball is in the administration's court. When will
you come and say, this is what we want to do; this is when we
want to do it.

Mr. Gelbard. Actually, Mr. Congressman, I may have been in
this business too long now, but I was involved back in 1991 trying
to release those funds at that time, and we have tried over time,
but most recently we have briefed staff of this committee about our
plans as recently as last Friday. But we did not conclude, I am
told, that briefing with the approval of the committee staff that we
should go forward and notify.
Mr. Smith. Say that last part again, please.

Mr. Gelbard. We did not conclude that briefing, I am told, with
the approval of the committee staff that we should go forward and
provide the formal notification.

Mr. Smith. When will the formal notification

Mr. Gelbard. Well, we would like to reach agreement with the
staff that we would get a positive response.

Mr. SMITH. Was the Minority staff briefed on that?
Mr. Gelbard. If that is the case, we would go forward imme-

Mr. Smith. It would be my hope that the minority staff would
be briefed as well?
Mr. Gelbard. Yes, sir.

Mr. Smith. Let me ask you about the decision to halt the sharing
of information. I have read the interagency memorandum that was
compiled by the task force, with regard to the May 1 cutoff of the
radar information.

Is this the policy that the administration intended? There is no
suggestion that Congress could correct the problem. There did not
seem to be an intent to change the current policy, and allow the
sharing of that information until there was a bipartisan outcry
about the loss of this very valuable tool in interdicting drug traf-

Was it intended that the administration would simply implement
this policy prohibiting the sharing of intelligence? What were your
plans after that decision was made?

To the best of my knowledge, the administration did not come
forward and say this is the legislative fix that we want. Only after
there was an outcry did the administration try to remedy the situa-

Mr. Gelbard. In fact, as was discussed in the last hearing, Con-
gressman, the decision cutting off the intelligence sharing — the
data sharing — was done unilaterally by the Department of Defense
on May 1. It was not done on the basis of an interagency decision.
Mr. Smith. It is my understanding there were interagency con-


Mr. Gelbard. No, there were not. Subsequently the Department
of Justice's legal opinion came out. But at the same time as it came
out, they provided the proposed fix to the law. And then the Presi-
dent approved that fix, and it was sent to Congress.

But that legal opinion which has been so discussed here today
and at the previous hearing was subsequent to the unilateral ac-
tion of the Department of Defense.

Ms. Roseborough. Let me just add in fairness that members or
attorneys from the Department of Defense were part of an inter-
agency working group that looked briefly at this question before
the Department of Defense decided unilaterally to cease assistance.

Mr. Smith. About how many months were spent on that?

Ms. Roseborough. I do not know the answer to that question.

Mr. Smith. Could you provide that for the record?

[The information follows:]

U.S. Department of Justice,
Washington, DC, September 29, 1994.


U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC.

Dear Congressman TORRICELLI: The administration appreciates the opportunity
you afforded during the hearing on August 3, 1994 for the Department of Justice
to further explain to the House Foreign Affairs subcommittees on the Western
Hemisphere and on International Security the Justice Department's legal analysis
of the effect of 18 U.S.C. § 32(b).

You asked at the hearing how long the interagency working group that studied
this matter had been working before the Department of Defense terminated its in-
telligence sharing on May 1, 1994. Ms. Roseborough did not know the answer to
that question and you asked that the record be perfected at a later date.

The interagency working group referenced in the Department of Justice's legal
opinion first met on May 3. This group was convened by the National Security
Council after another Interagency Working Group had raised concern about the le-
gality of continuing to provide information to the Andean countries that would be
used by those countries to target and shootdown civilian aircraft.

Again, thank you for inviting a representative of the Department of Justice to tes-
tify on this important issue and for this opportunity to complete the record.


Sheila F. Anthony,
Assistant Attorney General.

Mr. Gelbard. In fact, if I just may add, Congressman, I would
just like to note that the — that that action to cut the information
off was indeed opposed in significant part by others in the govern-

Mr. Smith. Yourself included?

Mr. Gelbard. Yes, sir.

Mr. Skol. Congressman, if I may add that the feeling of intense
frustration about the paradox which you and Chairman Torricelli
and Chairman Lantos have outlined has been intense throughout
this period.

For the U.S. Government to have spent so much money and ef-
fort to help countries like Colombia and Peru reach the point in
their own antidrug effort where they could interdict aircraft with
our intelligence, and then to tell them that they couldn't have the
intelligence because they might use it, is a paradox and a shame
and an absurdity, and we therefore have to change the law so that
there is no question but that it is legal.


It is the overwhelming policy interest of the U.S. Government
and the American people that Colombia and Peru, with our assist-
ance, be able to interdict cocaine trafficking aircraft in the air.
That is the policy.

Mr. Torricelli. If the gentleman will yield for a moment, indeed
it goes to greater matters of personal embarrassment. I led a cadre
of members of this committee to Peru and Colombia 2 years ago to
urge them to begin air interdictions. We engaged in strenuous de-
bates. There were some fierce arguments.

Over time, we and those in each of those countries were persua-
sive in convincing those governments to begin air interdictions,
only now to be told by our own administration that it was illegal
and to cease providing the information.

I suspect that provided no end of entertainment in Lima and Bo-
gota to those who do not wish us well in this obvious contradiction
within the U.S. Government.

Thanks for yielding.

Mr. Smith. Ms. Roseborough, you testified that, to the best of
your knowledge, no one has been prosecuted while at least from the
administration's perspective, some of our people may have acted il-
legally in providing this information which may have resulted in a

Ms. Roseborough. Let me iust clarify that. To my knowledge,
no U.S. Government personnel have been prosecuted under those

Mr. Smith. Why would it not be reasonable to assume that,
under prosecutorial discretion, no one would be prosecuted while
we pursue this legislative fix?

Ms. Roseborough. The fact that a prosecutor might decide not
to prosecute a U.S. Government official for certain actions does not
justify the deliberate decision of that government official to violate
the law.

Mr. Smith. We are talking about a reading of the law that many
of us happen to believe is infirm. But if the actual statutory lan-
guage, based on your view, is in need of a remedy, that remedy is
now making its way through the Congress.

But, Ambassador Gelbard, as you and we all know so well, many
snags unrelated to this issue can tie up a conference and the lim-
ited calendar remaining before the recess leads me to believe that
it is possible, hopefully not probable, but possible that we may be
looking to some time in September when the defense bill finally
makes its way to the President's desk. That would be several
weeks, another month or so of sharing no information, and many
flights being given the green light.

Why cannot the administration find some way to remedy the sit-
uation administratively? As I indicated before, discretion could be
exercised on the prosecutor's side. Or perhaps an interim agree-
ment could have been reached, which I know you have tried but
regretfully have not been able to conclude with the Colombians and
the Peruvians.

Mr. Gelbard. That was going to be my response, Congressman.
We have indeed tried. We thought we had in fact the agreement
with those two governments based on visits that I made to the two
capitals and meetings I had with the governments of those two


countries, that if we were able to come up with the long-term solu-
tion, which is indeed what I do hope will be approved shortly as
a result of the DOD authorization bill, then those governments
would be willing to accept — to agree to the kind of interim agree-
ments that we discussed during my visit. And I regret that now
that has not been the case.

I sincerely hope that the DOD authorization bill is approved with
this administration amendment included, because I am afraid, if
not, I may have to testify on this subject again.

Mr. Torricelli. That is true.

Mr. Smith. To the best of your knowledge, does the language
which is making its way through the conference do the job? Are we
going to find, after the bill has been signed, that some other loop-
hole or nuance precludes the sharing of this information?

Ms. Roseborough. It is the goal of this administration to allow
the information to be shared on a lawful basis with the Govern-
ments of Colombia and Peru. We were sharing that information on
a lawful basis until the point in time when it became clear to us
that those governments intended to use that information to shoot
down civilian aircraft, and that they made the decision to change
the scope and nature of their interdiction programs.

This was not new information to those countries. In 1990 the
Bush administration issued an oral demarche to Colombia when it
indicated it might be moving to such an expansion of its interdic-
tion program, that such an expansion might jeopardize the provi-

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Online LibraryInternational Organizations United States. Congress. House. Committee on ForeiU.S. relations with Colombia : joint hearing before the Subcommittees on International Security, International Organizations, and Human Rights and the Western Hemisphere of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, One Hundred Third Congress, second session, August 3, 1994 → online text (page 3 of 9)