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Full Text of House Hearing on Terrorism in South Asia at which Rep. Rohrabacher Accuses State Department of Treacherously Supporting Taliban
[posted 28 October 2001]
Note from Emperor's Clothes: As requested by several readers, below is the full text of the House hearing discussed in 'Congressman: U.S. Set Up Anti-Taliban to be Slaughtered,' at http://emperors-clothes.com/misc/rohr.htm , as transcribed by the Federal News Service, (c) 2000.
Note that we have made one change, correcting an obvious error. In the following paragraph we inserted the phrase [opponents of the] in brackets - the omission of this or some similar modifier was obviously a transcription error, since without such a modifier the sentence contradicts the rest of the paragraph and indeed contradicts everything Rohrabacher said on July 12.
Here is the paragraph as corrected:
"And although the administration has denied supporting the Taliban, it is clear that they discouraged all of the anti-Taliban supporters from supporting the efforts in Afghanistan to defeat the Taliban. Even so much as when the Taliban was ripe for being defeated on the ground in Afghanistan, Bill Richardson and Rick Inderfurth, high-ranking members of this administration, personally visited the region in order to discourage the Taliban's opposition from attacking the Taliban when they were vulnerable, and then going to neighboring countries to cut off any type of military assistance to the [opponents of the] Taliban. This, at a time when Pakistan was heavily resupplying and rearming the Taliban."
The full text of the hearing follows.
- Emperor's Clothes
Copyright 2000 Federal News Service, Inc. Federal News Service [Posted for Fair Use Only]
July 12, 2000, Wednesday
SECTION: CAPITOL HILL HEARING
LENGTH: 17154 words
HEADLINE: HEARING OF THE HOUSE INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS COMMITTEE
SUBJECT: GLOBAL TERRORISM AND SOUTH ASIA
CHAIRED BY: REPRESENTATIVE BENJAMIN GILMAN (R-NY)
LOCATION: 2172 RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING, WASHINGTON, D.C.
TIME: 10:07 A.M. EDT DATE: WEDNESDAY, JULY 12, 2000
WITNESSES: REPRESENTATIVE DAVID BONIOR (D-MI); MICHAEL SHEEHAN, STATE DEPARTMENT COORDINATOR FOR COUNTERTERRORISM; ALAN EASTHAM, JR., DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR SOUTH ASIAN AFFAIRS
BODY: REP. GILMAN: The committee will come to order.
I'm pleased to call to order today's hearing on global terrorism. In particular, we'll be focusing on the most recent shift in the patterns of international terrorism in South Asia. This move away from the more traditional Middle East-based terrorist activity clearly deserves our attention and careful policy analysis.
Earlier this year, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright noted that the shift in the center of gravity for international terrorism has been eastward, toward Afghanistan and Southwest Asia. Each spring, under congressional mandate since the mid-1980s, the administration publishes a report called "Patterns of Global Terrorism." A copy of that has been circulated to our members today, and we have it with us. This report provides the Congress and the public with the latest trends and developments in international terrorism. The report for 1999 establishes that South Asia is the new locus of international terrorism, presenting both a regional threat and a growing threat to our nation. We'll be examining what this new trend means to our nation.
Afghanistan has emerged as a safe haven for master terrorists like Osama bin Laden and his radical supporters. We have on display today the State Department's "Wanted" posters for bin Laden, offering a $5 million reward for his capture. Neighboring Pakistan, which has long supported the Taliban, to its west, and those bent on violence in Kashmir, to its east, also contributes to the emergence of South Asia as the new locus of international terrorism.
Recent press reports indicate that the Russian intelligence services believe that the Taliban in Afghanistan promised to help Chechen rebels with their weapons, training, and possibly even with trained fighters from Taliban camps in Afghanistan. The Taliban vehemently denied those serious Russian charges. We'll be examining that issue today, as well.
Through a coordinated law enforcement approach, many terrorist threats emanating from South Asia were thwarted last year. As a result, American deaths from terrorism were down to five in 1999, one of the lowest levels in several years; and for that we're grateful. It's a sad but undeniable fact that Americans are often the most frequent terrorist targets around the globe. The 1999 Annual Terrorism Report notes that we have repeatedly asked Pakistan to end their support to elements that conduct terrorist training in nearby Afghanistan. We also asked that Pakistan interdict travel of all militants to and from camps in Afghanistan, to prevent militant groups from acquiring weapons and to block financial and logistical support for the camps.
In addition, the State Department's latest terrorism report notes that Pakistan officially supports Kashmiri militant groups that engage in terrorism.
The recent report from the congressionally mandated National Commission on Terrorism noted Pakistan's "occasionally excellent cooperation with the U.S. in fighting terrorism."
However, the commission also pointed out consistent Pakistani support for terrorism in Kashmir. The commission's report also called for naming Afghanistan as a state sponsor of terrorism so that all the sanctions against such a terrorist nation could be applied.
The new threat of radical Islamic terrorism emanating from the region can often be found in a loosely knit group of terrorists once trained, and hardened in the war against the former Soviet Union, in Afghanistan. Today, on the new battlefields of Chechnya and Kosovo, their war-making and fighting skills are honed and perfected. Some of these radical Islamic elements have been learning skills that later can be used against our nation and others in radical terrorist acts.
South Asia also presents new concerns for the war on drugs. By taxing rather than fighting the drug trade, the Taliban has effectively sided with the heroin producers and against innocent people, particularly our young people. The drug trade is also proving to be a lucrative resource for Bin Laden's terrorist network.
We are fortunate to have with us today a coordinator for Counterterrorism in the Secretary of State's Office, who helps prepare the annual "Report on Global Terrorism." He can help us sort out what this new shift means. We are also joined by the deputy assistant secretary of State for South Asian Affairs. Both of these witnesses will bring their expertise to our inquiry today.
Ambassador Sheehan, who of course oversees the preparation of the "Global Terrorism Report," is prepared to answer any questions on terrorism. And of course, no member is limited on what area of the globe he'd like to address.
Before we start with our witnesses, I welcome any comment from our ranking Democratic member, Mr. Gejdenson.
REP. SAM GEJDENSON (D-CT): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I commend you for calling this hearing.
Both the State Department report and the Bremer commission report point out what we've suspected for some time: that global terrorism is increasingly a collaboration and a coordinated effort; that, as you've indicated, it's moved from its home in the Middle East and North Africa now into South Asia. And certain factors -- the disintegration of Afghanistan in the post-Soviet era; the situation in Pakistan, a country that is now once again in military rule with a weakened civil society; an increased influence of religious clerics in their schools -- leads for a dangerous situation. Osama bin Laden, seen often as the primary enemy of the United States or one who's chosen the United States to be his primary enemy, seems to make his home in that region.
We in this country need to work with our allies globally. We've had some cooperation from Pakistan through the years. But reading the New York Times -- this last June 25th New York Times article on the education of holy wars leaves one with a very uneasy feeling. The authors go on to talk about these "Jihad factories," where young men are educated in schools that seem to direct them to take on the West.
We've had cooperation from Pakistan, but we also have challenges coming from there. And we certainly feel that the reestablishment of democracy and a civil society is critical to make progress in that country.
Afghanistan's situation is much more complicated -- a country that's seen war for long, the political situation has disintegrated, the economic situation has left many in despair, and it now seems to be a country that processes drugs and terrorists more than almost any other activity.
We need to pull and work with our allies and friends to contain and end this threat, which, as you pointed out, often targets Americans first.
REP. GILMAN: Thank you, Mr. Gejdenson.
Any other members seeking recognition? Mr. Rohrabacher?
REP. DANA ROHRABACHER (R-CA): Mr. Chairman, thank you very much, and thank you very much for holding this hearing.
As we discuss terrorism in South Asia, I think it is important to renew the members of this committee's and the public's acquaintance with the request that I have made for the last three years concerning American policy toward the Taliban, because as we examine -- as we examine terrorism in South Asia, one can't help but recognize that if it weren't for the fact that the Taliban are in power, there would be a different equation going on.
It would be whole different situation in South Asia.
After a year of requesting to see State Department documents on Afghan policy -- and I would remind the committee that I have -- I have stated that I believe that there is a covert policy by this administration, a shameful covert policy of supporting the Taliban -- the State Department, after many, many months -- actually, years -- of prodding, finally began giving me documents, Mr. Chairman. And I have, in the assessment of those documents, I have found nothing to persuade me that I was wrong in my criticism. And I might add, however, that there has been no documents provided to me, even after all of these years of requesting it, there have been no documents concerning the time period of the formation of the Taliban. And I would, again, I would hope that the State Department gets the message that I expect to see all those documents. And the documents that I have read, Mr. Chairman, indicate that the State Department, time and again, has had as its position that they have no quarrel, or that it would give them no heartburn, to have the Taliban in power. This, during the time period when the Taliban was struggling to take over Afghanistan.
And although the administration has denied supporting the Taliban, it is clear that they discouraged all of the anti-Taliban supporters from supporting the efforts in Afghanistan to defeat the Taliban. Even so much as when the Taliban was ripe for being defeated on the ground in Afghanistan, Bill Richardson and Rick Inderfurth, high-ranking members of this administration, personally visited the region in order to discourage the Taliban's opposition from attacking the Taliban when they were vulnerable, and then going to neighboring countries to cut off any type of military assistance to the Taliban. This, at a time when Pakistan was heavily resupplying and rearming the Taliban.
What did this lead to? It led to the defeat of all of the Taliban's major enemies except for one, Commander Massoud, in the north, and left the Taliban the supreme power in Afghanistan.
So what we hear today about terrorism and crocodile tears from this administration, let us remember this administration is responsible for the Taliban. This administration has acted in a way that has kept the Taliban in power.
One last note. Many people here understand that I have been in Afghanistan on numerous occasions and have close ties to people there. And let me just say that some of my sources of information informed me of where bin Laden was, they told me they knew and could tell people where bin Laden could be located. And it took me three times before this administration responded to someone who obviously has personal contacts in Afghanistan, to even investigate that there might be someone who could give them the information. And when my contact was actually contacted, they said that the people who contacted them were half-hearted, did not follow through, did not appear to be all that interested, appeared to be forced to be talking to him.
Mr. Chairman, we are concerned about terrorism, we are concerned about the Taliban because we believe in human life and human dignity. The Taliban, their worst terrorist acts are committed against the women of their own society, and let us not forget that. But none of the terrorism, which we will hear about today, by Mr. bin Laden or others, would be taking place with Afghanistan as their home base if it weren't for the policies of this administration. This administration has had a policy concerning the Taliban which has created this terrorist mess, which I predicted in this body on numerous occasions three and four years ago.
So I think -- I'm pleased that you had the hearing today, but let's keep this testimony in perspective.
REP. GILMAN: Thank you, Mr. Rohrabacher.
I am pleased to recognize the minority whip, the gentleman from Michigan, Mr. Bonior.
REP. DAVID E. BONIOR (D-MI): Mr. Chairman, thank you so much for your indulgence and your courtesies for letting me say a few words this morning. I want to thank you and all the members of the committee for the opportunity to be with you today. I look forward to the testimony that Ambassador Sheehan and Deputy Assistant Secretary Eastham will be presenting.
On earlier occasions, the administration has expressed the importance of working with Pakistan in addressing terrorism in South Asia. I also believe that cooperation with Pakistan continues to be very much in our national interest. Combatting and preventing global terrorism is one of the most serious challenges facing America's foreign policy in this new era.
It is my belief, Mr. Chairman, that Pakistan, as a long-standing ally of the United States, is committed to cooperating with the United States on terrorism. Its record shows that. Sanctioning Pakistan will serve no purpose other than to isolate them and aggravate the social and economic and political challenges in the region.
I also strongly believe that the Taliban support for terrorism, and its harboring of Osama bin Laden, must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. We must also respond to the threat, and I believe that is where Pakistan plays a very critical role. We must remember that it is not in Pakistan's interest to have the Taliban on its border. It is also not in Pakistan's interest to have terrorist groups operating within its borders. And it is clearly not in India's interest to have Pakistan isolated, thereby producing a greater threat to peace and stability in South Asia.
While it is undeniable that some terrorist groups operate in Pakistan, Pakistanis themselves are often the victim of terrorism. Moreover, Pakistan has been cooperating with the international community and the United States in counterterrorism efforts. In 1995 Pakistan turned over Ramzi Yousef, involved in the World Trade Center bombing, to the United States. In '97 Pakistan helped apprehend Mir Amal Kasi, who shot several people outside the CIA Headquarters. And in '98 and '99, Pakistan handed over two suspects involved in the bombing of our embassies in Africa.
I know from my talks with General Musharraf, when I visited Pakistan and India in April, that he is committed to dealing with the Taliban. He has met with one leader of the Taliban and is prepared to meet with others in Afghanistan. Throughout my trip, I gained a new appreciation of the new challenges facing the region. I also came away, more convinced than ever, that the United States must play a proactive role in helping to meet those challenges.
There are serious challenges and threats, which exist in Pakistan. But I also know that General Musharraf and General Aziz (sp), in Pakistan, are well aware of what needs to be done.
Pakistan has a responsibility to address terrorism in South Asia, but I believe we do, as well. The United States bears special responsibility in South Asia. During the war in Afghanistan, the United States armed Pakistan's neighbors and militants. Then, in my view, we callously abandoned the region. The result of that neglect has been disturbing: the Taliban taking control in Afghanistan, the critical economic conditions in India and Pakistan, not to mention the nuclear weapons development that has taken place.
Now we have an obligation to do our part to help establish stability in South Asia, and it is in our interest to do so. The threat of nuclear conflict and terrorism in South Asia is very real. We must reduce this threat and halt the arms race in South Asia, but I believe that unless Kashmir is addressed, Mr. Chairman, no real progress can be made. If we turn our attention away from the region, as we did after the war in Afghanistan, we risk further erosion, violence and disillusionment.
We are uniquely positioned, as a long-standing ally of Pakistan and as an emerging friend of India, to bring the parties together. Given the stake in South Asia, punitive economic sanctions are clearly counterproductive. Democracy will be strengthened not by economic sanctions but by economic aid. Funds for cooperative counterterrorism efforts, economic development, civil society building and respect for the rule of law are needed. The answer is not to further sanction Pakistan or India, but to open up possibilities for cooperation.
I look forward to working with the members of this committee and the administration as we respond to this serious issue and develop an approach to South Asia that recognizes our responsibilities in the region and strengthens our cooperation with our friends and allies.
I thank you for your time.
REP. GILMAN: Thank you, Mr. Bonior.
I'm going to ask our members, please be brief so we can get on with the hearing.
DEL. ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA (D-AS): Mr. Chairman, I want to fully associate myself with the statement made previously by the gentleman from Michigan. I think the statement was cogent, precise and right to the point.
And it's really a sad commentary, at least in my experience serving as a member of this committee, how we've become somewhat -- have applied somewhat of a double standard towards our relationship with Pakistan. I think this country has been a friend of ours, thick or thin, and it seems that we've been kicking this country every time we always need a whipping boy, it seems that Pakistan is always the one that we do this. So I want to commend the gentleman from Michigan for making a very comprehensive statement to that effect.
And I think we should extend the hand of friendship not only to Pakistan but as well as to India.
But we should not be in the middle of trying to lend whatever it seems to be the support that those friends who are supporting the issues affecting the interests of India, but we should also be mindful of the fact that Pakistan is just as much a friend of ours as it is India. And I want to commend the gentleman from Michigan for that statement.
REP. GILMAN: Thank you, Mr. Faleomavaega.
REP. ED ROYCE (R-CA): Yes, Mr. Chairman. I would just like to thank you for calling this hearing and second the words of my colleague from Southern California Mr. Rohrabacher, who I know has worked with you in the past and with myself on his request for documentation. I share his frustration with the administration's lack of cooperation in providing this documentation.
Let me also say that I think that there's been a lack of focus on the mayhem and anarchy coming out of Afghanistan. For many years now we have held hearings to try to get the administration to focus on the lack of policy, the lack of a strategy to try to bring resolution to what has happened there in Afghanistan.
I think in many ways we're not that surprised with the terror that's coming out of the region, given the fact that many of us called upon a -- called for a policy to try to do something about resolving the underlying problems that have given rise now to Afghanistan offering Osama bin Laden and others a place to do business, a place to prepare for the next round of terrorist activity. But this is the result of a lack of focus in our foreign policy in South Asia, and I hope that we can muster some attention and resolve to in the future develop a strategy to deal with Afghanistan.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GILMAN: Thank you, Mr. Royce.
I'm going to ask unanimous consent that statements by Congressman Peter King, Congressman Joseph Pitts, and Congressman Jim Saxton, who chairs the special oversight panel on terrorism in the House Armed Services Committee, be included at this point in the record.
Without further delay, we'll now proceed with the witnesses. Our first witness today is the Honorable --
REP. CYNTHIA MCKINNEY (D-GA): Mr. Chairman?
REP. GILMAN: Who is seeking -- Ms. McKinney.
REP. MCKINNEY: I had an opening statement.
REP. GILMAN: Please proceed. If you'll please make it brief, so that we can get on with our witnesses.
REP. MCKINNEY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I appreciate any attempt to understand and thwart the presence and growth of terrorism anywhere it appears in the world. But I hope this hearing provides the critical analysis that is much required.
Not too long ago, I wanted to take a Pakistani family, who are my constituents, to the White House to observe the arrival ceremony of Romano Prodi, then leader of Italy. Because I've had such a miserable experience with White House security, I phoned ahead of time, told them what gate I was arriving at, and, of course, according to requirements, gave my name, Social Security number, et cetera, for my guests and alerted the White House that we would be arriving in separate cars. We were told, fine, that everything would be okay.
I was driven to the White House by a young, 20-year-old white staffer of mine and my guests were driven in a separate car by another staffer of mine, a young woman of color. Before I could get into the White House, I was insulted at the White House gates because a Secret Service representative mistook my young white staffer for the congresswoman of six years, and asked me to prove my identity. After getting inside the White House, I was challenged at every checkpoint by the Secret Service, yet again.
But that was nothing compared to the experience of my guests, who had been invited by me and who were being escorted by my staffer. They had been vetted by the Secret Service and by White House Protocol, but when they showed up, I guess all the Secret Service anti-profiling lessons just flew out the window, as they had with me earlier. The family consisted of a 16-year old child in her silk Pakistani cultural dress, and her father, whose hair is beautiful, thick, black and curly. He also sports a beard.
And so, despite all the correct procedure of communicating with White House Protocol and Leg Affairs, despite the added precaution of calling the White House to let them know the specific gate that we'd be arriving at, none of the precaution and preparation on our part worked. I almost didn't get inside; but, unfortunately, my guests didn't get inside.
I have to admit that I was angry. I was angry that my guests were denied admission for an event that their congresswoman had invited them to. I was angry that they had been ordered by Secret Service to get out of the car, being driven by my staff person of color, who had never, ever been treated before in such a manner. They were dog sniffed at the White House gates as if they were common criminals, and then they were never admitted to the event to which they had been invited. And I was tired. I was tired of being humiliated every time I tried to exercise my very existence as a congresswoman. Tired of people who look like me and who think like me being persecuted just because we exist. And I have to admit that I shed a tear on that day for the humiliation of my constituents and of myself. But the 16-year-old girl put her arms around me and said, "That's okay, I'm used to it."
After much publicity, the First Lady graciously invited the entire family back and gave them a personal apology.
Now, I'm sure you're wondering, what does this have to do with the subject at hand? I think it has everything to do with the subject matter today. Unintended consequences of our own policies and hasty disengagement from those consequences. It's far easier to blame the victim than to solve the problem.
A few months after my White House experience with my guests, the country awoke to news that the Secret Service was being sued by a few courageous black Secret Service agents who had the guts to say that something was rotten inside the Secret Service. And immediately it became clear how that grotesque treatment of me and my guests on that day flowed logically from the systemic mistreatment of minorities within the very organization itself and, indeed, our American community at large.
Mr. Chairman, I hope that today that this Congress is not going to do to Pakistan what the Secret Service did to my Pakistani American constituents.
We need a comprehensive approach to the problem of terrorism, and I will support that. But we also need to be balanced, and we need to get to the root problem and not deal with just the symptoms.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GILMAN: Thank you, Ms. McKinney.
REP. GREGORY MEEKS (D-NY): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
This hearing on global terrorism addresses a subject of great concern not only to the people of this nation but to people from nations all over the world. We have been the unfortunate witnesses of numerous terrorist attacks all over the world that have destroyed or altered the lives of individuals on nearly every continent. Whether it is in embassy bombings in Africa, government and commercial office buildings in Oklahoma and New York, car bombs in Ireland, mosque shootings and school bus bombings in Israel, kidnappings in South America, or plane hijackings in Asia, terrorism is a misguided and hateful method of addressing discontent with governments and other groups by targeting random, innocent people.
It is essential that the United States and all nations of good conscience work together on the best methods of combatting global terrorism.
The U.S. government, beginning with this Congress, has a special responsibility, as the world's only superpower, to set an example of evenhandedness and just dealings when it comes to fighting terrorism. Too often this nation's government and its peoples have chosen to unfairly target ethnic, racial, and religious groups, domestically or overseas, who are different from the majority of Americans, when trying to address a social ill or increase our national security. Throughout American history, these scapegoat groups have included Native Americans, African Americans, Italian and Japanese Americans, Jews, and, most recently, Arabs and Muslims. Policies based on the misguided targeting of ethnic groups when trying to address our domestic or national security have led to unconstitutional practices such as indicated by my colleague Cynthia McKinney -- racial profiling and the use of secret evidence.
Our focus on terrorism in Southeast Asia should not be for the purpose of condemning or casting aspirations -- aspersions on a particular nation or people because their predominant religion or form of government is different from ours. Congress must additionally resist playing favorites between one nation over another, no matter what political forces pressures us to do so.
In one of the background documents prepared by the committee, Afghanistan and Pakistan were the two countries singled out as concerns in a region where incidents of government and organizational terrorism exist in many nations. Both nations have experienced major government upheavals and instability in their recent past, and certainly the legitimacy of the Afghan government is in question.
However, the government of Pakistan has demonstrated continued cooperation with the United States in combatting terrorism, despite certain internal pressures that question U.S. cooperation.
Ambassador Sheehan retired as a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army after a career that included two tours on the National Security Council staff. He's a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, adjoining my congressional district.
MR. SHEEHAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, and thank you for this opportunity to address the shift of the locus of terrorism to South Asia.
In our annual report to Congress this year, Patterns of Global Terrorism 1999, we describe the shift in some detail. This was one of the two trends we identified as the most important recent developments in terrorism, the other being the shift from well-organized and hierarchical groups supported by state sponsors of terrorism to the loosely organized international networks of terrorism that are often able to raise funds and sustain themselves by smuggling, narcotics trafficking, kidnapping, extortion and other types of fundraising.
Mr. Chairman, I just returned from the Philippines, and before that in Colombia, where this new type of terrorism is manifesting itself in a very dangerous way. It is very troubling for American interests in both of those countries of long-standing importance to the United States.
I purposefully addressed the trends that I alluded to earlier on the very first page of my introduction to this report to show the importance of these trends. And the increased willingness and ability of terrorists to seek refuge in South Asia are a disturbing development, and they require us to re-focus our diplomatic energies and policy tools as well. I have a fairly lengthy statement, written statement, and I'll submit to the record, Mr. Chairman, and I'll briefly cover some of the main points of that statement in my oral remarks this morning.
REP. GILMAN: So ordered, without objection.
MR. SHEEHAN: Mr. Chairman, I'll talk about three areas this morning in my oral remarks. Number one is why South Asia, what's important about South Asia; secondly, what we're doing right now; and thirdly, what we'll do next to deal with this evolving threat.
Why has South Asia become the locus for terrorism around the world? Primarily the reason is Afghanistan and the complete collapse of the state of Afghanistan, starting in 1979 with the invasion of the Soviet Army. The long and ongoing conflict in Afghanistan attracted fighters from around the world, many of them at our bequest, in the mid-1980s. And the proximity of Afghanistan to other conflicts such as Kashmir and others in Central Asia also contribute to making it a hub of this type of activity. In addition, the welcome mat provided by the Taliban to these fighters that are often supporting the Taliban's fight against a northern alliance often also find refuge in Afghanistan for other agendas that they have in different parts of the world. In Afghanistan the situation is exacerbated by an explosion of narcotics trafficking and the finances involved with that, a virtual arms bazaar throughout the country, and a religious extremism that's fostered in many of the (madrases ?) in Afghanistan and nearby Pakistan.
Afghanistan came to the forefront of attention of the United States, although we have known about it, it's -- the increasing support for terrorism in the region came to the forefront after the bombings of our embassy in East Africa in August of 1988.
Also, last year, as Congressman Gilman mentioned in his opening remarks, we had a good year: only five deaths from Americans from international terrorism, the lowest in many, many years, three of those in Central Africa and -- no, three in Colombia and two in Central Africa. We did have continuing threats coming from South Asia, including the terrorist threat around the millennial period that manifested itself in Jordan, that wound its way back into Afghanistan, the hijacking of an aircraft from India that would up on a runway in Kandahar, and various other threats that manifested themselves around the globe that often had its tentacles leading back to the leadership and the camps in Afghanistan.
Why is Afghanistan important? Why is South Asia? Let me mention three reasons.
First, the most immediate are the threats the directly affect us around the world today. And as many of you know, recently the State Department has put out an additional warning, a public announcement of warnings that terrorist threats have increased around the world recently, many of those, again, winding their way back to Afghanistan.
Secondly, the terrorism that emanates out of this part of the world threatens regional stability, as mentioned by some of the members here, in Pakistan itself, the Kashmir conflict, other conflicts in Central Asia, reaching into the Caucasus and the Middle East and beyond.
And finally, over the longer term as the coordinator for counterterrorism I am concerned about the caldron of terrorism that's bubbling out of Afghanistan and will continue to threaten American interests in the longer term.
What are we doing to confront this threat? We're moving on a lot of different fronts. I'll again break those into three areas.
First, on the immediate front, we're working 24 hours a day times seven days a week to disrupt any cells that threaten Americans around the world. Working with our liaisons with law enforcement and intelligence organizations around the world, we are actively involved in disrupting any activities that threaten American interests. And I can assure you, Mr. Chairman, this is ongoing continuously, both the threat and our counterthreats.
Secondly, we're working very actively to isolate and contain this threat, put pressure on the sanctuary of these groups.
And over the longer term, thirdly, is what I refer to in the report and often in many of my remarks, we want to drain the swamp, which means that -- is the term I use to deny sanctuary to terrorist organizations that need space in order to organize its leadership, plan its activities, train its fighters, assemble its equipment and arms in order to conduct attacks. And the primary swamp that I'm concerned about right now, Mr. Chairman, is in Afghanistan, although there are many others around the world as well.
Let me say a word about resources while I have the opportunity. I thank this committee particularly and many of the members of this committee and the staff for the support they've given my office over the years. I would like to emphasize we have two important funding requirements in front of the Congress right now, funding for the Antiterrorism Assistance program and for a Center for Antiterrorism Security Training, CAST, that are being requested by the administration.
Right now in particular, the funding for the CAST seems to be in great jeopardy. This is a center that will help us train not only our diplomatic security personnel, but primarily it will train those law enforcement and security people that work with us on a day-to-day basis around the world to disrupt those cells I referred to earlier.
We need in the 21st century a 21st century terrorist (sic) training facility in order to confront the 21st century terrorist threats. And I appreciate your support, Mr. Chairman and others on the committee, as we work forward on this requirement.
In conclusion, I'd like to remind that our efforts to combat terrorism in South Asia and around the world start with our support from Capitol Hill, and often from this committee. Carefully calibrated counterterrorism legislation, such as those regarding state sponsorship, the foreign terrorist organizations and others, are very key to our efforts. Sufficient resources and the public discourse, such as the hearings, are also key. Your support, coupled with the force of our sustained diplomatic and political efforts, will help us drain the swamp in Afghanistan and in other states that are not mustering the political will to confront terrorists.
We've had a great deal of success in the past 20 years, Mr. Chairman. This success can be attributed to our commitment to stay the course and a tough counterterrorism policy and to rally international support. Applying diplomatic pressure, raising political will and levying sanctions, these actions have made many corners of the world intolerable for terrorists. We must continue to stay the course while adjusting to new geographic threats and the changing face of terrorism. We must maintain strong political will within the administration and in the Congress to be tough on terrorism and push our allies to be the same -- to do the same.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to appear before your committee today. I look forward to answering any of your questions or members of the committee. Thank you.
REP. ROHRABACHER: Thank you very much, Mr. Sheehan.
We have with us Alan Eastham, who has a long record of service in the State Department and in service of his country. He has been -- is now a special assistant and undersecretary for political affairs. He was involved with the Near East and Southeast in his responsibilities for a number of years, including Sri Lanka and the India desk officer.
He has been a staff officer in the Office of Combatting Terrorism and has a wide range of experience, and now oversees South Asia. And you may proceed.
MR. EASTHAM: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. To you and the members of the committee, I appreciate the opportunity to come up today to talk about an issue of great importance of the United States and its interests in South Asia.
Let me also express the regrets of Assistant Secretary Karl Inderfurth, who was originally invited to attend this hearing. He is presently on his way back from a visit to China, where he consulted on South Asian issues with the Chinese government, coincidentally on the same day as Ambassador Holum was there to talk about other issues relating to South Asia and other parts of the world.
I'd like to begin by talking about some of the events, actions we have taken since the last time we had an opportunity to testify before Congress regarding terrorism in South Asia. I would remind the committee that in October of 1999, the Security Council of the United Nations unanimously passed U.N. Resolution 1267, which calls on the Taliban to hand over Osama bin Laden to a country where he can be brought to justice.
Since October of last year, we have been diligently monitoring the application of the sanctions which were applied in that resolution, which include effects on financial transactions affecting the Taliban and a ban on flights by the Afghan national airline, which is controlled by the Taliban, outside Afghanistan.
With Russia and other countries, we've been talking in recent weeks about the situation in Afghanistan, including terrorism.
With India this year, we have established a joint working group on counterterrorism, which first met in February of this year. India has also agreed to accept and work closely with a legal attach at the U.S. embassy in New Delhi.
And a country which has not yet been mentioned in this morning's proceedings, with Sri Lanka, a friendly country, which has been fighting an insurgent group that employs the weapon of terrorism, we have enjoyed excellent cooperation in a number of areas related to counterterrorism.
I have a lengthy statement, Mr. Chairman, which I will at this point summarize, if that would be agreeable to you.
REP. GILMAN: With unanimous consent, so ordered.
MR. EASTHAM: Thank you.
Ambassador Sheehan and his colleagues have rightly stressed the shifting locus of international terrorism to South Asia. Though several South Asian countries face terrorist threats of one kind or another, terrorists in Afghanistan pose the greatest threat to U.S. interests, lives, and property in the region, and it will be that country which is largely the subject of my testimony today.
I would also like to take this opportunity to remind the committee of a number of tragic incidents which have occurred over the past several years in the region, for which I bear some responsibility, beginning in March of 1995, when members of the consulate staff in our consulate general in Karachi were murdered on their -- in transit between their homes and the office. That case remains under active investigation to this day. A similar incident occurred in late 1997, in which four American businessmen were shot to death. And that case also is under investigation.
In Kashmir in July of 1995 several foreign tourists were abducted while hiking in the mountains of that region. I have to say that we have devoted a great deal of time and attention to the case of Mr. Donald Hutchings, the American citizen who is still missing from that incident and with whose family we are still in touch. We are still very actively pursuing that case.
Ambassador Sheehan has mentioned the hijacking of the Indian Airlines flight last December, which had a profound effect and some relation to the earlier kidnapping in Kashmir by the fact that one of the Indian prisoners who was released as a result of the demands of the hijackers was also the subject of demands of the kidnappers of the Americans from 1995. At present the hijackers were last seen at the airport in Kandahar, Afghanistan. The gentleman who was released from Indian custody is presently in Pakistan. There have been no arrests in that case.
I would also draw your attention to November 12th, 1999, when the U.S. embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, was the subject of a rocket attack from parked vehicles.
The reason I bring these cases up, Mr. Chairman, is to remind you that there is still a clear and present threat from terrorism in the South Asia region.
It affects U.S. interests, it affects U.S. personnel, it affects U.S. property, and it is certainly worthy of this committee's attention and the attention of the Congress.
There have been many other such incidents against Indian interests in Kashmir, bombings in cities in India and Pakistan, and attacks, as I mentioned, against the government of Sri Lanka by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which we have designated as a foreign terrorist organization. These include an assassination attempt in December against Sri Lankan President Kumaratunga, which injured her and killed several other people. It is clear that the trend is toward more and more deadly attacks against targets in South Asia. We have strongly condemned these attacks in the region, as we do everywhere in the world. It is not acceptable, and indeed, reprehensible for individuals and groups to take -- to adopt this tactic as a means of achieving political goals.
With respect to Kashmir, Mr. Chairman, the president, when he visited South Asia in March, set out a number of principles which called for restraint, rejection of violence, respect for the line of control in Kashmir, and for India and Pakistan to renew their dialogue. We believe those parties are eminently practical and that they would, if pursued actively by the parties in South Asia, would lead to a reduction in U.S. violence, and indeed, considerable U.S. support in that regard.
It's Afghanistan, however, where the shifting locus of terrorism is most pronounced. I have, in my written statement for the record, addressed the historical factors in some detail. I noted that Mr. Rohrabacher has also addressed more recent history. I would just note, however, the immense suffering of the Afghan people over the last 20 years since the invasion of the Soviet army in that country in December of 1979. One major factor, which Ambassador Sheehan has already alluded to, is the fact that over the past 20 years, an entire generation of young men has grown up who know nothing but war. There is also an entire generation of young women who have come into mature life during that period who have known nothing but suffering. And it is toward peace in Afghanistan that our efforts are directed.
Sadly for the Afghans, the brutality and ruthlessness that they learned in fighting the Soviets has carried over into fighting other Afghans as the Afghan civil war has continued for the past 10 years. The breakdown of central authority in Afghanistan, the all too easy access to the tools of terrorism in the form of weapons and explosives, and the rise of ideologies in which violence against innocents is considered a legitimate tool have contributed to an increase in international terrorism emanating from that region.
The rise of the Taliban has also been a contributing factor. The Taliban had no previous experience, when they took power in Afghanistan, in administering a government, they had little experience with the outside world, they had a strong ideological motivation based in Islam and in the Pashtun-based society from which they derive, and they had a strong need for support from any quarter. This led them to depend on extremely questionable outside sources of support, including those who advocate violence from outside and, increasingly, the financial benefits of the narcotics trade.
They have since demonstrated that they support and sympathize goals from outside, which include the removal of U.S. forces from the region of the Gulf, and they have taken no significant steps to curtail the pursuit of terrorist means to achieve goals emanating from Afghanistan.
Ambassador Sheehan has outlined the steps we are taking to defend ourselves and to push back international terrorism. We have repeatedly demonstrated this over the past several years.
One factor I would also like to note, Mr. Chairman, is the need for governments to realize that support for groups will backfire. These groups always -- and I stress always -- pose a threat to the stability, security and other real national interests of their hosts and patrons, no matter the short-term political advantage which might be seen from activities against national adversaries. The Taliban in Afghanistan have yet to learn this lesson.
At the same time that we have been pressing the Taliban to take action to prevent the use of their territory for international terrorism, we have been careful to continue contributing to humanitarian programs in Afghanistan. We have provided support for schools, we are the major donor of food assistance to Afghans, we provide medical supplies and, most recently, have just announced a new $4 million donation for drought relief in Afghanistan, a country which is suffering from a significant drought which may lead to significant suffering and starvation in that country. We have had, we think, a positive impact on the lives of ordinary Afghans, because it is not their fault, and they should not suffer because the people who control that country support international terrorism.
With respect to Pakistan, several members have noted the close relationship we have had over the years with that country. We have also worked together against terrorism. Pakistan has offered its cooperation, as has been noted previously during this hearing. Pakistan wants to see peace and stability in Afghanistan. After all, Afghanistan is next door to Pakistan. It has considerable influence in Afghanistan and, with the Taliban, Pakistan has made known its view that the presence of Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan is an obstacle to stability. And Pakistan makes the point that it does not control the Taliban.
We will continue, and have done, have urged, Pakistan to use every aspect of its influence with the Taliban to convince them to deal with this issue in the manner called for in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1267. We are also very concerned that the problem of terrorism in Pakistan -- the country has taken some recent very welcome steps to address this problem -- has arrested a number of persons wanted for terrorist crimes, as has already been noted, and has announced it's taking a close look at foreigners living in Pakistan, to ensure they're there for lawful and peaceful purposes. I would note that the Pakistan press today, Mr. Chairman, reports that a senior delegation from the Pakistan Interior Ministry will be going to Afghanistan later this month to talk to the Taliban authorities about matters pertaining to terrorism and narcotics, and we welcome that as a manifestation of Pakistan's intent to deal with the problem as it affects that country.
We are also concerned, as I noted, because both Pakistani and U.S. interests have been attacked in that country.
Some terrorists and their supporters certainly continue to live in and move through Pakistan. This includes the organization formerly known as Harakat ul-Ansar, which was designated as a "foreign terrorist organization" by the United States. We'll continue to urge Pakistan to take action against such groups and to take all steps necessary to see it does not become a safe haven or a safe transit point.
I hope, Mr. Chairman, we can take as the example, the counternarcotics cooperation we have enjoyed with Pakistan for the past 20 years. We have come to the point where it is possible to see the end of the road for opium production in Pakistan. We have exemplary cooperation with that country in this area, and we hope that we can take that as a model for cooperation on counterterrorism.
I thank you very much for the opportunity. And I'll be happy to take your questions, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GILMAN: Well, thank you, Mr. Eastham, and Secretary Sheehan.
Let me first ask Ambassador-at-Large Michael Sheehan, at your recent Central Asia Terrorism meeting here in Washington, sponsored by the State Department, several of the government representatives from nations in the region, impacted by radical Islamic terrorism, talked about terrorists camps within Pakistan, as well as Afghanistan. Are you aware of any terrorist training camps inside of Pakistan?
MR. SHEEHAN: Mr. Chairman, our primary concern regarding camps is in Afghanistan. And I talked to those members of those -- all five countries from Central Asia that came to our conference. We had very productive discussions with them. They were all concerned primarily about Afghanistan and the camps there.
The situation in Pakistan is complicated. I may need a closed session to go into some more details on some of the aspects of it. In our annual report, we do mention the movement of terrorist groups through Pakistan. Primarily, my concern is the camps that are in Afghanistan; often in order to leave Afghanistan, many terrorists move through Pakistan, particularly Peshawar, out through the region. But they also move north through the Central Asian states, as well. But I think any other details regarding some activity of those camps, we might do in closed session.
But I would underscore to you, Mr. Chairman, the major source of camps for the training of those types of groups, reside in Afghanistan.
REP. GILMAN: But my question is, are there any -- specifically, are there any training camps in Pakistan?
MR. SHEEHAN: Mr. Chairman, I reviewed that question carefully with my analysts before coming up here. I think I'll need to, based on their advice, talk to you about that in a closed session.
REP. GILMAN: And a number of the Central Asian countries indicated that there was information of the terrorist camps in Pakistan. Are they accurate? Are those statements accurate?
MR. SHEEHAN: Again, Mr. Chairman, I think I'd have to discuss --
REP. GILMAN: All right.
MR. SHEEHAN: -- that in a closed session.
REP. GILMAN: All right.
With regard to both panelists, what is your candid view of the level of cooperation that we have received from Pakistan in recent years in the fight against international terrorism in the region?
MR. SHEEHAN: Mr. Chairman, the Pakistani government has cooperated with the United States government in counterterrorist actions over the past many years, and continue to do so actively as we speak right now, regarding helping us deal with specific threats to our security, both those threats that affect us within Pakistan, our embassy and other points of interest, but also regarding individuals that may be within Pakistan or transiting through Pakistan.
So in that regard, they get fairly good grades on cooperation on specific cases.
On the other side of the ledger, I must say that it is their policies in Afghanistan and to a lesser degree in Kashmir that contribute to the problem of terrorism that emanates out of Afghanistan. So it's a mixed record. They cooperate, but they also have policies that are very troubling to us, and we have had very frank discussions with them on those policies and urged them to address those issues. We remain closely engaged in a very high level with the Pakistanis on these issues.
And my particular concern is their relationship to the Taliban and how that affects our interest in counterterrorism.
REP. GILMAN: Thank you, Ambassador Sheehan.
Secretary, you seem -- did you want to comment on that?
MR. EASTHAM: I would just add that we have -- I would second Ambassador Sheehan's remark regarding cooperation on specific cases. The threats to U.S. installations --
REP. GILMAN: Could you put the mike a little closer to you?
MR. EASTHAM: Sure. Threats to U.S. installations, facilities, personnel, and interests in Pakistan receive the highest level of cooperation from the Pakistan government.
As Ambassador Sheehan has noted, the question of the Taliban and on the pursuit of longer-term interests in -- with respect to Afghanistan has an effect on Pakistani attitudes with respect to that country. And it would not be inappropriate to mention that policies toward Kashmir also have an effect. But I think that would endorse Ambassador Sheehan's remarks.
REP. GILMAN: To both panelists, why has the State Department failed in not designating the Pakistani-based LET group a foreign terrorist organization, especially since the legal threshold is not very high?
MR. SHEEHAN: Mr. Chairman, each -- every two years, by the -- actually, the legislation from the Congress require us to review foreign terrorist organizations. However, this year I've also decided, within the limited resources in my office, to review other groups during the year, because we can designate them as terrorist organizations at any time during the year.
We are currently reviewing the LT, the Lashkar-e-Toiba, actively for its designation as a foreign terrorist organization. The work has been done at the analytical level within the State Department. It's a very complicated and legal process, the designation of a foreign terrorist organization. And right now we're working with the Department of Justice and the Department of Treasury to complete that legal analysis.
We have been challenged twice in the past on our designations of FTOs in the U.S. court system, and we've won both times. So it's incumbent on us to be very well prepared before we designate a group for terrorism. And right now the LT, the Lashkar-e-Toiba, I think you're referring to, is under close review right now. And I expect, Mr. Chairman, to have an answer as to whether they'll be designated within the next weeks, perhaps months, depending on that legal process.
REP. GILMAN: We'd hope you'd keep this committee informed of your progress in that direction.
REP. SAM GEJDENSON (D-CT): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I think one of the things that we want to make sure people see clearly is that our concerns here are isolated to terrorist activities and threats thereby to the United States and our allies, and that what we want to make sure doesn't happen is that we don't want to create the appearance in any way that there's a conflict here between the West and Islam or, you know, people of the Muslim faith. This is isolated incidents. And certainly most of Islam, like most religions, focus on peaceful relations with their neighbors. So I just want to make sure the fact that we happen to focus on this region today doesn't leave people with any other impression.
My first question is, one is getting the sense more and more -- or at least I am -- that it's hard to figure out what comes first, but there's an economic aspect to all of this. You look at Colombia, you find the drug lords and the terrorists there. You come here and you find -- you go to Lebanon and you find in the Bekaa Valley they're growing poppies. You come to this area, and again, the drug trade, on one hand you can look at it, the drug trade is an easy way to make lots of money. The relationship here, though, seems to be very tightly woven. So that's my first question, you know, how much of the activity here is profit motivated -- trying to make money off drugs with a little bit of fervor on the side for your terrorist organization, and how much is terrorism with its own goals associated with that? So that would be the first.
The second is, what are the countries that have relationships and provide assistance with the Taliban and the government in Afghanistan?
MR. SHEEHAN: I'm sorry, what was the second question again?
REP. GEJDENSON: The second question is which countries have, you know, relations with the government in Afghanistan and provide assistance, military -- other than humanitarian, of course.
MR. SHEEHAN: On the first question regarding your question about terrorism and its economic roots, et cetera, I would -- you're absolutely right that the -- that most of the terrorism that I see, as the coordinator, when I look around the world, emanates from places where there is a breakdown of state control; where there is -- the old days of state sponsorship have really waned considerably, although there's a few that I have great concern with. But those are the less of my immediate concern. Where you have a complete breakdown of lawlessness in a place like Afghanistan, where you have the confluence of narcotics trafficking, arms smuggling, other types of illicit activity coupled with these other terrorist groups, you find this phenomena at a high rate.
In Afghanistan there are both types of terrorists -- those that seem to be just in the profit business, and others that are politically motivated. And some of them are just politically motivated and they aren't really interested in the terrorists. And those are some of the ones, frankly, that are more troubling. The ones that get caught up in narcotics trafficking or other illicit activities sort of lose interest in their terrorist goals. They're still of major concern, but not as threatening as the ones that are very focused in their political agenda. There's a little bit of both in Afghanistan.
Regarding your second question, the support for the Taliban, the Taliban finds itself extraordinarily isolated around the world today. Initially they were recognized only by three governments, by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The Saudis and the UAE both have an extraordinarily strange relationship with the Taliban right now. And I've discussed that issue with both of them at a very senior level. They have put a lot of pressure on the Taliban on a lot of issues regarding terrorism, narcotics traffic, and others, and have been cooperating with us on bringing pressure to bear on the Taliban.
The other country is Pakistan. Its relationship with the Taliban is also long-standing and complicated, and I wouldn't exactly describe it as very warm at this point. And as -- I'll let Al Eastham respond to this in more detail.
But I know that the Pakistani government is engaging the Taliban right now regarding all the issues that we have of concern and trying to get them to turn around their policies. Whether those efforts will bear fruit remains to be seen, but those are the main countries with relations with the Taliban.
MR. EASTHAM: I would just add that, on your first question regarding the nexus between drugs and terrorism, the Taliban have an ambiguous position on this. They say that the drug trade is un- Islamic, but they seem to permit it to occur and, indeed, to tax it along the way as a source of revenue. And this is a dichotomy in their policy which is a little bit difficult to deal with because it's the two policies are completely opposite.
We have been doing a great deal to focus on the problem of interdicting narcotics flowing out of Afghanistan. We have been working with all of Afghanistan's neighbors in this direction, and also with the U.N. Drug Control Program.
The dilemma in trying to suppress the narcotics traffic in Afghanistan, if you -- you have to provide assistance to the country to be able to do that, and that's very hard for us to do with the Taliban.
REP. GEJDENSON: Under the present restrictions, are we able to do democracy-building in, for instance, Pakistan, with the present sanctions? If we want to take resources, the present leadership in Pakistan is arguing it's trying to establish democracy at the grassroots level. Can we participate in that, or are we blocked from doing that with our sanctions?
MR. SHEEHAN: We can, Mr. Chairman, and we do.
REP. GILMAN: Mr. Gejdenson --
REP. GEJDENSON: Apology to my colleagues, one last thing. Are there any countries supplying weapons to the Taliban at this point?
MR. SHEEHAN: I think I'll have to go in closed session on that as well, Mr. Congressman. I'm not -- what I know about that is from classified sources. I'll be glad to talk to you about it after this.
REP. GEJDENSON: Thank you. You might check with Mr. Rohrabacher for any other information you need on Afghanistan -- (laughter). He seems to be very knowledgeable about the military situation there.
REP. GILMAN: Thank you, Mr. Gejdenson. Mr. Rohrabacher?
REP. ROHRABACHER: (Laughing.) This is a joke! I mean, you have to go to closed session to tell us where the weapons are coming from? Well, how about let's make a choice. There's Pakistan or Pakistan or Pakistan. (Laughs.) Where do you think the Taliban -- right as we speak -- I haven't read any classified documents. Everybody in the region knows that Pakistan is involved with a massive supply of military weapons and has been since the very beginning of the Taliban.
Let me just state for the record, here, before I get into my questions, that I think there's -- and it's not just you, Mr. Ambassador, but it is this administration and, perhaps, other administrations as well. I do not believe that terrorism flows from a lack of state control. A breakdown of state control, all of sudden you have terrorism. That's not what causes terrorism. What causes terrorism is a lack of freedom and democracy, a lack of a means to solve one's problems through a democratic process.
Afghanistan, from the very beginning, we have been -- when the Reagan administration was involved with helping the Afghans fight the Russians, which was engaged in trying to put a totalitarian government there -- because of Pakistan's insistence, a lion's share of our support went to a guy named Hekmatyar Gulbuddin, who had no democratic tendencies whatsoever. And since the Russians lost, we have not been supporting, the United States has not been supporting any type of somewhat free, somewhat democratic alternatives in Afghanistan, and there are such alternatives, and we all -- those of us who have been involved know that.
So there's no democracy or freedom in Afghanistan, where people who are good and decent and courageous people, have a chance to cleanse their society of the drug dealers and the fanatics that torture and repress, especially the women of Afghanistan. But the men of Afghanistan are not fanatics like the Taliban, either. They would like to have a different regime. Only the United States has given -- and I again make this charge -- the United States has been part and parcel to supporting the Taliban all along, and still is let me add. But you don't have any type of democracy in Afghanistan.
You have a military government in Pakistan now that is arming the Taliban to the teeth. And in Kashmir, what have you got? Kashmir, you have got an Indian government that supposedly is democratic, steadfastly refusing to permit those people to have an election to solve the problems there, democratically. You have got Christians; you have got Sikhs throughout India and Pakistan and Jammu, where the people's rights are being denied them. It is a breakdown in democracy in the subcontinent, not a breakdown in State control, that's causing the violence that threatens the world right now.
Let me note that, three years ago, I tried to arrange support, aid, humanitarian aid, to a non-Taliban-controlled section of Afghanistan, the Bamian area. Mr. Chairman, the State Department did everything they could to thwart these humanitarian medical supplies from going into Bamian. And we heard today that we are very proud that we are still giving aid to Afghanistan. Let me note; that aid has always gone to Taliban areas. So what message does that send to people of Afghanistan? We have been supporting the Taliban, because all our aid goes to the Taliban areas. And when people from the outside try to put aid into areas not controlled by the Taliban, they are thwarted by our own State Department.
And let me just note that that same area, Bamian, where I tried to help those people who are opposed to the Taliban; Bamian now is the headquarters of Mr. Bin Laden. Surprise, surprise! Everyone in this committee has heard me, time and again over the years, say, unless we did something, Afghanistan was going to become a base for terrorism and drug-dealing. And, Mr. Chairman, how many times did you hear me say that this administration either ignored that or -- a part of the problem, rather than part of the solution?
Again, let me just -- I am sorry Mr. Inderfurth is not here to defend himself -- but let me state for the record: At a time when the Taliban were vulnerable, the top person of this administration, Mr.
Inderfurth, and Bill Richardson, personally went to Afghanistan and convinced the anti-Taliban forces not to go on the offensive and, furthermore, convinced all of the anti-Taliban forces, their supporters, to disarm them and to cease their flow of support for the anti-Taliban forces. At that same moment, Pakistan initiated a major resupply effort, which eventually saw the defeat, and caused the defeat, of almost all of the anti-Taliban forces in Afghanistan.
Now, with a history like that, it's very hard, Mr. Ambassador, for me to sit here and listen to someone say, "Our main goal is to drain the swamp" -- and the swamp is Afghanistan -- because the United States created that swamp in Afghanistan. And the United States' policies have undercut those efforts to create a freer and more open society in Afghanistan, which is consistent with the beliefs of the Afghan people.
REP. GEJDENSON: But would the gentleman yield for one second?
REP. ROHRABACHER: I certainly will.
REP. GEJDENSON: I was wondering, during the time that the administration supported the Taliban and created this policy, who was president during those years?
REP. ROHRABACHER: Well, there were several presidents. And I would say that George Bush has to accept some of the blame. But I think the current administration -- no, the Taliban didn't exist before that, Mr. Gejdenson. Mr. Gejdenson, the Taliban -- by the way, which is one of the other myths, is that the Taliban were part and parcel of the mujaheddin. The Taliban, as both of you know, were not part of the mujaheddin. The Taliban basically sat out the war and came on the scene afterwards. Mullah Omar was not a renowned commander in the mujaheddin. And --
REP. GILMAN: Mr. Rohrabacher, did you want the witnesses to respond?
REP. ROHRABACHER: Yes, one last note. One last note. And that is -- thank you, Mr. Chairman. One last note. The Muslims are the victims of terrorism just as much as anyone else. In fact, Muslims are suffering more than anyone else. And I agree with my colleagues that we have to be very careful -- Mr. Gejdenson's absolutely right -- in making sure that as we look at this Taliban drug-related terrorism that is now affecting all of us, that we don't do something to send a message that this has something to do with the Islamic faith, because it does not, they are victims as well. And if you have any comments, please feel free. Thank you for giving me -- (laughs) -- your five minutes.
REP. GILMAN: Did the panelists want to respond at all?
MR. SHEEHAN: I would, Mr. Congressman.
REP. GILMAN: Ambassador Sheehan.
MR. SHEEHAN: First of all, Mr. Congressman, I'm sorry that you think it's a joke that I won't respond on the issue of support for the arms for the Taliban, but the information that I have, which is -- I cannot respond by public source -- is based on intelligence methods, and I don't have the authority to speak about that in this session. But I'll be glad to talk to you or anybody else afterwards.
Secondly, regarding the responsibility the United States government has for Afghanistan and the situation there, I don't accept that conclusion at all. The United States did help participate in helping the mujaheddin reject the Soviet occupation in the mid-'80s, and that was a policy that I think was a correct one at that time. The situation in Afghanistan, the deterioration of that state since 1979, has primarily to do with the situation in Afghanistan. Certainly there were those responsible, whether it was the Soviet occupiers or those who were involved in a civil war that has waged there for 20 years. But the idea that the United States government is responsible for everything in Afghanistan I think is not true.
And the idea that we support the Taliban I also reject as well completely. I have spent 18 months in this job leading the effort within the United States government and around the world to bring pressure on the Taliban. After the bombing of the embassies in East Africa, when I got hired for this job, I have made it my sole effort, my primary effort in this job to bring pressure on that regime. And the United States government leads that effort in providing pressure on that regime. My office leads that effort within the United States government. We started with an executive order in August of 1999 that brought sanctions to bear on the Taliban. We've led the effort in the U.N. to bring international sanctions against them. We're also leading the effort internationally right now to look at further measures against the Taliban. It's the United States government that is leading that effort -- we're ahead of everybody else -- to bring pressure on the Taliban. And the Taliban knows it, and those other member states within the U.N. and other -- the other community knows our efforts to bring pressure to bear on that organization because of its support for state -- for terrorism.
REP. GILMAN: Thank you.
Mr. Eastham, did you want to comment?
MR. EASTHAM: Yes, sir, I would. I would be happy to defend Mr. Inderfurth, if you'd like, Mr. Rohrabacher, even if he's not here in person.
I would just note that I have spent nearly 15 years of my life working on this part of the world. I was with the mujaheddin in Peshar from 1984 to 1987. I was in the consulate in Peshar at that time. I've been back on this account now for -- I began my sixth year on the South Asia account this time, around this week. I was in Pakistan when you were trying your effort to put -- the airdrop assistance into Bamian. So I'm quite familiar with the history of the whole episode. And I can say that at no point -- at no point -- in the last six years has the United States of America offered its support to the Taliban.
This is why I think that despite the fact we've provided you nearly a thousand documents in response to the request of the chairman, that you haven't been able to find the support for the Taliban, because it isn't there.
REP. ROHRABACHER: That is incorrect, by the way. And I will say that for the record. That is incorrect. I have found several references. And documents have been kept from me indicating what our policy formation about the Taliban has been. So that is not accurate.
MR. EASTHAM: Well, we have a fundamental difference of opinion, then, about the record of what this administration has done with respect to the Taliban.
But I will say that we have -- that our goals with respect to the Taliban have shifted over the past two years, almost, since the East Africa bombings. When the Taliban first came into power in Afghanistan, we had an agenda which addressed terrorism, narcotics, human rights, including the rights of women, and bringing peace to Afghanistan. We tried to address all of those at the same time.
After the East Africa bombing, the terrorism problem became much more acute and a much higher priority in terms of our -- in terms of what we were doing. But we've been addressing all these issues since the first day the Taliban came into being, and particularly since they came to power in Kabul.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GILMAN: The gentleman's time has expired.
DEL. FALEOMAVAEGA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I just have a couple of questions I wanted to ask Mr. Eastham. Is Afghanistan currently a full-fledged member of the United Nations?
MR. EASTHAM: Yes, it is.
DEL. FALEOMAVAEGA: So by all standards, 187 members of the United Nations recognize the sovereignty of Afghanistan through the Taliban?
MR. EASTHAM: Let me -- I think you have to -- I'm not an expert on this, but I think I can address it in terms general enough that I don't make a major mistake. The -- Afghanistan's credentials as a member of the United Nations have never been rejected by the Credentials Committee. And the Northern Alliance delegation, the delegation representing the entity headed by Burhanuddin Rabanni, still occupies the seat of Afghanistan at the United Nations.
At the same time, the Taliban has a presence in New York, as a group, but they do not sit in United Nations councils.
DEL. FALEOMAVAEGA: As -- the Taliban group does not sit in the United Nations council?
MR. EASTHAM: That's correct.
DEL. FALEOMAVAEGA: But by all legitimacy, all other nations do recognize the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan, in its bilateral as well as multilateral relations?
MR. EASTHAM: No, that's not correct. There are only three countries that have formally recognized the Taliban as the governing entity in Afghanistan. Those three are -- as Ambassador Sheehan mentioned -- Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Pakistan. No other country has, to my knowledge, established formal diplomatic relations or recognized the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.
DEL. FALEOMAVAEGA: When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, weren't Afghanistan and Pakistan our closest allies, and we committed tremendous amount of arms and assistance to these two countries to fight Soviet invasion; is that correct?
MR. EASTHAM: That's correct.
DEL. FALEOMAVAEGA: And what was the approximate amount -- value of what we gave in terms of armaments and everything to these two countries to fight Soviet invasion?
MR. EASTHAM: I can't characterize any amounts which might have been provided under programs other than the assistance provided Pakistan. With respect to Pakistan, we provided something in the neighborhood of $3 billion -- $3.2 billion in official assistance from 1982 until the imposition of sanctions in 1990.
DEL. FALEOMAVAEGA: I wanted to ask Secretary Sheehan, you mentioned that you still have concerns about the policies that the Pakistani government has concerning terrorism. And I want to know what specific policies does the Pakistani government has that is of concern to the administration?
MR. SHEEHAN: We have concerns on both fronts, the East and the West. In the East, starting with Kashmir, we've had concerns about the Pakistani government, particularly their intelligence service support to groups that we have designated as foreign terrorist organizations, and support for those groups that are operating in Kashmir in that situation there.
Secondly, and of more immediate concern to me, is Pakistan's long relationship with the Taliban, which started in late '94 when the Taliban emerged in Afghanistan, and it continues to this day. They are the primary relationship, the Taliban, that Pakistan has. But as I mentioned in my remarks, it's a complicated one. The Pakistanis increasingly understand, I believe -- they increasingly understand the threat that the Taliban and its policies have and the backwash back into Pakistan itself.
So we have concerns with the Pakistanis with both of those issues that we've talked to them about at the highest levels.
DEL. FALEOMAVAEGA: As you know, the situation, the political situation in Pakistan has also been very serious. We have a military general that felt very strongly that it had to take control of the government because of the problems.
Do you think that maybe it's not because they're not anti- terrorist, but because they just don't have the proper resources to properly control its borders when these terrorists go through its territories? What are we doing to give assistance to the Pakistani government to alleviate this problem, perhaps? Are we assisting them accordingly?
MR. SHEEHAN: I think the chief executive, Musharraf, definitely has his hands full. And as he has said many times before, his primary concern is turning around the economy in Pakistan, which is in -- truly in tough shape.
We do support Pakistan in a variety of different ways. And perhaps Al Eastham is better equipped to answer that question. But we have had long-ranging consultations with them on how to help them move in the proper directions in terms of democratic reform, in terms of economic reform, which will give them the strength politically to make some of the tough decisions they have to make regarding terrorism.
DEL. FALEOMAVAEGA: You know, there's a sense of hesitancy, if I were a Pakistani leader -- I remember a couple of years ago, and my good friend from California will recall, Pakistan paid $600 million up front for the aircrafts that we were supposed to deliver, and we never did. How are we to deal with other countries if we don't keep our promises in that respect?
MR. EASTHAM: Well, we reached an understanding with the Pakistan government which settled that claim a year ago. We are in the process of implementing a settlement which is satisfactory to both sides regarding the question of the aircraft. The aircraft delivery was denied, however, I would note, because of legislation which required a presidential certification relating to the possession of nuclear weapons by Pakistan. And we were constrained by the legislative factor.
We also have a considerable burden of sanctions relating to Pakistan in the nuclear field, potentially in the terrorism, religious freedom and narcotics fields, and the ultimate sanction which exists now, which is the sanction against U.S. assistance --
DEL. FALEOMAVAEGA: My point, Mr. --
REP. GILMAN: The gentleman's time has expired.
DEL. FALEOMAVAEGA: My time is up, but I just want to make my point here, is the fact that this government or this country paid us $600 million, and all of a sudden we say we have all kinds of restrictions, and then we hung onto their money for years until just now we made this settlement. To me, that's very unfair. It's one- sided.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GILMAN: The gentleman's time has expired.
REP. EDWARD R. ROYCE (R-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GILMAN: We'll be continuing right through the vote.
REP. ROYCE: Mr. Chairman, I am particularly concerned about the social stability of Pakistan. Regional security is at risk of being seriously undermined if the troubling social trends we've seen continue. I'm especially concerned about the madras schools, whose curriculum encourages radicalism and, as you recognized, Ambassador Sheehan, in your testimony; you mentioned anti-Americanism as well. And this is the same style education which gave rise to the Taliban and its militarism, and the Taliban's horrible human rights practices, especially with respect to women. I think there's a direct cause and effect between this type of propaganda that occurs in the schools.
Now, Pakistan, in my view, is on dangerous ground with the operations of these schools, and I believe that the continuation of this education threatens the very foundation of the Pakistani state. And I think it threatens India and I think it threatens the entire region.
I have spoken with Pakistani government officials and have been told that General Musharraf is working very hard to emphasize the teaching of science and the teaching of technology in these schools and trying to develop a different curriculum, one that would contribute to economic development and lift Pakistanis out of poverty. And I also wanted to recognize your statement in your report, Ambassador, where you say terrorism is a perversion of the teachings of Islam. And I want to commend you for making that observation in your report.
And my question, though, is, to what extent is the central government of Pakistan having success in now modifying what these schools are teaching Pakistanis' young people?
You know, you discuss in your testimony the intentions: "Have there been effective actions that are occurring there?" And as I say, I think this is cause and effect, and I'd like to know your observation.
MR. SHEEHAN: Let me take a first crack, Mr. Congressman.
REP. ROYCE: Sure.
MR. SHEEHAN: I am sure Mr. Eastham will have some comments, as well. I am glad you asked the question about madrases. It's an important one and one that has to be carefully reviewed.
This is an issue that's been of concern with me from the first day on the job. Madrases are nothing more than schools that have filled a vacuum in Pakistan, where there are very often no schools or bad schools. And many madrases are good schools run by legitimate people with the proper purpose in mind, to educate their children.
There is a small percentage of them that are of concern to us. Those are the ones that have a radical or extreme underpinning, that promote ideologies that are threatening. And in fact, some of these madrases, along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, contributed to the radicalization of many of the fighters that now are of great concern to us.
The issue of education in Pakistan is a fundamental one, and the issue of madrases is a careful one for the Pakistani administration to deal with. They have talked to us about wanting to gain control of the small number, those extreme madrases, and shutting them down, and also to have better control of the curriculum of some of the other madrases that are trying to do the right thing, educating the youth of Pakistan.
So it's a complicated question, one that -- I think that the Pakistani government understands. They understand also the sensitivity of the issue and are working to address it. The progress will not be measured in a short term, Mr. Congressman; it will take time. And we'll have to see what success they have in addressing that issue.
REP. ROYCE: Well, I commend you for your focus on education and propaganda because that question, of which direction that takes, is going to have a very real consequence in terms of terrorism in very short order. And let me also make the observation that, to the extent that we can de-escalate tensions between Pakistan and India and reduce the overall budget dedicated to armaments, those are funds in South Asia that instead can go into public education so that there isn't the need for the development, the creation of these alternative sources of education. And part of the problem in South Asia is the degree of the budgets in these countries that go towards military armaments.
Now, I would like just for a second to bring up a second issue that's a little bit outside the scope of this hearing. But I serve as chairman of the Africa Subcommittee. And in reading your report, it mentions the Revolutionary United Front in Sierra Leone. This is a Libyan-trained and Liberian-backed organization whose practice has been cutting off the arms and legs of little children in Sierra Leone. If you go into Freetown, there are several thousand amputees, many of them as young as 2 years old. And they have made war on a democratically elected government.
That organization, known as the RUF, should be listed as a "terrorist organization," and I would hope you'd consider in your next report doing so.
And I say that because many members of this committee, including the ranking member, including the chairman of this committee, have spent considerable time on this issue of Sierra Leone. And this report should reflect the reality of what is happening on the ground. And I don't feel that was reflected by the fact that RUF is not mentioned --
REP. GILMAN: The gentleman's time has expired.
REP. ROYCE: Could I have a response to that, though, Mr. Chairman, if I could? On the RUF especially.
MR. SHEEHAN: We will review the RUF during -- actually, this year as well as before the end of our two-year period. It is -- I'm familiar with that organization. Much of the activity they are involved with falls more in the box of war criminality, which is a heinous crime in either case. Whether they fit into the box of foreign terrorist organization is under review, Mr. Congressman, and I will stay in touch with you on this.
REP. ROYCE: Thank you, Ambassador.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. CYNTHIA A. MCKINNEY (D-GA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I would just like to say to Mr. Sheehan that I think that that is a totally inadequate and insufficient response to that question. I'd like Chairman Royce to know that on May 6th 1999 I wrote a letter to the president, to the secretary of State, and I presume it got down to you as well, asking for the designation of RUF as a terrorist organization. And I can tell you that I got not a single straight answer from this administration in response to that.
Now, it appears to me that the United States -- that this administration has cleaved itself in its policy to rapists of 12-year- old little girls and of hand-choppers. So that response is totally inadequate. You've had it under review for far too long, and you still haven't done anything about it, and you're still supporting the RUF.
I would also like to associate myself with the remarks of Congressman Faleomavaega and Congressman Rohrabacher, too. It appears to me that the State Department is excellent at writing revisionist history.
In Mr. Sheehan's testimony, you state that this instability can be -- started with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the decade- long civil war which followed. That kind of passive language reminds me about what has been said with Mozambique by the opponents of FRELIMO and that civil war that was visited upon Mozambique, most unnecessarily; by the opponents of MPLA and the civil war that was visited upon Angola by those who opposed MPLA; by the -- about the civil war that was visited upon South Africa by the opponents of the ANC. And in each of those instances it was U.S. policy to support the other guys. And so now we get to hear these testimonies that include the lack of information in terms of the U.S. role.
Congressman Faleomavaega and Congressman Rohrabacher are absolutely right, that the United States did have a role to play in the current situation in Afghanistan. We provided weapons there, and we left those weapons there. And so if there's any instability, we don't need to just point the finger and say that the problem is Afghanistan's, as you have said earlier, the problem is also ours, and we need to deal with that.
Additionally, and I guess finally, on page 6, Mr. Sheehan, of your testimony, you say if there is a criminal in your basement and you are aware that he's been conducting criminal activities from your house, even if you are not involved in the crimes, you are responsible for them. In fact, your willingness to give him refuge makes you complicit in his actions past and present.
I would just suggest that that message that you delivered to the Taliban foreign minister is also applicable to the United States itself, and it certainly is applicable -- ought to be applicable to the policies that we have formulated and pursued with respect to Africa. And we have supported criminals on that continent, continue to support criminals on that continent, and for some reason seem incapable of making people pay for the crimes that they commit. And of course we are complicit in those crimes.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. ROHRABACHER: Okay, thank you very much.
Would you like to respond?
REP. MCKINNEY: No need for a response because you won't get anything of any substance. (Laughter.)
MR. SHEEHAN: I will respond, Mr. Congressman.
REP. ROHRABACHER: Thank you, Mr. Ambassador.
MR. SHEEHAN: First of all, on the RUF. Murder, rape, cutting off of arms are heinous crimes. They're not necessarily terrorism. They can be terrorism, but not necessarily international terrorism by the definition that we're required to respond to by the legislation that we're given. My office reviews the designation of foreign terrorist organizations, and I receive no pressure, and if I got pressure from anywhere else in the building, it would have no effect on me. If I determine -- if our office determines that the RUF meets the criteria to be designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the criteria of the legislation that's clearly spelled out, we will do so.
Secondly, regarding our role in Afghanistan, I have repeatedly said, and many times before, we have played a role in Afghanistan in the '80s, one I thought was an appropriate one at that time, and contributed to the situation there. And I think we should acknowledge that and be part of the solution in Afghanistan. But I do not think the United States government is responsible in entirety for the situation, for the chaos and suffering in Afghanistan or for the rise of terrorism from that region.
REP. ROHRABACHER: Thank you very much.
Well, I am the chairman, so I have a little prerogative. What a miracle this is! I actually have more than five minutes! (Laughter.) (Laughing) Before I go on with that, this committee will recess as we get into the next vote, and then Chairman Gilman will be back. In the meantime, I will do my mischief! (Laughter.)
First of all, let's talk a little bit about terrorism. Terrorism is not just when someone who is outside government commits an act of violence against unarmed opponents, whether it's civilians, non- combatants, et cetera. Terrorism can also be conducted by a government. And there are lots of terrorist examples of what government does at times, for example, in the Kashmir. And let us not forget that when we're discussing South Asia. And to make matters worse, you have terrorism, as I stated before, when there is a lack of democracy.
And in the Kashmir and Jammu and other places where -- well, not as much in -- other terrorist acts against Christians and Sikhs and others throughout India. But at least in the Kashmir, there has been a denial of the democratic process. Now, isn't a -- wouldn't the democratic process help solve the situation in Kashmir?
MR. SHEEHAN: Mr. Chairman, I believe that in all parts of the world where I faced the threat of terrorism, that democratic processes, the strengthening of state institutions and particularly democratic state institutions, in the long term is the remedy.
REP. ROHRABACHER: Right. Because in Afghanistan, if they had a more democratic-type government -- and I have been pushing, as you know, for the king to come back and serve as a transition towards a more democratic society -- the people would have a chance to vote and express themselves, and to weed out these evil people who are involved in drug dealing and the repressing of their own people, the repressing of the women population, in Afghanistan. So that would actually help if we had a more democratically oriented government there, as well, wouldn't it?
MR. SHEEHAN: That's correct.
REP. ROHRABACHER: All right.
Let me just say that, in your denials to the charges that I made, you were very good at general denials. But there was no denial of some specific charges, so I'd like to ask you about them now.
I charged that the aid that the United States has been giving has been going to the Taliban-controlled territories, especially during that time period when one-third of Afghanistan was being controlled by non- and anti-Taliban forces. Specifically, I used the example of the Bamian effort in which we tried to help the folks down there, who my sources said were in great deprivation and starving, and the State Department undermined that effort.
And we mentioned earlier there is an aid program going on to Afghanistan. Ten percent of Afghanistan is still controlled by anti- Taliban forces. Is any of the aid that we are giving going to this anti-Taliban area?
MR. SHEEHAN: Mr. Chairman, I think I'll defer to Mr. Eastham because since -- I know that, since my tenure in this job the last 18 months or so, that I have seen no evidence of that type of policy. But for previously, I'll let Al answer.
MR. EASTHAM: The answer to the question is, yes, there is aid flowing to all areas in Afghanistan. That is a function, however, of accessibility, of how you get it to them. There is assistance, which flows through the United Nations who are the implementers of the program, into the North, via Tajikistan, and also through the Chitral area of Pakistan --
REP. ROHRABACHER: Okay. Okay. So --
MR. EASTHAM: -- as well as to the 80 percent of the country.
REP. ROHRABACHER: -- okay. So your answer is yes, that currently that one area in the Panjshir Valley, now controlled by Commander Massoud, that does -- they do receive humanitarian supplies?
MR. EASTHAM: I can't take you specifically to the Panjshir Valley because access to the Panjshir Valley is blocked from the south by the Taliban.
REP. ROHRABACHER: But of course, it's not blocked from Tajikistan, right?
MR. EASTHAM: Yeah. But there is assistance, which flows into all areas of Afghanistan, through these U.N. programs.
REP. ROHRABACHER: All right. Okay. So you're on the record. Thank you very much.
MR. EASTHAM: Okay. But --
REP. ROHRABACHER: That's not what my sources say.
MR. EASTHAM: -- with respect to Bamian, I want to take you back to the period two, three years ago that you are referring to. In fact, I have -- at around that same time, I made a trip myself from Pakistan to Kandahar, to talk to the Taliban about the blockade, which they had imposed at the time, upon assistance to Bamian, because at the time Bamian was controlled by non-Taliban forces, from the Hazara people, there.
One of the main effects of the trip by Mr. Richardson and Mr. Inderfurth that you have so criticized was to attempt to persuade the Taliban in fact to lift that very blockade of Bamian, which was -- and we followed it up with discussions in Islamabad, in which the Taliban did, in fact, agree to a partial lifting to enable foodstuffs to go into Bamian.
REP. ROHRABACHER: So we traded off with the Taliban that they were going to lift their blockade and we were going to disarm all of their opponents.
MR. EASTHAM: No, sir, that's not the case.
REP. ROHRABACHER: Okay. Well, let's go back -- go to disarming the Taliban's opponents. And by the way, this has been reconfirmed in everything that I've read, both official and unofficial. Are you trying to tell us now that the State Department's policy was not, at that crucial moment when the Taliban was vulnerable, to disarm the Taliban's opponents? Did not Mr. Inderfurth and the State Department contact all of the support groups that were helping the anti-Taliban forces and ask them to cease their flow of military supplies to the anti-Taliban forces?
MR. EASTHAM: At that time we were trying to -- we were trying to construct a coalition which would cut off support for all forces in Afghanistan from the outside.
REP. ROHRABACHER: Oh, and I take it --- so I take it that's a yes to my question. But the --
MR. EASTHAM: No, sir; you've left out the cutting off the Taliban part.
REP. ROHRABACHER: -- but the Taliban were -- but the Taliban were included; except what happened right after all of those other support systems that had been dismantled because of Mr. Inderfurth's and Mr. Richardson's appeal, and the State Department's appeal? What happened immediately -- not only immediately after, even while you were making that appeal, what happened in Pakistan? Was there an airlift of supplies, military supplies, between Pakistan and Kabul and the forward elements of the Taliban forces?
(Pause.) REP. ROHRABACHER: The answer is yes. I know.
MR. EASTHAM: The answer is --
REP. ROHRABACHER: You can't tell me because --
MR. EASTHMAM: The answer is --
REP. ROHRABACHER: -- it's secret information.
MR. EASTHAM: The answer is closed session, if you would like to dredge up that record.
REP. ROHRABACHER: Right. Okay.
MR. EASTHAM: That would be fine.
REP. ROHRABACHER: Well, I don't have to go into closed session because I didn't get that information from any classified document. That information is available to anybody watching the scene up there. They know exactly what happened. Mr. Inderfurth, Mr. Bill Richardson, a good friend of mine, doing the bidding of this administration, basically convinced the anti-Talibans' mentors to quit providing them the weapons they needed, with some scheme that the Taliban were then going to lay down their arms. And immediately thereafter, Pakistan started a massive shift of military supplies which resulted in the total defeat of the anti-Taliban forces.
This is -- now, this is either collusion or incompetence on the part of the State Department, as far as this congressman is concerned. Someone will have to -- people have to look at the record and determine that for themselves. When this congressman says this administration has a covert policy of supporting the Taliban, I see examples of what I just described over and over and over again.
I've read the documents you've given me, and the documents over and over again, to me, indicate that the State Department has been telling the Taliban, "Hand us over bin Laden and we can deal with you." Now, I'm not going to quote, because it's secret information. None of the documents I've seen, by the way, should have been classified.
And let's get to those documents.
Why haven't I been provided any documents about State Department analysis of -- during the formation period of the Taliban, about whether or not the Taliban was a good force or a bad force? Why have none of those documents reached my desk after two years?
MR. EASTHAM: Congressman, we were responding to a specific request dealing with a specific time period, which I believe the commencing period of the request for documents was after the time period you're talking about. We were asked to provide documents, by the chairman of this committee, from 1996 to 1999.
REP. ROHRABACHER: I see. You found a loophole in the chairman's wording --
MR. EASTHAM: No, sir. We were responding to the chairman's request.
REP. ROHRABACHER: You found a loophole in the chairman's wording of his request as to not to provide me those documents.
You know, I am the only one here. I am not the chairman of the committee. I would never get the opportunity to have a back and forth with you, except in times like this.
The State Department has taken full advantage of its use of words in order not to get this information out. I am looking forward to more documents. I will say this, I have spent hours overlooking those documents, and there's been nothing in those documents to persuade me that my charges that this administration has been covertly supporting the Taliban is not accurate.
Feel free to respond to that.
MR. EASTHAM: It's not true.
REP. ROHRABACHER: Okay.
MR. EASTHAM: I have to negate the whole thesis that you're operating under, sir.
REP. ROHRABACHER: All right. Then -- okay, the other option is the State Department is so incompetent that we have done things that helped the Taliban and have put them in a position of having hundreds of millions of dollars of drug money, and had power in Afghanistan, and undercutting the anti-Taliban forces. This is just -- this isn't intent, this is just incompetence?
MR. EASTHAM: That's a judgment you can make.
REP. ROHRABACHER: All right.
MR. EASTHAM: And if you want to make that judgment, that's up to you, Congressman.
REP. ROHRABACHER: Okay.
MR. EASTHAM: I would just observe that it's considerably more complex than that to deal with people over whom we have so little influence as with Taliban. I have spent -- I have been myself, by my count, six times into Afghanistan on both the northern side and the southern side. I have met innumerable times with Taliban officials to attempt to achieve U.S. objectives, and I have to tell you that it's a tough job.
REP. ROHRABACHER: I believe it is a tough job --
MR. EASTHAM: I'd like to introduce you to some of them sometime.
REP. ROHRABACHER: Oh, I've met many Taliban, thank you. And as you are aware, I have met many Taliban and talked to them. Especially when you disarm their opponents, and you participate in an effort to disarm their opponents at a time when they're being supplied -- resupplied militarily, I guess it is very hard for them to take us seriously when we say we're going to get tough with them.
MR. EASTHAM: You keep saying that, but it's not true.
REP. ROHRABACHER: Well -- oh --
MR. EASTHAM: The effort --
REP. ROHRABACHER: You're just saying -- no, you're just --
MR. EASTHAM: The effort was to stop the support for all the factions.
REP. ROHRABACHER: That's correct. You didn't deny that we disarmed their opponents, you just said we were doing it with the Taliban as well. But as I pointed out, which you did not deny, the Taliban were immediately resupplied. Which means that we are part and parcel to disarming a victim against this hostile, totalitarian, anti- Western, drug-dealing force in their society, and we were part and parcel of disarming the victim, thinking that the aggressor was going to be disarmed as well, but it just didn't work out -- at the moment when Pakistan was arming them, I might add.
I've got just a couple of minutes and then we're going to have to recess this. And -- (Confers with staff.)
STAFF: There's a vote, five-minute vote on.
REP. ROHRABACHER: There's a five-minute vote on? Could I have this on the screen, please?
STAFF: Yes. Okay.
REP. ROHRABACHER: We're going to -- can we put the vote on the screen?
STAFF: Yes. Get the vote on the screen. There it is. Okay.
REP. ROHRABACHER: Two minutes?
STAFF: Yes. Why don't we adjourn?
REP. ROHRABACHER: The administration is saved again. All right! (Laughs.)
REP. ROHRABACHER: All right.
I -- no, we recess, right?
REP. ROHRABACHER: Okay. Let me just say I think that this administration -- Bill Richardson is a wonderful guy and I think Rick Inderfurth is sincere. I think the record here is abysmal. And, again, it's not state power we're talking about. We abandoned these people in Afghanistan, the wonderful people. The Taliban did not defeat the Russians. You know that. You were there at the time. The Taliban weren't even in the field at that time. They didn't exist. They were -- there kept back, and we abandoned those wonderful, courageous people in Afghanistan who were not fanatics, when they were fighting for their homeland.
We could have come back with an Afghan policy, and this congressman supports an Afghan policy that would provide a real commitment, $100 million, for de-mining; $100 million for a democratic process to help set up a democratic process; $100 million so that we can help them plant other things rather than poppies for narcotics. Let's have a real commitment by this administration. We have seen no such policy initiatives from this administration, just excuses and word games.
But I thank you both, as you do a good job and you're both patriots and I appreciate that. This committee is in recess. (Strikes gavel.)
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