House of Representatives,
Washington, DC, January 21, 1994.
Hon. Warren Christopher,
Secretary of State, Department of State,
Dear Mr. Secretary: I write to ask for your comments on an article which appeared in the Wall Street Journal on January 14, 1994. This article, written by L. Paul Bremer, a former Ambassador-at-Large for Counterterrorism, raises questions about this Administration's commitment to effective counterterrorism policies and programs.
Specifically, Ambassador Bremer focuses on the Department's proposed reorganization which merges the Office of Counterterrorism into a new Bureau for Narcotics, Terrorism, and Crime, and on U.S. policy towards Syria, Libya, and Iran. Ambassador Bremer's article questions the President's commitment to a strong U.S. counterterrorism policy and specifically alleges that the State Department's office responsible for counterterrorism policy has been downgraded and reduced in size by 40 percent.
I appreciate your consideration of this matter and look forward to hearing from you on this issue.
With best regards,
Lee H. Hamilton,
When he meets with Syrian President Hafez Assad on Sunday in Geneva. President Clinton will have a lot to talk about. The temptation will be for him to concentrate on the Middle East peace process. That will be Mr. Assad's preference. But global terrorism should be high on Mr. Clinton's list. For while there has been a relative decline in anti-American terrorism, the world-wide terrorist infrastructure, supported by states such as Syria, Libya and Iran, is alive and well.
The Clinton administration has neglected the terrorist threat, with our public officials paying only lip service to the problem. The State Department office charged with conducting counterterrorist policy has been downgraded and gutted. It has lost 40% of its staff--a curious phenomenon when last year's bombing of the World Trade Center underscored the threat of Mideast terrorism. For many of us who have been involved in the struggle against terrorism, this is ominous. In the past, progress in the fight against terrorism depended on vigorous, visible and courageous U.S. leadership. Without such leadership now, we will soon lose more American lives.
The meeting with Mr. Assad provides Mr. Clinton an opportunity to talk straight and tough to one of the most visible terrorist leaders--the only one with whom we have diplomatic relations. That would signal to Mr. Assad and the world that the U.S. is once again serious about the fight.
Syria continues to play congenial host to numerous radical terrorist groups. More than a dozen terrorist training camps, complete with shooting ranges, obstacle courses and dummy houses for bombing practice, still operate freely in Lebanon under the protective eye of the Syrian Army. Our government knows they are there: the Syrian government knows they are there. Yet despite repeated requests by previous American administrations, Mr. Assad does nothing.
Nor has Libya mended its ways. In December, Col. Moammar Gadhafi hosted an international terrorist gathering attended by radical Palestinian and other outlaw groups. Not since Joseph Stalin's last cabinet meeting has there been such a gathering of unsavory characters. Dozens of terrorist groups still have large modern training camps throughout Libya. Years of diplomatic efforts and flaccid economic sanctions have failed to get the Libyan leader to turn over the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing suspects.
Meanwhile, under its so-called moderate president, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iran murders its opponents wherever it can hunt them down. The government recently reconfirmed its death sentence against author Salman Rushdie. Iran continues to support the extremist terrorist movement Hezboliah, responsible for kidnapping Americans in Lebanon, and also backs radical groups in Sudan and Algeria.
Our allies prop up and appease Iran's extremist theocracy. Over the past five years, Germany's exports to Iran have quintupled and Japan's have more than tripled. Two weeks ago, the French government returned to Iran two Iranian terrorists arrested for murdering a regime opponent in Switzerland, callously breaking Paris's promise to extradite the suspects to Switzerland.
In all three cases--Syria, Libya and Iran--strong American leadership against terrorist networks is urgently needed.
Mr. Assad probably calculates that America is eager to involve Syria in the peace process that it will ignore his support of terrorism. But Mr. Clinton is in a stronger negotiating position than previous U.S. presidents who have tried to wrestle with Mr. Assad. The weakened Assad government, no longer under Soviet sponsorship, needs Western credits and economic assistance.
Mr. Clinton should insist that Syria will never enjoy normal relations with Washington until Damascus clearly and publicly renounces terrorism. Moreover, Mr. Clinton should demand that Syria begin expelling the terrorists living in Syria and closing down terrorist training camps.
The Syrian leader may assert that Damascus hasn't directly engaged in terrorism for several years and that it has helped restrain the activities of the groups under its control. Mr. Clinton should remind him that at least two of these Damascus-based groups have publicly acknowledged responsibility for terrorist attacks killing Israeli civilians in the past three months--the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.
With respect to Libya, the U.S. should move to expand international sanctions against Tripoli. Here, too, our objectives should be bold--a formal reunification of terrorism by Col. Qadhafi, the extradition of the Pan Am suspects, and the expulsion of all terrorist groups from Libya. We must get action, not promises, from him.
Ninety-eight percent of Libya's foreign exchange comes from oil, with Germany, Italy and Spain purchasing two-thirds of it. Now would be a good time to impose a complete oil embargo on Libya, since the market is in a glut. Sales lost by Libya could be made up by friendly nations such as Saudi Arabia. Kuwait and Venezuela.
If a complete embargo against Libya is politically unfeasible, our government should insist that the U.N. Security Council impose on Libya a system similar to that imposed on Iraq. All proceeds from Libyan oil sales could be put into a U.N. administered escrow account, to be used to pay families of terrorism victims and to repay Libyan debts.
Concerning Iran, we must tell our Western allies that we abhor their financial dealings with the murderous regime in Tehran. The timing is good because Iran's economy is a shambles. It cannot pay its debts and, without the support of West European credit agencies, it faces default. The West holds the key to the financial relief of Iran. That support should not be forthcoming.
These are hard messages and hard measures, but such language is the only language terrorists understand. Our experience over the past decade makes clear that without a resolute push from top U.S. officials, counterterrorist policies will not be effective.
U.S. Department of State,
Washington, DC, March 16, 1994.
Hon. Lee H. Hamilton,
Chairman, Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: Thank you for your letter to the Secretary regarding an article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal which concerned the Administration's counter-terrorism policy. We appreciate knowing of your interest in this issue.
Contrary to Ambassador Bremer's claims in his article, this Administration has not neglected the threat posed by international terrorism. In fact, it remains one of the Department's highest priority global issues. We have taken a number of actions against state-sponsored terrorism in the past year:
The Administration added Sudan to the list of terrorist-supporting states last August after Sudan persisted in allowing Iranian and other terrorists to use its territory as a safe-haven and training ground.
We fought for and obtained tighter mandatory UN sanction resolutions against Libya because of the country's involvement in the tragic bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 and Libya's continued refusal to abide by relevant UN security council resolutions. We are vigorously enforcing these sanctions. We were successful in disrupting Libya's international banking network when, at our urging, the government of Bahrian blocked nearly $100 million in Libyan government assets.
When it became clear that Iraq was behind the plot to assassinate former President Bush, the United States used military force to a send an unequivocal signal to Saddam Hussein that we will not tolerate such outrageous acts of terrorism.
We were instrumental in obtaining the rendition of the terrorist Mohammed Ali Rezaq and his return to the United States for trial for his role in the highjacking of an Egyptian airliner in which an American citizen was murdered.
This Administration is determined that the perpetrators of acts of terrorism are brought to justice. The families of the victims in the Pan Am 103 bombing and other Americans victimized by acts of terrorism deserve nothing less. To this end, we continue to work closely with our friends and allies. In addition, we continue to urge Congress to pass during this session pending legislation to implement important international terrorism conventions which deal with attacks on civilian aviation and passenger ships.
We also believe that the State Department's reorganization plan does not downgrade our commitment to combat international terrorism. On the contrary, our reorganization plan is designed to strengthen the role and resources of the Coordinator for Counter-terrorism. We want to provide this office with the combined financial and personnel resources of our counter-narcotics and international criminal functions. Toward this end, we endorse a provision in the Senate's version of the State Department Authorization bill which would formally designate an Assistant Secretary as the Coordinator for Counter-terrorism and agree that the Deputy Assistant Secretary who will manage counter-terrorism on a daily basis will hold the rank of Ambassador, subject to Senate confirmation. (For your information, we have enclosed a letter to Senator John Kerry from four previous Coordinators for Counter-terrorism regarding this issue.)
Contrary to Ambassador Bremer's assertion, there will not be a forty percent reduction in the counter-terrorism office's staff. There will be some consolidation of functional and support staff in the proposed new Bureau of Narcotics, Terrorism and Crime, but the number of officers working on counter-terrorism will remain approximately the same.
In order to facilitate closer coordination, the Anti-Terrorism Assistance program, which has been in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, is being consolidated into the reorganized counter-terrorism office. As you know, the U.S. offers specialized anti-terrorism training through the ATA program to certain foreign countries that face terrorism threats. We also conduct an active terrorism information rewards program, and manage an impressive research and development program to utilize modern technology against terrorist threats.
We hope that his response addresses your concerns. If we can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.
WENDY R. SHERMAN,
Department of State,
Washington, DC, January 28, 1994.
Hon. John F. Kerry,
Chairman, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Operations, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
Dear Senator Kerry: As former Coordinators for Counter-Terrorism at the Department of State, we are writing to express our support for your initiative which would designate the Assistant Secretary for Narcotics, Terrorism and Crime as the Department's Coordinator for Counter-terrorism.
We believe that this approach would strengthen the Department's abilities to combat international terrorism. It would place the Coordinator in the direct chain of command, not in an adjunct office with fewer resources. The Coordinator would have at least the same access to the Secretary of State, senior policy makers, senior leaders in our law enforcement and defense communities, and foreign government officials that previous Coordinators have enjoyed. Given the close ties between drug trafficking, international terrorism and other international criminal issues, it will be more effective to bring the Department's resources on these important issues into one bureau under a single senior manager. In addition, the Coordinator will have a strong advocate in the Undersecretary for Global Affairs (as proposed in the reorganization plan), Tim Wirth, who meets with the Secretary of State every day. We believe that counter-terrorism will receive more, not less, attention under your proposal.
Moreover, we have high confidence in our colleague, Ambassador Robert Gelbard, who is currently Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics Matters, and who would become the Coordinator for Counter-Terrorism under your proposal. Ambassador Gelbard is a distinguished career diplomat with 27 years in the Foreign Service. He is an expert in counter-terrorism and narcotics issues, and we believe he will bring enormous experience and energy to combatting terrorism around the world.
The Clinton Administration has placed a high priority on combatting international terrorism and the threat it poses to the American people. We are convinced that designating the Assistant Secretary for Narcotics, Terrorism and Crime as the Coordinator for Counter-Terrorism is sound policy and will strengthen the Administration's commitment to maintaining an effective international counter-terrorism policy.
ANTHONY C.E. QUAINTON.
THOMAS E. MCNAMARA.
ROBERT B. OAKLEY.
A. PETER BURLEIGH.