|Robert S. Gelbard, Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
Statement before the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State, and Judiciary of the House Committee on Appropriations
Washington, DC, May 1, 1996
Implementation of International Law Enforcement Policies and Programs
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee: Thank you for calling this important hearing to discuss how the Administration's various components are working together to implement our international law enforcement policies and programs. The departments and agencies represented here each play an important role in our endeavors as do many federal offices and organizations which are not present. Our success at insuring a safe and secure environment for our citizens depends on how well we organize and coordinate our efforts. In this context, I am happy to share with you the State Department's assessment of expanded U.S. Government law enforcement efforts abroad, including that which is contemplated by the FBI.
The Threat and Policy Response
The collapse of communism, and the emergence of open markets and open societies hold great promise for American citizens. Not only are Soviet missiles no longer targeted at American cities, but our goods and services are sold in all parts of the world, and we continue to lead the largest collection of democracies in the world's history. If we are to secure the benefits of peace and prosperity for our citizens, the United States must continue to lead in the coming century.
It is paradoxical that in some respects in the post-Cold War era the world is more a dangerous place. The threats and enemies we face now--some old and some new--are far more diffuse and complex. Transnational organized crime--whether drug trafficking, money laundering, terrorism, alien smuggling, or trafficking in weapons of mass destruction--is better organized and extremely dangerous and subversive. It persistently threatens our internal and external interests, tears at the fabric of societies, jeopardizes emerging and established democracies, slows economic development and threatens the free market reforms.
Reflecting on my three years in this job, I can say that the past 12 months have been unprecedented on a number of fronts. I would like to recap several recent important developments. First, the President has made it crystal clear that combating transnational crime is among our highest national priorities. Today, the Administration is carrying out broad programs to neutralize and eliminate transnational crime which threatens U.S. national security and democratic advances around the world.
That is why Secretary Christopher, two years ago, asked me to take responsibility for streamlining the State Department's efforts to support international law enforcement. That is why both President Clinton and Secretary Christopher made fighting transnational threats the centerpiece of their addresses at the UN's 50th anniversary celebration. That is why the President called on other concerned nations to negotiate a universal Declaration on Citizens' Security, to help focus attention on linkages among crimes such as drug trafficking, terrorism, illegal arms sales, and alien smuggling. As the President said in launching that effort, "Nowhere is cooperation more vital than in fighting the increasingly interconnected groups that traffic in terror, organized crime and drug smuggling."
The President's umbrella strategy against international crime contains a wide range of diplomatic and programmatic initiatives. Some of them are far-reaching and take time to execute. Others we have been able to effect quickly in response to immediate foreign policy objectives. Experience has taught us that much of our effort against major drug traffickers and their money laundering operations is also applicable to combating other forms of transnational crime.
As committee members will recall, the Crime Initiative is multifaceted. We are working with Treasury and Justice to implement the President's October Executive Order invoking, for the first time, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) against the Colombian drug mafias. As you know, IEEPA allows the United States to freeze the assets of these drug traffickers subject to U.S. jurisdiction and prohibits U.S. persons from conducting transactions with these individuals, their front companies and associates. The President's actions have had ripple effects outside of the United States. Published reports suggest that businesses in Colombia have ended their relationships with some individuals and companies identified in the IEEPA lists. We are also working with Treasury and Justice to determine whether IEEPA may provide an appropriate and effective tool to counter other criminal organizations.
Our agencies are working to implement the President's money laundering initiative, which applies pressure on the most egregious money laundering havens to take concrete action against money laundering, or face potential U.S. sanctions. In other bilateral and multilateral activities, we are:
Overseas Law Enforcement Training
- Working through the international Financial Action Task Force to develop effective anti-money laundering policies and stress that money laundering is an important national security threat throughout the world;
- Developing with the Department of Justice domestic and overseas initiatives to combat international alien smuggling--"the traffic in human misery"--with all its hardship for would-be immigrants and still extremely low risk for the perpetrators;
- Working through the European Union and the G-7 Transnational Organized Crime Group to advance the international anti-crime agenda, including the elimination of safe havens for the perpetrators of gender crimes;
- Supporting efforts of the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice to help countries update outdated criminal codes; and
- Implementing the 1994 Summit of the Americas initiative on counternarcotics and related crime, having completed with our Latin American and Caribbean partners a hemispheric strategy to combat money laundering.
In order for a democracy to flourish, a country must have:
The closest connection most people around the world have with their government is with the cops on the beat. Police officers protect the rights of the people. Further, citizens need to know that the laws will protect them, that the courts will be fair and that, if need be, they can be represented by an honest lawyer.
- Clear primacy of the rule of law; and
- A fair and efficient criminal justice system.
The legitimacy of a democracy often depends on the perception citizens have of their justice system. They must have faith that the justice institution can resolve conflicts, protect them from harm, and punish the guilty in a just, efficient manner. They must also believe that the system is unbiased--willing to prosecute those who violate the law--whether they are poor or rich. When citizens do not have confidence in the state, they may revert to violence to protect themselves and their interests, and the institutions of civil society will suffer.
Law enforcement training is a central component of the Administration's strategy. It is one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways to achieve immediate results. To the extent possible, we are conducting such training in the most threatened countries. This achieves two key tangible benefits. First, it establishes trustworthy links between U.S. and foreign law enforcement entities that strengthen our ability to block organized crime's move into the United States. Second, improved law enforcement expertise heightens the ability of foreign governments to control organized crime and specific major crime problems that undermine free markets and democracy.
In the past few years, the Administration has concentrated law enforcement training on Russia, the other New Independent States, and Central Europe. Indeed, we consider this training as the essential first line of defense in bolstering the ability of countries to resist corruption. Further, we have worked closely with federal law enforcement agencies and AID in an interagency working group to coordinate these programs. In 1995, the law enforcement effort involved some $20 million in Freedom Support and SEED Act funds. With these funds, State, Justice, and Treasury have collaborated over the past year to provide over 120 training programs for more than 4,000 law enforcement officers.
These courses, conducted by the FBI; DEA; Secret Service; Customs; Treasury's FINCEN, IRS, ATF, FLETC, and ICITAP; and State's DS; have ranged from combating organized crime to white collar crimes and financial institution fraud to drug enforcement seminars and basic law enforcement techniques. All of them are conducted in the spirit of democratic and community-based policing. Students from all over central Europe and the NIS have studied, mostly in two-week seminars, in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Omsk, Warsaw, Prague, Vilnius, Almaty, Bishkek, Riga, Tbilisi, and other far-flung places. Students have also been training in the Government's police academies in Quantico, Virginia, and Glynco, Georgia.
The International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Budapest, Hungary--where I participated with Attorney General Reno in its official dedication ceremony just a week ago--is now fully operational. I encourage members of this committee to see the academy for themselves. Since the initial classes got underway only a year ago, ILEA has become a truly international school with an expected annual graduation of some 250 mid-level law enforcement officers. Its eventual influence in support of U.S. and international police work must not be underestimated. The return on our relatively small investment--roughly $4 million this year--holds significant promise. To build further on our success, we are now examining the possibility of establishing a similar academy in this hemisphere.
Haiti: A Rapid Response
More than ever before, we must act quickly to counter the nearly instantaneous threats that undermine our foreign policy goals. The perpetrators of organized crime, ever opportunistic, are only too ready to work political events to their advantage. Haiti is a classic case. While permanent democracy-building in Haiti is still a work in progress, the international effort mounted to establish a secure environment respectful of fundamental human rights has laid the important groundwork for its ultimate achievement. The rapid installation of some 1,000 police monitors and support staff from 20 different countries, followed by speedy training in collaboration with our Justice Department to start up the new Haitian National Police Force, were essential elements in the overall effort.
In just a year, in a nation whose institutional development was extremely weak, and where the establishment of professional institutions independent of political influence was almost unheard of, the new National Police Force is becoming a capable, apolitical, professional force with the potential to buttress this newly democratic nation. Moreover, lessons from Haiti are paying important dividends as we work with the UN to establish the International Police Task Force (IPTF) in Bosnia in accord with the agreement reached in Dayton.
Expansion of U.S. Government Law Enforcement Presence Abroad
At present, the Department of State is evaluating the FBI's initial draft plan for operations over the next few years. In light of the complex transnational criminal threat which I have described, we must urgently evaluate and streamline our operations to insure that the myriad of law enforcement concerns which have become so closely linked to every aspect of our foreign policy are treated carefully. As we work towards this goal, however, we must keep in mind a broad range of important concerns. I would like to review these with you. The President and the Secretary of State have made it clear that effective international law enforcement--be it fostering close working relationships among law enforcement agencies, law enforcement training, joint operations or promoting effective laws and judicial procedures overseas--is a foreign policy priority. Gone are the days when we could allude to international crime as simply a "law enforcement" concern; the new power of these criminal organizations to undermine governments, economies and societies has turned them into genuine national security threats. By extension, any action by the FBI overseas--and any other law enforcement agency--cannot be carried out in a vacuum. It must be orchestrated within the context of broader U.S. foreign policy and national security interests. Above all, the traditional foreign affairs community and U.S. Government law-enforcement entities must develop similar world views regarding the best roles for U.S. Government law-enforcement agencies in our overseas programs. We have made good progress in the last couple of years, but we still have some thinking to do. From the Department's perspective, we have identified a number of goals including:
Because of the threat, it is a natural response to want to put more, not fewer, law enforcement officers in the field. The FBI is not alone in this regard. Today, the Department--under the purview of National Security Decision Directive 38--has pending numerous other requests for overseas expansion--building considerably on the more than 2,000 law enforcement officers we have stationed already in various spots around the world. The Senate and House Banking Committees--appropriately worried about signs of expanding international counterfeiting--have particularly pressed for the placement of additional Secret Service agents abroad. Likewise, Customs seeks more people to investigate contraband smuggling, INS to advance anti-alien smuggling efforts, and DEA to thwart drug trafficking.
- Streamline the mechanisms for overseas law enforcement staffing to be reviewed annually, preferably through the inter-agency process.
- Enhance coordination of law enforcement programs and activities at the country team level through a structured inter-agency process under the authority of the Chief of Mission.
- Augment field reporting to Washington agencies to additionally facilitate coordination, and to insure that agencies are "in the loop" and not working at cross purposes.
I want to commend Director Freeh for his thoughtful work in developing numbers and placements for future legal attaches overseas. While the specifics must still be reviewed thoroughly, many of the FBI's projections for overseas staffing are well justified. I must stress, however, that the Secretary of State, in his statutory oversight role, must consider many competing priorities for overseas staffing. The FBI's requests must be considered together with those from other law enforcement agencies as well as other key elements of the U.S. Government. Moreover, while the FBI's projections overall may suggest a good staffing pattern for the near future, it is impossible, as a practical matter, for the Department of State to confirm that it will be able to support all of the proposed positions properly. Such a commitment is extremely difficult given the system of yearly appropriations. Even if the FBI pledges--or another agency - 100% support for its own personnel's operations, a basic infrastructure must be in place. I know you can appreciate that the costs involve more than transfers and salaries. They also involve funds affecting a variety of mission operations--from housing oversight and building maintenance to secure communications and adequate medical support. All such considerations must be taken into account by the Chief of Mission through the NSDD-38 authority and process.
We must also consider another reality. Even as agencies seek to expand overseas operations, the Department of State has had to cut back in many places in light of shrinking resources for our missions abroad. Today, our entire international affairs budget represents just 1.2% of the federal budget. This represents a drop of 51% in real terms since 1984, more than any function in the federal government save agriculture and energy.
We cannot always anticipate where our law enforcement and other security interests will converge. However, if we want to influence the situation on the ground--as the FBI and other law enforcement agencies seek through an expansion of personnel--we must also have a strong diplomatic presence, sufficiently funded, to insure that those problems are properly identified. In its five-year plan, the FBI provides several examples of law enforcement successes against Russian organized crime. This progress would not have been possible had we not already had a strong diplomatic presence in the former Soviet Union and Central Europe.
Chief of Mission Authority
The oversight authority of the Chief of Mission in any country overseas is central to the ultimate success of our policy and programs in that nation. Because this concept is so central to our operations, I want to state explicitly the language that gives the Chief of Mission his authority overseas. U.S. law states that the COM
U.S. law also provides that
- "a) shall have full responsibility for the direction, coordination, and supervision of all government executive branch employees in that country (except for employees under the command of a United States area military commander)"; and
- "b) shall keep fully and currently informed with respect to all activities and operations of the Government within that country, and shall insure that Government executive branch employees in that country (except for employees under the command of a U.S. area military commander) comply fully with all applicable directives of the chief of mission."
As we work with the FBI to finalize its long-range plan, we need to make certain that the plan fully reflects the long-standing principles and authorities enacted into law by the Congress. The situation in each country is unique. The Chief of Mission, as the President's personal representative, is responsible for the conduct of the full range of bilateral issues. Since the Chief of Mission is required to ensure proper coordination for all of our interests and program activities, he or she must be fully cognizant of the plans and activities of all the agencies represented in the mission.
- "any executive branch agency having employees in a foreign country shall keep the Chief of Mission to that country fully and currently informed with respect to all activities and operations of its employees in that country, and shall insure that all of its employees in that country (except for employees under the command of a United States area military commander) comply fully with all applicable directives of the Chief of Mission."
No one appreciates better than I the importance of close law enforcement relationships, but in some countries these contacts will not, or cannot, flourish without U.S. pressure and interest. The Chief of Mission can help law enforcement break down barriers to effective cooperation that might otherwise exist. A Chief of Mission must also insure that law enforcement activities are properly carried out in the context of other U.S. interests and coordinated with other U.S. initiatives.
Moreover, no American government official overseas can conduct business as he or she might at home. Any law enforcement officer overseas is not just a representative of his or her agency, but a U.S. representative accredited to a U.S. embassy. A misstep by a law enforcement official in Texas or California may harm progress on an individual case or even an officer's home agency. Problems with an investigation overseas, however, can have much wider implications for other law enforcement agencies and U.S. interests in general. The Chief of Mission needs to be in a position to consider the whole relationship to make certain that various policies and programs are conducted smoothly and do not work at cross purposes.
Training to Work Abroad and the Country Team
As we look toward increased U.S. law enforcement presence abroad, I would like to make another important point. It is perhaps an obvious statement, but working in an embassy overseas is quite different from working in Washington or one of the federal buildings or offices in the United States. To succeed overseas requires different preparation: preparation in the history, culture, language, and bilateral relationship with the country to which the officer is being assigned. Therefore, we must work closely with all the law enforcement agencies--to provide language, area and other needed academic and practical orientation that will strengthen not only their employees' professional contributions to the mission's overall efforts, but also to their personal well-being and safety. Most importantly, preparation helps to avoid misunderstandings in the foreign context, misunderstandings that might otherwise impede progress on important U.S. interests as well as law enforcement objectives. This, of course, applies to both law enforcement officers on temporary as well as permanent assignment.
The extent to which we enjoy effective relationships with foreign countries also depends upon the cohesiveness of the country team, the term we apply to the various USG agencies working in a particular American mission. In an overseas environment, there is, and should be, considerable interdependence and cooperation among these agencies. In terms of law enforcement, I can cite many reasons why this is so.
Through the Department's consular function, for example, an active program seeks to insure that suspected terrorists are not inadvertently issued visas to enter the United States, an effort which complements counter-terrorist responsibilities of the FBI and other U.S. law enforcement authorities. Similarly, the Department's Diplomatic Security Officers--with their extensive exposure to foreign culture and languages, coupled with their understanding of U.S. foreign policy and its application--are natural allies for other U.S. law enforcement agencies in the conduct of their objectives. Recently, for example, Diplomatic Security Officers have provided global support for the Secret Service's counterfeiting currency "supernote" investigations and they tracked down in a remote area of Tanzania, Kobie Mouatt, an alleged member of a notorious Washington, DC gang, who was returned to the United States by the FBI to face racketeering charges. For the record, I have provided additional information about the State Department's Bureau for Diplomatic Security, the Department's own law enforcement element, which maintains the essential links among key foreign organizations to facilitate domestic law enforcement investigations having foreign involvement. In sum, we know from experience that when Chief of Mission authority and the country team approach are observed, unnecessary errors and mistakes which are harmful to our overall foreign policy objectives can be avoided.
Mr. Chairman, I wish that there were a quick and easy solution to the problem of transnational crime, but we all know that there is not. New challenges arise every day, in addition to long-term threats. We must confront them quickly and efficiently before they become overwhelming. This is the approach we have used most recently, for example, in support of international efforts to promote civilian implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords in Bosnia and Eastern Slavonia. Thus, training for local police who will serve on the UN transitional force in Eastern Slavonia is underway at ILEA in Budapest. The expertise and commitment of our law enforcement colleagues as trainers at the Academy are essential to the success of our initiatives and the goal of establishing secure democracy in this region of the world. We will undoubtedly face more such challenges in the future which similarly would be extremely difficult to manage without the support and guidance of American law enforcement "know-how."
Ultimately, the battles we face cannot be won unless we work together--the U.S. law enforcement and diplomatic communities, the U.S. and other nations. The threat today requires a new era of cooperation. And if--as we are beginning to do--we can work to eliminate safe havens for criminal fugitives and their money, improve law enforcement cooperation among nations, and provide training and technical assistance to those nations in need, we can make great progress.
Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security
One vital element in our country's comprehensive, interagency international law enforcement effort is the Department of State's network of Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) agents at our embassies and consulates throughout the world. DS has 240 Regional Security Officers (RSOs), who are trained security/law enforcement agents, assigned in 133 countries.
These RSOs are responsible for the protection of the facilities, personnel, and information at all posts under authority of a Chief of Mission overseas. In addition to their protective functions, DS agents are also statutorily charged with combating passport and visa fraud. Since a large proportion of global criminal activity is carried out under the cloak of fraudulent travel documents, they wage an intensive campaign against passport and visa violations both domestically and abroad.
DS agents are an integral part of the U.S. law enforcement community. They are trained at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia, participate in interagency operations, including the Joint Terrorism Task Force, and work closely with federal, state, and local officers, not only here in Washington, but from their field and resident offices in many major cities throughout the United States, as well at posts abroad.
In order to succeed in fulfilling their protective and other responsibilities overseas, RSOs must conduct extensive liaison with foreign police, security and intelligence services. In addition, DS conducts the U.S. Government's Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) Program, which has trained over 18,000 foreign law enforcement officers in the last decade.
These liaison activities and relationships with foreign officials are invaluable in allowing RSOs to obtain and provide assistance in support of other agencies' law enforcement initiatives and investigations. Each year, RSOs receive hundreds of requests from Justice and Treasury agencies, such as the FBI, DEA, and the Secret Service, as well as others from Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies that rely on DS to provide help in accomplishing their important work. This assistance ranges from routine criminal records checks and personnel investigations in connection with government employment to more complex tracing of fugitives, interviewing of victims, informants, and suspects, and processing extradition requests. Such activities include, for example, providing global support of the Secret Service's counterfeit currency "supernote" investigation and tracking down in a remote area of Tanzania, Kobie Mouatt, an alleged member of a notorious Washington, DC gang, who was then returned to the United States by the FBI to face racketeering charges.
Diplomatic Security agents played an integral role in the apprehension of Ramzi Yousef, the alleged mastermind behind the World Trade Center Bombing. The RSO in Islamabad received the key information that led to Yousef's location and, once confirmed, Pakistani authorities, with assistance from DS special agents, made the arrest. It is widely believed that the International Terrorism Rewards Program, which like the ATA program is DS-administered, may have played a role in Yousef's apprehension.
With respect to other participants in the World Trade Center bombing and the plot to bomb the United Nations and other landmarks, DS's unique global network of professional law enforcement officers was an important conduit between investigators in New York and a complex matrix of international leads spanning five continents. In addition, four of the conspirators were charged with document fraud violations, in part, through investigations conducted by DS agents. Evidence indicated that those arrested were also planning to bomb 11 U.S. commercial airlines in Asia.
Most of the law enforcement assistance provided by the Department of State's RSOs does not contribute to cases that make the headlines or the evening news. The majority of this assistance is primarily liaison action, that is, the passing of information to host governments so they can conduct investigations according to their rules and laws, and then return the results through the RSO.
Despite the nature of the assistance, it is nevertheless essential to the success of law enforcement efforts throughout the country. The Department's RSOs are uniquely suited to providing this assistance overseas as a result of their foreign service background, extensive exposure to foreign cultures and languages, as well as their working understanding of U.S. foreign policy and its application. They are an unparalleled resource that has provided--and will continue to provide--a full range of timely, high-quality service to U.S. law enforcement officers seeking assistance abroad.
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