|Robert S. Gelbard, Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
Statement before the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations of the Senate Committee on Appropriations
Washington, DC, May 14, 1996
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee: With the array of complicated funding issues facing the Congress, I very much appreciate this unique opportunity to explain the policies and strategies which are the underpinnings of our FY1997 budget request for international narcotics and crime control. Like ours, many overseas programs have been cut. The budget climate is grim, but I know that the honest bipartisan support we have for our law enforcement efforts overseas is based upon the Congress' acute understanding that the effectiveness of our work impacts upon the health and well being of all Americans. I'm sure, also, that the Committee shares my heartfelt sentiment that Barry McCaffrey--who has spoken so persuasively today on the merits of our overseas programs--epitomizes the kind of leadership we need to insure the threats we face are reduced as fully as possible.
We have made important gains, and I believe that with proper funding we can build upon our achievements. We must not miss our opportunity now to shrink the drug and crime problems abroad. For if we miss the opportunity, we will inevitably face larger challenges at home at huge economic and social cost to our citizens. We must maintain our investment, which is relatively small, but still pays substantial dividends for the American people, to attack these problems overseas--before they reach our shores.
We have planned our budget and future initiatives carefully, and I want to explain why the $213 million we have requested in 1997 is the absolute minimum we need to accomplish our narcotics and law enforcement objectives. Let me add a cautionary note that I always stress--this effort must be sustained. Success in a single year is not necessarily permanent. You might ask yourselves why we have asked for so little money when the magnitude is so great. The answer, I believe, is that our request for 1997--provided it is sustained and incrementally increased over time--provides insurance for drug control programs with measurable results. I know, from my experience in this job and as Ambassador to Bolivia, that uneven funding from year to year produces uneven results.
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.
This is particularly true in the field of law enforcement. International narcotics trafficking and organized crime are two of the most serious threats to the security and vital interests of the United States. No other foreign policy issues simultaneously threaten our internal and external interests so severely and persistently. Domestically, the narcotics trade alone is estimated to cost our society more than $60 billion a year; the costs become incalculable when we add the lives lost and destroyed to drug abuse. And it is growing worse: heroin addiction is rising and new statistics show that the recent downward trend in cocaine abuse is reversing. Domestic prevention and enforcement programs, facing overwhelming foreign drug production and trafficking, cannot cope alone; they need the backing of effective international control efforts. The international trade in illegal aliens, stolen autos, and laundered money poses similarly insidious, if less obvious, domestic consequences: costing consumers billions of dollars annually, draining capital from our businesses, and compounding the problems of already over-burdened unemployment, education, and public health systems.
Internationally, both narcotics and organized crime pose grave threats to our fundamental foreign policy objectives of enhancing democracy, rule-of-law, and free market economies. Globally, narcotics and crime generate hundreds of billions of dollars a year in illicit income which the major syndicates use to buy influence and protection at the highest levels of government and society. Through corruption and intimidation, they target and weaken the very institutions designed to enhance public participation and citizen security: the legislatures, the police, the judiciary, even the media. From Colombia, where trafficker penetration has reached the highest levels of Colombian society and government, to Thailand, where a former influential member of parliament was recently extradited to the United States on drug trafficking charges, no country is immune. And drug and crime money drain and weaken national economies. The uncontrolled flow of such vast sums creates serious economic distortions, fuels inflation, and makes long-term economic planning impossible. Meanwhile, innovations in communications and transportation technology, coupled with the overall growth in international trade, are enabling international crime syndicates to expand their reach faster, with greater security, than ever. Such groups now threaten the consolidation of democracy from Eastern Europe and Russia, to Africa, Central America, and Asia.
Against this backdrop, the President has deemed international narcotics trafficking and crime to be fundamental threats to our national security and issued explicit directions to respond aggressively. He has directed that we focus increasingly on attacking the foreign source of the narcotics and crime problems including the major organizations, their money laundering and other financial operations, and, in the case of drugs, the crops. We have been directed to work more closely with other countries and international organizations and to expand our worldwide training efforts. The President has also ordered the Secretary of State to recommend the imposition of possible sanctions against countries that do no cooperate in the effort to counter money laundering.
That is why Secretary Christopher, three 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."
From the perspective of our National Drug Control Strategy, some of our most important overseas objectives include:
Similarly, our international organized crime goals are to:
- Reducing significantly the size of the international drug trade and stemming the rapid expansion of international organized crime;
- Building a stronger international coalition against international narcotics trafficking and organized crime by increasing international awareness of these threats and strengthening the ability of national and multilateral institutions to combat them;
- Identifying and targeting those elements of the threat that pose the greatest danger to U.S. security interests'; and
- With countries willing to cooperate, developing and implementing comprehensive awareness, training, and assistance programs focused on strengthening law enforcement and judicial institutions, improving host nation police and military cooperation against the narcotics trade and reducing drug crop cultivation through a combination of eradication and alternative development programs.
- Develop training and information--sharing programs to combat money laundering; fraud and other financial crimes; and the international smuggling of illegal aliens, stolen vehicles, and nuclear materials;
- Strengthen the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Budapest and seek the creation or strengthening of additional institutions worldwide;
- Thwart organized crime's ability to undermine democracy and freemarket economies in Eastern Europe, Russia, the NIS, and other vulnerable states; and
- Apply, as necessary, sanctions against countries that do not cooperate in responding to these threats.
The State Department's Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs is the sharp end of our international narcotics and crime control spear. Though it is a small program, it has produced results. We need to keep up the momentum on unprecedented achievements:
Fiscal 1997 and Specific Near-term Goals
- Colombia is apprehending the world's most wanted criminals--the Cali Cartel kingpins--and preparing to prosecute them.
- Air interdiction operations are choking the flow of cocaine from Peru to Colombia, pushing up trafficker costs.
- Eradication operations in Colombia, Venezuela, and Bolivia are destroying thousands of hectares of coca and opium poppies.
- Thailand has arrested top international heroin kingpins and is arranging extraditions to the U.S.
- Nigeria, penalized by the United States for its poor narcotics performance, finally is taking steps to improve its efforts.
- Intelligence and operations are intercepting boatloads of illegal Chinese immigrants (28 vessels and nearly 5,000 aliens since 1993) and punishing alien smuggling networks.
- Worldwide money laundering controls and forfeiture laws are being toughened to deny traffickers their money.
- Training and support for new law enforcement organizations in Eastern Europe and the NIS will help combat ruthless organized crime syndicates that prey on investors and export their crimes abroad.
- U.S. insurers are receiving help against international car thieves to fight back against this multi-billion-dollar criminal business. Initiatives include police investigative training and bilateral agreements with Central American/Caribbean countries for the return of cars stolen from the United States.
- Diplomatic initiatives have advanced European Union and the G-7 Transnational Organized Crime Group international anti-crime initiatives.
- The UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice is helping countries update antiquated criminal codes.
- South American countries are implementing the 1994 Summit of the Americas initiative on counternarcotics and related crime, including a hemispheric strategy to combat money laundering.
In 1997, we seek to advance established and emerging priorities designed in accord with contemporary realities. Our budget and strategy are based on an essential understanding that international drug trade and transnational crime patterns are everchanging mosaics and we must maintain the flexibility to carry out up-to-the-minute responses. The bulk of INL's budget, including $116 million for country-specific programs, $27 million for aviation support and $12 million for counternarcotics training, is directed toward programs in this hemisphere. The remaining principal accounts support international criminal justice programs ($20 million), international organizations ($12 million), and the Asia/Africa and European accounts ($19 million). These funds, in concert with the range of diplomatic tools we employ, will support our efforts through 1997 to:
Two Key Programs: Training and Crop Control
- Get the Government of Mexico to do more to crack down on Mexico's growing role as a narcotics and alien smuggling transit zone and money laundering center, especially given the threat these crimes pose to Mexico's stability and our security;
- Sustain pressure on Colombia to destroy the Cali cartel and its successor organizations and continue to eradicate coca and opium poppy, and press Peru and Bolivia to continue to eradicate coca;
- Implement the heroin strategy by highlighting drug control as a top bilateral issue in Southeast and Southwest Asia and Africa and, working with the U.N. and other organizations, begin intensified crop control and enforcement efforts in Burma;
- Expand anti-money laundering and other initiatives under the President's National Crime Initiative by cracking down on countries that continue to be money laundering safe havens and enhance anti-crime cooperation with developing countries through increased law enforcement and administration of justice training, especially in Russia, the NIS and Central Europe;
- Take advantage of the New Transatlantic Agenda to strengthen existing anti-drug and anti-crime mechanisms, and explore new ones; and
- With the UN, cement initiatives through the International Police Task Force for Bosnia to identify, work with and train civilian police to assure security and stability while respecting human rights.
Because they are so important to our ultimate success, I would like to highlight two key activities which we fund--crop control and training. I know from firsthand experience and more than a dozen years of work in this field how cost efficient and highly effective these activities can be in thwarting illegal drugs and crime.
Eradication is a central component of our source country counternarcotics strategy. For the narcotics trade, drug crops represent a key vulnerability to the trafficking groups and drug crop control remains pivotal to our ultimate success in the fight against cocaine and heroin. Eradication, particularly aerial eradication in the case of coca, has the potential to be our most effective tool. Crops are detectable, defenseless, and destroyable--tactically easier to target than airplanes or cargo vessels loaded with drugs. Moreover, crops are critical to the drug industry's survival. In the case of coca, research shows that roughly 200 hectares of coca eradicated deprives the system of up to a metric ton of cocaine. These factors demand that eradication--and related alternative development projects--remain central to our efforts, especially in this hemisphere. To this end, a large share of our funds is devoted to supporting aerial and manual eradication, and to programs designed to develop income-generating alternatives for farmers forced to abandon drug crops.
Similarly, we will continue to target funds for law enforcement and judicial sector training--an activity which plays an important role in many aspects of our foreign policy objectives. Let me explain why.
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.
Thus, 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.
Our work in Haiti is based upon this understanding. 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.
As I hope my testimony makes clear, both the challenges we face and the policies and programs we have in place are multifaceted and complicated. I want to stress, too, that our projects with a price tag attached to them are carefully crafted to complement a wide range of diplomatic initiatives. Our annual narcotics certification process is probably the most significant example I can offer. Keeping the political pressure on Mexico, Colombia or Pakistan is every bit as important--if not more so--as the drug control monies we supply to these countries.
Apart from taking into account the reality of diminishing resources, our budget request for drug and crime control reflects careful analysis of our ability to make the most effective, immediate use of funds without overburdening the absorptive capacity of our various programmatic elements in the countries in which we work. At the same time, since 1993, when our budget was cut by 30%, we have suffered several lean years. We must have the wherewithal to effectively counter the narcotics and crime threat from abroad.
I wish I could say there was a quick and easy solution to the problems of drug trade and transnational crime, but we all know that there is not. Our battle must be measured in years, not days. I do know this, however, ultimately this battle cannot be won unless we work together--individuals, public and private institutions and the international community as a whole. This threat to our national security requires a new era of cooperation. To secure that cooperation, it may at times be necessary for the U.S. to act unilaterally. But if--as we are beginning to do--we can work to eliminate safe havens for fugitives and money laundering, improve law enforcement cooperation among nations and provide training and technical assistance to those nations in need, we can make great process.
The Administration understands this committee's keen interest in the ultimate success of our programs and we are grateful for committee members' abiding support over the years. We have welcomed your wise counsel and appreciate the role you have played in bolstering our efforts. I especially appreciate your support for our budget this year and we very much look forward to working with you in the future. Thank you.
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