CHAIRMAN BERMAN: Welcome, Madam Secretary. In order to maximize the time for member question, we’ll limit opening statements to myself and the Ranking Member. I intend to keep my statement short – well, shorter than usual. And all other members are welcome to submit written statements for the record.
Madam Secretary, we appreciate this opportunity to explore with you the President’s International Affairs budget request for fiscal year 2011, the supplemental Appropriations request for the current fiscal year, and the various policy initiatives you have championed as Secretary of State.
This is the second budget request submitted by this Administration, but the first one prepared from start to finish under President Obama’s and your leadership. So this is the first opportunity for Congress and the nation to see a clear and comprehensive picture of your vision and the priorities you have set. We applaud the President’s decision to define national security to include not only the Defense budget, but also the International Affairs budget. As you have said on many occasions, America’s national security depends not only on our men and women in uniform, but also on the civil servants who risk their lives on a daily basis to support America’s interests abroad.
Regrettably, this point was brought home by the recent deaths of a dedicated Foreign Service officer in the Haitian earthquake and seven CIA officers at the hands of a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. These courageous civilians gave their lives in service to our country. Our diplomats and development specialists work day and night to head off international crises before they erupt and to prevent the onset of failed states where terrorists who threaten our security find safe haven.
Over the long run, these civilian efforts are much more cost-effective than putting our brave soldiers in harm’s way. Investing in the International Affairs budget is the proverbial ounce of prevention. For example, if we are to resolve the Iranian nuclear crisis, whether by diplomacy or sanctions, it will be thanks mainly to the creativity and hard work of our diplomats and civil servants.
Madam Secretary, you’ve set out very clear priorities in this budget – working with local partners to defeat al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan, ensuring that children around the world have enough food to eat and don’t die of easily preventable diseases, helping nations reduce emissions and adapt to climate change, putting women front and center in our humanitarian and development efforts, and rebuilding our civilian workforce by hiring a new generation of Foreign Service officers and giving them the training and resources they need to make a real difference.
There may be differences of opinion about the relative priority of these initiatives and the optimal amount of funding for specific countries and programs. But I, and I hope my colleagues on this committee, will do everything we can to maintain the overall funding level because we recognize, as you do, that diplomacy and development are integral to our national security. In fact, a full 18 percent of the International Affairs budget request, $10.8 billion, is for the front-line states of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. That includes 1.6 billion for programs that were previously carried out by the Pentagon, including Iraqi police training, the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capabilities Fund, and Section 1207 reconstruction and stabilization assistance. By having the State Department assume responsibility for these programs, we place them in civilian hands where they belong and now allow the military to focus on its core mission.
There are many different ways to look at the budget figures. I would argue that in order to compare apples to apples, the fiscal year 2010 total should include supplemental funding, both the new request and forward funding provided in the 2009 supplemental. Looking at it that way, the fiscal year 2011 request represents a very modest increase, about 2.8 percent. In these difficult economic times, it is particularly important to remind ourselves and the American people that the International Affairs budget is little more than 1 percent of the entire federal budget and only a small fraction of the amount we spend on Defense.
Madam Secretary, we look forward to hearing your testimony on the budget request and the Administration’s foreign policy priorities, and now I’m very pleased to turn to my Ranking Member, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen for any remarks that she might want to make.
MS. ROS-LEHTINEN: Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman.
Madam Secretary, welcome back to our Foreign Affairs committee. For the sake of time, I’m going to incorporate my questions into the opening statement to allow time for more members to raise their concerns during the question period.
Our existing public debt is already more than $12 trillion. Under the President’s overall budget for fiscal year 2011, our national debt would grow at an estimated rate of almost $4 billion per day. Our foreign aid funding is not a major part of the overall budget, we know, and we want to accomplish many things overseas. But in light of our fiscal situation, the International Affairs budget should also be subject to selective freezes or slower rates of spending in order to assist in the battle for our nation’s economic future.
The $9.5 billion requested for the State Department’s basic salaries and operations, when combined with last year’s increases, amounts to a 33 percent jump from fiscal year 2009 levels. These increases do not include, of course, funds sought in the anticipated supplemental for Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. There are reports that we’re spending $1 billion – $1 billion for a new U.S. Embassy in London described as a crystal form that is light-filled and light-emitting. We all want to provide for the security of our overseas personnel, but we should be able to meet those needs without seeking to build a crystal palace.
There is a 22 percent increase for the International Atomic Energy Agency, which, according to GAO, has provided millions in assistance to the nuclear program of Iran and Syria. The International Affairs account has grown significantly over the past decade. It was $23.4 billion in fiscal year 2000. By 2010, it was at $50.6 billion. That’s a 116 percent increase. I’d like our foreign aid budget to move to a greater reliance on development credit assistance, which should help us achieve considerable savings. As the State Department’s own documents note, the development credit account has historically leveraged significant amounts of private funds for development projects.
Turning to policy questions, Madam Secretary, on Iran, the recent IAEA report stated concerns, quote, “about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed activities related to development of a nuclear payload for a missile,” end quote. Then today’s news reports have Russian officials refuting claims that Iran could be pursuing nuclear weapons while emphasizing Russia’s commitment to delivering advanced air defense missiles to Iran. Some European officials are also quoted suggesting that sanctions should come later and investments in Iran continue.
Madam Secretary, successive U.S. administrations under the guise of seeking multilateral concessions have taken no action during – under the Iran Sanctions Act, and the Iranian threat keeps growing. When are companies, like Royal Dutch Shell, France’s Total, Russia’s Gazprom, and Spain’s Repsol, going to be held accountable for their actions? When will we take action to address the almost $3 billion in investments by China’s Sinopec? When will we be leveraging the Iran Sanctions Act for concrete cooperation from our allies and cutting off the regime in Iran?
Turning to Cuba, I’m also deeply concerned about reports that the Administration might bend to the Cuban regime’s blackmail and agree to end anticensorship and prodemocracy programs in exchange for the release of U.S. citizen Alan Gross. As you know, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a Cuban dissident in jail, died this very week from a hunger strike, and we must do all that we can to help with the dissident movement and help with the opposition in Cuba. I’d like to hand to you a copy of a February 3rd letter addressed to you from former U.S. ambassadors to Western Hemisphere countries urging you, quote, “to not make any concessions to any dictatorial regime and particularly not to Cuba.”
And lastly, turning to PA funding and UNRA, a former Palestinian anticorruption official has reportedly revealed that Palestinian officials have stolen hundreds of millions in foreign aid. Yet the Administration is requesting another half a billion dollars, including $150 million in direct cash transfers for the Palestinian authority.
Similarly, with respect to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the homicide bomber who killed seven Americans at a base in Afghanistan previously worked at UNRA, in an UNRA camp, and had significant radical Islamic ties. UNRA also continues to agitate against Israel while refusing to vet radical Islamic extremists in its very ranks. Yet the Administration just announced another $40 million to UNRA. What is it going to take for the U.S. to stop the no-strings-attached pipeline of funds to the PA and to UNRA?
And, Madam Secretary and Mr. Chairman, a minute and a half to go, I yield back the balance of my time. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN BERMAN: All right.
MS. ROS-LEHTINEN: Welcome. Glad to hear that the President is doing much better.
CHAIRMAN BERMAN: Well, thank you very much. Madam Secretary, I’ll yield myself five minutes to begin the questioning. Oh yes, you want to testify? (Laughter.) We could really save a lot of time. Madam Secretary.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Mr. Chairman, I will do it in a New York minute. (Laughter.)
CHAIRMAN BERMAN: No, no, no. You take all the time that you want. This is important.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, let me say to you and to the Ranking Member and to all of the members of the committee that it is a pleasure to be back with you today. When I was last here discussing our budget, I emphasized my commitment to elevate diplomacy and development as core pillars of American power. And since then, I have been heartened by the bipartisan support of this committee and the rest of Congress, and I want to take this opportunity to thank you on behalf of the men and women who work every day for the State Department, for USAID here at home and around the world, putting our foreign policy into action, advancing America’s interests and values.
And that’s what this budget we’re presenting today intends to do. Our fiscal year 2011 request for the State Department and USAID totals $52.8 billion. That’s a $4.9 billion increase over 2010. Of that increase, $3.6 billion will go to supporting efforts in the front-line states – Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. Other funding will grow by $1.3 billion, which is a 2.7 percent increase that will help us address global challenges, strengthen partnerships, and ensure that the State Department and USAID are equipped with the right people and resources.
Over the past six weeks in Haiti, we’ve been reminded yet again of the importance of American leadership. I am very proud of what our country has done. Our military and civilian personnel have performed extraordinarily. And we are continuing our work with our Haitian and international partners to address the ongoing suffering and transition from relief to recovery.
Now, Mr. Chairman, I know that this is a time of great economic strain for our fellow Americans. And as a former member of Congress, I know what this means for the people you each represent. For every dollar we spend, we have to show results. That’s why this budget must support programs vital to our national security, our national interests, and our leadership in the world, while guarding against waste, duplication, and irrelevancy. And I believe it achieves those objectives.
The figures in the budget are more than numbers on a page. They tell the story of the challenges we face and the resources we need to overcome them. We are fighting two wars that call for the skill and sacrifice of our civilians as well as our troops. We have pursued a dual-track approach to Iran that has exposed for the world to see its refusal to live up to its responsibility, and it has helped us achieve a new unity with our international partners. Iran has left the international community little choice but to impose greater costs for its provocative steps. And we are now working actively with other countries to prepare and implement new measures to pressure Iran to change course.
We also achieved, this past year, unprecedented unity in our response to North Korea’s provocative action, even as we leave the door open for a restart of Six-Party Talks. And we’re moving closer to a fresh nuclear agreement with Russia, one that advances our security while furthering President Obama’s long-term vision of a world without nuclear weapons. With China, we’re seeking areas of common purpose while standing firm where we differ.
We’re making concrete our new beginning with the Muslim world, and we’re strengthening partnerships with allies in Europe and Asia, with friends in our own hemisphere, and with countries around the world from India to Indonesia to South Africa, Brazil, and Turkey. And yes, we are working every day to end the impasse and the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
At the same time, we’re developing a new architecture of cooperation to meet global challenges that cross national boundaries like climate change and the use of our planet’s oceans. In so many instances, our national interests and the common interests converge. And so from the Western Hemisphere to Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, we’re promoting human rights, the rule of law, democracy, and internet freedom. We’re fighting poverty, hunger and disease, and we’re working to ensure that economic growth is broadly shared.
Our agenda is ambitious because the times demand it. America is called to lead. And we need the tools and resources to exercise that leadership wisely and effectively. We can bury our heads in the sand and pay the consequences later, or we can make hard-nosed, targeted investments now, addressing the security challenges of today while building a stronger foundation for security and prosperity in the future.
Let me quickly highlight the three areas where we are making significant new investments: First, in the security of the front-line states. In Afghanistan, we’ve tripled the number of civilians on the ground, and this presence will grow by hundreds more with the $5 billion in this budget. Our diplomats and development experts are embedded with our military. They have moved into Marja along with our forces. They are now helping to set up institutions, expand economic opportunities, and provide meaningful alternatives for insurgents ready to renounce violence and al-Qaida and join Afghan society in a peaceful way.
In Pakistan, our request includes 3.2 billion to combat extremism, promote economic development, strengthen democratic institutions, and build a long-term relationship with the Pakistani people. This includes funding of the Kerry-Lugar-Berman initiative. And I want to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your visionary leadership on this legislation. Our request also includes a 59 percent increase in funding for Yemen to help counter the extremist threat and build institutions and economic opportunity.
In Iraq, we are winding down our military presence and establishing a more normal civilian mission. Our civilian efforts will not and cannot mirror the scale of our military presence, but rather provide assistance consistent with the priorities of the Iraqi Government. So our request includes $2.6 billion for Iraq to enable us to support the democratic process and ensure a smooth transition to civilian-led security training and operational support. As these funds allow civilians to take responsibility for these programs, the Defense Department’s budget for Iraq will decrease by about $16 billion. That’s a powerful illustration of the return on civilian investment.
We are blessed, as we all know, with the best troops in the world, as we have seen time and time again. But we’ve got to give our civilian experts the resources that we ask them to exercise as they go about doing what they’re expected to do, and the budget takes a step in that direction. It includes $100 million for a State Department complex crisis fund, replacing the 1207 fund through which the Defense Department directed money toward crisis response. And it includes support for the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund, which previously also fell under the Defense Department.
The second major area is investing in development. This budget makes targeted investments in fragile societies which, in our interconnected world, bear heavily on our own security and prosperity. These investments are a key part of our effort to get ahead of crises rather than just responding to them, positioning us to deal with the threats and challenges that lie before us.
The first of these is in health. Building on our progress treating HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis, our Global Health Initiative will invest $63 billion over six years, starting with $8.5 billion in FY11 to help our partners address specific diseases, but also to build strong, sustainable health systems for themselves.
The Administration has also pledged to invest at least $3.5 billion in food security over three years. And this year’s request includes $1.6 billion, of which $1.2 billion will be funded through the State Department. This funding will focus on countries that have developed effective comprehensive strategies, where agriculture is central to prosperity and hunger remains widespread.
On climate change, our request of $646 million seeks to promote the United States as a leader in green technology and to leverage other countries’ cooperation, including through the Copenhagen Accord which, for the first time, brought developed and developing countries together on this challenge. This is part of the Administration’s total request of $1.4 billion to support core climate change activities in developing nations. Our request also includes $4.2 billion for humanitarian assistance programs. Our efforts in Haiti have made clear that State and USAID must be able to respond quickly and effectively to human tragedies.
These initiatives are designed to enhance American security, help people in need, and give the American people a strong return on their investment. Our aim is not to create dependency, but to help people develop solutions that they can sustain for themselves over the long term. And essential to this is a focus on advancing equality and opportunity for women and girls who are the key drivers of economic and social progress in the developing world.
And that brings me to the third and final area of investment. None of this can happen if we do not recruit, train, and empower the right people for the job. The State Department and USAID are full of talented and committed public servants, but too often we’ve neglected to give them the tools they need to carry out their missions on the ground. Rather than building their expertise, we have often relied on contractors, sometimes with little oversight and often with increased costs. This budget will allow us to expand the Foreign Service by over 600 positions, including an additional 410 for the State Department and 200 for USAID. It will also allow us to staff the standby element of the Civilian Reserve Corps, which is a crucial tool we are developing to respond to crises.
Now, while deploying these personnel does generate new expenses in some accounts, it will reduce expenses in others by changing the way we do business. We are ending an over-reliance on contractors and finding opportunities to save money by bringing essential functions into government and improving oversight.
One thing that I hope is clear from this budget is that the State Department and USAID are taking a lead in carrying out the United States foreign policy and national security agenda. As we finish the first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, we have a unique opportunity to define the capabilities we need, and then match resources with priorities. This budget aligns our investments with the strategic imperatives of our time. We are putting a lot of effort into the management of the State Department and USAID. We are asking a lot of hard questions. And we come to you with a commitment to be responsive, as we have done so this past year.
At a time of change and challenge at home and abroad, we believe these investments will enhance the security of Americans, assure the future of American leadership, and help build the foundations of peace, stability, and prosperity for the years ahead.
I look forward to continuing to work with you, and I would be pleased to take your questions, Mr. Chairman.
CHAIRMAN BERMAN: Well, thank you very much. And now I’ll yield myself five minutes to begin the questioning.
I want to start out by truly commending the Administration for its sincere and full effort to engage Iran in the goal of stopping the Iranian nuclear program. It’s regrettable that the Iranians have not accepted the President’s outstretched hand. The whole world has seen the President’s effort at engagement has been met by an Iranian clenched fist. If there were any doubts about the nature of the Iranian regime, they have been erased by fraudulent elections and brutal repression of dissent. And if there was any doubt about Iran’s intention of having a nuclear weapons capability, the revelations of the last three or four months surely have removed those doubts by any objective standard.
We have tried engagement and I believe we should remain open to a diplomatic solution. But I think it is time to shift our focus to implementing effective sanctions, sanctions that maximize the chance that Iran will change its decision, change its course, and end its effort to seek that nuclear weapons capability.
The question is: What kinds of sanctions work? I think it’s a mistake for us to try and draw you out fully as you are engaged in an important diplomatic process at the Security Council and with other countries bilaterally to develop that strategy. But I do want to raise a more general issue. There are people around who say the words “targeted” and “smart sanctions” get thrown around all the time. The test is whether the sanctions maximize the chances of achieving the goal of changed behavior on these issues. And some say we should just – we should target – our targeting of sanctions should be limited to individuals. We don’t want to cause any economic deprivation to the Iranian people beyond that which the regime’s own policies have foisted on their people.
I don’t understand how we can have the level of sanctions that can change behavior without it, unfortunately, having consequences on the Iranian people. But we are talking about, in the context of Iran, hundreds of thousands of Iranians have put their lives on the line to protest their regime. They are suffering, in some cases, executions, mass arrests, show trials, beatings, and all kinds of brutality.
The notion that because of the regime’s behavior, their economic deprivation, which is already serious, may grow, the notion that that causes them to rally behind the very regime that has caused them to go in the streets, to me, makes no sense. And I’m – I guess I would like to get your thoughts on this issue of sanctions that are called smart, because they have no impact on the Iranian people and – versus sanctions that could change behavior.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Mr. Chairman, first let me underscore what you said about the importance of the President’s strategy this past year. We believe strongly that the President’s leadership and willingness to reach out for engagement with the Iranians was exactly the right approach for two reasons.
First, as he said in his inaugural address, he was willing to stretch out his hand, but people had to unclench their fist. Offering the Iranian leadership the opportunity to engage in a serious way was a necessary and important step, which the President has been willing to take against some political criticism, as you know.
But secondly, the fact that the Iranian regime has failed to respond, and indeed, in the course of this past year, has shown its brutality toward its own people, and the revelations that have come to light about the undisclosed facility at Qom, their failure to accept the Russian, U.S., and French offer through the IAEA on helping to provide the uranium they were needing for the Tehran research reactor, their decision to try to enrich to a higher percentage, all of the litany that we know of the actions they have taken and the IAEA’s much more robust conclusions about that have demonstrated to the rest of the world what the facts are about Iran’s ambitions and about its refusal to engage in a serious manner.
Therefore, we, in the pursuit of a very aggressive diplomatic campaign, believe that the broader the approach on sanctions against Iran, the more isolation and pressure Iran will feel. It is, therefore, important that we speak with one voice, one voice within our government, and one voice internationally against Iran’s failure to live up to its responsibilities.
And so we have done an intensive consultation process around what we see as the most effective approaches to sanctions. And I personally have engaged in numerous discussions with many countries – when I was in London just recently, in the Gulf, next week in Latin America – pointing out how the evidence all adds up. And I think because we were willing to engage, we have a much more receptive audience than we might have had otherwise. And I think that our efforts to move forward in the Security Council should not be viewed as our exclusive efforts, because we have also stated clearly we will look at additional bilateral and preferably multilateral sanctions with willing nations on top of whatever we get out of the Security Council.
So, in sum, we believe in a broad approach. We believe that we have to be as focused on what could change attitudes and behavior within the leadership of Iran. As you might have noticed, I was very clear in my remarks when I was in Doha and Jeddah last week about the increasing role that the Revolutionary Guard is playing in the politics and economy of Iran. So our goal is your goal. If we’re going to go to the international community through the UN, through other multilateral efforts, we want sanctions that will be effective. And we think the broader, the more likely that is to be.
CHAIRMAN BERMAN: Thank you very much. I do note that in consultation with the Ranking Member, we did something which should not be considered a precedent with respect to time, and – but I thought this was an important enough issue to fully develop. And now I’m pleased to recognize the Ranking Member for five minutes.
MS. ROS-LEHTINEN: Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Madam Secretary. Why is the Administration doing nothing to pass the free trade agreements with Colombia, South Korea, Panama – solid U.S. allies, wonderful friends, very pro-American? And will you and President Obama become engaged in trying to pass these FTAs?
Secondly, why did we join the UN Human Rights Council if we were going to do nothing by being on the council? We were supposed to change it from within. Yet in the time we have been there, the U.S. has not called for a special session, or even sponsored a resolution to try to promote it on the human rights violations in Iran and North Korea and Syria, Sudan, Cuba, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Russia, you name it. Nada.
And lastly, Madam Secretary, if you could please comment on the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, the Cuban dissident whom I referred to in my opening statement. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. Let me start where you ended. The United States Government deeply regrets the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, and we send our condolences to his family. And we also reiterate our strong objection to the actions of the Cuban Government.
This is a prisoner of conscience who was imprisoned for years for speaking his mind, for seeking democracy, for standing on the side of values that are universal, who engaged in a hunger strike. The United States Government consistently requested that he be given medical assistance. And unfortunately, he paid for his courage and his commitment with his life. He is one of more than 200 prisoners of conscience held by the Cuban Government, and we continue to reiterate and, in the strongest possible terms, put forth a strong objection to the existing behavior and a hope that through the consistent pressure that we can place on the Cuban Government over matters like this, that these prisoners of conscience will eventually be released.
Secondly, with respect to the Human Rights Council, actually, Congresswoman, there was a Human Rights Council session on Iran and the deplorable human rights record of Iran just last week. The United States was there and made a very strong and forceful presentation. Assistant Secretary Michael Posner from Democracy, Human Rights Bureau in the State Department led our efforts. And I think we, again, made a historic record in front of Iran.
Now, they don’t care about their people, so they’re not going to care about the world exposing these constant human rights abuses. But I think it is far better for us to be exercising our freedom of expression and our strong beliefs inside that Council and forcing others to look at the evidence that is presented. So for the past year, that’s exactly what we’ve been doing, and we will continue to do so.
And, finally, on the free trade agreements, as President Obama said in his State of the Union address last month, we are committed to these free trade agreements, and we hope that we can begin a process of consultation and consensus-building within the Congress. I’ll be going to Latin America next week. I share your characterization of Colombia and Panama, two of our strongest allies, and two countries that have worked very hard to make changes and create a conducive atmosphere to these free trade agreements being confirmed here in our Congress.
So we’re going to be working on this and I appreciate your raising it, because I personally believe it’s a very important issue.
MS. ROS-LEHTINEN: Thank you so much, Madam Secretary. And yes, I do realize that we did have that periodic review on Iran, but it was not a U.S.-sponsored, it was not a special session. And that’s why I raise it. I want us to be more involved now that we’re part of that rogues gallery, unfortunately. Of course, we’re not a rogue regime, but unfortunately, then we become part of the problem. But I’d like for the U.S. to be the sponsor and call for special sessions.
Thank you, Madam Secretary, and thank you, Mr. Chairman.
CHAIRMAN BERMAN: Thank you very much, and now, the gentleman from New York and the chairman of the Middle East and South Asia Subcommittee, Mr. Ackerman.
MR. ACKERMAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good to see you, Madam Secretary. Difficult to let this historic moment go by without noting that so many of us are feeling buyer’s regret that in a previous incarnation, we allowed your health plan proposal to go by the boards. (Laughter.) What a different place we’d be at right now. But this is a different committee.
I want to spend a moment, if I might, talking about the Goldstone Report and its implications. This report is a deeply flawed and grossly biased political diatribe club used to beat Israel over the head and attempt to delegitimize its very existence, a country that has attempted to defend itself, as have we, against terrorists and terrorist attacks and suicide bombers and murderers who would destroy so much human – so many human beings and civilization.
But it’s not Israel that I raise the concern about. It’s the implications that this has for the United States. If this report, which addresses the new kind of warfare that we’re in, warfare that isn’t traditional battlefield warfare, which has general rules and regulations that the whole world has operated under, but going after terrorists who have no conscience, who would hide and morph themselves and meld into civilian populations, hiding their arms and weapons and shedding their uniforms the way they have in the Middle East, and the way we have faced them, as well, the implications for the United States are more than serious.
I won’t quantify it, but the number of civilians that have unfortunately and regrettably perished as we, the United States, have pursued terrorists, whether they be in Iraq or Afghanistan or elsewhere, are certainly a number multiplied by some huge multiple, compared to the number of civilians that were killed as Israel pursued terrorists in Gaza throughout that entire incursion.
It’s not difficult to envision the short path, if that report is accepted as the international standard, to see what happens to our country and envision just the limitations that it would place on your travel ability, Madam Secretary, or the indictment of some American president or future secretary, or even past, for international war crimes because civilians were killed in the pursuit of terrorists – would put a chilling pall on our ability to fight the war on terror.
How do we address this? And I do want to commend the Administration for jumping out ahead of this as quickly as it did, and do all of the things – and I know a lot of things got derailed because of things that were not under our control, without going into them. But how do we deal with this, at this moment in time, as this report moves forward?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Congressman, you have highlighted one of the serious deficiencies in the report that we have also noted. The whole concept of self defense and the right to self defense is one that was not adequately addressed or even taken into consideration. There are a number of other deficiencies within the report, but you have, as usual, put your finger on one of the potential ramifications that go beyond the findings relating to what happened in one place at one time in history.
And we believe strongly that the issues raised in the Goldstone Report should be subjected to strong domestic review processes. We believe Israel has the capacity and the institutions to do so. And in fact, Israel, as you know, has undertaken such a review, as has, I might add, the Palestinian Authority. The group that hasn’t is Hamas and those who support and fund Hamas.
And we believe strongly too that other countries have a stake in supporting our perspective on this, because it’s not only the United States if this international standard, as you say, were to morph out of this report, but nearly every other country would similarly be held to account. So I share your concerns, and we have stood very staunchly on the side of those who reject the underlying premises of this report.
CHAIRMAN BERMAN: The time of the gentleman has expired. The gentleman from New Jersey, Mr. Smith, is recognized.
MR. SMITH: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And welcome, Madam Secretary. It’s always great to see you.
Today, Mr. Chairman, ultrasound imaging has given us a window to the womb and the child within. And microsurgery and a myriad of fetal health interventions are commonplace. Today, as never before, unborn children ought to be viewed as humanity’s youngest patients in need of proper prenatal care, nurturing, and when sick, diagnosis and treatment.
The prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission got a major boost from PEPFAR, and I’m happy to say that commitment continues and is expanded in the Global Health Initiative. The Global Health Initiative must, however, ensure that even the unplanned and unintended unborn child is welcomed, cared for, and included in the initiative.
I was disappointed to read on page 14 of the consultation document that unintended pregnancy seems to be relegated to the status of a disease, juxtaposed between HIV and tropical diseases. Pregnancy isn’t a disease. The child in the womb is neither a tumor nor a parasite to be destroyed.
I am, Mr. Chairman, deeply concerned that with the elimination of the Mexico City Policy by executive order last year, NGO-implementing partners may actively seek to integrate abortion with the many necessary and noble undertakings funded by the Global Health Initiative. Therefore, I respectfully ask that the Administration consider that for many of us, all abortion, legal or illegal, is violence against children, poses significant, often underappreciated risks to women, and especially – and this is largely unfocused-upon – to children later born to post-abortive women.
The term “safe abortion,” in my opinion, is the ultimate oxymoron. Child dismemberment, forced premature expulsion from the womb by chemicals like misoprostol, deliberate starvation by RU-486 can never, ever be construed to be benign, compassionate, or safe. Millennium Development Goal number four seeks a reduction in child mortality. Abortion is child mortality.
Safe abortion? At least 102 studies show significant psychological harm, major depression, and elevated suicide risk to women who abort. Recently, the Times of London reported – and I quote a pertinent part – that senior psychiatrists say that new evidence has uncovered a “clear link between abortion and mental illness in women with no previous history of psychological problems.” They found that, quote, “women who have had abortions have twice the level of psychological problems, and three times the level of depression as women who have given birth or who have never been pregnant.”
In 2006, a comprehensive New Zealand study found that almost 80 percent – 78.6 percent, to be exact – of the 15- to 18-year-olds who had abortions displayed symptoms of major depression, as compared to 31 percent of their peers. And that study also found that 27 percent of the 21- to 25-year-old women who had abortions had suicidal idealizations, compared to 8 percent of those who did not.
Safe abortion? Not for subsequent children born to women who have had an abortion. At least 113 studies show a significant association between abortion and subsequent premature births. For example, a study by researchers Shah and Zoe showed a 36 percent increased risk for preterm birth after one abortion, and a staggering 93 percent increased risk after two. Similarly, the risk of subsequent children being born with low birth weight increases by 35 percent after one, and 72 percent after two or more abortions. Another study showed the risk increased nine times after a woman had three abortions. Clearly, this terrible consequence has been overlooked and under-focused upon for far too long.
What does this mean for her children? Preterm birth is the leading cause of infant mortality in the industrialized world after congenital anomalies. Preterm infants have a greater risk of suffering from chronic lung disease, sensory deficit, cerebral palsy, cognitive impairments, and behavioral problems. Low birth weight is similarly associated with neonatal mortality and morbidity.
Finally, I would respectfully submit that if we are truly serious about reducing maternal mortality, women, especially in the developing world, need access to proper maternal health care, skilled birth attendants, safe blood. I had a hearing that I chaired years ago on safe blood, and a WHO representative said 44 percent of maternal mortality goes away in Africa if there is the availability of safe blood.
So, I would ask, respectfully, that these things be considered.
CHAIRMAN BERMAN: The time of the gentleman has expired. The gentleman from New Jersey, Mr. Payne, chairman of the Africa subcommittee, is recognized for five minutes.
MR. PAYNE: Thank you very much. And let me commend you, Ms. Secretary, on your recent trip to Haiti, as you flew back from a previously planned trip to be there on the ground. I also want to commend you for the grueling six-country tour you took to Africa last year. They are still talking about it. The only negative is the countries you didn’t go to. Of course, there’s 54, so you’ve got 48 more to do.
Let me just bring up a few quick questions. Number one, I have some concern about Somalia. As you know, the Transitional Federal Government of Sheikh Sharif continues to struggle. There was not any increase for development aid for Somalia. I think if we get the governance program going, we will stop the piracy. Because I do know Sheikh Sharif and his people can take that under control.
Secondly, we do see a – in Sudan, an agreement with JEM and the Government of Sudan. Of course, the Government of Sudan has signed a lot of agreements and has broken every one. So I’m not that optimistic. However, there was a 10 percent reduction in ESF funds for south Sudan, which is coming up with a big referendum next year. I don’t think that’s the way to go, since this very important referendum is coming up.
Thirdly, Liberia has a problem with about 3,500 Liberians who are here under DED. On the 30th of March, DED will expire. They came here under the reign of Charles Taylor. It’s Homeland Security/State Department, but if you could look into that, I really would appreciate being able to call you about that.
Finally, Nigeria’s problem, of course, with the President Yar’Adua being very ill; the vice president has taken over. Yar’Adua has gone back to Nigeria, so we need to keep a look on that to make sure that we don’t have a conflict of two presidents. There’s enough problems in Nigeria right now.
Finally, I am concerned about Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara. And I do think that the Saharan people should have an opportunity to have the referendum there in Western Sahara. The United Nations said that it should be done. The Baker Plan said it should be done. I think we should go ahead and do that.
Finally, on another issue, on March 9th, there will be a vote in Northern Ireland. As you know, the Hillsborough Castle Agreement for the UPD (sic) and the Sinn Fein said that the devolution process will go on. However, we can anticipate there may be violence coming up, because we had the car bombing last week. So I would wonder if you could look at that and just urge them to – for the March 9th vote to vote yes so that we can get devolution behind us.
I’ll wait to hear your answer on those that you can answer. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you so much. And I’ll try to speak very quickly, Congressman. And as always, thank you for your personal and very welcome attention to Africa.
With respect to Somalia, there are decreases in the funding from the State Department, but we are working very hard in other accounts, as well as with other donors. We share your commitment to Sheikh Sharif and the TFG.
With respect to Sudan, however, we are actually increasing the request. It’s about 3 percent over the FY 2010 total estimate. And we, again, share your concern, which is why we’re putting both more funding and more diplomatic attention to what is going on in Southern Sudan. The Sudan JEM agreement is welcome. We share your concern about whether it’s real, but we are working hard on that. And I met, when I was in Doha, with the prime minister of Qatar, who has been a facilitator of that effort.
With Liberia, we are making a decision to extend that deferred status with Nigeria. Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson was in Nigeria and was very much involved in the peaceful transition with the return of the president. We are going to maintain vigilance over what is happening inside Nigeria. We support the UN process concerning Morocco and the Western Sahara.
And finally, on Northern Ireland, as you may know, I went to Northern Ireland. I spoke in Stormont. I have been deeply involved in meeting with and telephoning with all of the major players and just met with Shaun Woodward, who is the secretary for Northern Ireland. I share your hope that the March 9th vote is affirmative.
CHAIRMAN BERMAN: Amazing. (Laughter.) The time of the gentleman has expired. The gentleman from Indiana, Mr. Burton.
MR. BURTON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have two brief comments. First of all, I want to associate myself with the remarks of Mr. Ackerman regarding the Goldstone report, and I just signed a letter to the Secretary along with you, Mr. Chairman, and others regarding that.
The second thing I wanted to say is that the sanctions act that you graciously got through the House and it’s been passed in the Senate still has to go to conference committee, and I would hope that could get that passed and to the President as quickly as possible.
And then third, I want to thank the Secretary of State for her hard work. She’s been working very hard, as is pretty apparent. She has been all over the place and we appreciate your work. Now, I have two questions for you.
First of all regarding Iran, Iran – and we’ve been talking about this now for several years – they have not moved one inch from their development program. In fact, IAEA said that they’re planning 10 more sites and several thousand more centrifuges. And they’re also talking about building a bomb-proof facility in the side of a mountain. And so while we’re talking about negotiating all kinds of measures to put pressure on them, I think that we ought to also be talking about an attack on those sites and let them know that the United States and Israel, working together, will do whatever it takes to stop a development program that will threaten the Middle East, our energy supplies, and the state of Israel.
And while we’re talking about this, working with our allies to put pressure on them through sanctions, I really think that a message should be sent to them either publicly or through you privately that we’re prepared to give Israel whatever they need to be able to go way below the ground, maybe 100, 200, 300 feet – whatever it is – to knock out those development sites, if necessary, because we don’t want them to have, as a terrorist state, nuclear weapons that can destabilize the entire region and maybe destroy Israel. So I hope you’ll maybe comment on that.
The other thing I’d like for you to comment on, Madam Secretary, is I was informed that the Justice Department has somewhere up to nine or maybe even more people working there who did pro bono work for some of the terrorists or detainees that are being held at Guantanamo. And if that’s the case, I’m very concerned about the decisions that’s being made by the Justice Department to bring those people to the United States for civil trial. People may have a biased attitude over there and I hope that those people aren’t involved in the decision-making process. I personally feel that the terrorists or the detainees should be tried at Guantanamo – there’s water all the way around them, they can’t get away – and they should be tried by a military tribunal. And the vast majority of the American people feel exactly the same way.
So I would like for you to address those two things. If you can’t address the first part because of classified information, that’s fine, but I wish you would take to the President the message that many of us in Congress want Tehran and Mr. Ahmadinejad to know that we’re not going to let them develop a nuclear weapons capability and a delivery system. As I understand it now, they’re working on a missile with a delivery system for possibly a nuclear weapon – at least that’s what the IAEA says. And that’s very troubling. So I hope you’ll deliver that message, and if you could comment on those two things, I’d really appreciate it.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Congressman, I will convey the message. Our policy is to rally the international community for the broadest and most effective sanctions that can be brought to bear on the Iranian regime and thereby influence the decision making. One of the benefits of having the IAEA and supporting it as we propose doing in this budget is because they are viewed as an independent source of information. And I agree with you that their recent study under the new director general, Ambassador Amano, has been given an enormous amount of credibility, which helps to make the case that we are making.
With respect to your question about the Department of Justice, obviously, I would ask you to refer that to the Attorney General. I have no information on what the point you’re making is concerning who’s working there. But I would say this: I think that the President’s commitment to close Guantanamo has been a very valuable asset to us as we have made our case around the world. Fairly or not, Guantanamo came to be seen as not reflective of American values, of the strength of our Constitution and our institutions, and I think there are ways to accommodate the concerns that are rightly held about the detainees and the terrorists. But I still very strongly support the closing of Guantanamo.
CHAIRMAN BERMAN: The time of the gentleman has expired. The gentleman from California, Chairman of the Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade Subcommittee.
MR. SHERMAN: Good to see you, Madam Secretary. The Iran Sanctions Act requires the State Department to name and shame those companies that invest over the triggering amount – and I believe it’s $40 million – in the Iran oil sector, and to either impose sanctions or waive them. Your budget contains tens of millions, perhaps hundreds of millions, to work in the world for democracy and for the rule of law.
But for 10 years, three administrations have made a mockery of democracy and the rule of law here in the United States, as three administrations have deliberately failed to follow the minimum non-waivable portions of the Iran Sanctions Act. In fact, the prior administration told me flat out in foreign policy we don’t follow those statutes that we think are bad policy. This can only be called the Dick Cheney approach to the rule of law.
Last October, a number of us, led by Congressman Ron Klein, sent a letter outlining 21 firms that had invested a triggering amount in the Iran oil sector. This was prepared by not the CIA but the CRS, the Congressional Research Service. We were promised by the relevant assistant secretary a response, a report in 45 days. That was October. This is February. We’ve received a response that says he’s still working on it but that he has identified some transactions that are, quote, “potentially problematic.”
Madam Secretary, will you be providing Congress with the report, perhaps classified, detailing the findings of this initial review? Will you provide us with an explanation in each instance of why certain transactions have been determined to be not problematic? And most importantly, will you break with 10 years of State Department practice and actually follow the law by reviewing each transaction that seems to trigger the act and by naming, shaming, and either sanctioning or waiving with regard to the offending transactions?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Congressman, thank you very much for your – both your concern and your thoughtful approach. Deputy Secretary Jim Steinberg has led an internal State Department team on this issue. As you have well stated, there were no determinations made under the act in the prior administration. We have completed that preliminary review. We responded at the beginning of February to the inquiries you mention, and we indicated that some of the cases we reviewed deserved more thorough consideration, which is what we have undertaken. We have aggressively moved on three fronts to ensure that the review is serious and thorough, and we have a rigorous process in place for implementation.
First, we continue to raise in our bilateral engagements with countries the need to strengthen their own reaction and present a united front in restricting investment in Iran’s energy sector.
Second, we have worked with our embassies overseas to collect information on potentially sanctionable activity. There wasn’t a big, thick file when we got there, Mr. Sherman. We were very much starting pretty well from scratch. And we’ve already engaged with all of the companies and the governments that were included in the House letter as well as some additional companies that we believe could be engaged in similar activities.
And finally, we are undertaking a review with the intelligence community with respect to certain activities of some companies that are warranting further scrutiny and requested an all-source intelligence community assessment so that we can make whole-of-government assessments. And I understand that the State Department is working to arrange a briefing, a classified briefing, with members on the outcome of this preliminary review.
MR. SHERMAN: I look forward to that.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
MR. SHERMAN: I do want to squeeze in three more questions to which I’d like responses for the record.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Okay.
MR. SHERMAN: First, as to Armenia, I’m glad you’re providing more aid, but I think Congress should enhance that. Thank you for having parity on military financing, but you do not have parity between Armenia and Azerbaijan as to international military training and there should be a specific aid request for Nagorno-Karabakh.
As to Sri Lanka, I’d like you to respond for the record how the Administration is working with the government to ensure the rights of the Tamil minority are protected, particularly of the over 300,000 refugees.
As to Sudan, given the likelihood that Southern Sudan will choose independence, what is the United States doing to support a successful independent South, and more broadly, a peaceful Sudan? And I await your responses in writing.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
CHAIRMAN BERMAN: The time of the gentleman has expired. The gentleman from Illinois, Mr. Manzullo, is recognized for five minutes.
MR. MANZULLO: Thank you very much, Madam Secretary, a fellow Illinoisan. Welcome here. The state of America’s economy continues to struggle with unemployment still unacceptably high, and I’m sure you’ve heard the jobless claims for February jumped to a record 496,000 for the week ending on February 20th. At the same time, the Institute for Supply Management shows for the seventh month in a row, I believe, it’s above 50 and continues to climb to show that orders are coming in to our manufacturers.
However, despite this promising sign, there are two check – two choke points that remain. Yesterday, we brought the first one up with Chairman Bernanke, is the inability of manufacturers and small business people to access credit. And obviously, without credit, they can’t meet the payroll, replace inventory, or buy new equipment. And these are the real job creators because the orders are out there waiting because we have to manufacture our way out of this recession, not try to buy our way out of it.
The second check point is the outdated and inefficient export control system that unnecessarily prohibits export of items that do not pose a national security threat. The House addressed these inefficiencies by giving the State Department new tools to process export licenses in the House version of the state authorization bill. Unfortunately, the Senate has not acted on this. Because of your Midwest roots giving rise to a love and appreciate for manufacturing and the fact that you’ve always been an outstanding proponent of exporting or manufacturing goods, we’re asking you to use your leadership and influence to help move this process forward.
I’m just wondering – first of all, I know you agree with everything that I’ve said, and my question to you is: What more can be done? What can you do, individually and as Secretary of State, to break through on these export controls so that we can ship more things overseas?
Last year, we had an outstanding bipartisan working group that modified Section 17(c) of the Export Administration Act, making it easier to ship aircraft parts overseas. That has resulted in a billion dollars more in exports. That’s 20,000 jobs that were added in manufacturing just – or saved just because of that shipment.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Congressman, I do agree with everything you’ve said, and I thank you for strongly advocating for American manufacturing. And you’re right, there’s an uptick. We’re seeing some positive signs. The President has directed that the State Department and the Commerce Department and the Defense Department and other elements of the government work together to come up with a strong proposal to modify the entire export control regime because there are so many outdated and inefficient aspects to it.
But as you rightly point out, we’ve got to get congressional buy-in across the board on this. And so we’re working at the governmental level. We’re reaching out to members of Congress. Your bipartisan working group could be a great partner to us in doing this.
And you know what the debate comes down to. There are some people who say if we lift the export restrictions on certain nuts, bolts, and screws we’re going to be undermining American security. I don’t buy that. But there are – there’s a very strong resistance within the Congress to making the changes that I think are not at all dangerous to our security, but would help our manufacturing. So I will have someone follow up with you specifically, but we need the help of the bipartisan – on both sides of the Hill – members – who will support what we’re trying to do.
MR. MANZULLO: The other question is we are working – I have the world’s only fish processer of gefilte fish that is – (laughter) – thank you, thank you. Yes, believe it or not, it’s Asian carp that is being caught in the lower Mississippi – and this is true – and in the Great Lakes.
CHAIRMAN BERMAN: And where do you catch them?
MR. MANZULLO: Israel has imposed 120 percent duty, and there are nine containers of this that are locked up. We’re in contact with the ambassador from Israel. Passover is coming quickly to Israel. We’re working with the rabbis there who inspect this facility in Thomson, Illinois. And we’re just – I just want to make this public and see if there’s anything that you can do to get the gefilte fish to Israel by Passover.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Congressman, I will take that mission on.
MR. MANZULLO: Thank you. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I don’t know if I can promise that we can get it done, but I’ll give you my best efforts.
MR. MANZULLO: Thank you. Thank you, Madam Secretary.
SECRETARY CLINTON: And if not, we’re going to have to figure out what to do with nine containers – (laughter) – with it.
MR. MANZULLO: Yes. It’s 55 percent of their product, and they could lose a couple hundred jobs if we don’t get the gefilte fish there.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, and I – we should consult with the Chairman and Congressman Ackerman.
MR. MANZULLO: Yes.
SECRETARY CLINTON: This sounds to me like one of those issues that should rise to the highest levels of our governments.
MR. MANZULLO: Yes, it will. Thank you, Madam Secretary.
CHAIRMAN BERMAN: The menu of the next State dinner. (Laughter.)
The time of the gentleman has expired. The gentleman from New York, Mr. Engel, Chairman of the Western Hemisphere.
MR. ENGEL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Manzullo, I’d like to place an order for two jars of the gefilte fish. (Laughter.) Passover’s coming very soon.
Madam Secretary, thank you very much for the wonderful, extraordinary job that you’re doing as our Secretary of State. I know Mr. Manzullo talked about your Illinois roots. You mentioned a “New York minute” before, and New York is very, very, very proud of you. So thank you for everything you’ve done.
I want to throw out a few things and then just ask you to comment on anything you’d like to comment on. I’ve just come back from Israel – a trip to Israel – and I met with top leaders, and all anyone wanted to really talk about is Iran. I know we’ve had a lot of discussion here about Iran, but obviously, it’s a very serious situation and we all agree that Iran must not be allowed to have a nuclear weapon. And I really believe that ultimately nothing should be taken off the table because they really must not be allowed to have a nuclear weapon.
Syria, I was the author, as you know, of the Syria Accountability Act, which slapped sanctions on Syria for aiding and abating terrorism. I know that just last week have now opened diplomatic relations with them, exchanged ambassadors with them for the first time in many, many years. I know that the rationale for it is probably to get them to engage and help. But frankly, I haven’t seen any change. This is the game Syria’s been playing for years and years. I haven’t seen any change in that – in that regime’s behavior. Maybe – perhaps there’s something going on behind the scenes that I’m not privy to. But I’m wondering if you can comment on that.
We talk about Iran – the dissidents in Iran. I know that the feeling in some quarters is that we don’t want to publicly identify with them too much because it will just help the regime to say that the dissidents are just agents of the United States. But I really think that we need to have more public support for the brave people of Iran who are standing up under extraordinary conditions against their regime.
Kosovo – it just turned two years old last week, and we’re trying very hard to get other countries to recognize them. I know the Administration has been doing that as well. With the officials of Kosovo, they are very interested in getting into the EBRD, which is the European Bank for Reconstruction Development. They need some countries to vote them in, and I would that behind the scenes we are helping to convince countries to support them in that.
I want to quickly talk about, since I chair the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, a couple of those issues. First of all, thank you for the extraordinary effort of you personally and the Administration with Haiti. This has been something that, of course, has all gripped us, and I think that it’s very, very important. I’m delighted to hear of your upcoming travel to Latin America. I think that we are reengaging the hemisphere after years of neglect, and I think it’s very, very important.
And I want to talk about drug policy. I believe that we need a more holistic approach to our counternarcotics strategy in the Western Hemisphere. I support strongly the Andean Counterdrug Initiative, the Merida Initiative, and the Caribbean Base Security Initiative, but I think we need to do a better job in weaving all of these things together. So I’d like to hear your thoughts on that, what efforts are you taking to better integrate these efforts so that our successes in certain countries don’t contribute to problems in other countries. I, personally, have suggested designating a coordinator at the State Department to oversee all our Western Hemisphere security initiatives, and would you consider doing this? Would you think about this?
And lastly, two comments – number one, Venezuela. Yesterday, the OAS’s human rights agencies criticized Venezuela for its deteriorating human rights situation, and this follows their recent condemnation of Chavez’s closure of RCTV and several other cable TV stations. So how are we working with our partners in the OAS to call attention to this?
And finally, as was mentioned before, I’m extremely concerned about the Cuban imprisonment of USAID contractor Alan Gross. I met with his wife yesterday at the Capitol and, needless to say, everyone’s concerned. So if you could comment on any or all of those things, I’d appreciate it.
MR. BERMAN: Thirty seconds.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Congressman, I will certainly give you responses to these important issues in writing.
Let me just briefly say on Syria, the President decided to return an ambassador because it’s in our national interest to do so. This is not in any way a reward, because there is no basis for such a reward for Syria. But it is, because we think having an ambassador on the ground in Damascus, helps to ensure our national interests our taken care, and also to avoid strategic miscalculation on the parts of the – the part of the Syrians. So we are very committed to making clear to the Syrians what we expect, and there’s a lot that we do expect. But we think having an ambassador back on the ground actually gives us more leverage and more opportunity to pursue those expectations.
And I think – am I done? Yeah. I could be. (Laughter.)
CHAIRMAN BERMAN: The time of the gentleman has expired.
The gentleman from California, Mr. Royce.
MR. ROYCE: Thank you. Madam Secretary, I appreciated very much your comments last week on Iran. But we should be doing more, I think, to target those who are hanging, who are raping, who are maiming Iranians. And the Ranking Member and I have legislation that would target Iran’s human rights abuser with travel sanctions, with financial sanctions. And I think a concerted effort here would do much to discredit the regime both inside and outside Iran.
Second, I wanted to point out that there are some 200,000 political prisoners. We discussed a little bit the problem in Iran. Well, we have the same problem in North Korea – people are being tortured to death, people are being worked to death, starved to death in the gulags in North Korea. And I think pressing human rights should be part of our strategic policy toward North Korea.
Lastly, and I think most importantly for me, is an issue that came to light that we’re all conversant with now, but a Nigerian banker going to the U.S. Embassy stating this his son is under the influence of religious extremists in Yemen, as he shared with us. And then we find that we have months of communication that come through our U.S. intelligence intercepts about al-Qaida having a plan to attack us using a Nigerian. And then the response comes from one of the Administration’s spokesman – and these are his words – he says, “Hunches are not enough to constitute reasonable suspicion.”
Really, well, why is that? Well, if you look at the language adopted from a legal case – and here we get into the worry that we’re becoming too legalistic on this – there’s Terry v. Ohio. It’s a Supreme Court case back in 1968 that determined when Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches allow the police to frisk American civilians. Somehow the Administration went forward – and I can’t understand how we have foreign terrorists somehow being granted Fourth Amendment reasonable rights that the courts intended to protect Americans from being searched by local police. Those are two different issues.
Americans enjoy special rights and protections because we carry out the responsibility of being Americans. Those outside our border have no part in that compact, especially enemy combatants, but increasingly we have this issue: are intelligence officers allowed now to make these hunches? And that hunch should have been that the visa should be reviewed and searched and he should be searched before being allowed to get on that plane. So we have to allow our intelligence agents to make those determinations.
And I’d ask, with the Obama Administration leaning toward treating terrorism as a matter for domestic law enforcement, such as trying terrorists in civilian courts instead of military tribunals, and making decisions like this on hunches are not enough to constitute reasonable suspicion, are we allow a legalistic culture here to get in the way of allowing our intelligence agents to do their job?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think the answer, Congressman, is no. Obviously, there were some deficiencies in how the visa of the Christmas Day bomber was treated. And certainly, speaking for the State Department, we have moved to plug any slight gap that we needed to. But since 2001, the State Department has revoked 51,000 visas for a variety of reasons, including more than 1,700 for suspected links to terrorism. And in addition to revocation, in just fiscal year 2009, Consular officers refused nearly 2 million visas; 1,885,000 to be exact.
So we have people acting on their gut on evidence, on hunches, on the feel of their fingertips when they sit across from an applicant in a Consular interview, and I don’t think that story gets out. So yes there is –
MR. ROYCE: I think that’s a good point. But if we have someone in the Administration who believes that hunches are not enough to constitute reasonable suspicion, it only takes one terrorist getting through, and that’s why I bring the point up.
SECRETARY CLINTON: And I appreciate that. And I take it very, very seriously, Congressman. Every single day it is on the top of my mind since I was privileged to serve as a senator from New York on 9/11.
MR. ROYCE: Yes. Thank you very much, Secretary.
MR. BERMAN: The time of the gentleman has expired. The Chairman of the Europe Subcommittee – the gentleman from Massachusetts – Mr. Delahunt.
MR. DELAHUNT: Welcome, Madam Secretary. I’m not going to talk about Europe, but I would note that yesterday the committee had an excellent inter-parliamentary exchange with state members of the Russian Duma. And it would appear that progress – significant progress is being made on the START treaty. Let me congratulate you. If we can get that done, that is a significant achievement in terms of you and the President’s ambition to deal with this issue of nuclear proliferation.
But I want to talk about Iraq. I’m very concerned about these upcoming elections in Iraq, and Chairman Berman and Chairman Ackerman and several of us on this side of the aisle sent a letter to the President last month. We hear a lot about the deficits, and my understanding is we’re quickly approaching a trillion dollars in terms of the – not the human, but the financial cost of the war in Iraq. So that is obviously a significant component of the deficit challenge that we have to address. And there’s a lot of talk about Iran.
And there was an interesting op-ed piece this morning in the Post by David Ignatius where he reports the observations by General Odierno that the Administration is clearly concerned about the possible manipulation of the Iraqi elections by Iran. I found it interesting that according to that op-ed piece, the primary agent in this effort is none other than Ahmed Chalabi, whom we all remember was a key player in terms of providing intelligence that this led this – the previous congresses and the previous administration to authorize the war in Iraq.
But just to quote one section and then ask for your response to the question is what are we doing about this apparent manipulation by the Iranians in terms of the Iraqi elections that are going to mean so much in terms of what post-occupation Iraq looks like and whether we have an ally in Iraq or whether there is a state in Iraq that is more aligned with Iran, as some of us said, six, seven years ago, was a possibility.
This is just an observation by General Odierno: “Iran interferes in Iraq’s political process, urging alliances that not all Iraqi politicians favor in an effort to consolidate power among parties supported by Iran.” For example, Ahmed Chalabi met with the general – the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and the Iranian foreign minister to discuss the merger of two slates of Shiite candidates backed by Iran.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Congressman, we are very focused on these elections, and I’ll make three quick observations.
First, there is no doubt that not only Iran, but other neighbors are doing what they can to support or influence the outcome of the election. We are most concerned and focused on Iran because of their ties with many Iraqis who had previously sought exile or refuge in Iran, who were supportive of the efforts against Saddam Hussein and you know very well the story.
Yet at the same time, we see that on balance, the Iraqis are much more nationalistic and much more willing to stand up for themselves vis-à-vis Iran with the exception of some people, some Iraqis who have a different agenda who are carrying water, if you will, for the Iranians. So I cannot sit here and predict what the outcome of the election will be, but we’re trying to ensure as big a participation as possible which we think mitigates against the Iranian influence.
We’re trying to ensure that Iraqi refugees in Syria, Jordan, and elsewhere are empowered to vote. We’re trying to ensure insofar as possible that there are significant electoral observers, both of the voting and of the two-week counting process. And then we’re going to be very active in supporting the government formation process.
CHAIRMAN BERMAN: The gentleman’s time has expired.
The gentleman from Texas, Mr. Paul, for five minutes.
MR. PAUL: I thank you, Mr. Chairman, and welcome, Madame Secretary. I have a question about the cost of our foreign operations. We are now in the midst of a financial crisis. We have a heavy burden of debt. We know what debt can do. Greece is experiencing that type of problem and we could reach that problem, I believe, if we continue to do what we’re doing.
The International Affairs budget 10 years ago was $23 billion and now it’s 54. That’s a tremendous increase and that’s not all from this Administration, obviously. But during that same period of time, the real wages of most American workers has gone down and the unemployment rate now, according to the Labor Department, the underemployment is 20 percent. So this is nothing to ignore and it is related to all our spending. And a lot of Americans can’t justify the amount of money we’re spending both in the war effort and in our affairs around the world, and quite frankly, there are some that don’t feel a lot safer for it.
But there’s a human price that we’re paying. We’ve lost over 5,000 Americans in fighting these wars, over a thousand now in Afghanistan alone. There are hundreds of thousands of casualties and veterans coming back with both physical and mental problems. They are going to be needing care for many, many years. The cost of all this is probably, in the last 10 years, could easily be $1.5 trillion.
And also there’s the refugee problem. We have hundreds of thousands of refugees still experiencing difficulties both in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Just this very last month, 24,000 refugees were added in the invasion of – into Afghanistan. And yesterday, we had a report from the United Nations that there were 346 children killed in Afghanistan. So the violence affects everybody, and that truly is a cost.
The more specific question I have for you is one of priorities. Obviously, what’s going here in the Congress is everybody justifies all their spending. People here justify the domestic spending and people justify the overseas spending and the war spending and they worry about not having enough bipartisanship. I worry about too much. Because they get together and they enjoy spending both places and nobody cares about the deficit.
I want to specifically ask you about the Embassy in London, because people can see that and they can feel it. We built an Embassy in Baghdad. It cost close to a billion dollars. We built one in Kabul close to a billion dollars and there’s always cost overruns and then the maintenance – it’s very, very expensive. I think the American people have a hard time understanding what we’re doing in London.
Assume for a minute that you could come to my district and talk to some of my unemployed people and explain to them why it’s in their interest to spend – for the American people to spend a billion dollars building a fortress in London when they’re falling through the cracks and their wages have gone down, the ones that have work. And see if you can relay to them and explain to them the importances of – in a way, you have to say, “Well, that billion dollars will have to be more debt,” because where are you going to save it? Could you explain that to these unemployed people?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Congressman, with respect to the Embassy, we are selling 11 sites that we currently rent at very high cost in London to consolidate in one building, and therefore, the money that we gain from the sale of these buildings will be used to fund the Embassy. So we’re not asking for additional or new money.
And the reason we need a platform like that Embassy in London is because we do so much work in every department of our government through London. It’s not just our diplomats, but obviously, every other part of the American Government is represented there. So I believe I can make the case that we’re not asking for new money on that.
But I take very seriously your larger point, Congressman. It breaks my heart that 10 years ago, we had a balanced budget; that we were on the way to paying down the debt of the United States of America. I served on the Budget Committee in the Senate and I remember as vividly as it were yesterday. When we had a hearing in which Alan Greenspan came and justified increasing spending and cutting taxes, saying that we didn’t really need to pay down the debt –
MR. PAUL: May I interrupt?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Outrageous, in my view.
MR. PAUL: Excuse me, I’d like to interrupt and quickly ask you, is there any place in your budget that you could cut anything significant?
SECRETARY CLINTON: We are cutting. Part of our problem is that we are now assuming so many of the post-conflict responsibilities and that is a – that is the bulk of our increase, Congressman.
MR. PAUL: Thank you.
CHAIRMAN BERMAN: The gentleman’s time has expired.
The gentleman from Missouri, Mr. Carnahan, for five minutes.
MR. CARNAHAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And welcome again, Secretary Clinton. Yesterday, our Oversight Subcommittee had the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen testifying about reports they had done a year ago and recently talking about hard lessons learned in terms of vast amounts of money that was thrown into Iraq without having adequate structures in place, overlap, money not being – literally billions of dollars not being able to be accounted for. And I guess as we ramp up the military and civilian – tripling the civilians on the ground under this budget, what measures are in place to be sure that we are doing this in a targeted way that we can account for?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Congressman, I take the lessons from the mistakes in the last years in Iraq and in Afghanistan very seriously. We are trying to apply those lessons with much greater accountability, with much greater oversight of contractors, and it is one of my highest priorities, because I do believe strongly that I or someone should have to be able to justify not just to you, but to your constituents why we’re doing what we’re doing and do the very best job we can in order to eliminate the outrageous overruns and fraud, waste, and abuse.
I cannot justify the past. We’re going to work as hard as we know how to make the present and the future better. And we’re looking at every single contract. There’s so much waste in these contracts and so much that was literally just allowed to continue in the rush of everything that a accompanied military action. So we’re looking very hard at that and trying to make these adjustments and we’ll be reporting to you as we go forward.
MR. CARNAHAN: Thank you. And I wanted to ask additionally about the Global Engagement Fund. I understand it’s a follow-up to the President’s speech in Cairo. It will focus on expanding opportunity, science, and technology partnerships and human development issues. Could you provide us some details on what you hope that can accomplish?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, and we can give you certainly more specifics than the time permits, but this did arise out of the President’s Cairo speech and his vision for a new beginning with Muslims around the world. We are enhancing our public diplomacy outreach. We are using more of the tools that America has, like our science and technology and education strengths. We have science envoys, distinguished Nobel Prize winners, and other very well-known leading scientists going to Muslim majority countries. We have a lot of English language programs for young people that we are expanding.
So we have a full range of such issues that bring a different message. And we don’t want to forget that we have a very diverse Muslim population in the world. People get focused on just one part of the world, often to the exclusion of the entire spread of Islam from North Africa to Indonesia. So what works in one place or what we’re trying doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be the same in somewhere else.
MR. CARNAHAN: And one other point I’d like to make, I just want to voice my support for your request to increase funding to Bosnia, particularly with the political challenges they face, presidential and parliamentary elections in October. I guess, how do you see us strategy-wise moving forward to help with once they get through the election process and to be sure they’re on track with constitutional reforms and momentum to be able to join the EU and NATO?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I appreciate your raising Bosnia, and I know that’s a particular concern of yours, because there does need to have to be constitutional reform, and we are pushing that as an important part of our outreach. I wanted to just specifically respond to you that as we look at Bosnia – this has been a priority for me this past year – we have to do it with the Europeans. We cannot do it alone. The EU and the neighbors have to take more responsibility. We have worked with the European Union and I made this one of my highest agenda items with the new high representative, Baroness Catherine Ashton.
The EU and Europe has to make a stronger case to Bosnia as to why constitutional reforms are in their interests and will assist in their integration with the rest of Europe.
MR. CARNAHAN: Great. Thank you very much.
CHAIRMAN BERMAN: The gentlemen from California, Mr. Rohrabacher. Five minutes.
MR. ROHRABACHER: Thank you very much, Madam Secretary. And sorry I’ve had to come in and out of this hearing. We scheduled hearings at the same time and we have a space program that needed some attention, but just a few questions, Madam Secretary.
I understand in the budget, in your foreign aid budget, that we provide up – nearly $10 million for programs in China. Now, how does that make any sense that at a time when we’re borrowing money from China, that we actually are then giving aid, foreign aid to China?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Congressman, we’re not giving any foreign aid to China. Let me just flip here to give you the best answer that I can. What we do is try to foster civil society inside China. We try to support Chinese activists who are working on issues that are important to our entire engagement with China, issues that have to do with human rights, with the rule of law, with environmental protection, the kinds of actions that we think are important. Our programs provide pilots and models that the Chinese people can subsequently adapt, using their own resources. And we also provide assistance programs working with Tibetan communities to promote their interests as well. So –
MR. ROHRBACHER: I noticed that it says $5 million of it is economic support.
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s right. Economic support is provided to U.S. higher education institutions and U.S. nongovernmental organizations working in China in line with earmarks.
MR. ROHRBACHER: Yeah, in line with earmarks.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, sir.
MR. ROHRBACHER: But this was forced upon you by Congress.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Those were your words.
MR. ROHRBACHER: Oh, all right. (Laughter.) Well, listen. I’m happy to see we agree on something that should not be in the budget, then. Thank you. Madam Secretary, the President, when he first came into office and over this first year, has done his best to basically use a conciliatory tone towards Iran in hopes of trying to create a situation where we could actually have some progress.
Has this – and I’ve been one of the ones criticizing him for that – has this worked out? We’ve had a year now. Has this conciliatory process or tone with Iran – has that been – has it worked to make the Mullahs more open and interact with us in a better way? Or has it been looked at as a sign of weakness by these – this repressive Mullah regime?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Congressman, I think that the President’s policy of engagement has been very beneficial and welcomed by the rest of the world.
MR. ROHRBACHER: But what about the Mullahs?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well – but clearly, the President came with a two-track approach. One was an offer of engagement, if the Iranians would engage seriously on matters that were critical to us, namely their nuclear program. And there has not been a response. But the fact that the President reached out has brought us an enormous amount of credibility and goodwill in the rest of the world. But at the same time --
MR. ROHRABACHER: Right. It helped with Europeans.
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, but wait. At the same time, the President always said we had a dual-track approach, and the approach of sanctions and pressure. It wasn’t an afterthought. It went simultaneously with his offer of engagement.
MR. ROHRABACHER: I will have to suggest, Madam Secretary, that playing to our liberal nilly-willy friends in Europe is less important for us to be – than being tough with a Mullah repressive regime, a murderous regime that is engaged with murdering people on their streets. Don’t you think that this conciliatory tone, which, as you just admitted, certainly has not been accepted by the Mullahs, has in some way depressed or at least hurt the spirit on the streets of Iran of those young people who are trying to struggle to end this Mullah regime?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Congressman, no, we do not see evidence of that. We actually believe that if you take everything we’re doing together, including working to make sure that information continues to flow into Iran over the efforts by the government to block the internet and satellite television and the like. If you look at the information coming out by those who have been detained – and I’ve talked to several people who have been imprisoned by the Iranian regime – they actually think that President Obama has struck exactly the right tone and approach to give heart to the people who are putting their lives on the line, who know that we stand with them, know that we support their efforts, but also recognize that they’ve got a long, hard road ahead. And what we’re trying to do is to get international opinion that will force the Iranian regime to change its calculation.
MR. ROHRABACHER: Madam Secretary, there –
CHAIRMAN BERMAN: The gentleman’s time has expired.
MR. ROHRABACHER: Thank you.
CHAIRMAN BERMAN: The gentlewoman from Texas, Ms. Sheila Jackson Lee. Five minutes.
MS. LEE: Madam Secretary, thank you again. I think it’s always appropriate to acknowledge the seismic change of the policies of the Obama Administration, with your leadership and policy knowledge, that we’ve really changed the story of America around the world. I think that is an important point that we should affirm. We should also make note that in actuality, our budget is very fiscally responsible. It is a budget that includes some of the hotspots of the world – Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq – and so in my comments, I’d like you to make mention, and might I publicly say I’m delighted to know that the President is mending and we thank him for his work in Haiti – President Clinton.
Let me just also acknowledge the loss of a civil foreign officer in Haiti, and of course, many of us have had our eyes on Haiti. I was down just about two weeks ago. And so my question would be: what do you think, going forward, would be a potential supplemental in Haiti? What is the going-forward approach for reconstruction and rebuild? You know many Americans want to be engaged. Thank you for your work on the evangelists and others that had missteps and were arrested. We talked about that too. I asked for them to be given mercy, release, and they’re gone.
But I do think it’s important to have some standard for faith organizations. All of them are trying to come down. Their intentions are good and I’d like to see us have that. So I’m just going to give you my pointed questions.
I’d like to get your assessment of the progress and the work of Pakistan. As you well know, I have advocated for Pakistan in the bad days. But I have seen a – just as I had expected and had hoped, a major commitment by the government and, of course, their work on the border.
Two last points. I’d like you to assess any focus that the State Department is having on children in Afghanistan. I heard my colleague talk about the loss of life. I’d like to get a sense of whether you have a focus. And this last point is a comment for your staff, if they could take this down. I have a constituent whose daughter was killed in America by a Peruvian student. The name is Lindsey Brasier, B-r-a-s-i-e-r, in Austin, Texas. The perpetrator was Evelyn Denise M-e-z-z-i-c-h. That person is in Peru and we have not been able to have that person brought back for justice. They have a felony of skipping bail and Interpol has this matter. This has been a tragedy which occurred in 1998. You know how tragic that is. And I’d appreciate being able to work with you on this extradition issue as it relates internationally.
If you – I know the – you’re very fast, but if – brief comments on those questions. I have to thank you again for your service and the President’s policies.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you, Congresswoman, and thank you for your attention to Haiti. We are working on a supplemental that we hope will come to the Congress in the next few weeks. It will include both replenishment of funds in the Defense Department and USAID principally, but also funding for the recovery and reconstruction efforts going forward. I think that the leadership role that the United States has played has redounded so greatly to our benefit not only in the hemisphere, but around the world. And we’re going to be having a conference March 31st co-hosted by the U.S. and the UN, along with other major donor countries, that will look very specifically about the way forward. So we will hopefully continue to have strong bipartisan support in the Congress.
Thank you for your continuing attention to Pakistan. I agree with you. I think that this last year has demonstrated significant changes in approach and commitment from the Pakistani Government, the democratically elected government, as well as the military and intelligence services. Their cooperation with us in the recent arrests and apprehension of leading Taliban figures, I think, is very strong evidence of that. I share your concern about children in Afghanistan or really anywhere in the world, and we are focused on doing what we can, again, in cooperation with our partners who are sharing the donor responsibility in Afghanistan. And we can give you more information on that.
And finally, my staff will work very closely with you on this request on behalf of your constituent and see what, if any, action we can take.
MS. LEE: Let me thank you. I look forward to working with you on the children’s issue. I think that’s crucial. And thank you for your help when this mother’s been grieving for so long. I yield back.
CHAIRMAN BERMAN: The gentleman from Arizona, Mr. Flake. Five minutes.
MR. FLAKE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Madam Secretary. I guess since Dana took the only earmark question, I’m left with just Cuba. Cuba’s been mentioned a couple of times. You mentioned the dissident Tamayo who recently died. It’s a tragic situation in that regard. Also, we have the situation of Alan Gross, an American who is being held by the Cuban Government. He was a USAID contractor there.
The gentlelady from Florida mentioned that in light of recent events there, that the Obama Administration – it is her hope that the Obama Administration not offer any concessions to the Cuban Government. I would go a bit further. I would hope that this Administration would stop offering concessions to the Cuban Government. These concessions have been offered not just by this Administration, but by many administrations in the past. I would argue that the policy we have where we deny Americans the freedom to travel to Cuba is a concession to the Cuban Government. Whether they admit it or not, whether they quietly lobby or publicly lobby for that change, I don’t think they want it. And every time we seem to get close, they’ll provoke us somehow and so we change our policy. I think we ought to do it because that’s simply what’s right.
I was excited to hear, I think all of us were, that the Obama Administration said that it would recast our Cuban policy. And they took a good first step by allowing Cuban Americans the ability to visit their family members without restrictions and to remit money to their family members. So that does a good deal to help the dissidents who are there and the families of those who are held prisoner, and that is a good thing. But beyond that, it seems that our policy is on autopilot.
The contractor who is being held by the Cuban Government, he was on a contract that was awarded by the Bush Administration. We still have policies going forward that don’t serve us well, I would argue. We have – I mean, it goes $400,000 in scholarships that brought two Cubans to America; hundreds of thousands of dollars in Europe to try to persuade European governments to change their Cuba policy; bumper stickers made in Miami that Cuban dissidents or others were supposed to put on their cars, for crying out loud. We have the some of the craziest things going – and I see your smile, so I think you probably agree – when we could simply say, and I am assuming we have put the – some of these USAID contracts on ice, given that we have one contractor in jail – why don’t we simply turn and allow Americans – it doesn’t cost anything – simply allow Americans to travel to Cuba unabated?
Now, I have no doubt that the Cuban Government will try to impose its own restrictions. They want the revenue that would come with travel but not the influence. But if somebody’s going to limit my travel and the travel of my constituents, it should be a Communist, not this government. We shouldn’t be in that business. We should simply say Americans should be able to travel.
And so I know that – and we talked about this the last time you were here – I know that you’re open. We have legislation moving – more than 180 co-sponsors, I believe, at last count – to lift the travel ban. But there are things that the Obama Administration can do prior to the passage of that legislation. We could lift some of the restrictions or dial back some of the restrictions imposed by the Bush Administration on people-to-people travel and allow more of that.
Can I have your thoughts on that?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Congressman, the reason I’m smiling is because I think that we all share the same goal. The goal is to create changes for the better in the lives of the people of Cuba, promote democracy and freedom, and hopefully see the time soon when the Cuban people have the same rights as we do. That is our goal and that is what we’re pursuing. And the President’s April announcement last year changed U.S. policy toward Cuba in a number of ways based on the evidence that we should try some different approaches. And we should really look at what it is we’re doing that is actually helping the Cuban people, because there is evidence that every time we try to encourage more free flow of people and information, the Castro regime shuts down. That’s the last thing they want.
MR. FLAKE: That’s exactly right.
SECRETARY CLINTON: They do not want Americans traveling freely, remittances coming in, more communication systems back and forth. And we’re working very hard to break through the control of the media, but in a smart way. And I am looking at every single program because, frankly, I want things that work. And if we’ve been doing something over and over and over again and it’s not working to help the people in Cuba, then we need to take a look at it, and we’re doing that.
MR. FLAKE: Let me just offer, TV and Radio Marti --
CHAIRMAN BERMAN: The gentleman’s time has expired.
MR. FLAKE: We can move. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN BERMAN: The gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Miller. Five minutes.
MR. MILLER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Madam Secretary, I very much understand the need to support development in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the front-line states. But I worry about the next set of conflicts that may involve us, and even if they don’t involve us, will be catastrophic for the people who live in the societies in conflict.
General Anthony Zinni said that there was a – that ungoverned areas in extreme poverty were a Petri dish for extremism and radicalism. And certainly, there is this unholy mix of weak states, ungoverned areas or lightly governed areas, extreme poverty with a lack of any real economic development in conflict. And a quarter to a third of the states that are in conflict will fall into conflict again within five years, whether it’s the same conflict or another conflict. And conflict leads to poverty, poverty leads to conflict, and all of it leads to very weak states, states that cannot survive the pressures on them.
The budget increases development assistance by 18.3 percent, the proposed budget; 23.1 percent for economic support funds, but there are other areas that seem to be important for avoiding conflict for conflict-prone societies. A 13 percent decrease for the Transition Initiatives Account. How much of the increases for the Development Assistance and Economic Support Fund goes to those front-line states? Is the budget sufficient to meet the needs in the other parts of the world where there’s extreme poverty and either conflict now or potential for conflict? And what are the pressures on the budget that – on that part of the budget?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Congressman, it’s a balancing act. I mean, that is what we do every single day. We have incurred responsibilities in the front-line states in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan because of policies that were there when we came into office but which we have a responsibility to fulfill. So as you rightly point out, a significant percentage of what we are doing in development and assistance is going to those three countries.
At the same time, we’ve tried to identify countries that are in that Petri dish that you described that are really on the brink of collapse or becoming a failed state from which extremism is being exported. Yemen is obviously the key example. And we are bolstering our involvement and assistance in ways that we hope will stabilize those countries. But there are so many places now, and particularly in Africa, that are vulnerable. And it concerns me greatly what I see happening across that continent.
And I think we have to do a better job coordinating other investments from nongovernmental donors, from the private sector, so that we know what’s happening and where it is and what the consequences are. And we also do a better job of making sure what we’re doing actually has good results; we’re not just putting money in for the sake of saying we’ve done it. So it’s a very difficult calculation.
MR. MILLER: You mentioned Yemen. My – and obviously, Yemen has gotten a fair amount of attention. It is an ungoverned or lightly governed area with severe economic problems. But it also looks like in a decade, the people of Yemen will look back on the way things are now as the good old days. They’re running out of oil. Oil is the great, great bulk of their government revenue. They’re running out of water. I don’t know what you do for – with a country that runs out of water.
What are we doing in Yemen? And how are – as you put it, how are we making sure that the assistance we are providing is being – is effective, it’s meeting needs, it’s actually anticipating the problems that are coming at them?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, this is a country that there’s increasing interest from many others as well. I represented the United States at a conference about Yemen in London a couple of weeks ago, and we’re trying to do a better job coordinating. Some of the Gulf countries are much larger contributors than we are. And I was heartened that the Government of Yemen came to that meeting with a plan for development that they had adopted, which was sensible, and a recognition of a lot of their shortcomings. They have to change their agricultural production if they’re going to save their water, and that’s a huge undertaking. But we’re working in concert with others to try to help the government fulfill its own objectives.
CHAIRMAN BERMAN: The gentleman from Arkansas, Mr. Boozman. Five minutes.
MR. BOOZMAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And again, I want to send you warm greetings from your many, many friends in Arkansas, and we appreciate having you here today. I’d like to ask you real quickly about the fact that the committee seems to indicate that they’re going to propose the Armenian Genocide Resolution. And right now, we currently – the Turks and the Armenians are in the process of having protocol, normalization, talks and things. And I guess what I’d like to know is your opinion of how that would affect that, and then also the impact on the Turkish-United States. Several years ago when I was in Incirlik visiting with the commanders there, they were really concerned about force protection, really far-reaching problems if that were allowed to go forward.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Congressman, on Turkey-Armenia relations, it is our position that the normalization process that Turkey and Armenia have undertaken carries important benefits for both sides, and it should take place without preconditions and within a reasonable timeframe.
Last year in his Armenia Remembrance Day statement, President Obama made clear that our interest remains a full, frank and just acknowledgement of the facts related to the historical events. But the best way to do that with all respect is for the Armenian and Turkish people themselves to address the facts of their past as part of their efforts to move forward. And in that spirit, we are working very hard to assist Armenia and Turkey in their efforts. And we would like to continue to support that effort and not be diverted in any way at all.
MR. BOOZMAN: Very good. While testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee last October, Assistant Secretary Jeff Feltman said that the State Department was in the process of reviewing 20 countries – 20 companies, rather – that could be sanctioned under the Iran Sanctions Act. He indicated this review would last about 45 days and an answer on these companies would be released at that time. Recently, a few of my colleagues have received a single-page response in regard. Can you enlighten us a little bit in that regard?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, Congressman. In response to a question from Congressman Sherman, I laid out the process we have followed. The preliminary report was delivered in February and it made clear that we are doing in-depth investigation into a number of companies. We’ve already reached out to other countries on this. We’ve asked our embassies around the world to acquire additional information. And we are offering, in the near future, a classified briefing for members who wish to get into depth. There is a lot of information that would be better conveyed in a classified setting.
But we are taking this very seriously. There wasn’t any action taken in the prior eight years. The only time there has been action on the Iran Sanctions Act was by former Secretary Madeleine Albright, and then that was waived because of national security interests. So this is an incredibly complex arena, but we are moving in a deliberative and thorough way, and we look forward to briefing you in a classified setting.
MR. BOOZMAN: Good. Thank you. One other thing, real quick. I know that the economic support funds for ‘11 has been cut nearly 26 million. I guess, can you comment on the – that’s a pretty significant cut at a time when Sudan is due for its first democratic elections in decades, and the future of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement for Sudan really does hang in the balance. Can you comment a little bit about that, and if that’s going to be a problem, or --
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Congressman, our information is we actually have an increase in assistance for Southern Sudan. And so we will get to you a written response. Because that’s the second time I’ve been asked that question. So either we haven’t presented it in a clear enough way, or there may be some interpretation we’re not aware of.
But I take the point – the larger point, very seriously. We have to do more to help prepare Southern Sudan for a future, dependent upon the choice it makes. If it is going to choose independence, then it needs a lot of work to have the institutions of statehood. And we’re putting more diplomatic and development assets in order to try to help the Southern Sudanese as they work through these decisions.
MR. BOOZMAN: Good. Thank you, Madam Secretary.
CHAIRMAN BERMAN: The gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Scott. Five minutes.
MR. SCOTT: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Welcome again, Ms. Secretary.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Hi, how are you?
MR. SCOTT: Always a pleasure to see you. And let me compliment you on the extraordinary job that you continue to do as our Secretary of State.
I’d like to focus on Yemen again, having been there last year. I think we need to go a little deeper into this, because that is a very dangerous place. And it appears to me that’s on the front lines there now are our State Department personnel, our embassies, and our special operations people, particularly our Navy SEALs. And at a recent questioning, I asked about any effort, from a military standpoint, of getting in there. And, of course, the question is no. So, that leaves that you’re on the front lines there in trying to combat this and in trying to deal with it.
Yemen is seriously, I think, approaching and utilizing and training with al-Qaida – al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, their relationship with Somalia and training camps there. When I was there with special ops, we visually saw these things happening. Now, in your referral to – your comment to my colleague, Mr. Miller, you mentioned that the – of our aid that’s going in there. But the problem is President Saleh has two reluctances. First of all, he has a reluctance to go after al-Qaida, and he has a reluctance of wanting more of our aid. So, it’s sort of like we’re in a catch-22 here.
So I’d like your assessment of how do we effectively use our resources in this kind of environment, where the people of Yemen themselves and the president is reluctant to be seen taking our aid, or taking more of it, and at the same time, his reluctance to even go after al-Qaida?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Congressman, that’s an astute description of the challenges that we face. In addition to what you’ve stated, there are also continuing problems in the north and the south, in addition to AQAP.
In the international conference about Yemen in London, it became clear that other countries, particularly in the Gulf, provide much more funding for Yemen than we do, or that we will. Therefore, they have to be united with us in the messages that we convey to President Saleh. And I agree that we have to work very hard to have a united front with all of the international donors. Some of the European countries have longstanding connections with Yemen. Certainly, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and others in the region do. And I am focused on how we send as clear and unequivocal a message as possible as to what is expected in return for this aid.
We do have to be sensitive to some of the local concerns about American involvement. But at the same time, Yemen sits 25 miles across the Gulf from Somalia, and we know that there is that constant continuing connection.
We will have more to report to you as we follow through on our policy here. But it is a mixed policy. It is an international policy. It is all aimed at influencing presidential decisions because, as you saw, that’s where they all come from. And we have to support the president in making the right decisions, but this is going to be challenging.
MR. SCOTT: What do you suggest or -- that we should do, specifically, about the evidence of the growing al-Qaida training camps in both Yemen and Somalia?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that the Government of Yemen has, in the last few months, been very active in going after training camps and identified members of al-Qaida. So they are beginning to do what we would hope they would do, which is to protect their own country against the threat of growing extremism.
But I think that we and others in this international effort have to continue to support them, provide intelligence assets, provide surveillance assets, provide military equipment and training, all of which we’re doing, and all of which is very necessary, if they’re going to be successful in going after this threat.
MR. SCOTT: All right. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
CHAIRMAN BERMAN: The gentleman from Nebraska, Mr. Fortenberry. Five minutes.
MR. FORTENBERRY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good morning, Madam Secretary. Welcome. Thank you so much for coming today.
I would like to ask you two questions centered on Iran and bioterrorism. But before I do, given our previous dialogue, my conscience demands that I raise the issue with you again of including abortion as reproductive health care, and including it as an integral component of our foreign affairs considerations. I believe this actually undermines our good, diplomatic initiatives. Abortion is not health care. Abortion is so often the result of abandonment. Women deserve better. And certainly, taxpayers should not be put in a position of paying for it, either here in the United States, or underwriting it in our international programs. So I respectfully request that you reconsider your position.
With that, let me turn to Iran. I fear that we will all awake to the headline one day soon that Iran has the bomb. This would be a geopolitical game changer. And I’m very appreciative of your intensified efforts of late in this regard. I would like to hear your outlook, though, for the next six months. There is just so little time left.
Secondly, I’d like to hear what the State Department is doing to lead international diplomatic efforts to prevent bioterrorism, especially within the context of the GA – Global Health Security Initiative for medical countermeasures, including stockpiling and delivery. As you’re aware, the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission unanimously concluded that bioterrorism is the most likely WMD threat that the world faces.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Congressman. And let me respond to your point and to some of the points made by Congressman Smith.
First of all, the United States Government does not fund abortions. We don’t. We are increasing our funding to organizations that provide family planning services and maternal health. In fact, the budget provides $700 million to combat maternal mortality, with expanded coverage of prevention and life-saving interventions such as the prevention and management of post-partum hemorrhaging and other terrible consequences of uncared-for pregnancy that I take very seriously.
I think that in many ways, you and Congressman Smith and I have actually some of the shared views and concerns. But we do believe it’s important to provide money, which we do in this budget – $590 million – for family planning and reproductive health, because so much of what happens in the health of women in developing countries is because they cannot control their reproductive health. And it is a matter of great concern to me, because many of these women are very young. They are not prepared for pregnancy. They often suffer grievous injuries during labor and birth because they do not have adequate treatment. And that is one of the reasons why, in our Global Health Initiative, we are expanding America’s commitment to maternal and child health.
So we share some of the very same goals. And I hope to be able to work with you. Where we differ is on the question of a woman’s right to choose. But we would like to avoid the choice that could lead to abortion by providing better resources and support for women around the world.
MR. FORTENBERRY: Before we pivot to the other two questions, though, you have redefined abortion as a part of reproductive health care for the first time, and overturned the Mexico City Policy, which would, again, underwrite organizations who would participate in the act of abortion.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, this is a debate that goes back many, many years. And we do not believe in the gag rule. We do not believe that women should be deprived of information that might be important to their health, and to plan for their own families. And as we exchanged views the last time I was here, I have seen the consequences of just terrible medical and -- medical treatment that women have been subjected to because they didn’t have the right to pursue what was in their own interests. But we will not agree on that.
MR. FORTENBERRY: We’ll continue our conversation.
SECRETARY CLINTON: But we will agree that we need to do more to help with maternal and child health, I hope.
MR. FORTENBERRY: Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: With respect to the outlook for Iran, obviously, we believe that we have made progress in changing the attitudes of a number of nations toward Iran. We’re going to continue to do so. We share your concern about Iran’s ambitions and its program. And we are making the case very vigorously around the world about what the consequences would be for other countries.
I think when I started a year ago, many countries were not convinced that this was a problem that had anything to do with them. And we have, every day, made the case that a nuclear-armed Iran will create an arms race in the Gulf that will destabilize the region that so much of the rest of the world depends upon for oil and gas. It could even lead to conflict, which would be an economic catastrophe for many countries that are so reliant. And, therefore, countries should join with us in doing everything we can to demonstrate international unity in pressuring Iran to change direction. And that is what we are engaged in vigorously right now.
And finally, Congressman, the United States leads the world in terms of overall bio-preparedness, but there is a lot more we need to do. We’re trying to work with the international community to pay more attention to the bioterrorist threat, to implement new policies, to stockpile vaccines. We’re assisting with that through a wide range of activities. For example, we have foreign assistance programs that are specifically aimed at biological threats across South and Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and expanding into Africa. And we take it very seriously, and we’ll work to that end.
MR. FORTENBERRY: Thank you.
CHAIRMAN BERMAN: The time of the gentleman has expired. The gentleman from Minnesota, Mr. Ellison, is recognized for five minutes.
MR. ELLISON: Good morning, Madam Secretary. Let me join some of my colleagues in applauding you. I like the budget. I intend to support it.
My first question has to do with the Administration’s commitment to try to support UNRWA and people who are trying to make it in Gaza – not the people who are engaged in terrorist activities, but the regular folk who are trying to survive. And – but some of the assistance that we have given already hasn’t really made it to the people. And I would just be curious as to your thoughts as to how we might be able to actually get some of this humanitarian assistance into the hands of folks who we send it to help.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we happen to believe that UNRWA is a vital humanitarian actor that does provide critical services and assistance that would otherwise be provided by extremist groups. We can’t have it both ways. If we’re not in there supporting UNRWA in actually providing services, I believe that the situation would become even more threatening to us and to Israel.
So UNRWA is an indispensable counterweight to radicalism and terrorism, particularly in Gaza and Lebanon. And in fact, UNRWA’s efforts are supported by the governments of Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority. So, that’s a pretty broad cross-section of the region. And we do closely monitor what UNRWA does. We make sure it meets all of the conditions for funding under our law and the Foreign Assistance Act provisions. And we have worked to make sure that UNRWA implements measures designed to insure the neutrality of its staff, including pre-employment checks, sharing the list of staff member names with host governments on an annual basis, and so much else.
And I share your concern that we’re not getting enough help into Gaza. I’ve raised this consistently with the Israeli Government. They have made certain moves which have increased the flow of food and clean water and medicine. But I think more could be done that would not provide any threat to Israeli security. And we raise that with the Israelis on a regular basis.
But I think you’re right, that what we want to do is support the regular folks, not do anything that empowers Hamas. And much of the material that gets into Gaza, which still comes through the tunnels, through smuggling, actually is taxed by Hamas, which then provides Hamas with the money that they use to buy arms and other material that is used against Israel.
So, I look at things from a real logical perspective. What can we do to undermine Hamas, to support the security of Israel, and to help the, quote, “regular folks,” so that they don’t turn to extremism?
MR. ELLISON: I couldn’t have said it better myself. Let me say that about 60 percent of the 2.5 million internally displaced people in Pakistan are women. And what is the U.S. aid package or programs doing to specifically address the need of female refugees in Pakistan?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Congressman, we are working very hard. We have a range of programs that assist refugees. We also have tried to target aid to women refugees. One example, which was a great public-private partnership, is last summer we reached out to Pakistani American doctors and nurses and asked them to go to the refugee camps because women were not getting adequate medical services. And we had several dozen Pakistani doctors, mostly women, who went, took time off from their practices, took six weeks, went to Swat, worked with refugee women. So we’re always looking for ways that we can get the aid to women and children, because they’re often the ones that are most severely dislocated and damaged by any kind of conflict.
MR. ELLISON: Well, Madam Secretary, I just want to say that I appreciate that. Because as you and the President reach out to the Muslim world – and I certainly commend that – we should just bear in mind the United States is part of that world. And to draw upon American talent, medical talent or otherwise, is just a very good idea.
And I’ll just end with an editorial comment, and that is that it’s -- the people who stood up against the – or stood against the position to condemn the Goldstone Report never claimed that the Goldstone Report was completely accurate. The point was that most of us hadn’t read it, and that we would hope that Israel would participate in that report to make its points, which it certainly had evidence to make.
And so, that’s – my time is out, so --
CHAIRMAN BERMAN: The time of the gentleman has expired.
The gentleman from Texas, Mr. McCaul – and I just mention to the committee members that the Secretary has to leave at 12:15. Mr. McCaul.
MR. MCCAUL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield 15 seconds to the gentlelady from Florida.
MS. ROS-LEHTINEN: So thankful to you.
MR. MCCAUL: Absolutely.
MS. ROS-LEHTINEN: Madam Secretary, I will be handing to you a letter that I have written regarding the protection of the Iranians who are in Camp Ashraf in Iraq. We’re very worried about their plight. We have made commitments to them to make sure that they – certain action would not be taken against them. And I fear that as we are – keep moving, those protections are going to be taken away, and certain guarantees.
Thank you, Mr. McCaul. And I have that letter for you in writing. Thank you, Madam Secretary.
MR. MCCAUL: Thank you. And thank you, Madam Secretary for being here today. And I introduced a resolution today, and I thank the Ranking Member for co-sponsoring it, condemning the human rights violations in Iran and supporting the voices of freedom and democracy, and I hope you will take a look at that. I think it’s something that we need to be doing. I’m also concerned about Iran’s influence in the region both in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and I wanted to see if you could touch on that point.
And then my second question from a budgetary standpoint has to do with – I think we’re making some great military success in Afghanistan now. I think the Pakistan military, ISI, are really starting to step up to the plate, really for the first time in years, and I commend you and the Administration for that. We honored Charlie Wilson at his funeral the other day. And of course, after we defeated the Soviets, his big point was we left a vacuum and I think he was right. Joanne Herring, who is a constituent of mine, was sort of the driving force behind Charlie. Now you probably know Joanne. She’s very flamboyant, a very passionate voice for the Afghan people and Pakistan. And she has this idea of a Marshall Plan, sort of for the region.
I know that State, through USAID, has outlined in the budget a Afghan-Pakistan regional stabilization strategy to achieve some of this, and I wanted to see if you could comment on what State is doing in that respect because I think we have to win militarily, but we also have to provide economic stability and win the hearts and minds.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Congressman, I agree with that. And I hope every member has gotten a copy of the Afghanistan and Pakistan Regional Stabilization Strategy. If not, we will be sure that you do, because it’s very specific about what we’re trying to do, what we’re doing in agriculture, education, women’s rights and so much else. In order to do that, we have to have the civilians on the ground. We have 920. That’s more than triple what we had when we started last year. They are doing extraordinary work.
I mentioned earlier that we had civilians embedded with our forces going into Marja, and they are now literally moving in to help stand up the presence of Afghanistan governmental authority. It is a very challenging task. But we have people that are dedicated to doing that and to make sure that what Charlie Wilson said doesn’t happen again. He – I’m glad he was so honored at Arlington and so many people who really understood his contributions.
And yet this is going to be hard work. Part of it is that there are no quick answers. To begin to rebuild Afghanistan agriculture and move people away from poppies to pomegranates is a long-term investment. We’re seeing results already, but we have a long way to go. Building up local governance when we cleared Marja by the courage of our military forces, we have to have the presence of an Afghanistan government at the sub-national level that can begin to build the confidence of the people, a police force that will keep law and order. We are working hard on all of these, which are laid out in the stabilization strategy, but I appreciate your reminder of what might happen if we did walk away again. So we’re going to keep working on it.
COMMITTEE MEMBER: Five minutes.
CHAIRMAN BERMAN: It’s three minutes, but the only reset policy we have is with Russia, not with the clock. (Laughter.) It got reset for some reason that I don’t know about and --
MR. MCCAUL: Well, thank you. And thank you, Madam Secretary.
CHAIRMAN BERMAN: – the time of the gentleman has expired.
The gentleman from American Samoa, the chairman of the Asian Pacific Island Subcommittee, Mr. Faleomavaega.
MR. FALEOMAVAEGA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And Madam Secretary, let me begin by stating my firm conviction that under your leadership and that of President Barack Obama, the United States is well on its way to restoring credibility of the United States in the eyes of the world.
I also want to especially thank you and President Obama for all the support that you showed the Samoan people in the aftermath of the earthquake and the tsunami that struck that islands of Tonga and Samoa September of last year. Your help was critical in cutting the red tape and allowing critical emergency donations from our Samoan and Tongan communities in the United States to be airlifted. For your leadership and quick response, I and all on the behalf of the Samoans will always be grateful.
I also want to say, Madam Secretary, to congratulate you for the special emphasis you and the President have placed on re-engaging and upgrading our relationship with the countries of the Asia-Pacific region – the world’s most dynamic region, in my humble opinion. The time and thought that you have put into our policies towards the region have demonstrably improved the U.S. position in this important part of the world.
I also want to say that I had an excellent meeting a couple of days ago with Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell, and I want to thank you personally for your decision recently to reestablish the presence of USAID in the Pacific region. As you know, Madam Secretary, I’ve been screaming about this for years and years, and I sincerely hope that this is not as a token presence, but surely substantively to help some 17 to 18 Pacific Island nations that I feel is so important for us as part of our foreign policy in this region.
And Madam Secretary, it was announced this month that the President is going to visit Guam, Indonesia and also Australia. And may I also suggest, if at all possible, on the President’s visit on his return from Australia, that he should stop by in American Samoa just to say thank you to the thousands and thousands of our men and women who are in the military. I don’t know if you’re aware of the fact that on a per capita basis, our little territory contributes more casualties or deaths as a result of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and I just think that our veterans and our people there would deeply appreciate if the President would just stop by there and say hello on his way back from Australia.
The last presidential visit that my little territory had was in 1967. That’s 43 years ago. Now I realize the President wants to celebrate some 70th anniversary of the Treaty of Friendship with Australia. But I’d just like to say that this month – this year in April, we’ll be celebrating the 110 years that the American flag was raised in American Samoa, and one of the most unique political relationship existing between American Samoa and this great nation of ours. So I just wanted to convey that humble request, if at all possible, that the President would do this.
A couple other issues I want to share with you, Madam Secretary – I know there wasn’t enough time – I visited Laos. We’ve got a serious problem with unexploded ordinance and cluster bombs that we created. This country’s never attacked us. We need to make improvements on that. The debt forgiveness in Cambodia, the problems of Agent Orange in Vietnam that we never really have addressed properly, and also the current negotiations going on with the Federated States of Micronesia and also Palau. I think you need to – a little better attention in terms of the needs of these two important countries.
It was my privilege recently, Madam Secretary, to travel with Senator Cardin and Congressman Alcee Hastings to attend the OSCE meeting – there were some 56 nations – on security and cooperation in Europe. And I want to implore on your good grace in making sure that Kazakhstan is well taken in terms of the importance that this country plays not only as part of the Central Asian region, but the important role that it plays especially when it comes to nonproliferation, and as you are well aware of that.
And that – Madam Secretary, I know my time is about up, but I just wanted to say again thank you so much for all your help.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you for that, Representative. I so appreciate your kind words. I will convey them, along with your invitation, to President Obama. And I have enjoyed working with the heads of state from the Pacific Island nations both at a meeting that I chaired at the United Nations General Assembly and again in Copenhagen.
MR. FALEOMAVAEGA: Thank you.
CHAIRMAN BERMAN: The time of the gentleman has expired. And the gentleman from Texas is not here.
The gentleman from Florida, Mr. Mack, is recognized for five minutes.
MR. MACK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And it’s good to see you again, Madam Secretary. And thank you for your time and your hard work. I’ve got a bunch of questions and ideas, but – and I’m going to try to go through them quick and give you time to speak. But I would really – I’m going to make a formal request to you to spend some time on Western Hemisphere and Latin America and – so we might be able to have a time to talk about some of these issues more then.
But, first of all, on the free trade agreements, both the President and you have talked about the support for the free trade agreements in Colombia and Panama and South Korea. I have a resolution that I’ll be dropping today to try to push the Congress into moving on these issues, and I know we need to get them from the President. I would like if you could talk to us about what is holding that up. I was excited to hear in the State of the Union that this is something that we can work on in a bipartisan fashion, so I’d like to get your thoughts on that.
I’m also very concerned about the relationship with Iran and Venezuela. And now that you, Madam Secretary, seem to be taking a much harder stance when it comes to Iran, that we can get some policies that really sends a message to Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, that we’re not going to continue to stand for his complete destruction of democracy in Venezuela, and that we are going to support the Venezuela people and the people of Latin America. As you know, I have sponsored legislation that would put Venezuela on the state sponsor of terrorism list, and I’d like to get your thoughts on that.
Also, in Haiti, I want to commend the State Department and our government in its swift actions in Haiti. There are a lot of people who are suffering who continue to suffer and will be suffering for a long time. And one of the requests that I would make, instead of spending – sending a lot of this money to the UN to then be used to help in – aid in Haiti, that we just go directly and buy things like water and tents, so there’s no skimming off the top; we can get the best bang for the buck in Haiti, and that we really look at restroom facilities, because it has become a big problem.
I’m also concerned or – I just – I need to make a statement about Cuba if I can. We heard earlier – to me, there never can be a time when the U.S. Government’s policies can support a dictator like Hugo – or like Fidel Castro, who is willing to murder his own people as well as imprison people from the United States, U.S. citizens, for political purposes. So I’d like to get your thoughts on that.
And the last thought is on the budget, a concern that we are continuing to spend – to give aid to countries like Bolivia and Nicaragua. I think it sends the wrong message when we’re going to show support for someone like Evo Morales in Latin America but we don’t move on these free trade agreements.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’ll try to go quickly, Congressman. We are working on the free trade agreements. I mean, as the President said, we support them. We would like to move them. We have to get the votes for them. So we’re reaching out, and anything that members can do on their own, we welcome to make the case why this is good for America. It’s not just good for the countries. This is a plus-plus for the American economy by our analysis, but we have to be able to make that case.
Secondly, Venezuela is already certified as not cooperating fully with U.S. antiterrorism efforts. We renewed that certification in May, and so there is a prohibition against the sale or licensing of certain items. We agree with you completely about the need to stand up to what we see happening with Chavez’s attack on democracy. I was pleased to see the OAS come out finally and criticize Venezuela on what it’s doing in that area. And we are going to continue to try to put greater pressure.
With respect to Haiti, we do buy directly most of what we are using, and we also try to better coordinate with other donors, the Red Cross, the Clinton Bush Fund, a lot of others who are trying also to target effective aid. You are absolutely right. One of the biggest needs – I had a meeting about this earlier this week – our restroom facilities, sanitation facilities. And finally, on Cuba, Congressman, we share the same goal. We do not want to do anything that supports the regime. But we do want to create more movement toward democracy, and it’s a question of what will work and what won’t. And that’s what we’re trying to figure out.
CHAIRMAN BERMAN: The time of the gentleman has expired.
The gentleman from New York, Mr. McMahon.
MR. MCMAHON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and good afternoon, Madam Secretary. It’s a thrill and a pleasure to see you again, and as you know, the people from where I think is the most dynamic place in the world, Staten Island and Brooklyn, New York, send their regards and love to you and look to see you come back for a visit.
I want to just echo the comments of some of my colleagues to thank you for putting forth a budget that is a continuing reflection of your work of resetting, if you will, America’s foreign policy and really bringing forward a true American foreign policy which, first and foremost, protects and promotes the national security concerns and interests of our country, stands by strongly our allies, our democratic allies, and those with whom we have good partnerships, and also continues to engage those parts of the world that we hope will someday be our allies through strong security, but also enlightened development and aid. And I think that certainly, you are writing a great new chapter on American foreign policy and we thank you for that.
Also, if you would, express from myself and my constituents our good wishes for President Clinton’s speedy health and recovery, and also thank him for his work in a bipartisan fashion with President Bush, again, to help those who need help in Haiti – many who have relatives in Brooklyn, in particular, and some in Staten Island, but also, again doing – appealing to the better angels of us in America to do – to help those who need help.
Madam Secretary, I’d also like to just go on record by reiterating many of my colleagues’ concerns in regards to Iran. It’s certainly time to move on the sanctions effort, and I know you’ve spoken to that. But in particular, human rights abusers should be sanctioned as well as the petroleum manufacturers and smugglers. And I just want to call to your attention a bill, a bicameral bill that I’ve introduced in the House, H.R. 4647, which follows the Lieberman bill in the Senate, which will bring sanctions to those individuals from the Revolutionary Guard, who bring about human rights violations.
I’d also just like to ask one or two questions. One is: Last year, you were leading very strongly and continue the initiative which looks at the protocols between Armenia and Turkey. And I’m just wondering if you would think it would be appropriate in that regard to appoint maybe someone from the State Department who would focus on bringing about the adoption of the protocols in the two parliaments of those two countries, and if that’s something you would consider.
And then also, in that regard, our – being that our relationship with Turkey is so important, we need to maintain our leverage, our strong relationship, which is very much that leverage. And I was just a little concerned to see when America’s Ambassador to Turkey, James Jeffrey, recently said in a newspaper interview that Turkey was – has, quote, “security concerns on Cyprus.” Certainly, he can’t be supporting this rationale for keeping Turkish troops on Cyprus, and just ask you if he misspoke on that point.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much and thank you for the kind wishes for my husband, and say hello to everybody in Staten Island and Brooklyn.
First, on the protocols, we are very committed to working with both Armenia and Turkey, and I have personally been involved in this. I was deeply involved in the negotiations in Zurich some months ago that led to the signing of the protocols. I’m on the phone probably more with the leadership in Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan than any other part of the world on a regular basis. And we are very committed to doing everything we can both in furthering the protocols for normalization between Armenia and Turkey, and working for a durable, diplomatic solution to the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.
That is not a precondition for the normalization process between Turkey and Armenia, but it is essential for the long-term regional stability in the Caucasus. So we have a whole team committed to that, Congressman, and we are working as hard as we can.
With respect to what the ambassador said, it’s my understanding that he was reflecting the Turkish belief – not that we endorsed it, ascribed to it, supported it, but that is what the Turkish position is, that they – agree with it or not, they view a continuing security interest. We are working to support the UN process of mediation to try to get to a resolution in Cyprus between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Some progress has been made. There have been intensive negotiations over the last six weeks. But a lot more needs to be done.
CHAIRMAN BERMAN: Well, Madam Secretary, as we notified our staff members, the committee members, and announced earlier, it is 12:15. A deal’s a deal. And so without objection, members have two legislative days to submit questions for the record. We thank you very much for coming and wish we could – had time for almost everybody, but we almost did. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
CHAIRMAN BERMAN: Hearing is adjourned.
(Whereupon the Committee was adjourned.)
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