by Rep. Mark Souder (R-Indiana), April 3, 2003
(Mr. SOUDER asked
and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. SOUDER. Mr.
Chairman, first I think it is important that we review why we are in Colombia.
Colombia is in our hemisphere and we cannot let it be overtaken by the
Violence there in
Colombia is primarily because of U.S. and European drug addiction. Violence
in the U.S., 20,000 deaths a year, far exceeds the terrorist deaths we
have in the United States.
Colombia is an important
trading partner. Colombia is a model of democracy, the oldest in South
America. Colombia is an energy supplier to the U.S., a supply that has
been basically blocked by the narcoterrorist attacks.
Now, the fundamental
question. If we have all of these compelling reasons to be in Colombia,
more than probably any other Nation where we have troops at this point,
the question comes, why are we cutting it and what are we cutting? The
gentleman from Massachusetts, who I consider a friend, we do not agree
on this subject, but I know he has been down there as I have many times.
We have looked at it. We do not agree on some fundamental facts. He sees
the glass half empty, I see it half full. We have been making progress
on human rights, we have been making progress on controlling the terrorism,
and we need to make more aggressive progress and keep it up.
His amendment proposes
to cut the funding that provides the intelligence base with which to do
the rest of the operations. He did not cut the funding to protect President
Uribe, which is critical. The man is under daily attack. They are trying
to kill him like they killed his father, like they threatened his family.
But we are going to cut the intelligence in this bill to protect Uribe.
We say that we want
the Colombian units to go out and eradicate the drugs, but we want to
cut with this amendment the money that would enable us to identify where
the drugs are. We say we want to help the Colombians tackle the problem,
but we are cutting with this amendment the military assistance from SOUTHCOM
to help train those Colombian units. That is the $34 million he has in
particular targeted, the money that goes to SOUTHCOM.
Now, General Hill
from SOUTHCOM said that the terrorist threat coming from Colombia through
the narcoterrorists is greater than the other terrorist threats. What
does he mean precisely by that? Did he mean al Qaeda? No, he did not mean
al Qaeda. There may be future ties to the money, as the gentleman from
Massachusetts said, that the greatest funding of the al Qaeda has come
from Asian heroin. However, Hamas, the Russian Mafia, and others have
started to interconnect with the narcoterrorists.
Let us be blunt
here. I have spent the last 2 years doing hearings on our north and south
border. We have better control over Middle Eastern illegal immigrants
right now, with the possible exception of at Detroit and Buffalo, than
we do of our south border. We are completely vulnerable right now to terrorist
attacks coming from Hispanic attacks, coming from the south, particularly
the FARC and Mexican Mafia-type groups who are directed at us.
As we are more effective
in Colombia, as we cut off this multibillion-dollar industry of selling
narcotics to the United States, those groups are going to fight back.
As they have developed with our money, with our drug users' in the United
States money, as they have developed the shoulder packs with which to
attack, as they have had the ability to shoot down our helicopters to
go off and take down military forces in Colombia, as they bring that to
our soil, we better be focused on Colombia. We better be going after those
terrorist groups as well.
I strongly oppose
this amendment which would cripple our operations.
The following is
a letter to other Members of Congress sent online today by Chairman Tom
Davis and me:
April 3, 2003.
We strongly encourage you to oppose the McGovern Amendment to cut vitally
needed assistance to Colombia and the Andean region. In a time of war,
withdrawing American aid to help end political instability and conflict
in our own hemisphere is shortsighted and against our national interests
for several reasons:
Directly Threatens U.S. National Security: Political violence and instability
in Colombia threatens the security of the United States as much as the
instability in Iraq for which America is now engaged in war. Three Americans
have been held hostage in Colombia since January by the FARC, which the
State Department has designated as a foreign terrorist organization. Other
major groups fighting against the democratically elected Government of
Colombia have also been designated as terrorist organizations. Public
reports recently revealed that Osama bin Laden had visited the tri-border
region in South America to
meet with terrorists. The supplemental funding is directed to a serious
and proven national security threat in America's own hemisphere.
Drug Eradication Efforts Are Succeeding: Nearly 20,000 Americans die each
year of drug-induced causes--substantially more than the toll terrorism
has taken in the United States to date. Last month, official estimates
from both the CIA and the United Nations indicated that the coca crop
in Colombia had declined substantially for the first time in years--as
a direct result of U.S.-funded drug control programs. Our efforts have
finally reached a turning point, and it would be foolhardy to cut off
the program just as it is beginning to succeed.
Funding Is Currently Available: Currently appropriated funding is already
available for assistance in first responders and has not yet been obligated.
Plan Colombia Aids
Human Rights: The State Department's annual Human Rights report this week
examined violations of human rights on all sides of the complex conflict
in Colombia. American assistance through Plan Colombia addresses human
rights issues by providing $230 million in aid to directly improve human
rights and administration of justice, preserve the environment, and foster
economic development. Further, by bolstering political stability and the
acceleration of peace in Colombia American assistance aims to end the
root conflicts driving human rights violations. To withdraw aid from Colombia
will cause more, not less, violence and more, not less, violations of
We strongly encourage
you to oppose the McGovern Amendment.
Mark E. Souder,
on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources.
As of April 18, 2003,
this document was also available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/B?r108:@FIELD(FLD003+h)+@FIELD(DDATE+20030403)