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Last Updated:4/18/03
Speech 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 narcoterrorists.

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.

[Begin Insert]

The following is a letter to other Members of Congress sent online today by Chairman Tom Davis and me:

[End Insert]

April 3, 2003.

DEAR COLLEAGUE: 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:

Colombian Instability 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

[Page: H2768]
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.

Domestic Preparedness 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 human rights.

We strongly encourage you to oppose the McGovern Amendment.

Sincerely,

Tom Davis,

Chairman.

Mark E. Souder,

Chairman, Subcommittee 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)

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