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Do those reports speak to the former or the latter? Do they refer to agents of the Panama Government or to private citizens? Can you say that to us without going into classified session?
General McAULIFFE. I guess it depends on what is the general nature of the subject. But I have seen intelligence reports pertaining to members of the Government, citizen groups and whatnot. It sort of depends on the nature of the activity, so to speak.
Mr. O'BRIEN. You just used the term members of the Government. You have read in those reports of members of the Panamanian Government who have been associated with the illegal transmission of arms? Is that a correct restatement of what you just told me?
General MCAULIFFE. No. I think that in order to get into the substance of those kinds of reports, I would ask that there be a closed session.
Mr. O'BRIEN. I will not ask the chairman to read back your immediate answer right now. But I believe you said members of the Government were referred to in those reports. Am I not correct that
you said that in your initial answer to me? General MCAULIFFE. Yes. But I think you were asking me whether I have seen reports about activity or pertaining to members of the Government in Panama as opposed to others. I said certainly I have because there are all types of reports and with various shades of credibility that come my way.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Secretary Grove. According to the New York Times November 29, 1978, Hodding Carter III, indicated that our Government had been unable to confirm reports that “Cuban and other Latin American governments had been supplying weapons to the Sandinista National Liberation Front."
It continues, "Nonetheless, Mr. Carter continued, we have raised these concerns with Cuba and, I emphasize, other governments." That is from the New York Times.
What other governments was he referring to?
Mr. GROVE. I do not have that account in front of me. You said November 29, 1978, is that correct?
Mr. O'BRIEN. That is correct.
Mr. GROVE. In the press briefing on November 28, Mr. Carter said in response to a question:
We have seen the reports that various governments, including Cuba, have sent assistance, to the Sandinistas, some of it allegedly through Panama. They are obviously being studied, though I am not able to confirm them. We have raised these reports with the pertinent governments-specifically, if you ask me, yes, Cuba; yes, others. I am not going to comment any further on our representations, but let me say they were raised directly.
That was a correct statement at the time. We are still not able to definitely confirm the intelligence reports. We did give them sufficient weight to raise them with the governments concerned.
We expressed our strong view that the activity described in the report would only increase the bloodshed and violence in Nicaragua, and undermine efforts by the OAS to reach a democratic solution in Nicaragua.
Panama was one of the countries with which these reports were raised. We were assured that Panama shared our concern, and
would support the mediation effort of the OAS in Nicaragua. The Government of Panama did support that effort.
Mr. O'BRIEN. What form did those communications take? Were they written or oral?
Mr. GROVE. I am sorry. I would rather provide that for the record.
[The following information was supplied:)
Mr. O'BRIEN. Let me ask you a hypothetical question. Assume that these cases are adjudicated, and in the course of that, the affidavit testimony of Agent Kimbler is proved to be credible; namely, that he spoke with Mr. Lopez, and that Mr. Lopez did indeed confess his complicity in the arms transactions; and that indeed, he was acting as an agent of Panama from instructions of his leadership.
What action would the State Department then take?
Mr. GROVE. We would have to take that very seriously, indeed. I am not a lawyer, and I cannot tell you what exactly we would do.
But I can assure you that we would take that very seriously indeed.
Mr. O'BRIEN. In your estimate or the estimate of the counsel accompanying you, would that come under Article XV of the OAS Charter which proscribes any direct or indirect interference in any form in the internal affairs of another country?
Mr. GROVE. I will ask that we take that one and provide a written reply.
[The following information was supplied in response to the above:]
In his affidavit, Special Agent Donald Kimbler, of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, has stated that the Panamanian Consul told him "he has been involved in at least seven firearms transactions . [involving) the purchase of over two hundred firearms to be exported from the United States” and that “he had received his instructions from an offical of the Panamanian G-2, an intelligence agency of the Republic of Panama.” In a subsequent diplomatic note, the Panamanian Government has confirmed that the consul was acting under instructions in the purchase of these arms and that they were intended for, and are presently under the control of, the Panamanian National Guard. While it is alleged in the indictment that some of these arms may not have been exported from the United States in accordance with domestic licensing requirements, neither their purchase nor export would violate Article 18 of the OAS Charter as such acts by themselves do not constitute intervention in the affairs of another state.
Mr. O'BRIEN. In that general subject area, in the opinion of the State Department, would aiding, abetting, or directing the transshipment of military weapons to an irregular guerrilla force indeed constitute a violation of this same article or any other provision of this OAS Charter?
Mr. GROVE. I would also like to provide an answer for the record.
[The following information was supplied in response to the foregoing:)
Whether or not a particular act would violate the non-intervention provisions of the OAS Charter depends largely upon the factual context in which that act takes place. However, as a general matter, we believe that official government action to provide arms to a group endeavoring to overthrow a foreign government through violence would violate the principle of non-intervention stated in Article 18 of the OAS Charter. Purely private action toward the same end would not violate the Charter.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Would you also provide us a list of those actions our Government has heard rumors of that constitute a violation of that provision of the charter?
Mr. GROVE. Yes, sir.
Mr. HUBBARD. The chief of staff of the full committee, Carl Perian.
Mr. PERIAN. Chairman Murphy requested that I point out that as a result of allegations made against the Nicaraguan Government by unnamed “sources” in the State Department who were referred to on the front page of the Washington Post in the last week of July 1978, he called the Department of State and asked for examples, evidence, or documents proving human rights violations in Nicaragua as they were determined to be found by the State Department.
In response to that call on August 1, 1978, at 4 p.m. in the afternoon, Chairman Murphy was visited by Sally Shelton, Mark Schneider, and Curtis Cutter, I believe, from the State Department, Nicaragua desk, in the human rights section. I was also present at that meeting.
At that time they brought approximately 15 telexes from the State Department which they had received from the Embassy in Nicaragua. We were told that they were classified and that we could not have them. They were top secret documents.
Mr. Murphy then asked if he could read them. Five allegedly "worst cases' were selected and given to the chairman to read, none of which had anything to do with any human rights violations on the part of the Nicaraguan Government or the national guard against anyone in the city of Managua or the country of Nicaragua
He then subsequently requested a CIA briefing on this same subject, and the CIA similarly had no such information to impart to the chairman.
In reference to the letter that Mr. O'Brien discussed, I think it should be inserted in the record at this point-and the chairman asked that I do that-a seven-page letter dated January 31, 1977.
It was addressed to President Carter.
I am surprised that General McAuliffe or Mr. Grove are unfamiliar with Manuel Pinero, because in this letter the chairman pointed out he was the chief of intelligence responsible for guerrilla activities in the Caribbean.
The letter went into great detail about human rights violations on the part of the Panamanian Government and the Panamanian National Guard. And as an enclosure he provided a document which is part I of the three-part document that you have on that
table that Mr. O'Brien introduced into the record of the Panama Committee for Human Rights.
It was quite a lengthy letter, and we received a written reply from Mr. Brzezinski, thanking Mr. Murphy for the receipt of the letter and the documents, that they would both be studied by the State and Defense Departments, and that Mr. Murphy would then receive a written report.
He never received a written report on the human rights violations in Panama. He did receive a phone call from the State Department acknowledging that all of the events which had been fairly well documented in the report were accurate, including acts of murder and violence and brutality, but that they had occurred 4, 5, or 6 years previously, and that therefore they were not being taken into consideration by the State Department or the Department of Defense in consideration of the Panama Canal treaties at that time.
Mr. Murphy's only response was, in effect, when did the statute of limitations run out on murder? I think that would help answer the questions of Mr. Bauman concerning the response of the State Department to human rights violations in Panama.
For the record, I would like to submit Mr. Murphy's January 31, 1977, letter.
Mr. HUBBARD. Thank you. That letter will be entered into the record. The following was received for the record:)
JANUARY 31, 1977. The PRESIDENT, The White House, Washington, D.C.
DEAR MR. PRESIDENT: I have read with great interest and with some alarm press reports concerning your day-long meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and your national security advisors on Thursday, January 13, 1977.
The two disturbing reports concerned issues with which I have been involved for many years as a Member of Congress. As the former Chairman of the Panama Canal Subcommittee on the House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee and as the present Chairman of that Full Committee, I have been watching closely your statements concerning future treaty negotiations with the Republic of Panama.
Recent reports, including the one emanating from the January 13th meeting would indicate that you may be altering your campaign position wherein you indicated your resolve to maintain U.S. control over the Canal and the Canal Zone.
I point out that there is a wealth of legal evidence to sustain the position that the Canal Zone and the Canal are United States property. Much of this evidence was presented during hearings conducted by myself during the 92nd Congress. As a result of these hearings, the State Department conceded that enabling legislation approved by a vote of the Full House would be required in order to transfer any property to the Republic of Panama that was originally purchased with monies appropriated by the House of Representatives.
I am sure you are aware of the importance of the Panama Canal and the Canal Zone to our national defense. The Russians know this also, which is the reason they are so eagerly attempting to establish a Moscow-Havana-Panama Axis in the Caribbean. Panama is only the top of the iceberg.
Communist ties with Panama are not a recent innovation, nor are they unknown to our negotiators. In the State Department Bulletin, the official record of U.S. foreign policy, dated February 24, 1964, just after violent anti-American riots which led to a 4-month break in diplomatic relations with Panama, we read:
“If an investigation is made ... it will show that violent mobs, infiltrated and led by extremists, including persons trained in Communist countries for political action of the kind that took place, assulted the zone on a wide perimeter, setting fire to buildings inside the zone and attacking with incendiary bombs ... It will show that
the Government of Panama, instead of attempting to restore order, was, through a controlled press, television and radio, inciting the people to attack and to violence.'
The speaker was the U.S. representative to the Council of the Organization of American States, Ellsworth Bunker-our current Panama Canal Treaty negotiator.
Later, Joseph Califano, counsel for the United States at the OAS hearings, outlined some of the findings:
“We know that some of the leaders in the rioting were known and identifiable Communists-members of the P.D.P., the Communist Party of Panama--and people who belonged to the Vanguard of National Action, which is openly and proudly the Castro Community Party in Panama.”
There is absolutely no question as to the increasing ties between the current military dictatorship of Gen. Omar Torrijos in Panama and the Castro regime. The commercial air route between Havana and Panama City is traveled constantly by the likes of foreign minister Fabian Valerde. In his June meeting with Castro, his’ vice minister Carlos Rodriquez, known as the “Moscow man in Havana,” and Commandante Manuel Pineiro, the chief of intelligence responsible for guerrilla activities abroad, Valerde spoke at length about Cuban-Panamanian relations and about anti-U.S. tactics in connection with the future of the canal. When this was reported in the Panamanian Government's officials organ, El Matutino, Valerde praised Castro for his "wisdom” in the Panama Canal case.
Valerde said Castro offered Communist Cuba's most emphatic support on the canal question. At the same time, another Panamanian group headed by Carlos Lopez Nunez, the militant head of the National Committee for Panama's Defense, was in Hanoi to discuss the canal question with the Vietnamese Communists.
Later, in a July interview with, the “Mexico City excelsior” General Torrijos expressed the belief that the return of the Canal Zone to Panama, and the removal of the U.S. military bases, was imminent. In response to the question, “what if that does not ocur?”, Torrijos said:
"Then we would have to walk the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The Ho Chi Minh Trail is long and it exerts a heavy toll in blood.”
How many more positive indications must we accumulate before we see the course of the Panamanian dictator?
Yet, at a recent briefing by CINCPAC in Hawaii, I was told that in the event of any hostilities in the Pacific in the future, the Panama Canal would be absolutely essential for the defense of American commitments in the far Pacific. In making his point, the Commander-in-Chief Pacific stated that if he were guaranteed carte blance use of every boxcar and every East/West railway line in the United States absent the Canal he couldn't say with any degree of certainty that he could successfully carry out a defensive war.
I would certainly hope that before any hard decisions are formed concerning future U.S.-Panama treaty negotiations, you would take into account the findings of those of us in the House who have had years of experience with the Panama Canal in terms of its use both in maritime commerce and as an important integral part of our defense establishment.
My other major concern has to do with news reports emanating from your January 13 meeting concerning the Republic of Korea.
Your future policy was characterized as calling for a restoration of human rights on the part of the regime of President Park Chung Hee and a gradual U.S. troop withdrawal from South Korea. On the first point, I think it is ironic that we are aggressively criticizing a staunch and friendly ally for alleged human rights violations and threatening to punish them by withholding necessary arms supplies and the withdrawal of troops. On the other hand, it would appear that many in our government are ready to reward the dictatorship of General Omar Torrijos and his crushingly oppressive regime by giving him the Panama Canal which the United States by history, by treaty, and by purchase, legally owns.
I have recently been given a lengthy document put together by the Panamanian Committee for Human Rights which contains allegations of a far more serious nature, including assassinations, brutality and the like on the part of the Torrijos regime. Yet no one in this government has even acknowledged some of the more readily apparent violations of human freedoms in the Republic of Panama including total suppression of the press, total suppression of the people by the Guardia Nationale and the lack of observation of the constitutional rights of large numbers of Panamanian citizens.
As far as the United States is concerned, I would point out that during my tenure as Chairman of the Panama Canal Subcommittee, I saw an American firm, Fuerza y Luz, expropriated by armed troops who padlocked offices, conducted body searches