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There are other questions, I am told.
Let me ask you to repeat what you just said about 5 minutes ago about your judgment, and your question about the timing of these hearings, that it was coincidental-would you repeat that?
Mr. ATWOOD. I made a facetious statement as to whether or not the timing was coincidental, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HUBBARD. The timing of these hearings, of course, is for the members in the House of Representatives to ascertain as much knowledge as possible regarding the Panama Canal Treaties, H.R. 111, and events taking place regarding the treaties prior to next Tuesday's vote in the House of Representatives, that being the first time that the members of the House of Representatives, who were duly elected by the people of the United States, have the chance to express themselves on the Panama Canal Treaties.
So there is no coincidental timing. This hearing is being held today and tomorrow, prior to next Tuesday's vote, so that the Members of Congress have as much knowledge as possible.
Mr. ATWOOD. I did not mean to imply that this is not a legitimate inquiry. My hope that this will not be related to the implementing legislation is not shared by all Members of Congress, so this is a perfectly legitimate inquiry, which is why we are cooperating fully.
Mr. HUBBARD. Congressman Bauman.
Mr. BAUMAN. You said repeatedly in your testimony from the viewpoint of the State Department and the administration there is no connection between the situation in Nicaragua and the Panama Canal treaties implementing legislation.
Article II of Neutrality Treaty says this, and I will read only briefly:
The Republic of Panama declares the neutrality of the Canal in order that both in time of peace and in time of war, it shall remain secure and open to peaceful transit by the vessels of all nations, on terms of entire equality, so that there will be no discrimination against any nation or its citizens or subjects, concerning the conditions or charges of transit, or for any other reason, and so that the Canal and therefore the Isthmus of Panama, shall not be the target of reprisals in any armed conflict between other nations of the world.
If the President of Panama, Aristides Royo, has made a series of declarations in recent months supporting Sandinista guerrillas and calling on the United States to withdraw any relationship with or support of Nicaragua; if people are operating in Panama selling Sandinista war bonds in denominations of 50 cents to $50, so Panamanians can help this cause; if the sale of arms is eventually proven to have taken place with not only Panamanian Government's approval, but perhaps active involvement; if indeed a brigade headed by the former assistant minister of health has marched off to Nicaragua and periodically comes back to Panama to discuss what steps are to be taken to get more Panamanians to fight in the war: If all that happened, doesn't that suggest there is some activity in which the Republic of Panama is engaged which could pose a threat to the neutrality of the Canal and the possibility of armed reprisal?
We are not contending that Nicaragua has the capacity to do that. However, I do suggest there might be some connection be
tween these events and whether or not Panama is honoring the Neutrality Treaty.
Mr. Atwood. If all those things happened, the first step in the process, and we do watch these things rather closely, is that the Government of Nicaragua would break relations with the Government of Panama.
This has not occurred, so I don't believe that the article is threatened-or that Panama is-or that the two governments are close to war.
As I say, we watch these situations. You are not putting together an entirely outlandish hypothesis, but I think as of now it is simply that, a hypothesis.
Mr. BAUMAN. Of course the events that I have described have occurred, as you know. I didn't mention the jet from Cuba last week, which may or may not have happened.
Mr. ATWOOD. We have no information on that. We have heard the rumors.
Mr. BAUMAN. We have heard that Cuban troops have landed in Panama for transit to Nicaragua. All of this has no bearing on the treaty we signed?
Mr. Atwood. All of these issues bother us because of the unstable situation in Central America which I alluded to previously.
We feel very strongly that the best way to contribute to stability is to get the enabling legislation passed, to get the new partnership underway.
Mr. BAUMAN. Doesn't this presuppose the State Department might request of them certain stands to bring about stability in Central America? We first heard from the President about this new era of relations. We see the Panamanian Government engaging in acts disrupting stability in Latin America.
Doesn't that presuppose some action will be taken by this administration, some pressure, some request, some formal contract?
I understand that General Torrijos has been talking about doing it for a month. Our good friend, Ambler Moss, chatted with him the other night about that.
When are we going to say something about that? Is it so important to get the enabling legislation through that no act on the part of Panama will be important until it is passed?
Mr. ATWOOD. I think the nature of our relationship is such that we don't have to press them. We have an ongoing relationship, an ongoing dialog and I hope it will continue.
Mr. BAUMAN. No request to cease and desist will be made?
Mr. ATWOOD. We have an ongoing dialog. It is not necessary to discuss these issues with Panama in this way.
Mr. BAUMAN. Thank you.
Mr. HUBBARD. Does that include the 5-hour meeting 2 days ago between Ambler Moss and General Torrijos which was reportedly unsuccessful on the part of Ambler Moss to talk General Torrijos into breaking relations with Nicaragua?
Mr. ATWOOD. I can't comment on that. I will say we can talk about it in private, but your facts are incorrect.
Mr. HUBBARD. I am incorrect that Ambler Moss met with General Torrijos 2 days ago?
Mr. ATWOOD. I cannot comment, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HUBBARD. I am sorry.
Mr. Atwood. We can talk about it in private. Any question involving a meeting between our Ambassador and a representative of another government we simply cannot discuss in public.
A MEMBER. Mr. Chairman, I have a clarification.
Mr. ATWOOD. I suppose that was to whet your appetite so you would want to discuss this matter with me privately.
Mr. HUBBARD. I can assure you that a good many more people than Carroll Hubbard are interested in knowing what is going on in Panama and South.
Mr. CARNEY. I would like to have that repeated. You are not going to tell us whether our Ambassador met with General Torrijos 2 days ago?
Mr. ATWOOD. No. I will be pleased to discuss this with you in closed session. I would not do it in open session.
Mr. CARNEY. That would have an impact on national security?
Mr. ATWOOD. We have two governments involved. Sensitivities are involved on all sides. Maybe an individual in another government doesn't want it known that he is discussing things with an Ambassador of the United States.
Mr. CARNEY. I find that incredible.
Mr. HANSEN. Pursuing the reasoning of Congressman Hubbard and Carney, I would like to tell you in a debate or dialog the other day with Congressman Bowen and the Ambassador of Panama to the United States, this matter came up and we were informed by the Ambassador that this really was not relevant, because the United States was responsible for the Panama Canal for the next 20 years, was responsible for the defense of it and all the rest.
This reminds me when I was younger I had two dogs, a small dog and a large dog. The small dog was very feisty, and he could pick a lot of fights. However, the big dog was more capable, and he had to end up taking care of all the fights.
We have got an irresponsible situation where the State Department absolutely refuses to call the Government of Panama to task for revolutionary and terrorist activities in the Caribbean area, and yet we will be responsible, as a government, for having to pick up the pieces.
As the treaties go into effect, if they do, on October 1, the buffer zone goes down and you don't have the buffer area for the United States defense to take care of the canal as we had before.
It is easier to catch contraband in the Panama channel than in the high seas. We are asking for a lot of trouble unless we get it cleared up
Wouldn't you think it is time that we call Panama to task? There has been gunrunning. Witnesses will be here to establish this is in collusion with Cuba, Venezuela, Costa Rica, as well as the FLSN.
Don't you think it time we should do something about this?
Mr. ATWOOD. I would hope you would wait until the 2 days of testimony are over before you come to a conclusion. We have just begun. Very little evidence has come forward.
Mr. HANSEN. It doesn't look like it is going the direction you suggest.
What is the normal procedure for a foreign government to purchase weapons in the United States? Don't they usually purchase them wholesale from some reputable manufacturer and cut out the middleman and register the serial numbers?
Mr. ROBINSON. If a foreign government wants to purchase weapons, it has two ways that it can do it. One, you can go the military sales route, get a letter of acceptance from the Department of Defense, and buy weapons which are government-to-government.
If the Government itself wants to buy weapons, it comes to an American dealer or manufacturer, signs a contract, and either the Embassy of that government or the commercial dealer or manufacturer will apply for a license for export.
Mr. HANSEN. But you are conveniently lax in taking serial numbers when you buy from gun dealers, which means it is easy to contraband them into other areas, than the normal armed service; isn't that correct?
Mr. ROBINSON. Mr. Hansen, we do not maintain serial numbers. They are maintained by the dealers. If we have a request made to have them checked, it can be done.
Mr. HANSEN. Are you familiar with the M-1 and what kind of weapon it is as far as impact when it hits an object, an animal, or a man?
Mr. BRYANT. I am not familiar with the ballistics characteristics.
Mr. HANSEN. Would it be considered as a hunting rifle, or is it something too devastating as it strikes the object?
Mr. BRYANT. The weapon is available in Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia from gun dealers, and it is used in the eastern seaboard as a bush gun for the hunting specifically of deer.
It has, I think, ballistic characteristics similar to that of the 30/ 30 Winchester.
Mr. HANSEN. One last question I would like to ask is regarding the Neutrality Treaty, and the fact that the State Department continues to say that the United States must live up to its honor in the commitments which have been made with regard to the treaties.
Is there any such thing as Panama living up to any honor in these treaties, or is this a one-sided thing where we live up to all the honor, and they run rampant as they please?
Mr. ATWOOD. A point of clarification: It is the Nation's honor that is at stake, not the State Department's honor.
Mr. HANSEN. We are continually told that the United States have to live up to its honor, but Panama doesn't have to live up to anything. Is there any reason that there are two standards?
Mr. ATWOOD. I am sorry, there are not two standards. We expect both countries to live up to the obligations of the treaty.
Mr. HUBBARD. Are you familiar with the U.S. Customs list which identifies the arms in question by serial number, which is now in the hands of the Department of Justice?
Mr. ROBINSON. I have not seen them.
Mr. HUBBARD. Last, Mr. Atwood, Mr. Robinson, and Mr. Bryant, do you have as much confidence today in General Torrijos as the President and the State Department had last year when we were signing the Panama Canal Treaties?
Mr. Atwood. We have great confidence in the Government of Panama as a whole. You know, General Torrijos is no longer head of State, no longer head of the Government of Panama. He is head of the National Guard there.
Mr. HUBBARD. He is at least important enough that Ambler Moss met with him 2 days ago for 5 hours.
[Laughter and applause.)
Mr. HUBBARD. And we learned this, by the way, from the State Department. The subcommittee was given that information by the State Department.
To Mr. Atwood, Mr. Robinson, and Mr. Bryant, we express our appreciation for your being here and for your comments. Mr. Atwood. Thank you.
Mr. HUBBARD. Mr. Murphy, our committee chairman, would like to have inserted in the record at this point articles from Panamanian newspapers submitted to him by U.S. intelligence gathering agencies.
They are as follows:
One: An article dated May 29, 1979, from the Panama City Star and Herald. The article describes the sale of “War Bonds" in Panama for the Panamanian brigade to fight in Nicaragua. The brigade is headed by Hugo Spadafora, the Panamanian Deputy Minister of Health who resigned his post to head the brigade.
Second: An article dated May 30, 1979, from Panama City newspaper Critica. This is a call to members of the Victoriano Lorenzo International Brigade headed by Spadafora made up of Panamanians fighting in Nicaragua.
Third: An article dated May 4, 1979, from the Panama City newspaper Critica in which Spadafora asks for Panamanian reinforcements for the Victoriano Lorenzo International Brigade.
[The following was received for the record:)
NICARAGUAN SOLIDARITY COMMITTEE SELLING WAR BONDS
PA291650 Panama City Star and Herald in English 29 May 79 p A-1 PA [Excerpt] The "Panama Committee on Solidarity with the Nicaraguan People" (COMPASOLINI) yesterday announced the sale of “war bonds” to finance the liberation of Nicaragua. In addition, the group was recruiting volunteers to fight at the side of the Sandinistas. The call for recruits began several weeks ago in response to an appeal by former Deputy Minister of Health Hugo Spadafora, who is now said to be the commandant of a brigade of Panamanian Volunteers fighting with the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. This sale of war bonds, having a cost fluctuating between 50 cents and 50 dollars, began May 22 and will end May 31. In addition to the bonds, COMPASOLINI has organized other programs to gather funds, including cultural events, and has launched a drive for donations of medicine, food and clothes.
SANDINIST BRIGADE MEMBERS ASKED TO REPORT TO CENTER
PA301712 Panama City Critica in Spanish 30 May 79 p 8 PA [Text] All active members of the Victoriano Lorenzo International Brigade who are in Panama must report within 48 hours to the orientation center located on Las Americas Avenue, Building No 2981, in front of the 10 de Noviembre Park in La Chorrera where they will be met personally by coordinator Efrain Rojas.