I just would like to note that we will try our best not to overlap with regard to the responsibilities of the select committee.
I welcome Ambassador Charles Redman, who currently serves us ably as our United States ambassador to Germany but has served also as our principal negotiator on Bosnia in 1994. I also welcome Ambassador Peter Galbraith, who now serves as our United States ambassador to Croatia, but also served for a number of years on the staff of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations before joining the administration.
Gentlemen, we welcome both of you, and if you would summarize your opening statements as briefly as possible, we'll then be able to go on to questions.
I'd like to ask our witnesses to please stand and be sworn in.
Mr. -- Ambassador Redman.
At this time, I recognize Mr. Bereuter for a motion.
REPRESENTATIVE BEREUTER: Mr. Chairman, I move that at the time to be designated by the chairman after consultation with the ranking Democratic member or his designee, the committee proceed to meet in closed session and, if required, on one subsequent day to receive portions of the testimony of Ambassadors Redman and Galbraith because disclosure of the testimony or evidence to be considered would endanger the national security.
CHAIRMAN GILMAN: Motion has been properly made giving the chairman authority to proceed to meet in closed session.
All in favor, signify in the usual manner.
(Chorus of ayes.)
CHAIRMAN GILMAN: Opposed?
CHAIRMAN GILMAN: The motion is carried.
Under the rule, I am informed, we need a roll call vote.
Would the clerk please call the roll?
CLERK: Mr. Gilman?
CHAIRMAN GILMAN: Aye.
CLERK: Mr. Goodling?
CLERK: Mr. Leach?
CLERK: Mr. Roth?
CLERK: Mr. Hyde?
REPRESENTATIVE HYDE: Aye.
CLERK: Mr. Bereuter?
REPRESENTATIVE BEREUTER: Aye.
CLERK: Mr. Smith?
REPRESENTATIVE SMITH: Aye.
CLERK: Mr. Burton?
REPRESENTATIVE BURTON: Aye.
CLERK: Mrs. Meyers?
REPRESENTATIVE MEYERS: Aye.
CLERK: Mr. Gallegly?
CLERK: Ms. Ros-Lehtinen?
CLERK: Mr. Ballenger?
REPRESENTATIVE BALLENGER: Aye.
CLERK: Mr. Rohrabacher?
REPRESENTATIVE ROHRABACHER: Aye.
CLERK: Mr. Manzullo?
REPRESENTATIVE MANZULLO: Aye.
CLERK: Mr. Royce?
REPRESENTATIVE ROYCE: Aye.
CLERK: Mr. King?
REPRESENTATIVE KING: Aye.
CLERK: Mr. Kim?
REPRESENTATIVE KIM: Aye.
CLERK: Mr. Brownback?
CLERK: Mr. Funderburk?
CLERK: Mr. Chabot?
CLERK: Mr. Sanford?
CLERK: Mr. Salmon?
REPRESENTATIVE SALMON: Aye.
CLERK: Mr. Houghton?
CLERK: Mr. Campbell?
REPRESENTATIVE CAMPBELL: Aye.
CLERK: Mr. Hamilton?
REPRESENTATIVE HAMILTON: Aye.
CLERK: Mr. Gejdenson?
CLERK: Mr. Lantos?
REPRESENTATIVE LANTOS: Aye.
CLERK: Mr. Torricelli?
CLERK: Mr. Berman?
REPRESENTATIVE BERMAN: Aye.
CLERK: Mr. Ackerman?
REPRESENTATIVE ACKERMAN: Aye.
CLERK: Mr. Johnston?
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSTON: Mr. Chairman, parliamentary inquiry, if I may.
CHAIRMAN GILMAN: The gentleman will state his parliamentary inquiry.
JOHNSTON: The motion by Mr. Bereuter, we would go into closed session at your discretion under national security?
GILMAN: After discussion with the ranking minority member, that's correct.
THE CLERK: Mr. Faleomavaega?
CLERK: Mr. Martinez?
REPRESENTATIVE MARTINEZ: Aye.
CLERK: Mr. Payne?
CLERK: Mr. Andrews?
REPRESENTATIVE ANDREWS: (Off mike.)
CLERK: Mr. Menendez?
REPRESENTATIVE MENENDEZ: Aye.
CLERK: Mr. Brown?
CLERK: Ms. McKinney?
CLERK: Mr. Hastings?
REPRESENTATIVE HASTINGS: Aye.
CLERK: Mr. Wynn?
CLERK: Mr. Moran?
CLERK: Mr. Frazer?
CLERK: Mr. Rose?
CLERK: Ms. Danner?
REPRESENTATIVE DANNER: Aye.
CHAIRMAN GILMAN: The clerk will call the absentees.
CLERK: Mr. Goodling?
CLERK: Mr. Leach?
CLERK: Mr. Gallegley?
CLERK: Ms. Ros-Lehtinen?
CLERK: Mr. Brownback?
CLERK: Mr. Funderburk?
CLERK: Mr. Chabot?
CLERK: Mr. Sanford?
CLERK: Mr. Houghton?
CLERK: Mr. Gejdenson?
REPRESENTATIVE GEJDENSON: Aye.
CLERK: Mr. Torricelli?
CLERK: Mr. Faleomavaega?
CLERK: Mr. Payne?
CLERK: Mr. Andrews?
CLERK: Mr. Brown?
CLERK: Ms. McKinney?
CLERK: Mr. Wynn?
CLERK: Mr. Moran?
CLERK: Mr. Frazer?
CLERK: Mr. Rose?
REPRESENTATIVE PAYNE: Point of order?
CLERK: The clerk will call --
REPRESENTATIVE PAYNE: Payne.
CHAIRMAN GILMAN: Mr. Payne.
CLERK: Mr. Payne?
REPRESENTATIVE PAYNE: Aye.
CHAIRMAN GILMAN: The clerk will report the tally.
CLERK: On this vote there were 28 ayes and zero noes.
CHAIRMAN GILMAN: The motion is carried.
Ambassador Galbraith, you may summarize or put your full statement in the record as you may deem necessary.
CHAIRMAN GILMAN: Thank you, Mr. Ambassador.
At this time I'd like to interrupt our proceedings to welcome to our committee the former ranking member of our Judiciary Committee, a gentleman who served New York State for many years, former congressman Hamilton Fish. (Applause.) Congressman Fish is accompanied by his pastor, Reverend Bruster Beach, who gave the opening prayer today. Reverend Beach, we welcome you.
To both of our panelists, please explain to the committee why the administration did not inform the American people, the Congress, even our allies of its decision to permit Iran, the world's leading terrorist state, a rogue state, to ship arms to Bosnia and thus gain a major foothold in the Balkans.
GALBRAITH: Well --
GILMAN: Ambassador Galbraith.
GALBRAITH: Mr. Chairman, not agreeing with the premise of your question as to what happened, the particular exchange with the Croatian officials was a confidential diplomatic exchange, of which we have very many.
As to what information might have been provided to the Congress, I can't speak; I was in Zagreb. But the policy -- the policy, I think, was well known to everybody who followed the situation. The policy was that we were not -- that -- was that we were not objecting to the flow of arms through Croatia to the Bosnians. It was widely reported in intelligence sources and in media that this was going on. It was obvious that we were not objecting.
I can say, based on my conversations with European ambassadors in Zagreb, that they, too, knew -- European ambassadors, including the Russians -- that they, too, knew that the arms were transiting Croatia to the Bosnians. And to the best of my knowledge, not one of these countries objected to the Croatian government.
GILMAN: Ambassador Galbraith, did you consult with any of the ambassadors in the area in which you were serving as to whether or not they objected?
GALBRAITH: Yes, I did.
GILMAN: And you -- what was your question to them?
GALBRAITH: We had a discussion. I asked them if they had objected, and none of them said they had.
GILMAN: And --
GALBRAITH: And the Croatian government has also told me that they never received any objections from the European countries.
GILMAN: If they had objected to what specifically?
GALBRAITH: To Croatia's role as a transit country for arms to the Bosnian government.
GILMAN: From Iran?
GALBRAITH: From Iran and from other countries. It was certainly known that Iran was one of the countries that was providing the weapons.
GILMAN: And which ambassadors did you consult with?
GALBRAITH: That goes to the nature of confidential diplomatic exchanges. I'd be happy to tell you in closed session or answer you in writing.
GILMAN: Would you submit that answer in writing -- the number of ambassadors and the countries that they represented that you consulted with?
GALBRAITH: Well, yes, I shall.
GILMAN: Thank you.
And Ambassador Redman, would you like to comment on the question?
REDMAN: Like Ambassador Galbraith, I can really speak to this best from an overseas perspective, since I spent nearly this entire period in Europe on the negotiations.
And I can only say that among my diplomatic colleagues with whom I was dealing, particularly in the Contact Group, that this was never an issue of discussion, nor one which led to expressions of concern.
I could only speculate on why that might be the case, since it was never overtly addressed. But I think it was widely recognized in the context of the time that the embargoes that had been placed against Serbia-Montenegro, for example, were leaking rather dramatically and badly, both on the economic front as well as on the front concerning arms for the Bosnian Serbs. The kind of arms that apparently were arriving in the hands of the Bosnian government were not a significant departure from the past -- i.e., they did not include such things as heavy artillery or tanks; they were apparently more along the lines of arms and small ammunition. So again, it didn't seem to be any new threat to the U.N. forces in any special way.
GILMAN: Was there any conversation with regard to the specificity of the arms that were going to be shipped?
REDMAN: No, sir.
GILMAN: Then how did you know what sort of arms were being shipped?
REDMAN: That I can only imply through the same kind of intelligence reporting that was probably available to this committee as well.
GILMAN: Did the intelligence reports made to you indicate that these arms were coming from Iran?
REDMAN: I have seen reports that indicated Iran as well as other countries.
GILMAN: Ambassador Galbraith, I have a few questions about the context within which the Clinton administration made its decision in April of '94 to acquiesce in the establishment of an Iranian arms pipeline to Bosnia.
First, is it true that for almost a year prior to the time that the decision was made that Croat and Muslim forces in Bosnia were engaged in some pretty vicious fighting against one another?
GALBRAITH: Yes, it is true.
GILMAN: And is it also true that as a result of that fighting, the government of Croatia had little interest in helping the Muslim government in Bosnia during the 10 or 12 months prior to April of '94?
GILMAN: And in particular, the government of Croatia was not interested during that time in doing anything to help increase the military strength of the Muslim forces in Bosnia, such as facilitating the delivery of military assistance to the government of Bosnia. Is that true?
GALBRAITH: It had -- it had little interest. Actually, there was -- arms were flowing through this period and they were flowing through Croatia, but in much smaller numbers.
GILMAN: So is it also true, then, that at least for the 10 or 12 months prior to April of '94, there were no arms -- there was no arms pipeline in place from Iran through Croatia to Bosnia, at least no Croatian government complicity in such a pipeline? Is that accurate?
GALBRAITH: Not entirely. There was in fact all through this period, even during the Muslim-Croat war, there were arms flowing and they were coming through Croatia. As to the degree of Croatian government complicity, I can only speculate. But I presume that they knew about at least some of it.
GILMAN: And where were those arms coming from?
GALBRAITH: Well, Iran was one of the countries, and there were other countries.
GILMAN: When you were asked by the Croatians on April 28, 1994, whether our nation would object to Iranian arms passing through Croatia to Bosnia, they were not asking you whether we had a problem with something they were already doing, rather, they were asking you whether we would mind if they started doing something new that they weren't already doing?
GALBRAITH: Well, aside from this small trickle, if you will, yes. I mean, the Bosnians had come to them and asked for help. The request was to permit Croatian territory to be used for the transit of weapons to the Bosnian army.
GILMAN: So in other words, Ambassador Galbraith, the question wasn't whether we objected to their continuation of an arms pipeline from Iran, it was whether we would object to their establishment of such a pipeline. Is that correct?
GALBRAITH: Again, noting that there was already -- there was still a trickle going on. But certainly, what was being talked about in April of 1994 was something very substantially greater.
GILMAN: All right. Is it also true that as of April of '94, relations between our government and the government of Croatia were good and that they were eager to keep it that way; is that correct?
GALBRAITH: Well, relations between our two countries had been developing over the entire time that I was there, but they had improved very dramatically in March of 1994 when President Tudjman came to Washington and the Washington agreement was signed establishing the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
GILMAN: So then in fact in the wake of the signature of that March '94 Washington accords that ended the Croat-Muslim fighting in Bosnia, the Croatian government had high expectations that our nation would assist them and that that assistance would be soon forthcoming. Is that accurate?
GALBRAITH: Yes, that is accurate. Part of what we proposed to the Croatian government was that if they were prepared to enter into this federation we would be working with them to try and help their integration into Western economic, political and security arrangements.
GILMAN: So that when you were asked on April 28th '94 whether our nation would object if they established an arms pipeline from Iran, they were not just asking as a courtesy, they genuinely wanted to know what we thought. Is that correct?
GALBRAITH: That is certainly correct.
GILMAN: And is there any doubt in your mind, Mr. Ambassador, that if you had told them that we did not want them to establish an arms pipeline from Iran, they would have acted inconsistent with your response and not established an Iranian arms pipeline. Is that accurate?
GALBRAITH: I can only speculate on that. I can say that had we in a very, very forceful way made it clear that we would not tolerate the flow of arms to the Bosnians that they probably would not have done it.
GILMAN: And Mr. Ambassador -- and from what you told us, am I correct that you didn't tell them that we would object to the establishment of an Iranian arms pipeline, you told them that you had no instructions on how to respond to their question, and as a result of that answer you gave them they went ahead and established an arms pipeline from Iran. Is that accurate?
GALBRAITH: Yes. They -- they -- following my statement, they proceeded to permit the flow of arms from Iran and from other countries to the Bosnians.
GILMAN: Some of the spokesmen of the administration have since tried to characterize your response to the Croatian request as something other than an official acquiescence by our government in the establishment of an arms pipeline from Iran. As a matter of fact, one administration official said it wasn't a red light, it wasn't a green light, but rather lights out. Since you were the one who actually communicated the message, I want to know whether you agree with that kind of a connotation of your response?
GALBRAITH: In essence, I gave them no response. I said I had no answer for them. However, under the circumstances, when we did not object they proceeded to go ahead and do it.
GILMAN: Well, was your response intended to leave doubt in the mind of the Croatian government about where we stood in the establishment of an Iran arms pipeline, or was it intended to be a signal that they could go ahead?
GALBRAITH: It was intended to tell them that we were not objecting.
GILMAN: Ambassador Redman, you were also present at one of the critical meetings. What was your impression? Was the no-instruction response intended to create ambiguity about where the administration stood, or was it intended as a green light?
REDMAN: As I said in my prepared remarks, we believed that in all likelihood the Croatian government would decide to proceed on receipt of the no-instructions guidance.
GILMAN: I have just one more question. Undersecretary Tarnoff was before this committee on April 23rd and we asked him repeatedly whether the message he sent to the Croats in April of '94 represented a change in U.S. policy, and he repeatedly rejected the characterization.
What's your impression, Ambassador Galbraith? Did your message represent a change in our policy from what had gone on before?
GALBRAITH: I think there are several ways of looking at that. In fact, when the Clinton Administration came in, we had a very different policy from the Bush Administration.
The Bush Administration had supported and, in fact, cast a decisive vote in favor of the international arms embargo against the Bosnians. And it worked hard to enforce that embargo.
The Clinton -- and President Clinton felt -- the administration felt -- that the embargo was fundamentally wrong; that it resulted in a situation where the aggressors -- the Bosnian Serbs who had all the weapons -- were able to attack cities, villages, engage in ethnic cleansing with impunity, while the victims were left undefended because they didn't get the arms of the old Yugoslav army.
So, the position of the administration was, in fact, to be against the arms embargo. And, in fact, from the -- from January 20th, 1993, we were not urging -- we were not urging other countries to enforce it. So, in that sense, it was not a change of policy.
On the other hand, as compared to what had happened the last time that the situation came up -- mainly, in September of 1992, when we had demarched the Croatians about an Iran Air flight that was in Zagreb Airport -- it did represent a change in policy.
Mr. -- Ambassador Redman, was it in your mind a new policy?
REDMAN: I would share on that respect with Ambassador Galbraith's comments.
GILMAN: Thank you.
REPRESENTATIVE BERMAN: Mr. Chairman, could I just ask a clarification? You asked Ambassador Galbraith to provide you with a series of contacts he had with ambassadors.
I think there was a disconnect. It sounded like you were asking for consultations with ambassadors about a no-instructions policy.
I think Ambassador Galbraith was talking about after-the-fact contacts with ambassadors about whether or not they had objected or objected to the Iranian arms shipments. And I just think that it's important to clarify that so we don't get into a problem later on.
GILMAN: Ambassador Galbraith, if you would just put your full understanding of the question and the responses.
REPRESENTATIVE MYERS: And -- Mr. Chairman?
REPRESENTATIVE MYERS: Mr. Chairman?
CHAIRMAN GILMAN: I recognize the gentlelady.
MYERS: I would like also for you to include in that answer if you discussed with the other ambassadors that people were coming from Iran; that -- because there were several thousand Iranians in Bosnia, along with the arms. And, to me, that is maybe the most objectionable concern. And were the other ambassadors aware of that fact?
GILMAN: If the gentlelady would hold her question until she has the opportunity to inquire.
REPRESENTATIVE HAMILTON: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman -
(Audio drops) -- to just respond to make sure we're talking about the same question and answer.
GILMAN: Well, Mr. Ambassador, is there any question in your mind what was asked? I asked you, if I may repeat the question, what ambassadors did you talk to with regard to our policy and whether there was any objections?
GALBRAITH: Well, Mr. Berman stated correctly my position: that is to say, after the fact as the arms began to flow I -- I talked with the -- in regular sessions or dinners and so on with the other key ambassadors in Zagreb. They were certainly aware that arms were flowing across Croatian territory from countries, including Iran. And I specifically asked if any of them had lodged objections with the Croatian government. The answer was that none of them had. And I recently talked to Croatian officials who said that they never received a protest from one of the European countries over the use of their territory for the transit of weapons.
GILMAN: Thank you, Mr. Ambassador. If you would restate your question to them and -- ambassadors who inquired of it, we would welcome making that part of the record.
HAMILTON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I wanted to ask principally about the Iranian presence before and after this time. But before I do that, I understand that this decision in April of '94 was made in the context that everybody in our government believed, you believed, that the Bosnian government was in desperate circumstances, they were not going to survive very long if something wasn't done. Is that correct?
GALBRAITH: That is exactly correct.
HAMILTON: And so you were faced with three or four options here which, as you have described, there are no easy choices here. But there wasn't any doubt in anybody's mind that unless something was done here the Bosnian government was going to go down the tubes.
GALBRAITH: That is my assessment, yes.
HAMILTON: And that's also your assessment, Ambassador Redman?
REDMAN: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.
HAMILTON: Now, a lot of my colleagues are understandably concerned about the Iranian connection. And the whole thought here is that because of the decision you made on the no instructions that by that decision you created a foothold for the Iranians or, as some have described it, a beachhead, and that the Iranian influence from that point on grew and grew and grew. What I'd like you to do is describe for us if you can what the Iranian presence was prior to these months of April '94 and then what the presence of Iran has been since Dayton and what it is today.
GALBRAITH: Let me say that from -- the Iranian presence dated back to 1992. And as I said in my opening statement, it was the war that created the opportunities for the Iranians and other undesirables to come into Bosnia. In fact, there were very serious terrorist threats to Americans, including to the mission for which I am responsible, well before this -- the April 1994 discussions that we were talking about, and those threats were created because of the war. Paradoxically, and I say this -- paradoxically, or perversely, I should say -- perversely, from an Iranian perspective, the decision to permit the transit of arms through Croatia to Bosnia had the unintended, from the Iranian point of view, but nonetheless the very real effect of diminishing the Iranian influence. Why? Because it enabled the Bosnians to defend themselves, to survive, and then, in conjunction with the Croatians, to roll back some of the Serb gains, thus paving the way to the Dayton agreement.
HAMILTON: Were there in 1993 about 500 Iranian revolutionary guards and other military and intelligence personnel in Bosnia?
REDMAN: Yes, sir; let me just summarize the numbers as we best know them.
HAMILTON: Yes, would you, please?
REDMAN: And again, these were based on estimates by our best analysts at those times.
HAMILTON: I understand.
REDMAN: But what one can say is that there was already Iranian deliveries of arms into Bosnia in the summer and fall of 1992; that the revolutionary guards were deployed in Bosnia in late 1992 to begin a training program for the Bosnian army; that by 1993, hundreds of revolutionary guard personnel were in Bosnia; that the number probably never exceeded 500, which I believe is the same number that you made reference to; and that since we have begun to implement the Dayton agreement, the numbers have been very substantially reduced, and we would have to have someone in a better-placed position than ourselves to give you the exact estimate of what would -- (inaudible).
HAMILTON: In 1992, were not the Bosnian leaders calling Iran Bosnia's best friend in the world?
REDMAN: That is true. And Bosnian leaders had visited Tehran already in spring of 1991 in order to try to solicit assistance because of the situation they found themselves.
HAMILTON: And Iran was the first Muslim country to recognize Bosnia, was it not? Izetbegovic had gone to Tehran in 1991 seeking economic help. The foreign minister had been there in 1992. The Organization of Islamic Countries, which was led by Iran and Turkey, were very heavily involved in all of this, were they not?
REDMAN: That's right, sir.
HAMILTON: So there was a very strong presence in Bosnia before April of 1994, and then as a result of the Dayton accords, if my information is right, as of today we have only a handful of Iranians in Bosnia; is that correct?
REDMAN: Yes, sir.
HAMILTON: So that the impact, then, of our policy has been, despite this very tough decision, which you made reference to, the impact of the decision, far from establishing a beachhead or a foothold for the Iranians, has done just the opposite. It has taken a situation where you had a sizable presence of Iran in Bosnia, and then after the Dayton accords, you sharply reduced that presence.
REDMAN: That's correct.
HAMILTON: Thank you very much.
GILMAN: Thank you, Mr. Hamilton.
REPRESENTATIVE ROTH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
So that we have a better sequence of events, Ambassador Galbraith, so that we can also fully understand what happened here, could you carefully walk us through the sequence? I know you've gone over this, but could you do it again -- the sequence of events here? Perhaps you could begin by telling us when you were -- when you first learned that the Croatian government was going to ask you whether the U.S. would object to the establishment of an arms pipeline from Iran.
GALBRAITH: That was in the -- that was in the third week of April of 1994.
ROTH: Third week of April?
ROTH: Okay. What was -- what happened after that, the next date?
GALBRAITH: I cabled to Washington for instructions.
ROTH: And what were the instructions?
GALBRAITH: The instructions were that I had no instructions.
ROTH: Who from Washington, when the -- you had no instructions arrive, who told you there were no instructions?
GALBRAITH: I -- there were two occasions on which I was told I had no instructions. The first was by the Department of State, and the second was from the National Security Council.
ROTH: Okay. The Department of State. And who was that at the Department of State?
GALBRAITH: That was Mr. Alexander "Sandy" Vershbow, who was then the deputy assistant secretary of state for European affairs.
ROTH: Did he say he was speaking for himself or --
GALBRAITH: No, he was clearly speaking for the administration.
ROTH: And then the -- and the second time you were told that you had no instructions -- who was that?
GALBRAITH: That was from Jenonne Walker, who was the director for European Affairs for the National Security Council.
ROTH: How did you respond to the question that was put to you on that April 28th day? What sort of reaction did that elicit from the Croatians?
GALBRAITH: On the -- on April 28th, it elicited uncertainty as to what our position was.
ROTH: So did they ask you for a clarification or --
GALBRAITH: Yeah. Yes.
ROTH: Okay. Then what did you tell them?
GALBRAITH: I cabled back for instructions and sent a second cable reporting on my meeting and sought further instructions. And it came -- the instructions came back making it clear that "no instructions" was our definitive answer. And the Croatians, of course, when they understood that that was our definitive answer, understood that to mean that we were not objecting to the use of their territory for arms to assist the Bosnians.
ROTH: Let me ask you, when did you next discuss this with the Croatians after this latter incident that we're -- (just was ?) discussed here?
GALBRAITH: April -- you mean after the April 29th incident?
GALBRAITH: Frankly, I do not recall additional specific conversations about Iranian arms with the Croatians after that date, although there would have been certainly some occasions when I talked to Croatian officials in which they provided information about what was going on. But in terms of any kind of policy discussion, the whole thing ended on April 29th.
ROTH: On that April 29th date, because my time is running out, let me ask you, can you describe for us what you said at that time meeting and how did the Croatians respond in that April 29th meeting?
GALBRAITH: I was asked the question and I said I have no instructions and pay attention to what I did not say.
ROTH: And translated, what was that to mean to the Croatians?
GALBRAITH: It was to mean that we were not objecting.
ROTH: In other words, it was okay to go ahead with the arms sales.
GALBRAITH: It was that we were not going to object and if they went ahead they would not face any negative consequences in terms of the relations with the United States.
ROTH: What did the Croatians respond to that then when you told them?
GALBRAITH: To the best of my recollection, they had no response, except -- let me -- they had no response then. However, there was then a subsequent conversation in which -- which Ambassador Redman has already described to you in which they wanted to make sure that they understood our position. Ambassador Redman said what he said, in effect again saying that we had no objections, and they then understood our position.
ROTH: I wonder, Mr. Chairman, if you would indulge me just to ask Ambassador Redman so that he could respond to that so that we would have a clarification for the record. Mr. Ambassador.
GILMAN: Without objection.
REDMAN: Yes, sir. As you will find in my prepared statement, my remarks were made as we walked into the dining room. I said, It's your decision to make, we don't want to be put in a position to say no. There was no response, no further conversation. I was never engaged in the issue again.
GILMAN: Gentlemen, the time has expired.
ROTH: Yeah, Mr. Chairman, I realize my time has expired. I have three questions that are really critical to a follow-up to this. I wonder if I could submit my questions in writing so that we could --
GILMAN: Without objection, Mr. Roth.
ROTH: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
GILMAN: Mr. Gejdenson.
REPRESENTATIVE GEJDENSON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Let me first point out one important thing. That is that three months after you took this action of not giving instructions to the Croats, which seems to astonish some of my colleagues, the United States Congress, with Mr. Gejdenson, Mr. Gilman and Mr. Hyde, voted that the president of the United States and the U.S. government should not interfere with arms shipments and did not exclude any country from that list. So three months after you took this action, the United States Congress validated exactly what you did by stating in law that that should be the policy of the president of the United States and the United States government. So the debate here is a bit Orwellian in a sense.
REPRESENTATIVE (unidentified): Would the gentleman yield for a question?
GEJDENSON: I'll yield as soon as I'm done as long as I have a little time left.
REPRESENTATIVE (unidentified): What was the president's position on that --
GEJDENSON: Let me ask you, then, the alternative question really here is, and I'd like to ask this first of Mr. Redman, why didn't the president just unilaterally lift the embargo, which was the policy of many people in both parties? I didn't support that, as difficult as it was for me. And why is it that the president of the United States didn't just simply choose to ignore the U.N. embargo and lift it unilaterally?
REDMAN: As you know, of course, the president very much wanted to get the arms embargo lifted. He very much wanted to put the Bosnian government in a position where they could defend themselves. But he did not feel that unilateral lift was the way to go. The reasons were several. I suppose most important among them was the fact that for the United States to have unilaterally violated a United Nations regime concerning sanctions on the Bosnian government, that this would have set a precedent, then, for other countries who might unilaterally choose to abrogate embargo agreements against other countries such as Libya or Iraq, which were very important to us.
We also knew, as a second reason, that for us to take this step of unilaterally lifting would have very, very severe ramifications for our European allies. They had told us very clearly that if we lifted the arms embargo that they were going to leave Bosnia, that UNPROFOR, the U.N. forces would withdraw, and that I think we all believed that under those circumstances the Bosnian government would have been virtually defenseless.
GEJDENSON: And had the UNPRO forces been removed, was there an agreement or was there an indication that American forces would have to go in to help them get out in what would then be an active war?
GALBRAITH: There was certainly going to be a need for U.S. involvement to get them out, there was no doubt about that. Whether or not U.S. forces would have gone in afterwards would certainly have been a very live question.
GEJDENSON: And so what we had here were a number of choices. You could have said no to the request, and even though the Iranians had been shipping arms and had relations here since '92, the magnitude was clearly changing. Had you said no, the consequence to the Muslims, it is both of your estimate, would have been devastating?
REDMAN: Yes, sir.
GEJDENSON: Had you chosen to unilaterally lift the arms embargo, you would have both most likely injured our embargo against Libya, and additionally, put American servicemen in harm's way. So instead of those two choices, you took a choice that the Congress itself made clear that it supported only three months later, and that the House of Representatives, with Mr. Gilman, Mr. Hyde and Mr. Gejdenson, for a very rare occasion voting on the same side, to tell the president not to interfere with arms shipments from other countries to the Muslims, and it did not list any exceptions in that legislation. Is that correct?
REDMAN: Yes, sir.
GEJDENSON: Lastly, let me ask you this. Did you get any resistance from any of the ambassadors in the region when you consulted them? Were there any objections or was there a general consensus that this was the only alternative?
GALBRAITH: All I can say is that we had discussions after it became widely known that the arms were transiting Croatia to the Bosnians. I asked them specifically whether they had received --
GEJDENSON: Let me interrupt you because I think you're going over the same statement again. Let me ask you this; once it was printed in the Washington Times and placed in the Senate record, how many members of the Senate or the House called you about this issue and objected?
GEJDENSON: Thank you.
GILMAN: Thank you, Mr. Gejdenson.
I'm going to call on Mr. Hyde for his questions.
REPRESENTATIVE HYDE: Thank you.
Mr. Hamilton has gone, I'm sorry to say. I wanted to respond. He -- in his opening statement he was somewhat critical that we're looking back and not forward. I -- if we're only talking about two years, and he chaired the select committee on the October surprise which looked back 12 years into utter fantasy. So looking back is something the gentleman is not a stranger to.
In any event, to my dear friend from Connecticut -- is he still here?
REPRESENTATIVE GEJDENSON: (Off mike) -- Mr. Hyde.
HYDE: There you are. I didn't see -- you lean back and you -
GEJDENSON: That's my new weight loss that did it. (Laughter.)
HYDE: -- were out of my sight. The gentleman is -- is -- thinks he has a hot button point that Congress did not specify leaving Iran out of the list of people whose conduct might be embargoed. If the gentleman -- and I know he carries this in his briefcase -- would look at "Patterns of Global Terrorism", the book put out by the State Department, what they have to say about Iran on page 22, I shouldn't think they'd have to list Iran, because one knows that --
GEJDENSON: But it had been in the newspaper.
HYDE: I haven't yielded to you yet --
GEJDENSON: Oh, I'm sorry.
HYDE: -- sir, but I will. Iran again was the most active state sponsor of terrorism in 1993 and was implicated in terrorist attacks in Italy, Turkey, and Pakistan. Iran still surveils U.S. missions and personnel. Tehran's policy makers view terrorism as a valid tool to accomplish their political objectives, and acts of terrorism are approved at the highest levels of the Iranian government.
Now, it would seem to me a waste of words to say we don't mean Iran. But perhaps that's too obtuse for the gentleman.
I yield to the gentleman briefly.
GEJDENSON: Yeah, I'd be very brief. Yes, I'll be very brief.
I'd say one is that while this happened in April, in June it was in the Washington Times, so it was publicly known to members of Congress that the shipments were going on.
HYDE: The gentleman is admitting he reads the Washington Times?
GEJDENSON: Oh, I don't, actually. I got a report from one of your -- (laughter).
HYDE: I've got you there.
GEJDENSON: And I would hope the gentleman would join me on the Iran oil sanctions bill since his focus is so sharp on Iran these days. Mr. Berman and I and, I believe, Mr. Gilman have a great bill to send --
HYDE: Well, if I can take back my time, the gentleman was an enthusiastic participant in the fantastic October surprise hearings, the gentleman ought to feel awfully comfortable with this one.
Ambassador Galbraith, do you give us your categorical assurance that the idea of establishing an Iranian arms pipeline to Bosnia originated with the Croatian, and not within our own, government?
GALBRAITH: I don't, of course, know where the idea originated. Actually, I presume the Croatian government was responding to a request from the Bosnian government. But I can say to you that to the best of my knowledge it did not originate in any way in the United States government.
HYDE: It did not originate in any way with the United States government.
GALBRAITH: As I said, to the best of my knowledge.
HYDE: Surely, that's -- now, you say a principal supplier of these arms would be Iran. How principal? Out of 100 percent, what percentage of the arms were Iranian, and what were these other anonymous countries?
GALBRAITH: The -- (audio break) -- by the time -- I mean, some of this, I suppose, is really -- could be briefed to you better by those who follow this closely, the intelligence community --
HYDE: Just ballpark. I --
GALBRAITH: -- but my understanding is that by the end of it, less than 50 percent came from Iran, and there were certainly other countries who are U.S. allies that were involved in assisting the Bosnians.
HYDE: We could have kept Iran out, then, and accepted these weapons from the other countries and thus not provided Iran with a foothold in this volatile country; isn't that so?
GALBRAITH: Iran already had the foothold in the country, and that was created by the -- that was created by the war itself. We were not involved in the business of arms to Bosnia.
HYDE: Well, my time is up. Thank you.
GILMAN: Thank you, Mr. Hyde.
I'm going to call on Mr. Lantos for his questions.
REPRESENTATIVE LANTOS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Let me first welcome two of our most distinguished ambassadors, who have performed their duties under very difficult circumstances and at great personal risk to their lives during much of this period.
Mr. Chairman, I have the feeling that there is an "Alice in Wonderland" quality to much of this hearing because we seem to be focusing on April 1994, when in point of fact, the colossal policy failures of the Bush administration in '91 and '92 created a horrible mess by the time the Clinton administration took office in April -- on January 20, 1993. The only good solutions that were present were present two or three years before this date. And I find it remarkable that with 20/20 hindsight, we are now nitpicking an administration decision which in point of fact was a very wise decision. The Iranians had been there. I was in Zagreb in December of 1992. It was common knowledge that the Iranians were shipping arms to Bosnia already at that very early stage.
It seems to me that the attempt to focus on this no-instructions policy in April 1994 is basically a camouflage to cover up the most serious policy failure of the Bush administration in the realm of foreign policy, and I speak as one who strongly supported that administration in the Persian Gulf and who was critical of the Clinton administration Yugoslav policy in the early days when it was vacillating and uncertain. But to attempt to make the Yugoslav policy a failure on the part of this administration when so clearly this happened two or three years earlier, I think, is a very transparent and pathetic gesture.
I would like to ask Ambassador Redman, who had broad area-wide responsibility, were there good options by April, 1994? Isn't it true that by April, 1994 all of the options available to the administration were fraught with difficulties, shortcomings, dangers, and the administration happened to choose what in retrospect appears to be the least undesirable option?
REDMAN: The options were obviously very narrow and very difficult at that period of time.
As I indicated in my statement, our major breakthrough was actually negotiating this federation agreement, which for the first time gave us hope and I think at that stage, for the first time, gave the Bosnian government hope. And it was building on that that this Bosnian government request to the Croatian government, for arms, developed. And, in response to the Croatian question, I believe, as you put it -- (inaudible) --
LANTOS: Let me just ask one final question, because my time is running out.
Some approach this whole issue with 20-20 hindsight. There were a few of us in Congress who publicly and unambiguously called for action in 1991 and 1992. Basically, we were calling for the use, through NATO, of a credible threat of force, which would have prevented a quarter-million people dying, two million people becoming refugees -- and the whole fabric of Europe remaining whole.
With the vantage of historic hindsight, do you agree -- and I would like both of you to answer -- whether, in fact, had NATO offered the credible threat of force, which was surely sufficient to keep the mighty Soviet Union at bay for two generations, none of this nightmare would have unfolded? That the quarter million people now dead would be living? That the two million refugees would be living in their homes, and there would be a peaceful and viable set of countries or a confederation, or whatever, which would have been made possible by using this incredible military force, which was available to the West and was so pathetically not used in '91, '92 and '93?
REDMAN: Mr. Congressman, that's a difficult one, actually, for me to answer because, during the time period you're asking about specifically, I was first in Sweden and then in Haiti, and far removed from these issues.
I could only comment that --
LANTOS: You understand the question?
REDMAN: I understand it, and I understand the analysis. I just don't feel myself expert enough in that period of time to make that judgment.
But we did see, at the end of the day, when we did get an effective combination of diplomacy and the use of NATO air power, it had a decisive impact. And that was certainly a major factor in our success in Dayton.
LANTOS: Ambassador Galbraith?
GALBRAITH: Congressman, I actually was following these issues even back then, and I share strongly your view. I believe that a small use of force, of active collective security -- for example, at the time that the Yugoslav Army was assaulting the city of Vukovar, or the navy was attacking the city of Dubrovnik -- could have avoided all this.
The most important thing to understand about what happened in the former Yugoslavia was that it was not the resurgence of ancient hatreds; it was something that was organized. And I think the organizers would never have continued it if they'd been met early on with resolute action, and I don't think it would have required much.
LANTOS: It won't surprise you that some of us were calling for collective action at the time of Vukovar and Dubrovnik.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
GILMAN: The gentleman's time has expired.
REPRESENTATIVE SALMON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ambassador Galbraith, isn't it true that it would be standard procedure for an ambassador like yourself to send a reporting cable back to Washington, detailing conversations like the ones you were having with the Croatian government about the establishment of an arms pipeline from Iran?
GALBRAITH: It would be normal procedure to send back reporting cables on --
SALMON: Something that important.
GALBRAITH: -- on significant conversations.
GALBRAITH: But it happens -- and it happened quite often in the course of the time that I've served in Croatia -- that we did not send back reporting cables on the most sensitive of the diplomatic exchanges.
SALMON: So on this issue, this particular issue that we're talking about, did you in fact send such a reporting cable at each appropriate step in the course of your conversations with the Croatian government?
GALBRAITH: I sent back a reporting cable on the meeting of April 28th, but not on the meeting of April 29th.
SALMON: Okay. So since you didn't send one back on the 29th, why did you not?
GALBRAITH: Ambassador Redman, I think, has covered this in his testimony, but following the conclusion of the April 29th meeting, since the instructions had been conveyed orally, Ambassador Redman felt that it would be best if he made an oral report, and then if there was a desire for a written report, they would be -- the -- people would be in touch with me. The word was then given to me that there was no desire for a written report.
SALMON: Okay. So was there any other dialogue from anybody else, other than Ambassador Redman, as far as any kind of cabling?
GALBRAITH: I discussed it with Deputy Secretary Talbott.
SALMON: Then he also felt that it was so sensitive that it's -- am I understanding that correctly? Because of the sensitive nature of this, that it was to be kept more secret?
GALBRAITH: We had a conversation about it. I don't know that at the time of that conversation, that he reached a firm decision as to whether I should have a reporting cable or not. But he then did not -- he or his designees did not get back to me, seeking a reporting cable.
SALMON: Okay. It's just my understanding that traditionally, with something such as this, something so important to our foreign policy, that there is some kind of a documentation trail. I know that there's sometimes -- that it may be requested that that not be done because maybe you don't want a paper trail for what ultimately happened.
Ambassador Redman, you instructed him not to cable on the 29th. Did you receive instructions from somewhere else, or is that your decision?
REDMAN: At that stage, that was our decision based on our conversation after the meeting. As I say, I had not gone out to Zagreb for this particular reason and I didn't really know about this issue until I got there. I thought we ought to simply take advantage of my return the very next morning to make sure that not only did we report but we did it in the most discreet way possible so as not to jeopardize the issue, which I did, and I received then the instructions.
I think for us our concern was that we had the right instructions, that we had carried them out properly, and that we reported back to the appropriate superiors, which we did. And that was, I think as professional diplomats, our concern in doing this, and I was satisfied on all those aspects.
SALMON: Just a couple of points that I'd like to make. As one who staunchly supported the lifting of the arms embargo, I'm not going to quibble with Mr. Gejdenson, his analysis that the Congress was supportive. I know that there were other senior officials in the military who I talked with privately who were also very, very much supportive of what the Congress was doing, but because of their position in the administration could not speak publicly about lifting the arms embargo so that the Bosnians could defend themselves. I think all of us recognized the tremendous carnage and bloodshed that was going on over there and wanted desperately for these people to be able to defend themselves.
I think what we're frustrated about, and I think you're sensing that frustration, is that the president stated over and over and over again that that kind of a policy would actually lead to more bloodshed and that, instead, chose a course of covert-type -- more covert-type operation to funnel arms, he says legally; I guess it's a loophole. And I guess we're frustrated.
We've heard from this administration that -- with regards to China they had a position of strategic ambiguity, and I guess a lot of us are wondering, is this simply more of this strategic ambiguity? A lot of us feel we'd like to get some strategic clarity. But thank you very much for your time.
GILMAN: The gentleman's time has expired.
REPRESENTATIVE BERMAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I have to take exception to my friend from Arizona's analysis of the situation. I've heard nothing that would indicate that this is a covert operation in the meaning of the sense that we require certain things to happen when a covert operation is undertaken. In fact, very specifically, as we can see from the legislative histories of efforts to expand the meaning of covert operation, which were vetoed by President Bush, this comes no where near some of the things that were done in the Reagan administration to seek to implement the Iran -- the funding for the contras.
SALMON: It certainly wasn't an overt operation.
BERMAN: This is a distinction between covert operations and secret diplomacy.
SALMON: Gray line; somewhere in between.
BERMAN: Well, one requires certain things and the other one doesn't. And this is a classic case, I think, of one.
If we're talking here about the wisdom of this policy at this particular time -- and I was one of the people who was voting at the time with Mr. Hyde and Mr. Gilman for lifting the embargo -- I think that's a legitimate -- I think that's a very legitimate kind of discussion. But it will not fly. I cannot believe that any reasonable person listening, and when we pull out all the different partisan motivations to attack, to defend, can buy the notion that when the Congress of the United States passed a provision prohibiting funds from being used for the purpose of participation in support of or assistance in the enforcement of the Bosnian arms embargo by any department, agency or other entity of the United States, after it has been reported over and over again the Iranian arms are flowing to Bosnia through Croatia -- I believe with a little taken off the top for commissions -- that after -- at that particular time we visited Croatia, everyone knew that Iranian arms were going to the Bosnians.
And the failure of the Congress to seek to exclude Iran specifically, countries on the terrorist list generally, countries that we've had our embargoes with, the failure to exclude that means anything other than we were taking notice of what was happening, and while we would have preferred a direct and open lifting of the arms embargo, we knew that this unfortunate situation was important to allowing the Bosnian people to survive and to create a situation.
Now, if the consequences of this were to give the Iranians a new foothold into Bosnia that would cause us trouble for years to come, that's a reason to challenge the wisdom of it. We've heard compelling testimony from two ambassadors, one of whom was the spokesman for the State Department in the Bush administration if I remember correctly, that that has not been the consequence; to the opposite, to the contrary, that the result of what happened then has led to a situation where the Iranian foothold is far less than it otherwise would have been.
Now, I want to ask one question here. This issue of change in policy versus continuation of policy, is it fair to say that in April of 1994, the administration at that time was enforcing the embargo and its patrols in the Adriatic, but other than that was doing no specific overt actions to seek to enforce the arms embargo against Bosnia as opposed to the economic sanctions against Serbia or anything like that? Is that a fair conclusion of the state of policy at that time?
REDMAN: I think that was the state of policy at that time.
BERMAN: And therefore there's nothing about this no-instruction policy that would constitute a change in that policy in that, so it's not about dealing with patrols on the Adriatic?
REDMAN: Not in that context.
BERMAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And goodbye, Mr. Chairman.
GILMAN: The committee will stand in recess until the vote is over.
REPRESENTATIVE SMITH: The committee will resume its hearing. Chairman Gilman is on his way back, but we will begin the hearing at this point.
Ambassador Galbraith, in your testimony you said that you wanted -- you did not want to rehash the arguments against unilaterally lifting the arms embargo, and then you went on to rehash it. As a matter of fact, we hear much today about the no-policy policy, the no-instructions instructions, the no-rehash rehash. Just so it's very clear -- and I think this is important for all of us to remember -- and I have been working this issue since I've been in Congress and since this became an issue. I've also chaired the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe and was there in Vukovar, Osijek, when the war was breaking out against Croatia and was deeply concerned about the arms embargo, with the instant thought that President Bush was wrong. But many of us came to that conclusion, or many members of Congress came it more slowly, but the Clinton administration had it right, first as a candidate and then as a new president, and made very strong statements about the importance of lifting that arms embargo.
And I think you were right, Ambassador Redman, when you said it was fundamentally wrong, and yet there was a concerted effort to ensure that we did not pass legislation that was authored by a Democrat, not a Republican. I was the prime sponsor of the bill to lift it, but the amendment that was offered on the floor of the House was Congressman Steny Hoyer of Maryland. And it passed by a two-to-one margin despite a very, very vigorous effort to defeat it by the administration.
I just say that because I think it needs to be on the record at this hearing that Congress in a bipartisan way felt that, as you pointed out in your testimony, that because of the arms, the Bosnians were able to survive. We believed that we could mitigate, and perhaps even end, the slaughter against the Bosnians. And I met frequently with Prime Minister Silajdzic and felt that he was absolutely true and on point when he said, "We don't want your soldiers, we don't want French, Americans, all we want is the means to defend ourselves, and we're willing, if only we would just lift that arms embargo when we saw that it was so wrong."
Let me just ask you: You were concerned and you expressed concern about establishing a precedent, and you expressed that today. Well, what about the precedent of permitting a terrorist nation to send arms and agents? What kind of precedent does that send? And let me also ask you, while I'm at it -- you know, you kind of belittled the fact that we're having this hearing, Ambassador Galbraith; that it only took three minutes, as you pointed out in your testimony, in terms of conversations about the no-policy or the no-instructions policy. Well, a jury can hear testimony at a hearing, a criminal proceeding or any proceeding, for 12 months and take three seconds -- not even three minutes, but three seconds -- to say we find the defendant to be guilty or not guilty. It is the substance.
It seems to me that when we said -- when the U.S. government said to Croatia that, you know, it's -- there's no instructions, we essentially said yes, you can do it. Why not just be up front and say we give you the green light when that, as a consequence, is what we meant? Ambassador Redman?
REDMAN: There are many aspects to -- to try to answer that question.
First of all, without rehashing again all of the information we've gone over in terms of the Iranian presence that had existed in Bosnia since mid-1992 at least and which amounted to hundreds of revolutionary guards, for example, in 1993, the fact of the matter was that we had a difficult situation which I tried to describe in my statement. Because of the federation we had a new Croatian initiative which would not have been possible without the federation. The Croatians for the first time were willing to allow their territory to be used to transship arms.
We were not involved in initiating that or in stimulating that. I personally have no way of knowing whether the Bosnians or the Croatians had other sources or could have had other sources. But in any case, one of the sources for those arms was to be Iran. We went into that with our eyes wide open.
I have to say here that you're asking the question, I'll try to answer it: I was not involved personally in those policy discussions, and what I know now is based on what I have learned essentially after the fact. But we went into those decisions with our eyes wide open, knowing that this was one of the down sides to this decision, but at the same time for all of the other reasons that I tried to describe in my statement recognizing that to have said no was going to be a real disaster for the federation and probably for the Bosnians in terms of their ability to defend themselves. To say yes was going to put us in a very difficult position with our European allies in particular who had troops on the ground in Bosnia. And that, again, goes to the question -- it's related to the reasons that we did not -- that we did not want to pursue unilateral lift. And so that left us with the no instructions decision, which was neither to approve nor to oppose, but, as I think we have testified, with the understanding that the Croatians were in all likelihood going to go ahead.
REPRESENTATIVE SMITH: But, again, what would be gained by this diplomatic finessing of the issue, as opposed to just saying, "Yes, we approve"? That's the consequence of what happened, because they clearly -- and you know in your mind, that's what was conveyed to them. At least, I believe you would think that.
GALBRAITH: I have said --
GALBRAITH: -- said that we expected --
SMITH: Why not just say yes?
GALBRAITH: -- that we expected them to go ahead.
I think there is a subtle but an important difference. And that difference is whether or not we actually said yes. And that was important to our European allies.
This was indeed a Croatian decision. One may argue that the Croatians intended to go ahead from the beginning. That may be the case. But, in any case, to have said yes would have put us in a different position, and one in which we do not need or want to place ourselves.
SMITH: If you could answer the question about what I consider to be the very dangerous precedent of allowing a terrorist nation, a rogue regime, to have a beachhead in Bosnia --
GALBRAITH: And, again, I'll be summarizing very quickly because the Iranians were already in Bosnia because of the war. They were there in numbers. They were supplying weapons. They had diplomatic representations in Bosnia, because the war had started and given them that opportunity. So, there was an Iranian foothold.
Secondly, we recognized that a downside to this decision was the fact that there could be a greater Iranian influence.
But thirdly, because of our ability then to work through diplomacy, air power, Croatian and Bosnian military victories, we were able to come to an agreement at Dayton that actually then reduced that presence and influence to -- well, I don't have an exact number -- to, essentially, a handful today.
SMITH: Just in point of -- as a snapshot when this decision was made -- how many Iranians were there? What kind of materiel did they have? And what were the expectations as to what would be flowing as a result of the decision? And it is a decision to give the green light to the Iranians to come in. I mean what did you expect to flow?
GALBRAITH: Again, without -- well, I won't -- I don't want to get into a semantics argument as to what is a decision and what isn't -- but, in any case, assuming that the Croatians were going to allow arms to flow in and that those arms were going to include Iranian arms, I can only reiterate what I said earlier; that this was, in fact, not a new foothold; that it was something that we, in the end, were going to be able to control.
SMITH: But again, that's not answering the question. And a foothold isn't necessarily the full explanation as well. I mean, they could have some Iranians there and some military capability, as opposed to a rather significant amount.
REDMAN: Yes, sir. Your question was concerning --
SMITH: What was the expectations and what was our intelligence community --
REDMAN: Your question was concerning numbers.
REDMAN: These are all estimates. To the best of my knowledge -- and you can obviously verify this with people from the intelligence community -- the best of my knowledge, the best we could ever do in terms of Iranian presence would be an estimate. It was very hard to get firm numbers. But the numbers that I cited earlier on I think are indicative of the community's best estimate, which is that already in 1992, '93 there were hundreds of Revolutionary Guards, for example -- that is all before this episode in question; that Iranian arms were flowing, that the maximum number of Iranians was probably in the order of 500, so it could not have been significantly larger in any case than those that were already there in '92 and '93. And the bottom line, of course, is that today we're on a slope toward a very, very small number.
SMITH: Again, I just want to -- in Ambassador Galbraith's testimony you say, "Because of the arms, the Bosnians were able to survive." As if to imply had these arms not arrived via the Iranians they would not have been able to survive.
We heard earlier, in response to Chairman Hyde's questions, that I think the answer was about 50 percent came from the Iranians and the remainder came from some unspecified countries. It would be helpful if some of those countries could be made known.
But having said that, why didn't we try to jack up that which -- or allow that which would come from those other countries, if indeed they were not terrorist states, as opposed to allowing this arms caches to be coming in from the Iranians? And again, you're still, I think, not -- missing the point somewhat, Ambassador Redman, as to what were the expectations as to what would be flowing -- I mean, we had to have some kind of estimate to say, okay, the green light is here, go ahead and do it. And that's, in essence, what we signaled, is a yes without saying yes.
REDMAN: I'm not sure that we had to have that kind of an estimate. This was a Croatian initiative. We were not involved in setting it up.
SMITH: So we were blind?
REDMAN: They did not tell me, in any case, as to what kind of arms or how many arms, but rather, that the Bosnian government, as reported by Ambassador Galbraith, had asked for assistance.
SMITH: Shouldn't we have asked?
REDMAN: I'm not sure why we should have.
SMITH: To know if the Iranians were going to send crack troops, intelligence personnel, and significant arms capability. Wouldn't we want to know that, since it was a breach of an arms embargo? Wouldn't we want to know what -- when the Croats say this is what we are planning on doing in terms of transshipment, wouldn't we -- a logical request be, well, what are you talking about in numbers; what do you expect to be flowing to Sarajevo, to Bosnia, as a result of this decision? And it is a decision that was made by the administration.
GALBRAITH: Let me just add something to this. The Croatians were and are extremely wary of the Iranians. And so I don't think there was a significant danger that they were going to allow large quantities of personnel to transit their territory. They were not going to permit the influx of large numbers of radical Islamic forces. Some got in because of difficulty of controlling the borders and that sort of thing. But as I said, they were very suspicious of the Iranians.
REPRESENTATIVE SMITH: But we still, we did not make inquiries as to what numbers would be --
REDMAN: We were remaining consistent with our no-instructions policy, which was neither to approve of nor to oppose. It was their initiative and they were going to carry it out.
REPRESENTATIVE SMITH: But again, you would admit that we did give the green light, because we were in a position to say no?
REDMAN: I think we went through that earlier --
REPRESENTATIVE SMITH: I know, I just wanted to be very clear. "No instructions" sounds like it's neutrality but it's not neutrality. We decisively came down on the side of allowing the Iranians to come in.
REDMAN: It was our expectation that the Croatians would go ahead with arms shipments and that those arms shipments would include some Iranian arms. And we've explained the reasons why that decision, a difficult decision, was made.
REPRESENTATIVE SMITH: But was covert action -- this is my last question because my time is up. Was covert action ever contemplated within the administration so that the United States could -- because there would be some control then as to what went in, especially when -- with regard to keeping Iranian agents out?
REDMAN: Not to my knowledge, but I --
REPRESENTATIVE SMITH: Mr. Martinez.
(Aside off mike.)
REPRESENTATIVE MARTINEZ: Excuse me, I guess we will expand the time to 10 minutes rather than five minutes, so I would admonish the chairman that in the time that light should go red twice before you ask me for the time up.
Look, you can make a mountain out a molehill if you want to, but you can't really. My dad used to say the pot shouldn't call the kettle black. They're even getting you to do it now when you say the -- refer to the Iranians supplying arms. Well, the Iranians weren't the only ones that were supplying arms. In fact, wasn't it a fact that the OIC got together and were trying to pressure the U.N. to lift the embargo, and also that there were seven countries involved there that were sending arms? Either one, Mr. Redman, Mr. -- Ambassador Redman.
REDMAN: Well, I can only -- I think your point concerning the OIC pressure was correct and I think there were other Islamic countries also that were very much involved in trying to lift the arms embargo.
MARTINEZ: The question comes up, why not tell them yes, go ahead, give them the green light, and then keep referring to it as that's which you did anyway.
And I want to remind my colleagues on the other side that when we got into the -- embroiled in the situation with Iraq, when our ambassador under Bush's administration did write a memo in fact telling the Iraqis that we had no problem should they invade Kuwait and they immediately did and then that was proof there of a bad diplomatic decision.
I believe that the preference would have been not to do that, and I don't see people on the other side making a big to-do about that. What I would ask you is, isn't it a diplomatic ploy, would you say, or a diplomatic normality to not put sensitive things in writing and where there has been no policy decision regarding an actual in effect action in writing?
REDMAN: I can answer that in general terms from diplomatic experience, which is that it is -- it depends on circumstances, but it can be, in fact, common as it was during my time as special envoy to the former Yugoslavia to receive, in fact, a large majority of my instructions orally, and to report orally so that it is certainly not unprecedented by any stretch to proceed in this manner.
MARTINEZ: The other -- the thing is that, you know, we -we took what was a policy decision. We can't make that an illegal action. But in the last administration -- or, not the last administration, the administration before that there was actually an illegal action taking place in where we sold arms to these same people we're talking about -- Iran. In return for the money we got for that, we bought arms for -- that was definitely against the law -- for the contras in South America. And there was a conviction on that. And never mind that later it was overturned for what reasons I don't know. But that was an illegal action that led to a war. And your legal action led to a peace, or what looks like will be a peace. I would -if I were going to err on the side of -- one way or the other of a policy that was beneficial or a policy that was detrimental, I would have selected the policy that you all chose to not get involved, and that's simply all it is.
And I don't know why we're holding this hearing when we have already agreed to name a select committee to do the investigation. And we just seem to be wanting to beat the drums and continue to harangue and harass. I don't suggest to my colleagues on the other side, but let sleeping dogs lie so we can get our jobs done and the jobs that people elected us to do. If we keep harassing every decision that's made by the administration to this point in time and trying to have -- trying to second-guess them when it's really not our position to do so -- we may have some constructive criticism we want to offer, and we should. But to follow the procedures we're following now can lead to nothing constructive. I would suggest that this folly is going to lead us nowhere but to more dissension in the ranks, and I would yield back the balance of my time.
CHAIRMAN GILMAN: I thank the gentleman for his remarks.
REPRESENTATIVE MEYERS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ambassador Galbraith, were you ever reprimanded for your actions in connection with the administration's acquiescence in the establishment of the Iranian arms pipeline?
GALBRAITH: I think I would -- I would say that I was not reprimanded. And, in fact -- and certainly in no formal sense. I had a conversation with one official, who had -- was a little uncertain as to how the instructions had been carried out. And when I explained it to him, he was perfectly satisfied.
MEYERS: But the -- but this individual told you that you were reprimanded.
GALBRAITH: I'm not sure he used precise -- in fact, I don't think he used that word.
MEYERS: What word did he use?
GALBRAITH: I think it was "rap on the knuckles". But again, it was based on incorrect information.
MEYERS: And what incorrect information was that?
GALBRAITH: Well, it was -- I mean, it was incorrect information on how I had carried out my instructions. I explained that I had said I had no instructions -- and, in fact, the very things that I've described to you -- I had no instructions, and "pay attention to what I didn't say." I explained what Ambassador Redman had said, and the official was completely satisfied that the instructions had been carried out properly.
MEYERS: Do you know why Deputy Assistant Secretary Vershbow reprimanded you or gave you a rap on the knuckles? If you are not sure, did you have any suspicions about why he did this?
GALBRAITH: I think Mr. Vershbow can explain that. But my impression was that he had -- did not have accurate information on how the instructions had been carried out. And again, when I explained how they'd been carried out, he was fully satisfied.
MEYERS: You were told to say that you had no instructions.
GALBRAITH: And that is what I said.
MEYERS: And that is what you said. What did Mr. Vershbow think you said?
GALBRAITH: Again, I don't know what Mr. Vershbow thought I said, but when I explained to him what I had said, he was satisfied.
MEYERS: Well, how did you feel about this rap on the knuckles or reprimand? Did you take it seriously?
GALBRAITH: I mean, the use of reprimand or -- the -- once it -- once the confusion was explained, there was no reprimand, there was no rap on the knuckles, so that was the end of it.
MEYERS: Did you take any specific action as a result of this reprimand?
GALBRAITH: (Pause.) Well, since it wasn't a reprimand, I'm not sure I took a specific action. I did prepare a cable -- not a cable; I prepared a memo describing the entire set of conversations so that there would be a record of these conversations.
MEYERS: For your files.
GALBRAITH: Well, to have a record of what was said, yes, and I kept it in my files.
MEYERS: Would it be fair to surmise from this episode that there were some officials back in Washington who had doubts about the decision they had made and were looking for someone to blame if the policy blew up, and you were being very careful when you wrote that memo for your file?
GALBRAITH: Yes, I was being careful, because I felt there should be an accurate record of what we had said to the Croatians and on the instructions.
MEYERS: Were -- do you think that Deputy Assistant Secretary Vershbow was acting pursuant to instructions?
GALBRAITH: Yes, I think that's correct.
MEYERS: From whom?
GALBRAITH: I'm not sure.
MYERS: What would you guess?
GALBRAITH: Well, from the higher authorities in the Department of State. Again, I think there was a misunderstanding on the part of some people about what I had said and how the instructions had been carried out.
MYERS: So that -- well, I don't know, Ambassador Galbraith, it looks to me as if they realized that this was not turning out well at all, and that they wanted to get a reprimand to you on the record; and you, I think very wisely, wrote a memo to yourself and put it in your file -- or a memo about what took place and put it in your file.
I know that there has been a lot of talk today about how everybody in Congress absolutely knew everything that was going on. But I don't think that's true. It certainly isn't true in my case. I think that there were a great many of us who thought that arms were finding their way into Bosnia through Croatia, but we didn't know that Iran was involved, we didn't know that Iran was maybe the only shipper or certainly the principal shipper, we didn't know that people, the guards, were coming in. We didn't know that training was taking place for terrorist activities. There was a great deal that we didn't know that I think probably was known and was not conveyed to us.
I think your reprimand for this was a result of all that, that Congress did not know. I think it was a sham reprimand. And I think your memo in your file indicates that you were aware of that. And I'd like to hear any comments that you have to say.
And other than that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
GILMAN: Thank the gentlelady. The gentlelady's time has expired.
REPRESENTATIVE HASTINGS: Ambassador Redman and Ambassador Galbraith, I want to personally thank both of you for the rather extraordinary efforts that both you, your staffs, and persons with whom you interfaced, put forward on behalf of this country. Obviously, many of the things that you did allowed for the ending of a massive amount of destruction. And rather than being grilled, you probably need each to be applauded. And I appreciate also your forthcoming statement, those offered in writing and here, and your response.
Isn't it United States policy to continue to use all leverage available to us, economic assistance as well as military assistance, to continue to get all of the Iranians out of Bosnia?
REDMAN: Yes, it is.
HASTINGS: Let me ask just a couple of other quick questions. I regret very much that my colleague Mr. Smith is not here, but I hope that his line of questioning was not intimating that American officials were remiss in not orchestrating the violation of the arms embargo, and I hope he wasn't saying that our ambassadors should have found countries to supply arms. I intend to put that to him at the appropriate time.
Ambassador Galbraith, did United States officials at any time take direct action to encourage or facilitate the smuggling of weapons into Bosnia from Iran?
GALBRAITH: To my knowledge, no. And I'm quite sure that nobody did.
HASTINGS: Now, I read where you said that the United States Congress was aware of the arms shipments, and I understand that as in general terms different than my colleague who just spoke. If the reports that were coming across the wire were to be believed -- and the wire I'm talking about is the public press -- I sure knew, and I knew in '92 and I was getting elected to Congress and ran about the issue, as a matter of fact, and I imagine others did as well. We may not have known everything, but we certainly knew something.
How was the Congress made aware of these shipments, to your knowledge, Mr. Galbraith? I cited one, the media.
GALBRAITH: Of course I was in Zagreb, so I don't fully know. However, the media, as you said, was one. Second, there were numerous intelligence reports in a document -- intelligence document that I know is available to the Congress.
HASTINGS: Were American officials -- you were asked, both of you, about cables. Were American officials instructed not to cable information about the arms shipments?
Either of you.
REDMAN: About the arms shipments?
HASTINGS: Yes, about this Iranian business. Were you told not to cable information?
REDMAN: The only time that this came up was when we needed to determine how we should reply back to Washington after this meeting in Zagreb. And as I said, I took that up directly in Washington and was informed at that point that they didn't need any written follow-up.
My final statement doesn't require a response, but I want to get this in the record since everybody else is making this record today.
A central criticism of the "no instructions" policy that you two gentlemen have testified here about allows that, according to some, it permitted the dangerous military and intelligence penetration of Bosnia by Iran.
Yet we know, just from using open public sources, the United States' decisions in April '94 did not give Iran a beachhead in Bosnia. Iran and other Muslim countries were already there. And I might add for historians and the buffs of history, Islam has been involved or in the Balkans since fights with the Ottoman Empire, if we just want to go back into it.
The Iranian connection with Bosnia was well in place before April of '94, even before the war broke out in April of '92 and, therefore, before the Clinton Administration was in office.
We know that President Izetbegovic visited Tehran in May of '91. We know that in March of '92, Iran is the first Muslim country to recognize Bosnia. We know that arms from Iran, as well as other Muslim countries, flowed into and were flowing into Bosnia, starting from 1992. We know that in December, Bosnian leaders -- of '92 -- are quoted as calling Iran "Bosnia's best friend in the world."
In February of 1993, the Organization of Islamic Countries, led by Iran and Turkey, appealed to the U.N. to remove the arms embargo on Bosnia. And as of 1993, there were up to 500 Iranian Revolutionary Guards and other military and intelligence personnel in Bosnia. And any congressperson that did not know all of that, that serves on the International Relations Committee, was not doing his or her job.
I thank you, gentlemen.
REPRESENTATIVE MCKINNEY: Mr. Chairman?
REPRESENTATIVE SMITH: Yeah, Ms. McKinney?
MCKINNEY: I would like -- I have a statement that I would like to submit for the record.
SMITH: Without objection, yours and every other statement of any member who would like to, will be so ordered.
MCKINNEY: Thank you.
And I'd just like to conclude this by saying we ought to be commending the Clinton Administration for a policy that's put an end to ethnic cleansing and that has given us an opportunity to -- for a lasting peace.
Instead, what we're witnessing here today, for the last two and a half hours, has been partisan politics, political posturing, canned questions, a waste of money -- Ambassador Galbraith, you should be back in Croatia -- and an example of the skullduggery of desperate politics.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SMITH: Thank you, Ms. McKinney.
And you and myself -- in such time as I may consume -- just let me say the statement was made earlier, Mr. Ambassador -- I believe it was the gentleman from Connecticut who said it -- that it was in the Washington Times; therefore, members of this committee should have been aware of what was going on.
Just let me remind everyone, on June 24th of 1994, in the Washington Times, there was a story about this. And yet, there -- on paragraph 3, it says:
"A senior U.S. official said last night, the U.S. government opposes the Iranian arms shipments because they undercut U.N. sanctions" -- quote -- "'There is no U.S. support for what Iran is doing,' the official said."
Now, do either of you gentlemen have any clue as to who that was, and whether or not that adequately and accurately represented the administration?
REDMAN: No, sir, I don't know what the basis for that was.
SMITH: Well -- just so -- and I hope the media takes note of this -- when we hear statements that because it was in the Washington Times, according to Mr. Gejdenson, we should have all -- somehow that meant that we acquiesced to this policy; we were getting misreads and statements from the administration, clearly stating that they were opposed to it.
So -- and a matter of fact, you know, when I saw this -- and now I was just -- re-saw it again -- it was rehanded to me -- I was reminded of it. We clearly thought that this was something that the administration didn't like, as well. Have you seen that quote, Mr. -- Ambassador Galbraith?
GALBRAITH: No, I have not, or at least not in two years.
SMITH: Okay. Well, I will put it in the record, and I hope that clears up any -- I mean, it's up to the administration to adequately inform, through consultations and members of Congress, as to what it is doing, and there are many members -- and I was just talking to one distinguished member of the Appropriations Committee who felt greatly misled by the administration, and by the chief executive, in particular, on this very issue. So let me say that, you know, the ambiguity in the sense of sending mixed signals was clearly what was conveyed to a number of members of Congress, including this member.
Ambassador Redman, two months after you and Ambassador Galbraith conveyed your message to the Croats, the House debated an amendment offered by Chairman Gilman, among others, to terminate U.S. arms embargo of Bosnia. This was in June of 1994. In July, and again in August of that year, the Senate debated a similar amendment. The administration opposed and lobbied against all of these amendments; isn't that right?
REDMAN: Well, without having the record of all the amendments in front of me, I have to take your word for it.
SMITH: Lifting the arms embargo.
REDMAN: Lifting the arms embargo, unilaterally, yes, sir. Yes.
SMITH: So there was a vigorous lobby against it. Did you personally participate in the administration's lobbying efforts by, for example, contacting members of the House, the Senate, or to urge them to vote against the amendments, either of you?
REDMAN: My role was to come up one day as a resource person while I think there were conference committees meeting, and I was occasionally talked to or called in. But basically at that stage I was asked what would be the effect on the negotiations, in which I was the lead negotiator, if a certain timing were to be introduced into these various lift resolutions. That was the focus of my only visit up here on that issue.
SMITH: Mr. Galbraith? Ambassador?
GALBRAITH: Of course, I was in Zagreb and so not -- I wouldn't have been involved in making representations to the Congress, with the exception of when visitors came, I would, of course, explain our policy, and on a couple of occasions I was asked to make some calls back to members of the Senate that I knew, and I did so.
SMITH: So you did lobby by way of phone and fax?
GALBRAITH: Yes. I made calls to several members of the Senate when I was requested to do so.
SMITH: Did either of you ever make the argument to members of Congress or staff that terminating the U.S. embargo could result in the Iranians following suit and thereby gaining a foothold in Bosnia?
REDMAN: Would you please repeat that again?
SMITH: Did you make the argument to any members of Congress or any staff members that by terminating the U.S. arms embargo, that action could result in the Iranians, because the embargo was lifted, could then gain a foothold in Bosnia because now they would be free just like every other nation to send arms?
REDMAN: It's not an argument I ever made.
GALBRAITH: Nor was it an argument that I made.
SMITH: You are aware that Deputy Secretary Talbott made precisely that argument in a letter to Senator Warner dated May 4th, 1994, are you not?
REDMAN: I'm not aware of that.
SMITH: Ambassador Galbraith?
REDMAN: I'm not aware of that.
SMITH: You would agree, wouldn't you, that in light of what we know today that of the administration's policy, the argument made by Mr. Talbott in that letter was at best disingenuous?
REDMAN: I really can't comment on it, congressman. I haven't seen the letter, and I'm not sure what's implied in that.
SMITH: Would you after this hearing review that letter and respond in written form to that?
REDMAN: (Inaudible due to cross talk) -- sure.
SMITH: Both of you?
In lobbying against lifting the arms embargo, did you ever make the argument to members of Congress or staff that it was unnecessary to lift the U.S. arms embargo because arms from other countries, particularly Iran, were already getting through to Bosnia?
REDMAN: No, sir.
SMITH: Ambassador Galbraith?
GALBRAITH: Yes. I mean, I -- I certainly -- I'm not sure how -- how -- I cannot recall now how explicit I was, but I certainly in -- in having these discussions about the unilateral lifting of the arms embargo, I did make it clear that arms were going through and we were not objecting. And therefore the result of enabling the Bosnians to defend themselves was being achieved without all the adverse consequences of unilateral lift that I described in my opening statement.
SMITH: So using Iran's providing those arms was used, indeed, as a way of trying to defeat the legislation?
GALBRAITH: I pointed out that the Bosnians were receiving arms and -- and that in this way the -- they were increasingly able to defend themselves and the consequences of -- the adverse consequences of unilateral lift were -- therefore could be avoided.
SMITH: Did you -- did either of you in any contacts you had with members of Congress during the spring or summer of 1994 ever reveal that the administration had acquiesced in the establishment of an Iranian arms pipeline to Bosnia?
SMITH: Ambassador Galbraith?
GALBRAITH: Again, what I said was that arms were flowing into Bosnia and that we were not objecting.
SMITH: So you did reveal that in your lobbying?
GALBRAITH: Well, I -- I've described what I said, that arms were flowing into Bosnia, that we were not objecting. If people asked what countries and -- and --
SMITH: It involved -- (inaudible due to cross talk) --
GALBRAITH: -- I would -- I would, of course, answer what countries were providing weapons.
SMITH: So far as you are aware, did anyone from the administration reveal this fact to any member of Congress during the spring or summer of '94? You said you did, but did anyone else?
GALBRAITH: I wouldn't know. I mean --
REDMAN: Nor do I.
SMITH: Do you think that members of Congress would have liked to know about that secret policy, that -- that we would have considered it relevant to the debates that we were having on the arms embargo had we known this?
REDMAN: The best we could do from our perspective --
SMITH: Yeah, I don't remember seeing it in any literature I got from the administration during their lobby effort. And if we have to ask the solicitor to find out who may be breaching the arms embargo, if we're lucky enough to have such a consultation -- I mean, I don't remember seeing it myself coming across my desk that one of the participants in the arms embargo pipeline was Iran.
GALBRAITH: Again, all I can say on this subject is that there were numerous references to the fact that Iran was providing arms contained in intelligence documents that I know are available to the Congress.
SMITH: Did it ever occur to either of you -- either of you that, at the time, that revelation of this secret policy to the Congress might have affected the outcome of the debates we were having on ending the U.S. arms embargo?
Look at the record. I mean, nobody was up there talking about it. So if you were revealing this to members of Congress, it certainly was on a very selective basis.
REDMAN: I can only say that really wasn't my role. I was overseas negotiating, so it really wasn't functioning in that context, sir.
SMITH: Ambassador Galbraith?
GALBRAITH: And it certainly wasn't my role. I was in Croatia, and any -- the conversations I had were principally with people who came through Croatia.
SMITH: In your opinion, would the Congress have been more likely or less likely to vote to terminate the U.S. arms embargo of Bosnia in 1994 if it had known that the administration secret acquiescence in the establishment of an Iranian pipeline to Bosnia had been in effect? I'm asking for your judgment.
REDMAN: I really have no way to judge that, sir.
SMITH: Ambassador Galbraith?
GALBRAITH: Again, I wasn't involved in handling congressional issues, I was involved in the region.
SMITH: Mr. Rohrabacher?
REPRESENTATIVE ROHRABACHER: Thank you.
First, we're not saying that you two fellows were responsible for this policy, are we? No, we're just -- it's the policy of the administration we're talking about now. We're not saying whether you're responsible or you're responsible. We're saying: What was the policy of this administration at what time, and was it being honest with the people of the United States, was it consistent with the law, was it being honest with our allies? And what I'm hearing here is that the policy of the administration was dishonest with our allies, was not being honest with the people of the United States, was inconsistent -- its policy sub rosa was inconsistent with its policy on the surface. Isn't what we're being told here?
REDMAN: I would not agree with that.
ROHRABACHER: You wouldn't? All right, well tell me where I'm wrong.
REDMAN: I think we've been over a lot of that ground previously. The fact that --
ROHRABACHER: I mean, I've been told this is the best thing to do; by doing this, by making this decision of non-interference, it made all the difference, I think was the phrase used. In lifting the embargo -- basically we were lifting the embargo unilaterally, but we can talk about that. But the decision that was made, made all the difference, apparently, because it addressed the military imbalance, military imbalance is what you said there, and if it had not been made, the unarmed Bosnians would barely have survived at best.
Now, all I can say is that certainly maybe the conditions called for some type of decision, but when we come down to it, all of those things are justifying the lies that we told to our allies, the lies that were told to our people, and the inconsistency between our officially stated policy and the real policy that was being followed.
REDMAN: I think the only point that one should continue to not lose sight of is that in spite of what were obviously some discreet or secret diplomatic exchanges, the actual implementation of that policy was by no means a secret to anyone -- neither to our allies or in fact to the American public, through the media. It quickly became known. We have gone over it before -- the reaction of our various allies --
ROHRABACHER: Do you think that --
REDMAN: -- and in fact, our position turned out to be very much the same as that of our allies --
ROHRABACHER: Did our allies know that we had --
REDMAN: -- which was not to object.
ROHRABACHER: -- did our allies know -- excuse me, excuse me, Mr. Ambassador. You're saying that our allies were aware that at one point, if we would have spoken up, we could have stopped that pipeline of weapons?
REDMAN: What I'm saying is our allies --
ROHRABACHER: Certainly the Congress --
REDMAN: -- were aware that there were arms flowing and that we were not objecting, and I think that was an honest position.
ROHRABACHER: Well, I will tell you that this congressman has been on this committee now for four years and had followed this issue for eight years, basically, ever since we started having trouble down there in the Balkans. I didn't know that this administration's policy was basically not to interfere when we had a chance to interfere with an arms pipeline that was coming from Iran into the Bosnians.
I was one of the biggest backers of lifting the embargo. I mean, I was up here -- I was pounding on the desk. That's why -- when earlier Ambassador Galbraith stated that the policy of the administration was to lift the embargo, that's why I was incredulous, because I can remember having the secretary of state right where you're sitting, and I remember when I was begging and pleading for the lifting of the embargo, and it was a big negative on his part, and it was a big negative on the part of the president of the United States when it came to the lifting the embargo.
Well, there was an excuse. We have to all do it together with our allies, or not do it at all. Well, there's always an excuse. It's always a way of having it both ways. It seems like the administration's -- is trying to have it both ways again. And it's going to have it one way with our allies and with the American people and with people like myself, who are elected to oversee foreign policy, and it's going to have it another way in the real policy that's going on sub rosa, when we have a policy of no instructions, when we realize that "no instructions" means the establishment of a pipeline to Iran into Bosnia. I don't call that honest government at all. I don't call that being truthful.
I -- I -- this is -- you know, our friend -- my friend from the other side of the aisle talked about the Iran-Contra affair. There was never any law, ever, about selling arms to Iran. That wasn't breaking the law. But President Reagan made a bad decision because of -- the official policy of the government was at that time that we weren't going to deal with Iran. And so people were upset. Don't you think that people have the same right to be upset with this total inconsistency?
REDMAN: I think we've explained in some detail the background for this policy, the rationale for it, and, most importantly, why it worked.
ROHRABACHER: Well, let me just say that -- ah, well, first of all, having some experience in the executive branch as well as the legislative branch of government, my red flags go up whenever I hear people talking about that all the reporting was done orally and that there was -- and that no written reports were required. Doesn't the fact that all of -- you know, that all of your activity and all of the activity that was done, that resulted in an arms pipeline funneling arms from Iran into Bosnia, that all of the activity that we were engaged in that led to that result, that it's not in writing and that people didn't want these things in writing -- doesn't that indicate that the people themselves knew they were doing something wrong and that the administration was actually being -- doing something that was wrong?
REDMAN: No, sir, not at all. The decisions were made by the competent and appropriate authorities, they were transmitted by the appropriate authorities, they were carried out in the appropriate manner, and they were reported back in a way --
ROHRABACHER: You're saying the appropriate manner is to leave no paper trail?
REDMAN: It may be the case, yes, sir.
ROHRABACHER: Well, that's not the case with democratic government, that you don't leave a paper trail. In a democratic government, where you have a legislative and executive branch, you make sure you put things in writing like Mr. Galbraith did, he made sure that he had a memo in his record when it looked like he might have to take -- to be a scapegoat when this was found out. Paper trails, they're not -- paper trails are basically evidence to show who is doing what and when, so that people in a democratic government can determine who's making the policy and what the policy is of a democratic government. I mean, you're talking as if our government is being run by people who just really don't trust the elected branch of government and that we don't want to -- and that's that that's an acceptable behavior that we're kept out and left out in the dark.
REDMAN: Sir, all I can refer to is the way diplomacy is practiced. I have served in many more Republican administrations than I have in Democratic, and I will say that what happened in this case was not unusual.
ROHRABACHER: Well, I will say this, then, in answer to that. If this was a Republican administration, I believe that there'd be a lot more problems in the press about this issue and there'd be a lot more problems with our friends on the other side of the aisle who now seem to be pooh-poohing this.
And -- if you will indulge me just one more moment, Mr. Chairman, and that is, look, some of us for years were pleading to lift the embargo. And when we hear Ambassador Galbraith talk about how it made all the difference and it addressed the military imbalance, we knew that. We were pleading, as hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives, we were pleading with the administration, this administration and the one before it, to get rid of this stupid embargo that left the victims helpless in front of a well-armed aggressor.
Now, instead of changing the policy openly, like should be done by democratic governments, and stating to the world this is what our policy is, we are going to lift the embargo, which would have meant that moderate, perhaps moderate Islamic states like Turkey and Pakistan would have their influence in the Balkans; instead, we were basically conducting covert policy that left the Iranians, who are a terrorist nation, with basically influence in the Balkans that they shouldn't have had.
And you know, again, you weren't the ones that were making the policy, you were carrying out the policy. And I believe that what we're talking about is what happens when people of the highest levels of government don't have the integrity to make a decision, make it known and stand by their decision because it's the best course of action even though there's some downsides to it.
So with that, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
CHAIRMAN GILMAN: Thank you, Mr. Rohrabacher.
REPRESENTATIVE CAMPBELL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I'd like to preface my remarks by a word of gratitude to these two gentlemen for giving your careers to foreign service. I appreciate it, I know the people of the United States do. It's a difficult task, and I applaud your having chosen that as a career.
I have two lines of inquiry, so let me state them in advance. The first would be the degree to which the present Bosnian government may be grateful to the Iranian government. The numbers of troops, you explained, or the numbers of Revolutionary Guards, you explained that they had diminished. But a debt of gratitude is one area that I think I'd like to hear explanation on.
The second is, sometimes people can change their mind and it's the right thing. I have often. And at least in public life, I know it's sometimes more painful than in private. And I'm really not sure whether the administration changed its mind, in which case it could be fine; or whether the administration, to the best of your ability to tell, was following a consistent policy, namely -- and let me just try my best and then I'm done and ask for your response -- namely, picking up from your testimony, that this administration was against the embargo from the start but did not wish to remove it unilaterally, gave no instructions regarding the trickle, gave no instructions regarding the larger flow, though knowing that effectively was countervening the embargo, it was not doing so officially by us and hence not breaking faith with our allies.
If that was the policy, I think I can string together each pearl in the necklace and make it a whole, but I'm not sure that's the policy.
So those are my two lines of inquiry.
The first then would be is there not a debt of gratitude by the Bosnian government to Iran for supplying them with arms as a result of this policy? And then the second, do I have the consistent policy right, or was there a change in policy?
REDMAN: I think on the second part, that's the simpler part. As I understood your explanation, that does hang together.
CAMPBELL: It's the best I could do -- tell you, to string it together.
REDMAN: It's my understanding, on the first --
CAMPBELL: Well, let me just ask, if I might then -- thank you, Ambassador.
Ambassador Galbraith, do you agree that that was -- you were there all the time -- and that that was the consistent policy on the administration?
GALBRAITH: Yes, I agree with that.
CAMPBELL: Okay, thanks much. Now, on the second one regarding the debt of gratitude.
GALBRAITH: I'm the ambassador to Croatia, not to Bosnia, so I'm not the foremost expert on Bosnia, although I'm in the region. I can only speculate. I imagine that the -- there are Bosnians who feel gratitude toward the Iranians. On the other hand, they have gone ahead and they have expelled the vast majority of the Iranians.
I will make one other point, which is Iran -- I'm sorry; Bosnia, is not at all fertile ground for Iran. The Bosnian Muslims have lived in a multi-ethnic, European society and, indeed, I think many people felt that of the three peoples in Bosnia -- the Serbs, the Croats and the Muslims -- that the Bosnian Muslims were really the most Western of the three peoples.
Second, Iran is a Shi'ite nation. That's a particular branch of Islam, as you know. I don't think there are -- there are hardly any Shia, or perhaps none at all in Bosnia. So it's really quite different culturally and religiously. So I don't think in fact there was much opportunity there.
CAMPBELL: I need to jump in just because it's an amber light. I'm sorry.
GALBRAITH: I'm sorry.
CAMPBELL: And I don't intend to go over. But thank you.
Ambassador Redman, do you have anything to add on the question on the debt of gratitude?
REDMAN: No, on that one I don't.
CAMPBELL: Then one last follow-up on that very point. I know I'm putting a leading question, but that's not uncommon in this particular forum. There is more gratitude on behalf of the Bosnians to Iran because of the arms shipment than there would have been had the arms shipment not occurred; is that not correct?
REDMAN: That's really difficult for us to answer. I mean, it sounds like a logical construct, but I mean, obviously, only the Bosnians could answer that question for you.
CAMPBELL: Of course. But you're a better expert than I. I admitted it is a leading question, but I think it's a fair question. I think you've been straightforward. I applaud your willingness to serve our country. I prefaced it by that. I just have to say they're going to be grateful. Maybe the Guards are expelled. And if you would admit that, I would be grateful. If you don't feel you can admit it, I suppose I understand, I'm just a little regretful.
GALBRAITH: No, but I think I answered your question to say that there were Bosnians -- I speculated, since I'm not the ambassador to Bosnia, that there were -- there would be Bosnians, including perhaps some in the government, who would be grateful to Iran. I --
CAMPBELL: And my question -- my concluding question was, would not the Bosnian government be more grateful than if we had not followed this policy?
GALBRAITH: Well, again, I mean, it's just -- it's a simple statement. Obviously, they would be grateful for the arms.
My impression is, however, that -- it's my impression and, indeed, my knowledge, and the facts bear this out, that what the Bosnians really appreciate is the decisive role that was played by the United States in orchestrating the militarily decisive NATO air strikes that -- that turned the tide, and in conducting the negotiations that produced a peace agreement.
CAMPBELL: I -- I regret you didn't answer my question directly, but maybe you couldn't.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
GILMAN: Thank you, Mr. Campbell.
REPRESENTATIVE BALLENGER: Thank you -- whoops! Excuse me. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And fellows, I appreciate your -- your situation -- let's put it that way -- (laughs) -- and the fact that we've been at least running around all over this place and you've got to sit there.
But Ambassador Galbraith, I want to follow up on your response to Mr. Hyde's question. Is it true that neither you nor anyone else in our government ever went to the Croatians, the Bosnians, or the Iranians to suggest that they consider establishing an arms pipeline from Iran or to tell them that we would not object if such a thing were to happen. Is that correct?
GALBRAITH: That -- that is correct, to the best of my knowledge.
BALLENGER: All right. Neither you nor anyone else within our government ever approached a third party to suggest that they suggest to the Croatians, the Bosnians, or the Iranians that they consider establishing an arms pipeline from Iran or to tell them that we would not object if such a thing were to happen? Is that correct?
GALBRAITH: As -- as I understand your question, yes, I think that's correct.
BALLENGER: That -- that nobody suggested it and so forth and so on.
BALLENGER: There's been a press report suggesting that you may have helped inspire the Croats to do this at a meeting you had with some Croatian Muslims. Can you comment on that allegation?
GALBRAITH: I -- I can -- I don't know of any press report. I can say -- I can say that I did not, to the best of my knowledge, inspire this suggestion.
BALLENGER: Ambassador Redman, so far as you know, is it true that no one within the U.S. government helped inspire this idea or otherwise set in motion a chain of events leading to the Croatian request for the views of our government on establishing an arms pipeline from Iran?
REDMAN: As far as I know.
BALLENGER: Well, let me -- let me just quickly throw in one thing. And it really is the dates and -- and how it seems a little bit devious, but on April the 27th -- and this is according to the New York Times and the Washington Post -- on the way back from Nixon's funeral in California, President Clinton, Assistant Secretary Lake and Assistant Secretary Talbott decided that secretly facilitating arms shipment for Iran was within the letter of the law and decided to send instructions on no instructions, implicitly condoning the operation. That was on April the 27th. On -- let me see, I have the wrong set of notes here. On May the 4th, again -- this was that letter that you had not read, I think, from Senator -- to Senator Warner -- Secretary Talbott said although the administration believed the embargo punished the victim in the conflict, a number of serious problems would ensue if it were lifted. Most importantly, we would jeopardize the chances of addressing the Bosnian crisis in concert with our allies and undermine the authority of the U.N. Security Council resolutions. Those two things occurred within one week of each other, which to some extent seems a little two-faced as far as the public is concerned.
And I'm not asking a question; I'm just trying to make that statement. That to me, since we were here trying to vote on what we should do and what we shouldn't do, to have the administration decide that having the Iranians -- to have the arms come in was a positive effect but was within the law, but at the same time, in a letter to a senator, Secretary Talbott said that he thought it was wrong to do that, that, to my way of thinking, somehow just doesn't fly.
GILMAN: Thank you, Mr. Ballenger.
REPRESENTATIVE FUNDERBURK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
GILMAN: Oh, I'm sorry, Mr. Funderburk.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. I'm trying to call them in order. Ms. Ros-Lehtinen?
REPRESENTATIVE ROS-LEHTINEN: (Off mike.)
GILMAN: Mr. Funderburk?
FUNDERBURK: Do you know why the State Department's South Asia Bureau Assistant Secretary Robin Raphel traveled to Pakistan; and with which officials did she meet; and what was the purpose of the visit? And I apologize for the fact that I've been in another committee and these questions may have been asked before.
GALBRAITH: That question was not asked, and I have -- I don't know anything about it.
FUNDERBURK: Okay. Could you tell this committee if it was you who initially conceived of the Iranian arms deal and cabled the concept back to Washington, or if it was proposed by another party? And if so, who was that party?
GALBRAITH: I did not conceive the Iranians' arms deal, and if it was -- presumably, it was conceived by another party, that being, as best I know, the Bosnian government and the Iranians.
FUNDERBURK: Did you endorse the idea, support the idea?
GALBRAITH: I supported, as I said in my opening statement, the instructions that I received to tell the Croatians that we had "no instructions." That I supported.
FUNDERBURK: Thank you.
GILMAN: Thank you, Mr. Funderburk.
ROS-LEHTINEN: Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman. And I also thank the gentlemen for their patience in being here with us at this very important topic.
As you will recall, there were some interesting press reports in '95 about these phantom flights that were occurring into Tuzla in February of '95. And they were suspected at the time of delivering weapons to the Bosnian Muslims. Those reports indicated that a number of our allies suspected at the time that these flights were part of a covert U.S. mission to supply arms to the Bosnians.
Were those flights, in fact, now looking back on those times, U.S.-orchestrated flights?
REDMAN: I have no reason to believe that.
GALBRAITH: And I have no reason to believe that's true, either.
ROS-LEHTINEN: Do you have any knowledge about those flights and who was on those planes? Who -- what country these flights might have originated from?
REDMAN: No, nothing at all.
GALBRAITH: I'm aware of the reports about them. I have -- I mean, this was in Bosnia. And, of course, I'm the ambassador to Croatia; although it was of some interest at the U.N. UNPROFOR headquarters, which was in Zagreb.
I -- to the best of my knowledge, I -- well, let me say, I'm not at all sure that the flights took place. I mean, it was a very murky set of circumstances. And I don't think it's been determined at all, that in fact, flights went into Tuzla airfield.
ROS-LEHTINEN: Were you ever or either of you ever asked by other countries about these flights and who was behind these phantom flights? And what was your response then?
REDMAN: I can only tell you what my response would have been, because I didn't know anything about them. I can't recall whether anybody ever raised them in some conversation; but no -- by no means any sort of formal demarche or a formal conversation, no.
ROS-LEHTINEN: Ambassador Galbraith?
GALBRAITH: I mean, there was certainly some discussion about it in the diplomatic community. But, again, nobody raised this formally with me, and -- nor would they. I mean, if anybody was going to raise it, the demarche would have been made in Washington.
ROS-LEHTINEN: So you were aware of the press reports, but it never piqued your interest enough to find out if we were the one orchestrating them, or if other countries were involved, and --
GALBRAITH: I have no knowledge that the United States was involved. And I mean, I can't say that I conducted an investigation, but I inquired in a general way about what happened. I had some conversations with some of our people --
ROS-LEHTINEN: Do you suspect there might have been Iranian flights?
GALBRAITH: Well, once again, the best that I can recall this situation is great uncertainty as to whether there were flights at all. In fact, in talking to our military people in Naples, they said to me that they didn't think there'd been flights that had gone in there at all, that this was some -- that the people who had reported it had gotten it wrong.
As I recall this incident -- and there are people who are much better experts on this than I -- again, it was in Bosnia; I'm ambassador to Croatia -- but as I recall the incident, nobody ever saw these planes on the ground. All they heard was the -- all the U.N. people who were reporting it heard was the sound of airplane engines in a foggy night.
ROS-LEHTINEN: Do you think they could have been Iranian flights?
GALBRAITH: Again, I have no idea. I don't know that there were -- that in fact there were flights.
ROS-LEHTINEN: Thank you.
GILMAN: Thank the gentlelady for her comments.
REPRESENTATIVE BERMAN: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I'd just like to cover a few issues as quickly as I can.
First, I'd just like to read into the record the response of Deputy Secretary of State Talbott on the issue of reprimands and "raps on the knuckles."
The question from Senator Specter: "Was there a reprimand to Ambassador Galbraith which was really just a feigned or phoney reprimand?"
I assume this is Secretary Talbott's testimony of last week in the Senate side.
Secretary Talbott: "I have heard reference to such, read reference to such. I do not, to the best of my own recollection, recall certainly myself ever reprimanding Ambassador Galbraith. I think Ambassador Galbraith was doing a good job in an extremely difficult circumstance. I really can only speak to the tenor, the intent, and the content, as best as I can recall it, of my own conversations with him."
I mean, this is the number-two person in the State Department. This deals with the questions and the issues raised by Congresswoman Meyers.
Secondly, I'd like to ask Ambassador Redman -- you're a veteran ambassador, diplomat -- from your experience, would you say that the manner in which the issues of the Croatian request for U.S. positions on a possible arms pipeline from Muslim countries, including Iran, were handled were part of normal diplomatic activity?
REDMAN: It was definitely normal diplomatic activity.
BERMAN: Pardon me?
REDMAN: Yes, it was normal diplomatic activity.
BERMAN: Is a no-instructions policy part of usual diplomatic discourse?
REDMAN: It is a technique or tactic that is employed in diplomacy when -- well, there may be various scenarios in which it may be appropriate but it is a practice used.
BERMAN: Is the policy of not putting such discussions in writing a usual diplomatic practice in these circumstances?
REDMAN: Again, it all depends on the circumstances. In my own experience as special envoy in the former Yugoslavia, I think I said earlier that I was most frequently receiving instructions orally and reporting orally, so there is that case that is precedent --
BERMAN: I just want to make a point, then, about Iran. I think it's fair to say, and I don't think it's just a matter of reflexive desire to defend the administration, but I think it's fair to say objectively that this administration has done more to seek to isolate Iran diplomatically, militarily and economically than any other administration has since the fall of the Shah.
We have imposed -- we have not simply maintained the arms embargo, we have imposed an entire economic embargo on Iran. We have used our diplomatic resources to try and get other countries, not as successfully as I would like, to do the same, or at least to discourage significant investment in Iran's energy sector. We have, I think successfully, dissuaded certain countries from rescheduling loans with Iran.
It is -- it is -- first instance troubling that the result and the consequences of all these different considerations allowed us essentially to not object to an Iranian pipeline.