1997 Congressional Hearings
Intelligence and Security

Opening Statement of
Chairman Bill McCollum

This hearing of the Subcommittee on Crime is called to order.

This is the first hearing of the Subcommittee on Crime in the 105th Congress and I want to take this opportunity to welcome the returning Members of the Subcommittee. I also want to extend a special welcome to the new Members of the Subcommittee: Mr. Hutchinson and Mr. Gekas on the Republican side, and Mr. Meehan, Mr. Wexler, and Mr. Rothman on the Democratic side. Of course, Mr. Gekas and Mr. Meehan are veterans of prior Congresses and we welcome the experience they will bring to the work of the Subcommittee.

Continuing the pattern established by my good friend, Mr. Schumer, the former subcommittee chairman, the Subcommittee on Crime has remained is one of the busiest Subcommittees in the House. The Subcommittee held 48 days of hearings in the 104th Congress and received testimony from hundreds of individuals from all walks of life. Of the 246 bills referred to this Subcommittee during the 104th Congress, 23 bills were passed by the House and 14 were enacted into law. While I hope that the Subcommittee's work is not as exhausting as it was during the 104th Congress, I believe that it will be as exhaustive in terms of the matters that will come before it. I look forward to working with all of you on these important issues.

Today our first hearing of the new Congress focuses on investigative activities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation outside the United States and, specifically, the FBI's investigation into the bombing of the military barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Recently, FBI Director Louis Freeh and Attorney General Janet Reno have both made public statements that the Saudis are withholding information necessary for the FBI to make findings and draw conclusions concerning this investigation. Today, I hope, we will be able to ascertain why this is, and why this type of problem exists between two countries which have close ties.

In recent years the FBI has been involved in an increasing number of investigations outside the United States. Many of these, like the Saudi bombing, result in injury to or the death of United States citizens. Others, however, like the 1995 investigation into the murder of an opposition leader to President Aristide in Haiti, did not involve violence to Americans or American property. As the Subcommittee with principal oversight responsibilities for Federal Bureau of Investigation, it is our responsibility to review these operations to assure that they are appropriate undertakings for the FBI.

Specifically, the Subcommittee must examine the criteria the FBI uses in determining whether to spend scarce time and taxpayer dollars to conduct investigation on foreign soil. Does the Clinton administration secure a guaranty of cooperation from the host country before American law enforcement officials arrive and, if not, why not? How often does the Federal Government successfully prosecute someone for committing a violent act against a U.S. citizen abroad? And is the money that we spend on foreign investigations, on 30 FBI offices in foreign countries, and on an international law enforcement training academy providing the return we expect?

In short, we can pass all of the international crime legislation we want, and we have passed a substantial amount in the past decade, but if it cannot be enforced it will not protect the American public as it was intended to do.

Last year, the Administration requested and received over $157 million in additional funding to the FBI to help prevent and investigate terrorism activities and incidents. We have to wonder whether this money is going to the best possible use when investigations are terminated without success or appear to be stonewalled by host country officials. Additionally, this Subcommittee must consider whether the comments of Justice Department officials concerning the status of these investigation has an effect on our foreign policy. If so, this development raises challenging new questions about the role of U.S. law enforcement in shaping foreign policy.

I welcome our witness today, and those who have come to watch these proceedings.