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yer. I am quoting now. I just want to get your reaction to the statement: “No one in Lebanon will talk about the reality. Our government is not a government. Syrian intelligence forces are controlling this country. We are moving toward a police state here in Lebanon. There are masters and servants. Lebanese Government officials are the servants of Syria.”

Is that an accurate statement?
Mr. WELCH. I wouldn't make that statement.
Mr. HAMILTON. You would not?
Mr. WELCH. I would not make that statement.

We have some concerns about various aspects of the government's behavior. But that statement is too sweeping, in my view, and ignores many positive aspects of the performance of the Government of Lebanon. I would not sign on to it.

Mr. HAMILTON. What are the positive points? Let's talk about those a little bit.

Mr. WELCH. Well, I think, as I said in the prepared remarks, Mr. Hamilton, we are entering the latter part of this decade having witnessed a Lebanon that is basically free of the civil war that it went through for a decade and a half. That is a substantial achievement for the Lebanese people. Gradually, they are restoring their own authority and control over the country. That process isn't as quick or as complete as we would like, but it is occurring.

Mr. HAMILTON. Is Lebanon today more of a Syrian-client State than at any time in the past?

Mr. WELCH. I would argue that it is not.
Mr. HAMILTON. It is less?

Mr. WELCH. Yes, and I would argue furthermore, Mr. Hamilton

Mr. HAMILTON. So you see a situation where the trends are positive and that the Lebanese Government is slowly extending its sovereignty.

Mr. WELCH. Yes, sir. Mr. HAMILTON. And Syrian domination is lessening? Mr. WELCH. That is correct. I think, in addition, that the more we support the Lebanese people in this effort the more likely that that pace will be increased.

Mr. HAMILTON. You know, you described our policy in Lebanon as being in support of freedom and territorial integrity and sovereignty and independence. I think I recall those same words being used 30 years ago. I mean, I just wonder how realistic they are. Those words have become kind of a formula that our diplomats automatically cite when they talk about our policy in Lebanon.

Mr. WELCH. Well, they are in favor

Mr. HAMILTON. It is not really a policy. They are kind of an expression of hope, aren't they?

Mr. WELCH. Yes, but one, I think, that most Lebanese would subscribe to; one that, while it was the case that no reasonable person would say that those conditions obtained during the years of the civil war in the late 1970's and throughout the 1980's, I think increasingly they are not only an aspiration, they are a growing reality.

And all American policies deal in terms of goals. We are trying I am not denying that there are imperfections and that there is a lot more work to be done. I just see that this is an area where there has been considerable progress.

I think in the time that you have been on the Committee, sir, I think you would probably agree if we were having this hearing 10 years ago it would be a much more sober rendition of those prospects. Today, I think we can be more hopeful.

Mr. HAMILTON. On the travel ban, you say that we look forward to the day when the security situation in Lebanon will have improved to the point that all travel restrictions can be lifted. When in your judgment will we reach that point?

Mr. WELCH. Let me say with respect to the travel restriction, that is the restriction on the use of U.S. passports to go to Lebanon, that that matter will be under review by Secretary Albright in the coming few weeks.

I would rather, therefore, that my remarks in answer to your question be separated from that decision process. I do not want to forecast in any way what it might be.

Mr. HAMILTON. I am trying to get the benchmarks, the guidelines.

Mr. WELCH. The issue for us is the only thingMr. HAMILTON. This is a very puzzling thing to me, Mr. Welch. I have asked this question many times over the past few months. I get the exact same response you just gave me: The Secretary is reviewing it. Then the Secretary turns it down, whoever the Secretary may be, and I can't quite figure out why they turn it down. They keep reviewing it, and I am just trying to figure out what the problem is.

Are you fearful of terrorist attacks against Americans? Is that what you are fearful of? And you have information that leads you to believe that that is the case?

Mr. WELCH. The protection of American citizens is something we are, by law, enjoined to do in the State Department. Where American citizens face threats in the world, we look at a number of tools to enable us to protect them.

Mr. HAMILTON. Look, I understand all of that. In Lebanon today, it is your judgment that American citizens could be the subject of terrorist attacks?

Mr. WELCH. It is our judgment that it remains a dangerous place. There are a number of groups there.

Mr. HAMILTON. That American citizens might very well be attacked, is that your judgment?

Mr. WELCH. That is always potentially the case. There are a number of groups there.

Mr. HAMILTON. Of course, it is potentially the case. It is potentially the case in Washington, DC.

Mr. WELCH. That is true. Mr. HAMILTON. We don't have a travel ban on Washington, DC. Mr. WELCH. That is true. Mr. HAMILTON. You see, I just want to try to understand here what your reason is. I mean, do we have information, hard information, that American citizens' lives are in danger if they are in Lebanon? If you have that kind of information, I think most Americans would applaud you, support you on it.

Mr. WELCH. Mr. Hamilton, I would be delighted to discuss exactly the information we have on security threats in Lebanon with you in a different sort of session than this one.

a Let me say that we do receive security threats there from time to time. We consider Lebanon a dangerous place. There are groups there hostile to Americans and to U.S. interests. They, in the past, have conducted actions against Americans; and I cannot exclude that they might do it again in the future.

Chairman GILMAN. Will the gentleman yield a moment?
Mr. HAMILTON. Sure,

Chairman GILMAN. Mr. Welch, is there any travel ban on American tourists going to Iran?

Mr. WELCH. There is no restriction on the use of U.S. passports for travel to Iran. The only restrictions that exist in our region are with respect to Iraq and Libya for use of U.S. passports.

Chairman GILMAN. Thank you. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Mr. HAMILTON. Now, what has to happen here before that travel ban is lifted? What are you looking at to make the determination to lift the travel ban?

Mr. WELCH. We look at a variety of elements. I will ask Mr. McKune to join me in this answer. But they revolve around a judgment as to whether this measure can add to the security of Americans there, since we continue to believe the situation there is dangerous for Americans.

Mr. HAMILTON. Well, that is a very general response. I am trying to get something a little more specific.

Mr. McKune, can you

Mr. McKUNE. Mr. Hamilton, let me add a few points. We do get occasional reports of specific terrorist operations being planned.

Mr. HAMILTON. Against Americans?
Mr. McKUNE. Against Americans.
Mr. HAMILTON. By Hizbollah?

Mr. McKUNE. In particular, occasionally. These have not been implemented in recent years. As we said in our prepared statement, there hasn't been an attack against Americans or American interests in Lebanon in 6 years or more.

Given the history of Hizbollah and what we know about the organization, what we know about its world view, its hostility to the United States, which continues, its operational, organizational activities in many countries of the world, we can't ignore any intelligence of this sort. It would be irresponsible to do so.

We think it is a positive development that, in fact, there have not been any such attacks in Lebanon.

Mr. HAMILTON. How many Americans are in Lebanon today?

Mr. McKUNE. We don't know precisely. The Embassy did a recent informal poll over a couple of days just in the major Beirut area and had verifiable information of about 4,000 in the Beirut area. We undoubtedly think the number is significantly larger throughout the country. It could be 15,000, 20,000, 30,000. We don't know precisely.

Mr. WELCH. The statistics in this area are hard to get. We would like to have more. There are a large number of Americans who travel to Lebanon who are dual nationals, so they may be using another passport to enter. Were they using an American passport; one access we have on statistics is on the number of issuances of travel documentation by the Lebanese Government to those passport holders. There probably are around 10,000 a year who visit in that category.

Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate your leniency here.

Let me just ask, if I understand your testimony, the reason the ban stays in place is because we have information that we must consider at least reliable that Hizbollah threatens the lives of Americans in Lebanon.

Mr. McKUNE. Mr. Hamilton, I think that is part of the judgment that the Secretary has to make, yes.

Mr. HAMILTON. I understand. Now what must Hizbollah do to make us change our view?

Mr. McKUNE. There is no question

Mr. HAMILTON. They haven't done anything for years, obviously, against American citizens. What must they do?

Mr. McKUNE. It is a judgment the Secretary must make about whether the passport restriction in Lebanon to be lifted or not lifted would subject Americans in Lebanon to terrorist threats.

Mr. HAMILTON. I understand. I understand that. I am just trying to figure out

Mr. HAMILTON (continuing). What we are looking for. I understand it is the Secretary's judgment.

Mr. McKUNE. Yes. What we are looking for

Mr. HAMILTON. In making that judgment, what are you looking at?

Mr. McKUNE. We are looking for a pattern of Hizbollah disengagement from terrorism, in essence.

Mr. HAMILTON. So you would want, then, a statement of some kind or maybe something more than a statement from Hizbollah saying they are not going to engage in terrorism before you lift the terrorist ban, the travel ban?

Mr. McKUNE. We don't put confidence in their statements, sir. We would watch

Mr. HAMILTON. OK. That is something. So what would you have confidence in?

Mr. McKUNE. We would watch their behavior worldwide and their behavior in Lebanon in particular.

Mr. HAMILTON. OK. So you are looking at their worldwide behavior, is that correct?

Mr. McKUNE. Yes, sir.

Mr. HAMILTON. And you believe today that Americans are in imminent peril if they travel to Lebanon?

Mr. McKUNE. I wouldn't use that phrase, sir. I think that it is a dangerous place, and the reason it is a dangerous place is that Lebanon is a location where Hizbollah and other organizations with a demonstrated history of terrorist attacks against American interests maintain a presence, maintain an operational capability, maintain training exercises

Mr. HAMILTON. We had a Senator-
Mr. McKUNE (continuing). And are hostile to the United States.
Mr. HAMILTON. We had a Senator in Lebanon just recently, yes?
Mr. McKUNE. Yes, and a poll recently,

Mr. HAMILTON. My colleague here to the left was there a couple of months ago. So you don't stop Americans?

Mr. WELCH. We are not able to stop Americans. We are able only—this is not a travel ban. Those words are used to characterize the situation. Our handle on this is a restriction on the use of U.S. passports. That is where we come at it from.

Our judgment, as specified in the travel warnings, is that the situation there is sufficiently dangerous that any American, whether with permission or without it, cannot be considered safe from terrorism when they are in Lebanon.

Chairman GILMAN. I would hope that at some future time we could have a further discussion of this before a further review has taken place.

The gentleman's time has expired.
Ms. Danner.
Ms. DANNER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

To follow up on the conversation we are having with regard to the travel ban, I would like for you to furnish to me a list of the individuals who send their recommendations forward to the Secretary with regard to whether the travel ban, whatever you want to call it, should remain in place.

Obviously, some of you are making recommendations to the Secretary; and I would like to know who it is. To give your words back to you, we feel it is sufficiently dangerous that Lebanon cannot be considered safe; and I would say that follows up on Washington, DC, right here on Capitol Hill. So I find that a nonstarter.

As a matter of fact, several years ago, when I was invited to go to Lebanon with some other Members of Congress, the State Department came to my office and absolutely persuaded me that, especially as a woman, it was not safe for me to go to Lebanon. I took their word for it, and I didn't go. Every one of my colleagues returned safely, I might add.

I have some questions for you that I would like for you to respond to.

Is there anything that the Lebanese Government has failed to do to satisfy the United States on the security of our citizens? What has Lebanon failed to do that you want done so we can get this problem rectified?

Mr. McKUNE. It is not a question of shortcomings of the behavior of the Government of Lebanon. They have made a lot of progress. The security situation has improved and is continuing to improve, thanks to continuing steps of the Government of Lebanon.

It is the nature of terrorism-I am not saying that the whole of Lebanese environment and society today is terroristic and that any American or anyone there would be in mortal danger of terrorism if they went there. I am not saying that at all. The nature of terrorism often is that a single terrorist calculated attack-which you can't know about or predict—is done for a particular purpose at a particular time; whether to assassinate a political leader, to disrupt the peace process, to make a statement against the United States and its forces and peacekeepers or whatever. That could happen at any time or it may not happen.

If you look at the history of post-war Lebanon, you do see a general desire of the people, of the government, of the political figures,

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