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These are only six of what could be a list of thirty. Numerous high level defectors from Communist countries are, out of economic necessity, wasting their education and experience. Many who could be publicly active in the national interest are on the sidelines. The general public, and policy-makers, in both the legislative and executive branches, are deprived of information and insight which would improve our national capacity to deal with the realities of the world.
We, at Jamestown, think that a fund should be endowed which would finance high level defectors in the acquisition of the education and credentials necessary to establish themselves as full members of the American academic and policy-influencing sector. Investment in these people, who have proven themselves in their former countries to be high achievers, should pay dividends in the form of increased understanding of the issues involved in EastWest relations.
Ideally, such a fund, which would give selected defectors five years of research and study in American institutions, would be raised in the private sector. The flexibility and relative efficiency of the private sector is to be preferred to a government program. Our experience, however, indicates that raising sufficient money to establish such a fund privately will be difficult. We, therefore, suggest that the Congress consider funding such a program.
Another problem shared by the Jamestown clientele is that of citizenship. Current Federal law provides that a defector or any newcomer, for that matter, wait a period of five years before he be
a comes eligible for citizenship. If the defector had been a member of the Communist Party, the law adds an additional five years for a total of ten.
We think that the penalty for party membership makes no sense, and believe that it should be repealed. It is precisely the party members who we should encourage to defect. Deterring them by penalizing them is contrary to our national interest in having as many as possible highly placed officials of Communist governments change sides.
In fact, we think that the Congress should consider reducing the waiting from ten years to three years for certain highly desirable individuals. Our national interest would be better served if easy and early citizenship were held out as an incentive to defect.
Our final suggestion relates to the government's handling of defectors. Nearly all defectors, even those whom the government will not support under Public Law 110, have extensive contact with the government immediately after their defection. Much has been said and written about the quality of the treatment accorded to them, virtually all of it negative. We, at Jamestown, have in the past joined in that criticism.
However, I am pleased to be able to report to you today that the CIA seems to have resolved the problems which affected its performance in the past. It has been quite some time since we have heard the type of horror story which used to be commonplace. We are inclined to give the credit for this to CIA Deputy Director Bob Gates, who has a sincere interest in the welfare of defectors. The improvement in the CIA's handling of defectors coincided with his assumption of his present office.
[At this point, Senator Cohen entered the hearing room.] Mr. GEIMER. We would like to suggest, nonetheless, that two steps be taken which would contribute significantly,
Senator Nunn. You may want to repeat that for Senator Cohen. Since he is Ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee, I am sure that he would like to hear that.
Mr. GEIMER. We would like to suggest, nonetheless, that two steps be taken which would contribute significantly to the wellbeing of defectors who are, at least temporarily, in the hands of the government.
First, we suggest that very early in the debriefing process, the defector be told that there are organizations, such as the Jamestown Foundation, whose function it is to assist defectors to build new lives in this country. Ideally, the government should arrange a meeting between the defector and foundation personnel for the purpose of determining whether the defector's plans for his future are of the type which Jamestown might foster.
Second, we think that something in the nature of a defector's bill of rights should be established. The government should be required to explain to the defector the nature of his present and future relationship to the government. The defector should know exactly what he can and cannot expect the government to do for him, and he should be given and informed about a right to appeal decisions made about his life with which he disagrees.
Third, we think that some consideration should be given to either broadening the language of Public Law 110, or to seeing to it that the existing language is interpreted more liberally. Defectors are now given support by the government if it is in the interest of national security or essential to the furtherance of the national intelligence mission.” As this language is interpreted, permanent assistance is confined virtually to intelligence officers. We submit that others from high places should also be given this safety net, and should be relieved from the fear of surviving in our capitalist economy. We submit that encouraging and facilitating defections of the highly placed is in the interest of national security, and does further the national intelligence mission.
The fact that we are suggesting improvements should not obscure the fundamental fact that for those thinking about choosing a life of freedom there has never been a better time for implementing decision. The government is now handling these situations about as well as a government can. Jamestown is ready and willing to help out in certain cases. Especially if the foregoing suggestions are adopted, I think we can look forward to learning a great deal from many who forsake totalitarianism and join the struggle on behalf of freedom and democracy.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Nunn. Mr. Jameson, or General Williams, do you have anything that you want to say before we get into questions?
General WILLIAMS. No, sir, not at this point.
I assume that it is correct to say that the Jamestown Foundation was founded because you perceived a void in this area in terms of
what government was providing to these defectors. Is that a fair assessment?
Mr. GEIMER. That is right. I learned, through years of working with Arkady Shevchenko how difficult it is to adjust to life in this country and to become productive. We assumed, and we certainly were proven correct, that there are a lot of other people who might need the kind of help which I gave him. That is the void that we are filling now.
Senator Nunn. What year was your foundation established?
Mr. GEIMER. In 1984. It was at the end of 1983, but we really opened our doors at the beginning of 1984.
Senator NUNN. What is your annual budget now? Mr. GEIMER. This year it will be probably between $500,000 and $600,000. When we started, it was less than $100,000, so we have more than tripled in the past four years.
Senator NUNN. How many paid employees do you have?
Mr. GEIMER. They are all full time. That understates it a bit, because there is a seventh who is full time, and now we have at least one volunteer in the office on a full time basis, plus we have a lot of outside volunteers, people who pitch in and provide housing or other kinds of help for defectors. Then we have a wonderful bunch of student interns. There are quite a large number of people involved. It is a very cost effective operation.
Senator NUNN. What kind of payroll would you have? Out of $500,000 or $600,000, how much of it would be consumed in payroll approximately? Mr. GEIMER. Maybe half, I would say. I am not sure. Senator Nunn. What would the other half mainly be used for? Mr. GEIMER. It would be rent, and the rest of what goes into it.
Senator NUNN. Your purpose is to assist high level defectors. How do you define that? Is that a pretty subjective judgment?
Mr. GEIMER. It is a subjective judgment. We have to just take one case at a time. The question we ask ourselves is: Can this individual, over a period of time, contribute something unique and important to our understanding.
The types of individuals that we work with vary considerably, but in each case we have said: This person has something important to say that we ought to hear and have others as widely as possible.
Senator NUNN. So you don't pretend to be able to handle or work with all defectors?
Mr. GEIMER. No. We are swamped as it is.
Senator Nunn. Is there a void for the other defectors, people who might not fit your category?
Nr. GEIMER. I think so, because we get appeals constantly from people who don't meet our criteria, let's say, for example, physicians. We have been contacted by former Soviet physicians who have problems getting themselves placed here, and so forth. In a case like that, we try to refer people out to a network of friends that we have nationally. In the case of physicians, it is a doctor named Peter Wolkonsky in Chicago, he takes them on and he helps them, but they don't officially become Jamestown clients.
Senator NUNN. You work with a variety of academic institutions. How have you been received in your work, and how have the defectors themselves been received by these academic institutions in general?
Mr. GEIMER. Not very well. Almost all of the people that we work with are qualified to work in academic institutions. I think that at the present time only one of, let's say, 30, and his situation is going to change soon. We have knocked on a lot of academic doors and really haven't opened a single one.
There are many reasons for that. One is that there are legitimate budgetary constraints in a number of places. But there is also a bias. There is a feeling that a defector is not an objective seeker of the truth. He is vengeful. He wants to strike back at his former masters, therefore, what he says is unreliable from an academic standpoint.
I think there is also a feeling in some individuals, the resident Sovietologists whose knowledge of the Soviet Union is based on a few trips there and a lot of books, and they are not that anxious to see someone come on the faculty whose views are rooted in his own experiences
In some institutions, we have been told straight out, “We can't have these people here because we don't want to jeopardize our relations with Eastern governments, and scholars in Eastern Europe." Major foundations and other institutions have told me that.
Senator Nunn. Is there anything that can be done about that? I am not speaking, governmentally, because I don't think that the government should dictate in this area, but is there anything that can be done that you can think of?
Mr. GEIMER. At one point, and you may have read it, we proposed creating an academic institution for this very purpose, this narrow purpose. At a meeting of my advisory committee, however, Dr. Brzezinski shot the idea down. So we concluded that that wasn't, for a number of reasons some of which relate to physical security, a very good idea.
We have proposed, as a substitute, that a fund be endowed which would provide fellowships, scholarships, to support the academic activities of our people, so that one individual might be funded to do some research at one university or institution, and we might fund a Chair at another institution, something flexible along those lines is what we think is needed.
Senator Nunn. Do you have any particular recommendation to make about defectors who would meet your category of high level, but who are not intelligence officers, former intelligence officers?
Mr. GEIMER. That is essentially who I have been talking about all along, high level people who are not intelligence officers. The intelligence officers are supported by the government.
Senator NUNN. That is under Public Law 110?
Mr. GEIMER. That is under 110, yes. They don't have a financial problem. But most of the rest have severe financial insecurities.
Senator Nunn. If you had twice as much budget, what would you do with it?
Mr. GEIMER. I would get more staff so that we didn't have to work such long hours.
Senator COHEN. It wouldn't necessarily mean that you would work less hours.
Mr. GEIMER. That is a good point.
What we would do, we would fund the academic activities. We would say: Stop your job as a shoe salesman, and get in the library and produce that book that you have in you. That is what we would do if we had more money, it would be to make these people productive from an intellectual standpoint.
Senator NUNN. Are you going to be able to continue your budget at the present level? Are you going to be able to raise $500,000 or $600,000 a year from the private sector?
Mr. GEIMER. I think so. As I mentioned earlier, it has been growing. We started below $200,000 and we are three times that level now. I would hope that it would continue to grow. I would hope that it would start to grow at a rate approaching the growth in the workload.
Senator Nunn. How much of your personal time do you put into this?
Mr. GEIMER. About 70 to 80 hours a week.
Mr. GEIMER. I did for the first two months. I thought I could do both, and it was silly idea. I have been more than full time for
Senator Nunn. So you are not maintaining any law practice now?
Mr. GEIMER. No.
Senator Nunn. How important is the citizenship issue to the defectors? I know you had a recommendation on that subject.
Mr. GEIMER. It is more important than I realized for a long time. You get a sense, after a while, talking to these folks that it is extremely important to them. They don't feel that they are really at home here until they become citizens. It is just hugely important to them. I really think that it is foolish that we penalize party membership and make these people wait ten years. It is a real struggle.
On this, I should mention that there is one thing, I think, the government ought to do. Somebody ought to get the INS to put a higher priority than they do on these cases. We have people just stacked at the bottom of somebody's pile somewhere, waiting years to get green cards, being unable really to travel. It is not a fast moving agency, it needs a prod.
Senator Nunn. Mr. Jameson, the CIA has been criticized about its handling of defector resettlement cases. Do you think that there has been any change in this over a period of time; do you see any improvement?
Mr. JAMESON. I am not very closely familiar with the cases in the last three or four years, although I do gather that in some of them there has been an improvement. Some of my colleagues in former years, as a matter of fact, are apparently being called from retirement and are handling them. Perhaps there are other able handlers. I would hope that the Yurchenko case taught several people out there a lesson about how things really ought to be done.