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Only six have been accommodated in the United States, the last in 1984, three years ago. The few efforts that have been made have been ad hoc and sporadic, resulting from extraordinary stimuli such as the meeting I had with President Reagan. Were it not for determined activists like Ludmilla Thorne, this issue would have been entirely ignored by the Executive Branch.
There is no one in charge of this matter within our government; no agency or Department has the lead. So I urge the subcommittee to examine the tragic failure of the administration in the important area of Soviet defectors in Afghanistan. I urge the committee to recommend the administration place someone in charge and to develop an aggressive program to accommodate defections from Soviet forces in Afghanistan.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, I would ask that you include in the record two news articles about two individual Soviet defectors, one who testified before the Congressional Task Force on Afghanistan, just yesterday.
[The newspaper articles were marked Exhibit No. 26 and Exhibit No. 27. Exhibit No. 26 starts on p. 948 and Exhibit No. 27 on p. 949.] Senator NUNN. Thank you very much, Senator Humphrey. We might also call to your attention-we have put a series of exhibits in the record this morning, and one of the exhibits was information from Ludmilla Thorne.
Senator HUMPHREY. Good.
Senator NUNN. And a statement from her.
Senator HUMPHREY. Excellent.
Senator NUNN. We also have a good bit of information here that I am sure you are familiar with on this.
Senator HUMPHREY. Yes. Yes.
Senator NUNN. I had not realized that there were Soviet soldiers actually fighting on the side of the Mujahadeen now. Do you know whether those defections would have anything to do with religion? Are they brother Moslems, or is this independent of religion?
Senator HUMPHREY. I think the common thread is moral objection to what the Soviet forces are doing in Afghanistan. I don't know for sure about the religion of the soldiers. I do know that with respect to nationality, Mr. Movchan, who testified before the Congressional Task Force before us yesterday, is a Ukrainian, and so it isn't just a case of soldiers from the Moslem republics of the Soviet Union, but I think it is a pretty diverse and representative cross-section who are going over to the side of the insurgents.
Senator NUNN. Do you know whether, when Soviet soldiers do defect, are they received with hostility or with hospitality by the Mujahadeen, or does it vary from group-to-group?
Senator HUMPHREY. Information is hard to come by, of course, reliable information. I think that the reception varies from groupto-group, and it depends substantially on the resources of the receiving unit, military unit. If they are short on food, as they often are, then it is a real problem.
Therefore, it is all the more important that we make it clear, through our policy and our action, to these resistance units that we will accommodate those who wish asylum and therefore, these defectors will be no burden on them in terms of upkeep.
Senator NUNN. Could international organizations play a role here, like Red Cross?
Senator HUMPHREY. I am just not in a position to say. There are some political sensitivities, and the more that these matters are dealt with discreetly, the better, especially the removal of these people through friendly countries, third countries.
Senator NUNN. And you are saying right now that there is no agency in our government who really has jurisdiction over this, as best you can tell?
Senator HUMPHREY. I have been deeply immersed in this Afghan issue for three years, and as a general statement, there is nobody; there is no clear authority; there is nobody really in charge. There is no high-level person in our executive government that has fulltime responsibility in this area. Authority and responsibility are pretty diverse and distributed throughout the agencies.
With respect to prisoners of war, I am not aware that there is anyone in charge, but what I can say with assurance is that there is no on-going effort; there is no on-going program. What little effort we have made in past years has been ad hoc and sporadic.
Senator NUNN. Do you have any recommendations as to which agency should be in charge of this kind of both problem and opportunity?
Senator HUMPHREY. I have no such recommendation. My recommendation is that we have a program, an aggressive program, with someone in charge who works full time to make a maximum effort along these lines.
Senator NUNN. Senator Humphrey, we thank you very much for being here and for your testimony. It will be very helpful. We will try to follow up on it, and we will try to stay in touch with you and your staff.
Also, of course, I thank you for your continued good service on the Armed Services Committee.
Senator HUMPHREY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. May I say just finally that Ms. Thorne will visit the White House tomorrow to discuss several more cases of Soviet soldiers in the hands of the resistance who have asked for asylum in this country. These are requests of considerably long standing about which nothing has been done as far as I can tell, and the point I want to make—
Senator NUNN. That is a State Department judgment, isn't it? Senator HUMPHREY. I think you are right in that. But there is a generic, systemic problem in the Executive about what to do in these matters, and as a result, nothing is being done.
The point I wanted to make with regards to Ms. Thorne's visit to the White House today is that she knows of several more soldiers, by name, who are in the hands of known units who have agreed to release these men and yet nothing is being done about it.
Senator NUNN. Well, I think we need to take a look at this, and we appreciate you bringing it to our attention.
Our final witness is Dr. Lawrence Martin-Bittman, a Professor at Boston University. Doctor, we appreciate you being here. We swear in all our witnesses.
Do you swear the testimony you will give before this subcommittee will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Dr. MARTIN-BITTMAN. I do.
Senator NUNN. Thank you. Dr. Bittman, we appreciate you being here. We appreciate your patience in waiting to testify this morning. We have been interuppted by one roll call vote, and some of the testimony took a little longer than we anticipated, but we very much are looking foward to your testimony, and we welcome you. TESTIMONY OF LAWRENCE MARTIN-BITTMAN, PH.D., PROFESSOR, BOSTON UNIVERSITY (FORMER CZECHOSLOVAKIAN INTELLIGENCE OFFICER)
Dr. MARTIN-BITTMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you very much. Mr. Chairman, I prepared a lengthy statement, about 48 pages, that I would like to be inserted in the record,1 and then I will make a shorter statement about some major issues concerned with defectors.
Senator NUNN. Your full statement will be part of the record without objection.
Dr. MARTIN-BITTMAN. Mr. Chairman, members of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, I am a defector. The word in American perception has a clearly negative connotation. During the last 19 years, I have met many Americans who felt embarrassed to say the word "defector" in my presence, because they didn't want to offend me.
They thought it was not polite to put that label on me. I don't agree. Defection, according to Webster's dictionary, means abandonment of principle, abandonment of loyalty or desertion. I think that is what I did, but I abandoned the system of deceit and secrecy. I deserted the system that suppresses the most elementary human rights.
Regardless of what people think of me, I cannot think of myself as a traitor. On August 21, 1968, the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia, crushed the movement for democratic socialism and destroyed every principle of human decency and international law.
I defected because of the Soviet invaders. I abandoned my loyalty to the Communist system whether Soviet or Czechoslovak style. I am glad that I defected. It was the only acceptable choice I had, unless I wanted to cooperate with the Soviet occupation forces.
I don't have a problem with the word defector, and I don't hide my past in front of my colleagues or students. I spent six years under the authoritarian Nazi regime, 20 years as a member of a Communist society and the last 19 years as a resident and citizen of the libertarian American society. I have learned that for a journalism professor concerned with communication barriers and complexities of the communication environment around the world, my life experience is an asset rather than a liability.
In the last 15 years, I have helped to educate some 3,000 students who work now as journalists in Asia, Africa, Western Europe,
1 See p. 247.
Latin America, and here in the United States. Many of them are still in touch, sharing their successes and failures with me.
One thing that I would like to add; one of them is living here in Washington and he is the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, my former student, and I am very proud of it.
Why is it important to discuss the subject of defectors and resolve the basic problems and mistakes of the past? In the on-going competition and struggle between the first world and the second world or, more specifically, between the United States and the Soviet Union, defectors play quite an important role.
Communist countries consider propaganda, covert action and intelligence operations important foreign policy tools. When we compare the two largest intelligence services in the world, the KGB and the CIA, it is quite obvious that the Soviets dominate the field of human intelligence. I do not believe that we will ever match the number of secret agents they command in various parts of the world. But in comparison with the Soviets, we have one great advantage: defectors.
Every year, a number of prominent Communist officials, artists, journalists, military officers, and intelligence operatives defect. They bring with them a large volume of important political, military, economic and national security information vital for our defense.
Our knowledge of the decision-making process in the Soviet Bloc depends largely on information obtained from defectors. The Soviet superiority in human intelligence is outweighed by vital information brought in by defectors. There are many potential defectors in the Soviet Union, in Czechoslovakia, in Poland, East Germany and other Communist countries.
If we allow more cases like the Yurchenko case to happen, we will only hurt ourselves. Many potential defectors will abandon their plans because they will be afraid that they may eventually end up back in the Soviet Union, as Yurchenko did.
Most Americans-including government officials-have a difficult time understanding the problems of defectors, their fears, culture shock symptoms, and feeling of guilt, as well as their problems of adjustment to the highly competitive American Society.
I have made available to the U.S. Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations part of the research materials and notes concerned with my book "The Treatment of Defectors, Psyschological Trauma of Defection, Debriefing, and the Process of Adjustment to American Society." To finish this project will require a few more years and the materials I sent to you reflect it. I have also sent to the Subcommittee my recommendations and suggestions on how to resolve some of the most urgent problems of defectors. These are based on my own experience, and discussions with other defectors and extensive study of literature by and about defectors.
I think it is important that after this inquiry by the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, we establish a system that will eliminate the basic mistakes in the treatment of defectors, a system that will smooth, rather than complicate the process of their adjustment to American society.
Defectors from Communist military and intelligence services, for example, should be debriefed and handled by individuals who are
not only experts in their fields, but also experts in human psychology, capable of handling defectors' trauma on a professional level.
A defector from a Communist country comes to the United States because of serious political, religious, moral and economic conflicts with the values and practices of his own culture and political environment. The conflict and its resolution, that is, defection, is followed by an inevitable process of abandoning his only value system and accepting the value system of the new country. It is a very painful process, accompanied by an intense feeling of loneliness and isolation.
The individual realizes only after the defection how strong the bond to his native country is. The emotional turmoil is further aggravated by a sense of the permanent loss of family members, friends, and familiar surroundings.
In Eastern Europe, friendship is very important, and many defectors and political refugees complain about what they call superficiality and the lack of deep bonds among Americans. Back there, they say, one can be very open with close friends and immediate family members. Without this supportive circle of trusted individuals, the defector feels lonely and abandoned in a confusing, hostile world.
The psychological trauma of defection is accompanied by feelings of guilt, nightmares and suicidal thoughts and tendencies. The defector is concerned about what his closest friends and family members will think about his defection. He worries about his public image when the news about his defection appears in the press. He has to fight a major battle with himself to overcome the feeling of guilt.
If he is unable to rationalize and accept his defection as the right decision and sees himself as a traitor, his trauma will develop into a serious, long-lasting crisis. In that case, he becomes a candidate for suicide, drug or alcohol addiction or eventually may decide to go back and face the ultimate punishment which, unconsciously, he thinks he deserves.
Very few intelligence operatives turned defectors are able to find suitable jobs in professions where they can use their educational, analytical and language skills.
Academic institutions, think tanks and research centers which could benefit from the intellectual and professional talents among prominent defectors do not easily accept somebody who is recommended by the CIA.
Most American academics, even those with conservative political leanings, do not like governmental intrusions into their fields. A request to put an unknown, untested defector on the payroll of an academic institution at a time when there are not many jobs available for American applicants is perceived as risky business, both financially and politically.
In the spring of 1986, I prepard a proposal to establish a fellowship at Boston University that would be awarded to a political refugee or a defector from a Communist country or from a authoritarian Third World country. Boston University's academic officials and the administration supported the idea and encouraged me to proceed. The proposal focused on two major objectives: