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Dr. Martin-BITTMAN. Well, I have a number of very specific sug. gestions that I would like to make available to the agencies or individuals who in the future will be involved in debriefing and handling defectors. I prepared a very comprehensive material, something around 80 or 90 pages. I don't intend to talk about it now in detail, because some of it is confidential, but I would like to share my experience with people who are going to handle defectors in the future.
Senator Nunn. I know that would be very helpful. We would like for you to stay in touch with us as we go through the hearings. We are going to have a series of recommendations to make at the end, and we welcome your views as we go along if you have any additional views to supplement your testimony. Thank you.
Dr. MARTIN-BITTMAN. Thank you.
Senator Nunn. Thank you very much. We appreciate you being here.
This completes our witnesses for the first day of what will be at least three days of hearings on this subject. Tomorrow morning at 9:30, we will be back in this room. The first witness will be Leo Cherne, chairman of the International Rescue Committee. I have known Leo Cherne for a long time. He wears many hats. He is going to be a very fine witness for us in this particular area of his expertise. We will then have a panel. We will have two Soviet defectors, Alexandra Costa and Aleksandr Ushakov. So we will have those two witnesses on the panel.
We may have other witnesses depending on the time. We have alerted a couple of other witnesses we may be able to hear from them, but it depends on the length of time for those two different witness groups.
I thank everyone for attending today, and we will be in this room tomorrow morning at 9:30.
[Whereupon, at 1:05 p.m., the subcommittee was recessed to reconvene the following day.)
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT'S HANDLING OF SOVIET AND COMMUNIST BLOC DEFECTORS
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 9, 1987
Washington, DC. The subcommittee met, pursuant to recess, at 9:45 a.m., in room SD-320, Dirksen Senate Office Building, under authority of S. Res. 80, Section 13, dated January 28, 1987, Hon. Sam Nunn, chairman of the subcommittee presiding.
Members of the subcommittee present: Senator Sam Nunn, Democrat, Georgia; Senator Jim Sasser, Democrat, Tennessee; and Senator William Cohen, Republican, Maine.
Members of the professional staff present: Eleanore J. Hill, Chief Counsel and Staff Director; Daniel F. Rinzel, Chief Counsel to the Minority; Mary D. Robertson, Chief Clerk; John F. Sopko, Deputy Chief Counsel; Cynthia Comstock, Staff Assistant; Mary K. Vinson, Staff Investigator for the Minority; Rick Goodman (Senator Pryor); Marianne McGettigan (Senator Rudman); Natalie Bocock (Senator Cohen); Jim Dykstra (Intelligence Committee); Laurie Beth Feld (Senator Trible), Evelyn Boyd (Senator Sasser); Kathleen A. Dias, Executive Assistant to the Chief Counsel; David B. Buckley, Investigator; and Marilyn Munson, Secretary.
[Senators present at convening of hearing: Senators Nunn and Cohen.]
Senator NUNN. The subcommittee will come to order.
I apologize for not being able to start on time. We had a roll call vote in the Senate. I also had two urgent phone calls I had to take on the way over here.
We are pleased to have the second day of our hearings.
Senator Cohen, we welcome you this morning. We appreciate your participation yesterday and today.
It is a great asset to have Senator Cohen on this subcommittee because he is also the co-chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and we have a very definite overlap on this subject and on many subjects with the Intelligence Committee. It makes for a very smooth transition with his great leadership.
Our first witness today is Mr. Leo Cherne, who is the Chairman of the International Rescue Committee. Mr. Cherne is an individual I have known for a long time. He wears many different hats. He has been an outstanding leader in the national security field. He was on the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board for
many years. I believe he was the chairman under President Ford. He is an outstanding leader in our country.
Leo, we are delighted to have you here today.
Mr. CHERNE. I can't tell you how delighted I am to be here and to express to you my appreciation, Mr. Chairman, and to a Senator I admire greatly, Senator Cohen. It is an opportunity I value for particular reasons at this point, which I will state.
Senator Nunn. We swear all witnesses before our subcommittee, with no exceptions, so we will ask you to hold up your right hand. Do you swear the testimony you will give will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God?
Mr. CHERNE. I do.
Senator NUNN. Why don't you proceed with your statement, and then we will have questions.
TESTIMONY OF LEO CHERNE, CHAIRMAN, INTERNATIONAL
RESCUE COMMITTEE, INC., ACCOMPANIED BY ROBERT DE VECCHI, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, IRC
Mr. CHERNE. Let me say at the outset that I don't intend to read all of my statement. I have cut out portions of the full statement, which will be entered into the record, and those I have kept state with less use of time what would otherwise take more time if I extemporized
Before I start the statement, I would like to make two very different points.
There is a misunderstanding and, to be perfectly frank, it exists among some Members of the House and Senate, that those voluntary agencies which assist refugees to resettle in the United States, or to resettle in other parts of the world, but particularly in the United States, are costing the taxpayer an enormous sum of money, and who needs the refugees anyway.
It is with great pride that I say that as regards the International Rescue Committee, which started within three months of the time Hitler came to power in 1933, every dollar of revenue contributed by private citizens, or in some cases by the government, six cents of that dollar is spent, in total, some years as high as seven, for all administration, fund raising, and non-program activities. The balance, 93 cents, is spent directly for assistance to those whom it is our obligation, we feel, to help. We are very proud of that record.
Senator COHEN. How would you like to come to work for the OMB?
Mr. CHERNE. Unfortunately, the OMB, and I say this not in criticism, but the OMB is one of the forces which results in a constant attrition of the number of refugees we are resettling in the United States. I don't blame the OMB for that, I blame the problem of the budget, to which I am very sensitive.
Senator Nunn. If I could interrupt for just a moment. I think that it is important for people to understand your background a little bit more. You, of course, are chairman of what is known as the International Rescue Committee, and that is what you were just referring to.
See p. 294.
Mr. CHERNE. That is correct.
Senator NUNN. You are also a member of the Board of Directors of Freedom House.
Mr. CHERNE. That is correct.
Senator Nunn. Is Freedom House a part of the International Rescue Committee?
Mr. CHERNE. No.
Senator Nunn. Maybe you could give us a little bit on background on that. I think the public would also be interested in knowing that you are a member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.
Mr. CHERNE. I am a member of the Presdient's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and at the same time a member of these two other voluntary, private organizations. There is not only no link between the two organizations but there never has been a link between the two. They have different ways of expressing a kind of addiction to freedom, and each performs very differently.
In the case of Freedom House, it came into existence when Britain was under siege in 1940, at the very beginning of World War II. The country at that point, and certainly these Houses of the Congress, were overwhelmingly isolationist, didn't think that the United States had any responsibility to in any way become involved with the European troubles.
Freedom House, at first organized by William Allen White and other distinguished American citizens, was formed as an organization to advance the notion of freedom, hence the reason for the choice of the name. It was in contrast to Hitler's Brown House. Ours was Freedom House, and Freedom House has remained throughout these years a voice for the expansion of freedom in the United States and outside. It has not limited its activities.
It is in that connection, incidentally, that Ludmilla Thorne, as a key member of the staff of Freedom House, has a number of times gone to Afghanistan in order to determine what we at Freedom House felt we ought to know both about the efforts of the Mujahedeen, as well as the situation of those Russian soldiers we knew had defected, a group almost impossible to be precise about, but they are in the several hundreds.
May I take this opportunity to correct what may have been a mistake or misundertanding yesterday. These defecting Russian soldiers in Afghanistan are in the hands of the Mujahedeen. They are not, except for a very small minority, joining the Mujahedeen to fight their former colleagues.
As a matter of fact, they are lucky to be alive, because, if one takes a look at that war, the Mujahedeen do not have a culture of taking prisoners, assuming that the circumstances under which they are operating even made that possible.
In the circumstances under which they operate, hiding and travelling through the mountains, always on the move, do, in fact, make it a remarkably and generous unexpected activity on their part to even shelter these young Russian defecting soldiers.
I won't elaborate on that further, except to add one additional point. In the instance of the Russian soldiers who have been resettled in the United States, a very small number regrettably, it should be a much larger number, they are likely to be identified for us as a result of the efforts of Ludmilla Thorne.
Once the International Rescue Committee can gain access to them outside of Afghanistan, IRC then undertakes to resettle them. IRC is the resettling agency, and Freedom House's function is to throw the spotlight on their existence, their plight.
Senator Nunn. Thank you very much.
Mr. CHERNE. There was some confusion, and there is bound to be, that flows from the word "defector." It is used rather loosely to cover all kinds of characters. I, if you wish it, will submit for the record some definitional material about the defector to distinguish him from the expellee, the emigre, the political refugee.
In addition to which some very interesting and not specially selected cases of defectors within the last two years so that we see the enormous range of backgrounds and capabilities of these defectors, what other countries do with defectors, which varies, including, for the most part, nothing. If it is of any value, I will submit this document. 1
Senator Nunn. We will include that in the record, without objection.
Mr. CHERNE. What these defectors, expellees, emigres, and escapees, those are essentially the four groups-Before I proceed any further with that sentence, let me say that defectors are of two characters. There are those who are important for national security purposes.
CIA Director Webster, yesterday, referred to them, but for understandable reasons did not go further than his identification of the fact that the CIA does have an interest in what is essentially a lim
a ited number who do potentially have information, judgments of importance to the intelligence community.
There is a larger group of defectors who are defectors simply because their employment, usually for the Soviet Union, has taken them outside the Soviet Union. When they make the decision to break with the Soviet Union and seek asylum in the United States, those who are outside of the Soviet Union are properly considered defectors. They are very different in character for the most part from those who are in the PL110, which is the category that the CIA handles.
The defectors, the emigres, the political refugees have in common their opposition to the oppressive social and political conditions they are leaving behind. In some cases, their decision to defect is quite a spontaneous event. We heard yesterday from a very able witness, I think Colonel Bittman, that in his case it was the entry of tanks into Prague in 1968, and that undoubtedly crystallized what had already been building, consciously or unconsciously, in his resistance to the Marxist government he was serving.
It is very important that we recognize the emigres or defectors who are totally opposed to the Soviet Union, nevertheless, having lived all of their lives within the Soviet Union, are significantly af
See p. 1 of Mr. Cherne's prepared statement on p. 294.