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1983, I have been self-employed, running my own computer business. Also, last year, I published my autobiography, “Stepping Down From the Star, and since then I did some lectures on campuses and for private organizations. I also participated in a variety of radio and television programs.
Senator Nunn. What is the name of your book, you might as well get a little free advertising in here?
Ms. Costa. It is sold out anyway, but the name is "Stepping Down From the Star.”
Senator COHEN. I have the same problem, but mine didn't do as well as yours. (Laughter.]
Ms. Costa. I did read yours, Senator Cohen.
Senator Nunn. Senator Cohen is not permitted to name his title any more. He has done it for the last six to eight months constantly.
Ms. Costa. Isn't it terrible that publishers don't go into reprints? Senator COHEN. I know.
Ms. Costa. I would also like to note at this point the clearly delineated distinction between intelligence and non-intelligence defectors that was made yesterday by Director Webster really does not apply to me. Mine is a borderline case that enables me to look at the issue sort of from both sides of the fence.
I went through the CIA debriefing and received government assistance through the CIA defector relocation program, including the change of identity, and all of the necessary security procedures. On the other hand, after I have established myself professionally, I requested that the financial assistance would be discontinued, and now I am one of the other group of defectors.
I support myself fully. I support myself and my children. I don't get any assistance from the government. In that respect, I am in the same boat as other non-intelligence defectors who came here to this country and have to cope on their own. So I am looking at the issue from those two points.
I was not able to be present at the hearing yesterday, but I did read the statements of all the people who were testifying yesterday. In order to save time, I do not want to repeat the points that they made here. I would like to note that I found the staff report of the committee to be extremely comprehensive and well researched. I subscribe to every point of that report. That, I would like to note for the record.
Although I will try to avoid a repetition of what other people said yesterday, I would like to take some of the points made there and expand them in light of my own experience. There are only three issues that I would like to bring up today, and after that I will be happy to answer your questions.
Number one, I think that serious consideration or reconsideration should be given to the definition of intelligence value and national security issues. There is no question that information of direct intelligence value, such as the identity of Soviet agents, covert operations, and military intelligence, et cetera, is and will remain the first priority of the U.S. Government.
However, the U.S. foreign policy does not depend solely on knowledge of the intentions of the Soviet Army. It is especially true nowadays when the changes in the Soviet economic and cultural policy make understanding of Soviet mentality critical to foreign policy considerations.
I can understand the frustration of so-called "civilian" defectors who are not intelligence officers-the economists, the high level members of the Soviet apparatus-when they are told that their knowledge of the workings of the Soviet system, of its decisionmaking process, of the personnel involved in the policy-making, are of no intelligence value.
It is, and when these civilian defectors interpret the current changes in the USSR and are able to give prognoses about future directions of the developments there that would be of benefit both to the U.S. Government and to the American public in general.
I would like specifically to emphasize that the field of understanding the Soviet mentality and of correct interpretation of the changes, real and not so real, taking place in the Soviet Union, is no longer the domain of academic and government experts. The Soviet Union is taking its case directly to the American public. They are trying to influence American public opinion. They are doing it through very skillful use of their spokesmen, of the socalled "Space Bridges," and Citizen Summits.
The Soviet effort to influence American public opinion has reached unprecedented dimensions. One of the ways to counteract this onslaught is to provide a balanced view from our side, and many defectors are better qualified to do so than American born scholars.
If there is any question that the Soviet Union still considers us, the defectors, a threat to them, I would like to remind the committee that the Soviet spokesman, Vladimir Posner, who is the foremost speaker for the Soviet establishment, never hesitates to engage in a debate with any American scholar or any government official, but he has never agreed to debate any of us, and for a very simple reason-we can beat him at his own game, and he knows it.
The second point that I would like to make is a very specific one. Dr. Bittman was talking yesterday about the psychological trauma of defection, debriefing and resettlement. Mr. Cherne, this morning, spoke very eloquently on the same issue.
I don't know whom Senator Cohen saw in the audience disagreeing with that, but I don't know any defector, and I know quite a few, who did not go through that terrible agony of guilt, frustration, next to suicidal tendencies. It is all there. And at the time when you are going through all that, and I went through this CIA debriefing process myself, at that time, the first three or four months, when your whole world collapses, when you don't know who you are any more, you go through the routine CIA procedure of psychiatric examination.
If there is any way to influence this, either through legislation or by any other means, I appeal to this subcommittee to do something about it. This is very wrong. It is a very wrong time to do that, and it has damaged many people, and could potentially damage many more.
My own life and my own future in this country was nearly ruined by a report from a psychiatrist who was, fortunately for me, stopped in time, and I have heard from people who have similar experiences.
On top of the fact that the defectors are in a highly emotional state at that time, and maybe not the easiest people to deal with, the psychiatrists are American trained, they do not understand the difference in cultural and ethnic background, and the result is a total disaster. I can give you some details of this later, if you wish, but this is just a personal plea on behalf of many who will still have to go through this procedure. It should be discontinued.
Senator Nunn. Could I interrupt you there just for one question. Ms. COSTA. Yes.
Senator Nunn. Is there any organization of defectors who are organized to assist new defectors coming in? Is there any kind of a structure where people like you and Ďr. Ushakov would be available to counsel with to help in this transition for new defectors?
Ms. COSTA. In that initial stage, Dr. Ushakov and myself would have found ourselves in a different place. When I asked for an asylum, I talked to the FBI, and immediately after the final meeting at the State Department, and I was turned over to the CIA. At that point, I had no contact with the outside world. I was kept in a safehouse until the debriefing was over.
One of the organizations that exists and is working effectively to help defectors to go through this anguish of initial adjustment is, of course, the Jamestown Foundation. As far as I know, the Jamestown Foundation has been lobbying for several years to have early access to defectors, but without much success.
As a matter of fact, the reason I came out into the public in 1985, because I was living under an assumed name for seven years, was that I tried to get in touch with Vitaly Yurchenko. I called the FBI and I called the CIA, because I had read reports that he was having a difficult time. I knew him slightly when he was at the Embassy in Washington, and I thought that I could help. Unfortunately, he had returned to the Soviet Union before that meeting took place.
My understanding is that the Agency does not encourage it, and I think it is a wrong practice because nobody can help a defector at that stage better than another defector, especially those people who made it successfully, whose transition is complete, who can tell them, yes, there is light at the end of the tunnel. It is not forever. There is hope. But we are not permitted to do that for security consideration, or whatever. This is probably another change that probably needs to be made.
Senator NUNN. I think that Senator Cohen and I should take that up with the CIA, and get their reasoning. They may have a reasoning, but I think you make a very valid point, it seems to me.
Ms. Costa. There is always a reasoning, but quite often bureaucratic reasoning doesn't make particular sense. But there always is some.
Senator COHEN. I would say, from my observation, the intelligence community has a shortsighted goal, and that is to get as much "intelligence information" as they can in the shortest period of time, and not taking into account that by, perhaps, utilizing the services of others who have gone through the experience, who understand the psyche or the Russian mind as such, would accomplish that goal in a much more secure and productive fashion.
I think the tendency has been, over the years, to get the information, to squeeze it, as they say, to get as much as they can, and then they drop the individual. This has proven to be not only counterproductive, but inhumane as to the feelings of the individuals.
Senator Nunn. Why don't you go ahead. We didn't mean to interrupt, but I just wanted to clarify that one point.
Ms. Costa. That is all right. I don't mind being interrupted. Certainly the question about the debriefing has been raised many times before
I understand that there are some changes in the defector relocation program. I have been told, for instance, that the number of case officers has been increased. I don't know how much good that will do because, if the quality of people has not changed, you can have any number of those case officers, and you would still have problems.
It is a matter of the people who are involved with the defectors. It is a very difficult job. I don't want to diminish the effort that the Agency is making. There are some excellent people there. In all honesty, we can be difficult to deal with. When you have an individual in that state of turmoil, it is difficult.
It is not a nine to five job, and that is why it is so important to have people who are committed to it, who are almost volunteers. That's why help from such organizations as the Jamestown Foundation would be critical, because people from the foundation are committed to this cause and they are volunteers.
That brings me to the last point and probably the most painful. Mr. Cherne was talking this morning about meaningful employment. It is a sore point for all of us. I must say that I am considered one of the most successful cases. I went through school. I run my own business. I don't depend on anybody, I am self-employed. Yet, I do have an axe to grind. I am also speaking for somebody else here.
Let me start with the fact that it has been said many times that defectors come here with a mission. It is probably true.
The most important issue for many defectors is meaningful employment. For those of us who don't receive government assistance, it is also a matter of financial security. For those who are provided for under the provisions of the Central Intelligence Act 110, it is a matter of sense of self-worth and self-respect.
There are many ways in which defectors can be employed in this country. It is not a matter of finding a job, because any person who is reasonably healthy can drive a cab or wash dishes in a restaurant as some of us have done. There is no lack of job opportunities, and there is nothing wrong with holding jobs like that.
There are many emigres in the history of this country who started as dishwashers and rose to become presidents of corporations. That is the American dream, and I don't argue with that premise.
What is more, I do believe that any person who has found enough strength within himself to break away from his past, with his system, with his established standard of living, will find in himself enough strength to build his new life from scratch, and most of us do, only a few don't.
It has also been said that defectors come to this country with exaggerated expectations. It is probably true, but this statement must be qualified. It is not the expectation of striking it rich that we suffer from, it is the expectation of being useful.
Most of the people I know defected because they have given up any hope of being useful to the society where they lived, useful in the right sense, not as obedient servants of the society, but as thinking people who wanted to improve that society.
Yes, we come here with that expectation that we can be useful to our newfound motherland, the country that adopted us, and when that doesn't happen, it is a very difficult experience.
Quite obviously, given our area of expertise-our knowledge of the Soviet system, its inner workings, the Soviet mentality-we can be most useful in academia, in teaching, in sharing our knowledge and expertise with various government agencies.
In light of what I said earlier about the quiet conquest of American minds by Soviet propaganda, I would even put academic work and teaching ahead of all others, but these are precisely the areas that are virtually closed to us.
General Odom pointed out yesterday in his testimony that there are serious barriers to employment of defectors in academia. There is langauge, writing skills, lack of knowledge of the body of Soviet research that has already been done by American scholars, and lack of academic credentials. All of this is true and applies to many people who come to this country, although it is not something that could not be overcome.
When Sasha Ushakov came to this country, he could barely speak English. You will hear him speak today. He is fluent. He teaches courses at universities. It can be overcome, but to demonstrate my point, I will bring up two individual cases-my own, and that of my colleague and co-author in both journalistic and literary projects, Major Stanislav Levchenko.
I would like to note, for the record, that although Mr. Levchenko could not be present here today, he has submitted a written statement to the committee and he has authorized me to bring these specific points on his behalf.
Most of the points made by General Odom about barriers to academic employment are not relevant in our cases. Both Mr. Levchenko and myself speak fluent English. We both have writing skills that at least the print media in this country have found adequate. We have written newspaper articles that have been published. Both of us are frequently called upon by the media to comment on current events, so our expertise is valued. Both of us have lectured on American campuses, usually at the direct invitation of the students. Yet, I don't think that either of us would ever be offered a teaching position in a college or a research position in a major think-tank.
In fact, although I have not tried simply because I cannot spend time on fruitless search, Mr. Levchenko has tried and has not been successful in obtaining employment in academia.
At this point, let me diverge and take each case individually.
I have done graduate study in sociology in the Soviet Union, and I have taught Marxism there for three years before I came to the
I See Exhibit No. 11 on p. 685.