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With respect to Israel, there is no question but that Iraq's neighbors, were there to be a conflict, would have a degree of vulnerability. And there is also no question but that would probably not last for a very long time, that they would be vulnerable. And there is also no doubt in my mind that it would be in Israel's overwhelming best interest not to get involved. General Meyers.
General MYERS. Let me just add a couple of things to that. His ground forces are roughly about half of what they were a decade ago. He has got 23 divisions today, of which 6 are Republican Guard. You never know for sure, but the reports are that the morale is low, particularly in the Regular Army units, higher in the Republican Guard units because the regime pays more attention to those units. He has got about 300 combat aircraft of which less than half are mission-capable on any given day, and from what we can tell from reactions to some of our reconnaissance vehicles, not very tactically adept.
In terms of the threat that the forces there would present to Israel, clearly that would be in the missile regime. And to not address Mr. Congressman Spratt's comment on that, but to just make one little comment, I think we are much better today because of some of the things I said in my opening statement: In terms of our command and control and communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance will be much more effective in thwarting that threat to Israel today.
Mr. HEFLEY. Thank you very much.
Mr. ORTIZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to welcome the Secretary and General Meyers this morning.
You know, we have huge responsibilities as we listen to all this testimony, whether it is classified or in open hearing, and as we listen to the experts, sometimes it gets to be a little confusing to try to sort out all this testimony. In my district, they quite often show me a statement that was made by General Žinni back in Florida when he was speaking to a group, when he said, “Most of us who have either fought in a war, have worn the uniform, do not want to go to war, but those that wear the civilian clothing are eager to go to war. ”
I am just wondering if there is something much deeper in today's information that we do not have, because when we get that resolution, this is going to be very serious business when we vote on it.
And I can remember when President Reagan was here and we decided to expand the time of the troops in Lebanon, I voted for it. And then we had 245 Marines who died. I mean, this is very, very serious business, and we are trying to picture that to be sure that whatever we do, that we make the right decision.
Another thing that my constituents ask me, will this escalate? And for the first time if we do that, if we attack Iraq, are we going to begin to see suicide bombers within the United States because we don't have the right intelligence? We know that there are cells in the United States. And these are the things that we have to sort out.
I want to make the right decision. And I hope, Mr. Chairman, that we can ask the general, whom I have a lot of respect for, to
come and testify before this committee because we have huge responsibilities.
Maybe, Mr. Secretary, you can elaborate a little bit on this.
Secretary RUMSFELD. Yes, sir. It is an important question. And you can find generals and admirals on every side of these issues. You can find civilians on every side of these issues. Oversimplifying it, I think, is a disservice. And it seems to me that anyone with any sense at all would approach the subject of using military force with a great deal of caution, with a great deal of care to the things that can go wrong. And there are any number of things that can happen and go wrong.
To go directly to your question, which was something like if we were to engage in a military effort in Iraq again, is it conceivable that that could stimulate terrorist attacks and suicide bombers and the like? I think we learned from September 11th that we don't have to go to war with Iraq to stimulate suicide bombers. They are already there. They attacked us. They killed over 3,000 people. And it wasn't because we went to war with Iraq. It was because they decided that that is what they wanted to do. And that there are thousands of those people that were trained in Afghanistan and other countries spread across this globe who were financed by people who think it is good to finance people to kill Americans and other people.
So I think that it would be fundamentally wrong to assumethat there would be a cause and effect, because we have already seen the effect without the cause. And there is no question free countries are vulnerable to people who are willing to give their lives to kill innocent men women and children. That is the world we are living in. The thing that is critically different today is this nexus between terrorist states that have weapons of mass destruction and have relationships with terrorist networks. And suddenly the people who are not deterrable, the people who are suicide bombers, to use your phrase, only have not conventional capability potentially, but unconventional capability and the ability to pose enormous destruction on innocent people.
So I would like to add one comment on Mr. Spratt's question on inspections if I might take this moment. There is no question but that Iraq went to school on the inspectors, and the longer they were there, the more they found how they worked and what they did, and developed the ability to use more underground, more tunneling, burying more weapons in different locations, using many, many multiple locations, hundreds as opposed to one or two or three locations. And it is a moving target I think it is safe to say.
I should also add to Mr. Skelton: Congressman, I am reminded that the Department of State has had a Future of Iraq Project effort going forward, and they would be the Department that obviously would be able to give you a greater granularity on that.
General MYERS. Could I chime in a little bit for Congressman Spratt? I would like to tag along with what the Secretary said. I think another way of saying that is that Iraq over the last decade has become a master, a regime—a master of deception. As he said, they have gone underground, they have gone mobile, they combine their biological and chemical weapons production with legitimate
facilities, making it very difficult to sort out one from the other because they can convert so quickly.
I think we found out when we had U.N. inspectors over there that very often inspectors would come to the front door, and out the back door went the evidence. We know that as well. So it is going to make this problem of discovery just very, very difficult.
Mr. SPRATT. I simply want to make two points. One is what they did accomplish shouldn't be diminished, particularly in the early part of their efforts. It is substantial. And second, they need to be backed up if they are going to be put back there. There might be some advantage to sending them back there robustly to try to ferret out, particularly the VX and the biological weapon agents that we might see thrown against us if we later invade.
Secretary RUMSFELD. That is a fair comment. I mean, those are issues one has to put on the balance. The potential advantage is that you are characterizing that they are not nothing, they are something that isn't trivial, and balance it against the attitude of the regime and the determination of the regime, which is for us to not have knowledge of what it is they are doing. If there is anything that is clear, that is it. And second, the fact that time is passing, and how much time, how many years, does one want to allow to pass given the progress that is being made with respect to their weapons programs?
Mr. HUNTER. I thank the gentleman. And, Mr. Secretary, we had the inspectors in front of us. The essence of their testimony was in the early years, when we had a virtual occupation of the country, they were acquiescent, and that is when we made the fairly major finds. But then in the later years, the only person there when they got to these facilities, the vast majority, was the piano player. There was nobody else there. And that they were met by the Iraqi bureaucracy at over 1,200 of these facilities, with nothing inside. They were virtually hollow inspections.
Nonetheless, I think this is an area that our members are very, very interested in. And the gentleman has spent a couple hundred hours on this issue, the fine gentleman from New Jersey Mr. Saxton.
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Just to follow up on the Chairman's comments, Mr. Secretary, last week we hosted before the committee Dr. David Kay, who is the former United Nations chief nuclear weapons inspector in Iraq, and Dr. Richard Spertzel, who is the former head of the biology section of the inspection team. And the message was unmistakably one of frustration; of inability to get the cooperation of the Iraqis; of experiences like being made to wait in parking lots for days, and then to be turned away from a facility; and just a general notion that at least the inspection effort that was made in the nineties was unsuccessful, to the point of finally being ejected from the country.
So that is a frustration which we talked about at length with Dr. Kay and Dr. Spertzel, and then asked them what it would take to be successful in a future effort at such an inspection. And they said that without the total cooperation of the Iraqi Government, that it would be next to impossible to do; and with a team many times the size of the team that was previously in Iraq, with those two conditions, perhaps it would be successful.
Now, I heard—with everyone else, I observed the events of recent days when the Iraqi Foreign Minister wrote a letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations. And forgive me for being skeptical, but I read this letter, and I would just like to read the two-what I think are the operative paragraphs.
Paragraph 2 says: “I am pleased to inform you”—to the Secretary—“of the decision of the Government of the Republic of Iraq to allow the return of United Nations weapon inspectors to Iraq without conditions.”
And then several paragraphs later it says: “To this end, the Government of the Republic of Iraq is ready to discuss the practical arrangements necessary.
I guess this is kind of symptomatic of the problem. The problem is in one paragraph we use the words “without conditions,” and several paragraphs later we have to talk about the “arrangements.” So I guess I am asking you for your take on this. Is this the same kind of thing that we ran into in the last inspection effort already in the invitation to come?
Secretary RUMSFELD. Well, I asked Secretary Powell about that—who has been dealing, of course, with the United Nationsabout it, and I asked him this morning. And his view was that it is very obviously a tactical step on their part and not a straightforward without-conditions approach.
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you for that. I wanted to just verify that I was reading the words and interpreting them as you did.
Let me ask another question. Going back years, we know that the Soviet Union was successful in developing a whole array of weaponized diseases known as biological weapons. They ranged from anthrax and smallpox, which are familiar terms to us, to weaponization of plague and tularemia and Marburg and many others diseases. Do we know to what extent the Iraqis have been able to borrow technology from others, perhaps including the Soviet Union or the Russians, today—or others, or former Soviet States? And to what extent is this program developed in Iraq?
Secretary RUMSFELD. That really is a subject I would prefer to have asked of the Intelligence Community and in closed session. But I can say obviously that they have had an enormous appetite for weapons, biological weapons and chemical weapons. They have taken these capabilities and weaponized them. They are continuing to do so today. They are looking not only at a variety of biological capabilities but at a variety of ways of dispensing or weaponizing them so that they have a range of choices with respect to it.
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you.
Mr. HUNTER. Thank the gentleman. The gentleman from Mississippi, Mr. Taylor.
Mr. TAYLOR. Thank you for coming, Mr. Secretary and General Meyers.
Mr. Secretary, there is not a single thing that you have said today that I disagree with. In fact, I think based on history and the element of surprise that was attained first by the Israelis in 1967 and then by the Egyptians and the Arabs in 1973, I would even add the element that since we as a Nation are talking about going to war—and it is obviously being carried on a daily basis on all the cable networks—that we as a Nation should not rule out a preemp
tive strike on the part of the Iraqis, particularly an act of terror against our citizens for all the reasons that you outlined.
To quote you, “We should anticipate vastly more lethal attacks before they happen.” With that in mind, there are two questions that I would like to hear you address.
Number one, half of our forces were in the Guard Reserve for the Gulf War. One of the things President Bush, then-President Bush did, correctly, was almost a total mobilization of the Guard Reserve for the military factors that were involved, and also because in my opinion it made it clear to the American people that this is everybody's war. It is not the poor draftee from across town, like Vietnam. It is everybody's war.
And I happen to-having served in Congress and saw the mood shift of the American people, that is when the signs went up in front of the city halls and the county courthouses, “The following people from St. Louis, the following people from Waveland, proudly served in the Gulf War.”
I think if we are talking of war, I think there has to be a mobilization of the Guard Reserve prior to that vote, because we had best expect the Iraqis to act either prior to that vote or immediately after that vote.
Second thing, Mr. Secretary, I just had a conversation with one of the senior chiefs from the New Orleans Fire Department. New Orleans, by southern regions, is a huge city, and yet that huge city by southern standards has only 18 people trained in chemical and hazardous material. I am talking about a huge city by southern standards. One of the things that this House voted very strongly on in just the past couple of weeks was the desire to have a weapons of mass destruction civil support team in every state. We now have, I believe only 30, in the process of 30. It is my understanding that
Mr. HUNTER. If the gentleman will suspend, we will accommodate your question here. Let me just let colleagues know we have got a vote coming up, but we intend to continue the hearing through the vote. And, Mr. Hefley, if you could go vote early perhaps and come on back, we will continue to hold the hearing. We will have some continuity. I believe it is only one vote. Staff, correct me if I am wrong.
Go ahead, Mr. Taylor.
Mr. TAYLOR. Mr. Secretary, it is my understanding that the House voted almost unanimously for a weapons of mass destruction civil support team in the National Guard in every State to be the first responders, to have the training and the equipment to help out what are in many instances volunteer fire departments in this—almost every instance, underfunded fire and police departments to respond to what we know is eventually going to happen, just as you laid out very well.
My question to you is, sir, why is your legislative shop over on the Senate side telling them that we don't need one of these in every state? And this comes from conversations that we have had with Senator Levin's staff and others.
Secretary RUMSFELD. Two comments on your questions and your statements. My understanding is that a study was made and the number of these chemical-biological elements units that were need