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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 preemptive 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 needed was calculated, and it was something less than 50. It was something less than one for each state. And it was based not on historical state lines, but it was based on population centers and geography and the ability to move these things around where needed.
The counter to that was that some people said, well, every state ought to have one. And they did not have a similar study that said that the additional cost would provide a benefit that merited that cost. And when one is looking at the difference between shipbuilding and the difference between chemical-biological units and antiterrorists and force protection and all of those things, they tend to make calculations about where those funds can be best invested.
Now, that is not to say that any state can't have one themselves, if they want one themselves. They can do it. But at the moment, in terms of priorities, the plan, the study that went forward, I am advised, reflected the best judgment of the people who understand these things as to how the coverage of our country could be best employed.
Second, with respect to Reserve forces and the National Guard, you are quite right, they represent an enormous fraction of our total capability. And you are also quite right that they were activated in large numbers in the Gulf War.
Clearly, all the discussion about the President coming to the Congress and seeking a resolution, the President going to the United Nations, helping them understand the circumstance, security circumstance we are in takes away any strategic surprise for Saddam Hussein. He is going to be watching what happens and making his calculations and his judgments. That does not mean that you have lost all tactical surprise, but you certainly have lost a strategic surprise, so to speak.
I disagree completely that there should be a complete activation prior to a vote in the Congress. I mean, we already have 70,000 reservists activated and we already have 20,000-plus people on stop losses who are not leaving the service. And we have got a very sizable force. And there is no question but that we would have to activate the Reserves for various functions and the National Guard, depending on what decisions are made. But I think it would be a fundamental mistake to think that it had to precede some kind of a vote.
Mr. TAYLOR. Mr. Secretary, if I could, you made allusion to the Dark Winter scenario study done by Senator Nunn and others. One of the things it talked about was simultaneous biological attacks on a number of cities. One of the things that my friend from New Jersey has pointed out as recently as September 11th of last year, when the attacks occurred in New York and his home State of New Jersey asked for one of those weapons of mass destruction teams from other states to participate, the answer from the Governors was “No, we are going to take care of our own.”
As you so correctly pointed out, do we have to wait to be burned before we address this? Even if we started to, those teams aren't ramped up for at least 18 months to 2 years. But a journey of 61,000 miles starts with a single step. We have to start now.
If you really believe that the Iraqis possess these weapons of mass destruction and have the intention to use them, why do we delay a single day in ramping up these teams so that every state has some degree of protection and every state has some degree of training and we know that the responders don't themselves die when they go to find out what happened? At least they have the equipment. Because I think it is safe to say that if there were only 18 chemical-biological suits in the city of New Orleans, I doubt there are 18 chemical-biological suits in the entire State of Mississippi.
Secretary RUMSFELD. Correct me if I am wrong, but is this a Department of Defense-controlled matter or is it Homeland Security?
General MYERS. I think there are pieces in both places. If I—the only thing I recall for first responders I think is, as Governor Ridge has said, first responders should be the civilians, and then we fold in where they cannot handle the task. And I think that is the policy.
Mr. TAYLOR. General, with all due respect, this is an attack on the American people. It is not a flood, it is not a tornado.
Second thing is, the cities are not equipped for this. The city of New Orleans has over 1 million people. They have got 18 hazardous material suits and the people who know how to respond to this, 18 out of 1 million. And they are better prepared than most cities in the South. This is a national defense priority. I would certainly hope that you all would make it a national defense priority. And let's not wait to be burned before we respond to it.
General MYERS. I think, Congressman, one of the things that the Department has done that is going to be really important in this area is to stand up the new Northern Command, because that is exactly one of the things they have got to address, is the planning and the training and so forth. So those requirements could change over time, no question about that.
Mr. TAYLOR. I ask that you keep an open mind on this, Mr. Secretary.
Mr. HUNTER. I thank the gentleman. I know this is an important issue and would have to—maybe a follow-up briefing for Mr. Taylor on this. But Mr. McHugh has been waiting to ask his question. We have a few minutes left before the vote.
Secretary RUMSFELD. I will get back to you on that.
Mr. McHUGH. Thank you, gentlemen. Mr. Secretary, welcome; and General Myers, thank you for your service. As has been mentioned here a number of times, it is very difficult to talk about this issue in the open session. All of us have had the opportunity for briefings and I would hope all of us, or certainly most of us, have taken those.
But I get a bit concerned when I hear about, as you noted, Mr. Secretary, the fact that somehow the public record does not in any way justify, legitimatize, or give cause for what we all hope never comes about, and that is military intervention. And I just want to say to those in the audience—and I hope the two active participants in the hearing, in an informal nature earlier, as well take the chance to read your written testimony, Mr. Secretary; because in a very clear way, as you can do so well, it spells out things not off the record—not that we have to make conclusions about or guesses—but the things this regime has done, particularly vis-a-vis