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Senator CASE. Thank you.
Senator SARBANES. You gentlemen have raised a number of important concerns which the committee has to address.
There is one matter I am concerned about that does not really reach to the substance of the arguments for or against the treaty, but has been touched on by a couple of you, actually with a different perspective, which I wanted to pursue a little bit.
Were you gentlemen present when General Brown testified and was questioned by the committee?
Mr. SMITH. I was not.
JCS CONVICTIONS CONCERNING TREATIES
Senator SARBANES. The question was raised concerning an argument which General Roberts makes in his press release—the implications being that the acting duty Joint Chiefs are not stating what they really think or believe; that they are in effect muzzled.
I notice that Colonel Jones did not take that view and, in fact, you were very explicit in stating: “I do not and will not question their sincerity and conviction on this matter.” And your concern addressed itself to the extent to which the administration was involving them in the public debate and did not run to any question that the responses and the views being given by General Brown and the other Joint Chiefs were not their own personal views; is that correct?
Colonel Jones. That is correct. My objection was to, I think, their transparent political use, but not their probity. I am not questioning their convictions or their sincerity.
Senator SARBAYES. I would like to hear from you on that point. General ROBERTS. I said: Regardless of their personal opinion, what you hear from the current Chiefs of Staff is what the administration wants you to hear. They could not possibly object publicly with their civilian bosses, including President Carter who signed the treaties.
I am not saying that they may not believe the view that they express, but what I am saving is that if they differed they could not possibly say so. We have General Singlaub, for example, who has been given another assignment.
Senator SARBANES. I want to pursue that, because General Brown was questioned quite carefully before this committee on that point, and he made some very important distinctions and I thought a rather thoughtful statement in which he indicated that as an active duty of ficer he did not feel that he could, as it were, initiate a public debate of these differences but where he appeared before a congressional com
a mittee, given our system of Government, and was directly questioned. it was his responsibility to provide to the committee his own personal view even if that differed with the position that had been taken by the administration.
He then went on to point out that he had done that himself on orra. sion, with respect to various matters, and that he would do it on this occasion if in fart he did differ, and that, therefore, he could object with his civilian bosses in this environment.
In other words, he was appearing before a congressional committee and responding to direct questions and I think it is important because I can understand the sharp differences and I think people's opinion need to be weighed in terms of their experience and their background and the validity of the arguments they make.
But I would have some concern if in resolving the matter, if it was really intended that we are not getting or receiving from the members of the Joint Chiefs their own views. We have been assured of that and, of course, Colonel Jones, you were very careful in making that statement. I take it you do not really disagree.
General ROBERTS. I didn't say he is not speaking his convictions. I am saying I don't really believe it is feasible for the Joint Chiefs as a body to publicly differ with the President on such a matter after the decision has been made.
Furthermore, I have evidence that there have been muzzling attempts elsewhere in the military structure, because we have been told that several flag rank officers were advised “Do not talk to the media on this subject" and have been reminded of their oath to support the President of the United States.
Senator SARBANES. That is the Singlaub parallel of which General Brown referred in his testimony, but that differs from either position or that of any other active duty military officer called before a congressional committee in response to direct questioning as to his views. In effect, I think his obligation is to respond forthright as to his own personal view.
General Brown drew that distinction. Let me read it to you because I think it is a fairly important matter. The question was asked of him by Senator Cark to the effect that:
Some of those in the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the higher ranks of the military are supporting this treaty in fear of maintaining or enhancing your positions. They say you are being intimidated. What is your response ?
General Brown said:
Senator, I just turned to Secretary Brown to ask if he would mind if I made an unsolicited statement at some point to get this on the record. I thank you for your question.
The rules are quite clear and I think understood by all of us, that nobody, no senior officer in uniform will remain on active duty and publicly be critical of a Presidential decision. I, in my role as Chairman of the other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have articulated as forcefully and as logically as we can the view that the Joint Chiefs of Staff hold on issues of national security. It is that if the judgment goes back against us, as it does in some cases, there is lothing in the law that says the President has to accept our views that we have to give him. We don't go public without leaving active duty first in doing so. However, the rules are also quite clear that in response to interrogation before a congressional committee that we answer fully and factually.
The public record is quite clear where we have been in opposition to a Presidential decision. I can cite two cases.
One, and I am sure this comes as no surprise, was the B-1.
The second was in January the Joint Chiefs of Staff urged that the President not plan to withdraw the Second U.S. Division from Korea.
Then he goes on with the conditions, as he calls it, that would be important.
So it is wrong to say that in the case of the Panama Canal we are doing this only because the decision has been made. I personally worked very diligently for four years to achieve these treaties with Ambassador Bunker and subsequently with Ambassador Linowitz also.
As we have testified to key points it finally found its expression in a treaty of neutrality which was conceived within the Defense Department. We have worked hard for this treaty because we feel it is right.
Now, obviously, people differ as to whether it is right or not. That is the judgment that is before us, but I do think that that makes it clear what the distinction is which General Brown has drawn in terms of his ability to respond.
He then later addressed himself to the question of General Singlaub and, of course, the distinction he made there again was the difference between, as it were, speaking out in opposition of policy, sort of out in the field as opposed to a situation before the Congress.
We have had the Joint Chiefs before the Congress and they have been asked very specifically about this matter, and I do think we are receiring their own personal opinions.
Now, that differs with a lot of people you cited and we will have to weigh that in the balance.
General Roberts. The overwhelming majority of experienced people from the Pentagon who are now retired are coming out against the treaty without any fear of reprisal.
Senator SARBANES. Of course, General Taylor and Admiral Zumwalt came before us and testified that way. I assume they are not under any reprisal.
General ROBERTS. Of course not. I am not saying that they are all opposed to the treaty and we have four replies saying that they favored the treaties. I have a couple of other letters that say they are for the treaties. But we also got 278 who said they were opposed to the treaties. They were under no coercion to say that, and it just says to us that the great preponderance of military opinion is against the treaties. I think we are the only organization that has actually taken the trouble to find out.
Senator SARBANES. I think that is a good point to make and carries some validity. The only point I want to establish—and it really goes to the statement that Colonel Jones made, and he raised some other concerns that I think are legitimate ones-he said: "I do not and will not question their sincerity and conviction on this matter." I think that questioning was put to them in front of this committee in such a way that I think we evoked from them their own personal view and I think it is important to make that point.
Colonel Joves. If I may say very briefly, returning to my objection to the use of a sitting administration using the uniformed military on a policy question. I have debated across the country in forums provided by the Council of Americans on this issue, my last two "foes," my very articulate opponent was a uniformed guy from the Pentagon.
Now, this to me was wrong. I spent over 30 years in the Army. That would have been practically unthinkable in my time, to have gone out and argued either for or against a wide policy question that is of such intense interest to so many Americans.
Eisenhower said that years ago. He said: "This is legalized insubordination." That was when President Eisenhower had the bad old chiefs that he inherited from Harry Truman before he got his good new chiefs in, coming up and testifying to their personal views before committees of the Congress. It is just part of the democratic process we live with.
Senator SARBANES. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator STONE. Gentlemen, I have the same question to ask you and it is the only question that I will ask.
It is what I asked of Secretary Kissinger and Secretary Rusk. Did you hear the questions that I asked, having to do with where one draws the line, and the issue of yielding, and on the issue of treaties, and the issue of withdrawal and the references that they themselves made, and Admiral Zumwalt made, to the B-1 decision; the question of Taiwan, the question of Diego Garcia, and the question of Castro's Cuban Guantánamo, Angola, and so on?
Without going into all of that, having heard my questions to them -, and having heard their answers, in the context of the feelings ex
pressed by those who oppose these treaties and in the larger context; not simply answering to the treaties themselves, but to those feelings, - fitting these proposed treaties into this old foreign policy aspect of
recent years, would any of you care to comment either on their answers or give our own to that question.
Mr. Smith. Senator, I think if I recall the question that you posed to the former Secretaries, in its overall aspect, we of the American Legion have the overriding belief that this particular issue involves a great more than just the treaties. It is an area where we foresee that it is a time not to be giving in but to maintain the status quo which we have, which as we believe is our sovereignty there.
We think that we should maintain that because it will continue to be the area where people will continue to push us for additional backdowns or step-downs, or coercion if you want to use that word, and that our posture worldwide will be affected in this manner.
I don't know whether I have addressed myself exactly to what your question is. That is our firm belief in this particular area and we do not believe that we should make any concession by changing the sovereignty.
Senator Stone. There was one of Secretary Kissinger's analyses that this would be bullying a small country and the place to draw the line and take a second step, if one wished to, to eliminate America's current perception of yielding to pressure, is elsewhere, but not here.
Mr. Smith. I might counter there, and the thought ran through my mind when he said it, is that maybe we should have done that at some earlier time. We do have to stop someplace, and even though this may be a small nation, as he says, there is a time when we believe that the United States must stand firm in its position.
Mr. RUGGERIO. I concur with my eminent colleague. AMVETS stands on the same premises; that we have captured the loyalty and the respect of many nations by supporting them with a vengeance against discriminatory dictatorships, and against dictators who deny human rights. Here we are the champion of that very premise and yet we take steps backward to help a dictator who denies his very own people these same rights.
No dictator ever gave the people of his nation the same privileges that we Americans enjoy today. Our footholds in these countries such
as the Republic of Taiwan was obtained because of the respect they have for us. It is fact that we need B-1 bombers to defend the United States to support the policies and objectives of America.
I can't see where Secretary Kissinger is correct in his analysis. We support people who are looking for the very same privileges and the freedoms we enjoy here in America, and to deny them that most certainly would be an error on our part.
We feel very strongly that we should not support these treaties for to do this would be to step backward. We should demand that which we believe is right and support that to the very end.
Colonel Jones. I believe part of the instinctive distrust of these proposed treaties on the part of millions of our fellow citizens arises from the feeling that these "fancy dans” in Washington think our country is on the wrong side of history, that other forces and other nations are more in tune with what is going on around us and all of the rest.
Our record in the canal and in the Canal Zone is a success story, measured rationally. Panamanian dissatisfaction with our presence there seems to involve symbols, almost metaphysical symbols.
If we fall back from a rational success story, you all know how relatively well off the Panamanians are, and how much of their foreign trade and the rest arises from our presence there. If we have to fall back from a success story, quite frankly, I don't know where we can draw the line.
I would certainly agree with Commander Smith, that some of the examples provided by you through Secretary Kissinger and his response to you were points where I think millions of Americans given the right kind of leadership would have drawn a careful line.
But here it is not an ideal challenge. It is a symbol. Here we are, over 200 million Americans and there is a smaller nation and the symbolism appears wrong, but the record, the rationality, and the merits rest with us. We don't select the challenges that come our way. Personally, I wish the Vietnam War had been fought in the Mojave Desert, but this is a clear challenge and we have to take life as we find it. I think the challenge is inescapable and the line must be drawn.
General ROBERTS. I think a great many of our people are fearful along the lines that your question addresses of a steppingstone procedure. You lost control of Panama, and the Marxists move in, and the next step will be Guantanamo, in which just off the top of my head I would say we have far less reasons for being there than we have in the Canal Zone, and then there is Puerto Rico in which leftist elements have been trying to cause trouble with considerable success.
I think a lot of people perceive that if for really-in what a narrow view-are frivolous reasons we not only give away the canal but pay somebody to take it, which is hard to swallow, really, what are we going to do about Guantanamo, about Puerto Rico, and other more serious challenges?
I think the main problem here is that the American public just does not buy what the administration is trying to sell, and that is that it is good for this country to give up the Panama Canal because they haven't given them any persuasive reasons.