Skip to comments.RUSSIAN THREATS TO UNITED STATES SECURITY IN THE POST-COLD WAR ERA
Posted on 03/11/2003 8:42:38 PM PST by Calpernia
MONDAY, JANUARY 24, 2000
House of Representatives, Committee on Government Reform,
Mr. Burton. Good morning. A quorum being present, the Committee on Government Reform will come to order. I ask unanimous consent that all Members' and witnesses' written opening statements be included in the record. And without objection so ordered. I ask unanimous consent that all articles, exhibits, and extraneous or tabular material referred to be included in the record. Without objection so ordered.
It's been a little more than 10 years since the Berlin Wall came tumbling down. We've been through eras of Glasnost and Perestroika in Russia. We've seen economic reforms come and go and we've watched the Russian economy come close to collapsing.
The conventional wisdom since the end of the cold war has been that the Russian threat to our national security has evaporated. Some people have gone so far as to say that Russia is now our ally. The purpose of this hearing is to examine that question. Is Russia still a threat to United States interests? Is Russia still an adversary?
I'm very glad that we're able to hold this session here in Los Angeles today. We hold a lot of hearings in Washington, DC. Some of them get covered by the news media; some don't. A lot of what we do in the Capital never gets out beyond the Washington beltway. So when we have a recess period, I think it's a good thing to get out of Washington and give people and local media in other parts of the country some exposure to the congressional process and the issues that are important.
Two weeks ago we held a field hearing in Miami about international drug trafficking. We've held field hearings in my home town of Indianapolis. One of our subcommittees held a field hearing in New York on health care not too long ago. So I think it's good for the committee and good for the people we represent to do this once in a while.
One of the problems with doing field hearings is that not many members of the committee can attend. The 44 members of this committee are from all over the country, and we always have a lot of commitments. So you won't see many members of the committee here today. However, that doesn't take anything away from the importance of this subject at hand. National security and our relationship with Russia are very important issues. By holding this hearing, we're creating a permanent record that every committee member will be able to review. And I want to particularly thank Representative Scarborough who came all the way from Florida to be with us today as well as Congressman Curt Weldon who's from Pennsylvania. Of course Mr. Campbell is here from California, and we appreciate his attendance as well. This is an issue we're going to continue to look at down the road. So I want to thank all of today's witnesses for being here and participating.
Now returning to the question at hand: Is Russia still a threat? One thing we know is that Russia is still conducting espionage against the United States. A lot of people in Washington were shocked when they picked up their newspapers about a month ago and discovered that a Russian spy had bugged the State Department. A spy who is stationed at the Russian Embassy had planted a tiny listening device in a chair in the conference room. It was right down the hall from the Secretary of State's office. The FBI caught him red-handed sitting in his car outside the State Department trying to listen in on a meeting. Nobody has any idea how long that bug was there or what the Russians might have learned. Security is so lax at the State Department that they couldn't tell you today if there are any other listening devices in the building. They're sweeping them right now.
One of our witnesses today is a former Russian intelligence agent, Colonel Stanivlav Lunev. He is the highest ranking GRU officer ever to defect to the United States. The GRU is Russia's premiere military intelligence agency. Colonel Lunev is in the witness protection program and special arrangements have been made to conceal his identity. So I apologize to the media who's here, we'll have to have him come in and be covered up so that his identity is maintained so he won't be in any jeopardy.
Mr. Lunev worked out of the Russian Embassy in Washington for 3\1/2\ years. I had a chance to read Colonel Lunev's testimony when he was before Congressman Weldon's subcommittee in 1998. He said, ``I can say to you very openly and very firmly that Russian intelligence activity against the United States is much more active than it was in the time of the former Soviet Union's existence. It's more active today than it was then.'' That was a year and a half before the State Department incident. It looks to me like Colonel Lunev knows what he's talking about. It makes me wonder if there are more bugs in more conference rooms waiting to be discovered.
It's not really surprising that Russia is still actively spying on us. But how does the Russian Government view us? Have their views changed? Do they consider us a friend or an enemy? They just produced a new national security doctrine. It was signed by President Putin this month. According to one scholar it, ``adopts a tone far more aggressively anti-Western than in the 1997 version.'' The document blames the United States and NATO for trying to dominate the world and states that this is a grave threat to Russian security. So it's very clear that the Russian Government at the highest level still sees us, the United States, as a threat and an enemy.
I recently read a quote from former CIA Director John Deutch. He was testifying in 1998. Here's what he said:
Russia continues to be our top security concern, even without the adversarial relationship of the cold war. Russia still possesses 20,000-plus nuclear weapons. Wide-spread corruption and the absence of honest and accountable internal governmental administrative functions threatens Russia's slow and erratic evolution toward democracy.
One of our witnesses today is Dr. Peter Pry. He was a CIA analyst for many years and he recently wrote a book, ``War Scare: Russia and America on the Nuclear Brink.'' Dr. Pry states that the Russian military and intelligence agencies still take a very hostile view toward the United States. He states that decisionmakers in those agencies still consider us their foremost adversary and that this paranoia is fueled by the growing disparity between our economy and their economy and between our defense capabilities and theirs.
That brings me to one of the issues I'd really like to focus on today. According to Colonel Lunev, a key component of Russia's strategy against the West for decades has been sabotage and assassination. In his previous testimony, he stated that one of his jobs at the Russia Embassy was to collect information about elected leaders in this country. This information would be used to assassinate them in a time of war or crisis.
Another of Colonel Lunev's jobs was to scout out sites where weapons or explosives could be prepositioned. From time to time he would travel to the Shenandoah Valley to photograph areas where ``dead drops'' would be established. Weapons would be placed in these dead drop areas so that in times of crisis Russian agents could come into the country to commit sabotage against power plants, military bases, and communications facilities.
According to Colonel Lunev, part of the Soviet's plan called for the use of, ``portable tactical nuclear devices,'' to be used to commit sabotage against highly protected targets. If has now been widely reported that the Soviet Union manufactured portable briefcase-size nuclear devices that cannot all be accounted for.
Were conventional or nuclear weapons prepositioned in the United States? Colonel Lunev doesn't know if the sites he identified were ever used. However, a second Russian defector says drop sites were established all over the United States and Western Europe. Vasili Mitrokhin was an archivist for the KGB. When he defected to the West he brought with him pages and pages of handwritten notes about KGB activities. He says that for decades the Soviet Union deployed sabotage and intelligence groups whose mission it was to commit assassinations or acts of sabotage in times of crisis or impending war.
In his book, ``The Sword and the Shield,'' he states that drop sites for explosives were scattered all over Western Europe and the United States. They contained everything from communications equipment to handguns to explosives. At one point in his book, he states that a standard arms package to be placed in a drop site would include mines, explosive charges, fuses, and detonators.
Mr. Mitrokhin brought information on the exact locations of several sites in Europe, in Belgium, and Switzerland. Local police found these sites exactly where Mitrokhin said they would be. That's significant because a lot of people tried to pooh-pooh what we're talking about here today but several sites have been located in Europe. They were booby-trapped with explosives. The bombs had to be set off with water cannons before the caches could be opened. Mr. Mitrokhin states that many drop sites were established here in the United States. However, he was not able to smuggle out the locations. He knows that one site was established in Brainerd, MN.
In his book, he also mentions the possibility of drop sites in New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas. However, their locations are still a secret. Some people have asked why we're holding this hearing here in Los Angeles, CA. Well, I had a chance to review the hearing transcript from Congressman Weldon's subcommittee on this same subject. It's my understanding that there are many potential targets for Russian sabotage here in California. It's my understanding that Mr. Mitrokhin mentioned California's harbors and naval facilities as primary targets. California is the most populous State in the Nation. If there are hidden caches of explosives in this State, it's very dangerous and very important that we find out where they are. That's something that the people ought to be informed about. That's why we're here.
The key questions before us now are where are these drop sites? Do they still exist? What's in them? Were any of them ever used to store portable nuclear devices as alleged by Colonel Lunev? If there are Russian arms caches hidden around the country with explosives and booby traps, this is a very dangerous situation. One of the things we want to find out today is if the administration has done anything to find out where these sites are or if they still exist.
And I want to say something that's very important. The State Department of the United States was asked by all of the witnesses today, from the Congress, and myself on numerous occasions to testify, to send anybody here to testify. And Madeline Albright and the State Department chose to ignore us. Mr. Campbell, Mr. Weldon, myself, and many others on both the Democrat and Republican sides have written to the administration and to the State Department on numerous occasions. They will not even respond about this subject and I think that's deplorable.
If there's a threat to the United States because of hidden sites, then by golly the State Department ought to be telling us what they're doing to deal with that problem and they're not even answering Members of Congress. And I intend to force them to come before the Congress if they don't start responding very quickly, and I'll do that by subpoenaing them.
My colleagues, Congressman Weldon and Congressman Campbell, also have tried to get answers from the administration. They've written to the Defense Department Secretary Cohen and to Secretary Albright and they've also received no response. We've asked the FBI and the CIA to testify here today so we can try to find out what's being done. I wish they could testify in open session because I know there is more and more concern here in California and around the country about these possible sites since these books have been published. However, their testimony is secret. It's classified.
After our first two panels, we'll hear from the FBI and CIA in closed session. Right now, the security people are sweeping an adjoining room so we can go in there and make sure what is said is kept confidential. I appreciate that our witnesses from these two agencies are here today, and I look forward to hearing their testimony. I also want to say that I really regret that the State Department isn't here. Once again, my staff and everybody else has tried to get them here; and they just jump through hoops to not have to testify.
Madeleine Albright is going to be testifying before the International Relations Committee in about 2 weeks. And she will answer questions about these issues, or she'll have to duck them in public. Congressman Weldon has worked harder on this issue than anyone in Congress. Congressman Campbell has been working very hard to get answers from the administration on behalf of California and his constituents. And I congratulate both of you for being here and for your hard work.
I want to thank all of our witnesses for being here today including Mr. DeSarno from the FBI. Mr. DeSarno testified before our committee back in 1998 when he was working on the campaign fundraising task force. He was very forthright then. I'm sure he'll be forthright today. He's a good man. We welcome him back. So we're glad to have him. And we're welcoming also Dr. William Green from Cal State University in San Bernadino who is an expert on Russia and United States policy. I look forward to hearing from all of you.
I want to say one more thing. Congressman Waxman who represents this area couldn't be with us today. He said he had a previous commitment. Because this issue is important, I'm disappointed that he couldn't be here. I hope that he'll take a hard look at the issues that are going to be raised today because not only do they concern all of California but in particular since Los Angeles is such a huge population area and he represents a large part of that, he should be very concerned about it. And I'm sure once he hears all these issues, he will be more concerned. He does have one of his chief staff lieutenants here, and we appreciate his presence.
And with that, my colleague from Florida, who flew all the way out here, I appreciate him being here.
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Mr. Burton. Do you have an opening statement, Mr. Scarborough? Mr. Scarborough. No. I'll just be brief, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for holding this hearing. I certainly thank Congressman Campbell for being here and the leadership he's shown in this very important issue, not only to all Americans but again to California specifically. I think of all the people that have come before our committees and I think of all the people that have come before the Armed Services Committee, of which I'm also a member, I think most everybody understands that the battles of the 21st century will not be fought on battlefields in Europe or in Asia but for Americans, we may find them being fought here at home. And certainly if that's the case, then California, specifically Los Angeles, CA, will be on the front lines in battles that involve terrorism, be it nuclear, chemical, or biological. That's why again I thank you for your leadership.
I've got to echo the sentiments of our chairman that I believe unfortunately we have a President, we have a State Department, and we have a foreign policy apparatus in Washington and on both sides of the United States both Republicans and Democrats that do not understand the scope of the danger facing all Americans. And a great example is again Dr. Pry's book, ``War Scare.'' In it he tells a very, very interesting story.
And I think it's very telling about how the administration right now has been lulled to sleep by the hope that somehow the Russians have changed. It's sort of--it's not the new Nixon; it's the new Russians. And that somehow they've undergone this remarkable transformation. And there's a story in here how in 1996 while NATO was conducting military exercises in the North Sea, the Russians were so alarmed that they got their northern fleet out. It was a very confrontational moment in American history and in Russian history. At the same time, Brothers to the Rescue planes were shot down by Cuba.
And so in the middle of this great international crisis, the White House picked up the red phone to speak to the Russians and to try to defuse this situation. But what were they talking about? They were talking about poultry exports. It seems that the Russians were concerned by the fact that these maneuvers were going on and they did a lot of different things, but the only thing that caught the White House's attention was that poultry exports from Russia to America would be cut and likewise going the other way because of Tyson Foods poultry plants in Arkansas.
So they were focusing on chickens and using the red phone for this chicken crisis instead of understanding that the two countries were really on the brink of some very dangerous, dangerous times. And that continues. But, again, the State Department isn't focused. The White House isn't focused on it. They're only concerned about economic considerations while foreign policy considerations have been thrown out the window.
The cold war as we knew it from 1947 to 1991 may be over, but we are now in a period that's even more volatile and more frightening. And Curt Weldon has been a champion on this issue for some time. I was at a meeting with him earlier this month.
Again, I think what's telling is that we have interesting information from Dr. Pry's book and others, a lot of what you're going to be hearing from Curt Weldon and others isn't just from American scholars or American researchers, it actually comes from Russians themselves. As Curt Weldon says, from the mouths of Russians themselves. So we are in a frightening time.
And, Mr. Chairman, again, I thank you for conducting this hearing. I think it's very important. And I hope for the safety of citizens in Los Angeles and California and across this country that our administration and that Democrats and Republicans in Washington, DC, will start to focus on the very real threat that's being posed right now by mere anarchic conditions in Russia. Thank you.
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