Mr. MITCHELL. Mr. President, pursuant to a prior order, following consultation with the Republican leader, I was vested with the authority to set a cloture vote on a motion to proceed to Senate Resolution 198, to authorize the Committee on Foreign Relations to exercise certain investigatory powers in connection with its inquiry into the release of the United States hostages in Iran.
I now ask unanimous consent that there be 1 hour of debate equally divided and controlled between Senators Sanford and McConnell and at the conclusion or yielding back of that time, the cloture vote occur.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Who controls time under the unanimous-consent agreement?
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from North Carolina.
Mr. SANFORD. May I inquire: Does the leader care to make any additional comments?
Mr. MITCHELL. Mr. President, I will be making a statement shortly. I suggest the Senator proceed and then yield time to me.
Mr. SANFORD. All right.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Chair recognizes the Senator from North Carolina, and the Chair again would ask who yields time?
Mr. SANFORD. I yield myself 5 minutes.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The distinguished Senator from North Carolina is yielded 5 minutes.
The Senator from North Carolina.
Mr. SANFORD. Mr. President, the U.S. Congress has an oversight obligation to represent the people in making certain that their National Government is being operated effectively and appropriately and within the bounds of the law. The duty falls to the Congress to examine serious allegations of extraordinary wrongdoing within the Government process.
There is no simple way for Congress to carry out those obligations. It can, and has, created a process for the employment of a special counsel within the structure of the administrative branch. The legal complexities, the political conflicts, the difficulties of focus and direction by Congress, and the high investigative costs make this less than satisfactory.
Congress can and has created special investigative committees to conduct public inquiries, but this approach is fraught with the inefficiencies of partisan differences.
Standing committees and subcommittees have been assigned investigative tasks, and most effectively when that assignment is made by full Senate resolution. This is the approach chosen by the Senate leadership in responding to the persistent charges that unwarranted and illegal actions were taken to delay the release of the Americans who had been taken as hostages from our Embassy in Iran.
The Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs was asked by the majority leader to take responsibility for inquiring into these old but enduring charges that the Reagan-Bush presidential campaign engineered the delay of the release of the hostages in Iran for political advantage and that in exchange they would provide what turned out to be, if it were true,
illegal transfer of military equipment to the Iranian Government.
The ranking member of the subcommittee, Senator Jeffords, and I did not volunteer for this assignment. We accepted it as a duty to lay to rest, as true or false, these allegations of extremely heinous actions.
In accepting this unpleasant task, neither Senator Jeffords nor I bring any presumption of the truth of the allegations. Certainly, for my part, I hope we can quickly demonstrate that there is no factual basis for the charges.
But it is the Senate that must decide whether it wants to proceed, and if so, it must be the Senate that enacts this resolution empowering the committee to subpoena witnesses and documents and to take evidence under oath.
While the committee might proceed without such a resolution, and that might be the only path, the sounder policy is to make this inquiry a function of the entire Senate.
Mr. President, during the past 2 days we have examined three witnesses. Two were hostages who, along with fellow hostages, wrote to the President and to the Congress. We also heard from Gary Sick, adjunct professor at Columbia University, who put forward these very serious allegations in a widely read op-ed piece in the New York Times last April and who has recently written a book on the subject laying out the evidence as he sees it and, more importantly, laying out the evidence that might be obtained with official action in subpoena power.
Mr. Sick served on the National Security Council under Presidents Ford, Carter, and Reagan and is well known as an expert on the Middle East. He is a retired captain in the U.S. Navy. He has previously written a book about the fall of the Shah of Iran. He was involved in the efforts of the Carter administration to seek release of the hostages from the very beginning of the storming of our Embassy until their final release in January of 1981.
Mr. Sick very carefully set forth a series of unanswered questions, unanswered questions that seem to suggest that they deserve the attention of a serious congressional investigation, unanswered questions because answers cannot be obtained without the official authority, without the power of subpoena, without the power to put witnesses under oath. He asked some questions that seem to demand an investigation to find the answers if we are to lay to rest these longstanding charges.
For example, Cyrus Hashemi, who was apparently a participant in this action, if it took place, an international arms dealer, was the subject of very intense surveillance, phone taps, television intelligence, the most careful kind of coverage by the FBI, from the early fall of 1980 until after the inauguration in 1981 when the surveillance was suspended. This information alone might very well quickly give an indication of whether or not there is any truth to these allegations, may very quickly demonstrate that there is no real substance to be pursued.
All in all, Mr. Sick laid out about 20 such items which if we could pursue with the official power of subpoena and the congressional committee we probably could fairly quickly get the answers.
It is my belief that the honest answers to these questions can only be obtained with the power of the U.S. Congress, and it seems to me that we have that obligation.
I want to read a paragraph or two from the letter that the hostages wrote to the President and to the Congress, and I am reading from an open letter to the U.S. Congress, two paragraphs:
For the last 10 years there have been rumors, reports, and allegations of foul play in the 1980 Presidential election. The thought that any American, whether a private citizen or Government official, may have participated in delaying release of the hostages for political gain is distressing. Until recently, these allegations have been dismissed as unsubstantiated. But substantial enough information has been presented by respected and persistent investigators to warrant a thorough examination of this matter.
It is not appropriate to say there is insufficient proof-until there has been an official investigation. The question of whether there is evidence of any wrongdoing must be answered by an unbiased, bipartisan congressional investigation with full subpoena power. Unless this happens, speculation and unanswered questions will erode public confidence in our electoral system.
It seems to me, Mr. President, that the Senate would be derelict if it ignored the requests from these former hostages who suffered so much while on duty on behalf of all of the people of the United States.
Mr. President, I yield 5 minutes to the distinguished Senator from Vermont.
Mr. JEFFORDS addressed the Chair.
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Daschle). The Senator from Vermont.
Mr. JEFFORDS. Mr. President, I also rise to express my belief that it would be appropriate for us to go forward. When this matter came up before the committee, I did not vote in favor. I voted `present' because at that time I did not have sufficient information upon which I could make a judgment as to whether or not it would be worth the Senate's time and money to proceed forward in this particular investigation.
I must say that I have had tremendous cooperation from the Senator from North Carolina. I have absolute confidence that he agrees with me that we must do everything we can to ensure that we keep matters under control and that nothing goes forward unless we have sufficient evidence that would warrant something other than the kind of investigation we intend to hold. Our task is to find out whether there is sufficient evidence out there, after the appropriate use of subpoenas and the powers of congressional testimony, to determine that a full investigation should go further.
On August 5, the majority leader announced that the Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee would be asked to conduct an investigation into allegations that officials of the 1980 Reagan Presidential campaign attempted to delay the release of the United States hostages in Iran.
As the chairman and ranking member of the subcommittee, it fell to Senator Sanford and me to decide how such an investigation, if ordered, should be conducted. While neither of us had requested the task, we both agreed that if the full Senate approved the investigation, it should be carried out in a professional and nonpartisan manner.
We agreed that any staff would work under our joint jurisdiction and that all decisions would be made jointly by myself and the chairman. We both believe that such an investigation should be conducted with as little fanfare as possible. If an investigation begins, no statements would be made to the press until the subcommittee is prepared to releast its findings. We do not intend to hold public hearings in the course of the investigation, and only after its conclusion if the subcommittee should decide they are necessary.
Mr. President, the intensity and persistence of rumors that there was an attempt to delay the release of the hostages have brought us here today. In an effort to determine the nature and extent of the allegations, the Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs held two hearings, yesterday and today, with two Americans who were held hostage in Iran and with Dr. Gary Sick, author of `October Surprise.' Mr. Steve Emerson, author of the New Republic article `What October Surprise?' declined to testify. Our task was to determine if there is probable cause to warrant a more thorough and exhaustive investigation.
In the course of preparing for and conducting these hearings, I became convinced that there is a need to clear the air on this matter. President Bush and President Reagan both want it put to rest. Several of the hostages have spoken out about their need to resolve the question of whether they were unnecessarily detained in captivity. But more importantly, my analysis of the evidence presented to the subcommittee leads me to conclude that a relatively short investigation by our subcommittee could either lay to rest one of the central allegations of the October surprise or prove that insufficient evidence exists to resolve the issue beyond a reasonable doubt. Either way, the investigation would have performed a useful function in a brief period of time.
In my mind, the key element in the October surprise theory is the allegation that William Casey, Ronald Reagan's 1980 Presidential campaign manager, met with representatives of the Iranian
Government in Madrid in late July and again in August 1980 to discuss the possibility of a deal to delay the release of the hostages in Iran. Dr. Sick lays out in his book a detailed account of these meetings as relayed to him by an individual who claims to have been present. This individual insists that an agreement was reached whereby the hostages would be released on the day of the inauguration in exchange for shipment of ammunition and military spare parts. He also claims that in addition to Casey and himself, five other people were present at each meeting.
In addition to questioning several of these participants, an investigation could pursue several other areas of information and related sources to determine whether such a meeting actually took place. Because of the limited scope and time of the inquiry and the relatively small number of people in question, I did not believe that such an investigation, properly staffed, would take more than a few months. After that time, it should be possible to conclude either that the meeting did or didn't happen, or that evidence no longer exists to prove anything.
If the preponderance of the new evident should indicate that no such meetings took place, the matter would be put to rest. If, on the other hand, hard evidence should come to light that indicated a deal between Mr. Casey and the Iranians had been struck, then the entire investigation would probably be handed over to proper law enforcement officials. If the Iran-Contra investigation taught us anything, it was that a congressional investigation should not proceed where only the Justice Department or law enforcement officials should tread. And if the investigation concluded that there wasn't any conclusive evidence to be had on this question, then as much as could be done by this subcommittee would have been done and much of the public hype over this scandal would die and hopefully the matter would be put to rest.
As the ranking minority member on this subcommittee, I take very seriously my responsibility to see that all persons are treated fairly, that the tough questions get asked and the proper leads are pursued. I am confident that a short, professional and nonpartisan investigation could finally put this nagging scandal to rest.
I am concerned, as a member of the minority, that if we do not do so at this time, then this matter will linger on as a public issue continually in question. And it may very well be that someone may attempt to take political advantage of it as we move into the election next year. So I would urge the Members on this side of the aisle not presume at this stage that there is any intent to do anything other than search for the truth.
I urge a yes vote on the motion to invoke cloture.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator's time has expired.
Who yields time?
The Senator from Kentucky.
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, the concern of the Senator from Kentucky is that the only October surprise envisioned in the investigation is the October 1992 surprise. This issue has already been considered by the Tower Commission by the House and Senate Select Committees on Iran-Contra, by the independent counsel, and by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The congressional Iran-Contra investigation has already cost the taxpayers millions of dollars, with 50 staffers fanning out across the country looking for information to corroborate allegations by the press.
The majority report of the Iran-Contra Committee concluded--this is the majority report, Mr. President--the majority report of the Iran-Contra Committee concluded:
Reagan campaign aides were approached by individuals who claimed to be Iranian intermediaries about potential release of hostages, as were other campaign staffs. The committees were told that the approaches were rejected, and have found no credible evidence to suggest that any discussions were held or agreements reached on delaying release of hostages or arranging an early arms-for-hostages deal.
Mr. President, that is a quote from the majority report of the Iran-Contra Committee.
Mr. President, some now claim that the October surprise issue was not given adequate consideration in the Iran-Contra investigation. Well, the truth is that these allegations were not considered worth investigating any further.
Further, Congress was not the only institution to make that rational determination. The independent counsel has been hard at work since December 1986, costing taxpayers $27 million--and counting--with 38
people looking for evidence of Presidential wrong-doing. Five years later the cases against North and Poindexter have been summarily dismissed. The independent counsel could not prove what some people want to prove.
If there is any institution and it is now an institution, in Washington that is always on the prowl for new scandals to justify its existence, certainly it is the independent counsel. Yet even the independent counsel--with no limits on its terms, time, or issue jurisdiction--has found no reason or evidence to justify an investigation of the October surprise story.
The Tower Commission also reviewed many of the allegations we are about to hear--and as if that were not enough, the Intelligence Committee shoveled through this heap during the Gates confirmation hearings.
None of these investigations--conducted by able people from both sides of the aisle--has proven what some people still want to prove. Even the press is not buying this nonsense. In the last few weeks, both Newsweek and the New Republic have laid waste to these ridiculous allegations, the Newsweek piece of October 1 and the New Republic piece of the same week.
One, the New Republic, entitled `What October Surprise?' And in the Newsweek, `The October Surprise, the Charge, Treason; the Evidence, Myth.' The evidence, myth. They laid waste to these allegations, charge by charge and line by line.
I happen to have caught the two reporters, the two principal reporters in each of the magazines on the Fox Morning News a couple of weeks ago. They were laughing about this. They said this is absurd. They said we can save the Congress the $600,000; just read the articles. Just read our articles.
Someone made reference tonight to the fact that one of the reporters did not want to appear before our committee, not because he was reluctant to tell what he thought had happened. He had already done that. But because he thought it was inappropriate to be appearing before a congressional committee as a reporter.
These reporters have said, in effect, we can save the taxpayers $600,000 that some people want to spend, by just reading the articles. And they are available for any Senators who would like to read them. In fact, this whole October surprise story really belongs in the National Enquirer, Mr. President. I can see the headline, `Gary Sick Sees Reagan Meet Iranian Officials and Big Foot.' Or, `Elvis is Key Witness in October Surprise Investigation.'
That is about what this amounts to, Mr. President. Yet we are seriously contemplating, apparently, spending $600,000 to investigate something that happened 11 years ago and did not, in fact, happen at any time.
Yesterday, the subcommittee heard from two former hostages on this issue. Both of them are courageous Americans, real patriots. But the truth is that they do not know anything more about these spurious charges than anyone else. And they were both honest and decent enough to admit it. Just yesterday, Charles Scott, one of the hostages who appeared said, and this is a direct quote:
I have no firsthand knowledge from the point of view of whether or not there was an October Surprise. * * * I don't know if it happened or not.
Barry Rosen admitted that his suspicions arose entirely from `reading pieces of work that have been done by * * * Christopher Hitchins or Gary Sick and others.' We spent an entire day yesterday talking to two wonderful Americans who endured great pain but could lend nothing to the inquiry, in terms of facts about whether this October surprise could have occurred. In other words, the hostages' knowledge of whether the October surprise story really happened is no greater than that of anybody in this body. Frankly, probably less.
I would also like to know this. We heard from two hostages and received a letter on the subject from a total of eight hostages. How do the other 46 hostages feel about it? We did not hear from them. We do not know how they feel about it--46 former hostages said nothing about this issue.
So where does that leave us today?Millions of dollars later, we are still poring over uncorroborated allegations of witnesses who are relying on hearsay, gossip, innuendo, and even outright lies of incredible scandalmongers.
Consider some of those who have spun this conspiracy web: Barbara Honegger. She apparently worked for the Reagan campaign--or should I say someone calling herself Barbara Honegger worked for the campaign. After all, she publicly admits to making decisions based on little voices that contact her. She maybe qualified to discuss the paranormal and parapsychology which she pursued a masters in--but the question is whether her opinions are reliable. May be we should find out the source of her channeling and call him or her as a witness.
That would be a great story for the National Enquirer.
We do not need to look far because she claims one of her sources is the notorious Richard Brenneke, well-known liar before the Foreign Relations Committee.
Mr. Sick has called Brenneke a man of courage for pursuing his misguided convictions. Our committee called him what he is: a liar. His stories change so fast, it's impossible to keep up.
But the very premise of Brenneke's fabrications is his claim to have worked for the CIA--a claim the CIA publicly denies.
In fact, in a memo we relied on in earlier Foreign Relations Committee proceedings, the CIA felt so strongly about Brenneke's fantastic fabrications that they departed from their historic practice of neither confirming nor denying employment and denounced Brenneke as a liar.
But it is not all Brenneke and Honegger's fault. They relied on sources at the Executive Intelligence Review. That is run by Lyndon LaRouche.
The last I checked, Executive Intelligence Review firmly believes that the Queen of England and Henry Kissinger conspire in international drug trafficking. In other words, they print the stories that the National Enquirer will not touch.
Next we have the ex-President of Iran, Bani-Sadr. By my count, his story has changed at least five times. He claims his memory improves with time. I think the only thing that improves is his Nielsen ratings and the amount of time he gets in the press.
This Bani-Sadr is the same who said that Jimmy Carter and his NSC adviser Brzezinski conspired with Saddam Hussein to invade Iran and restore the monarchy.
So if you believe his allegations about a secret Reagan campaign deal, why not swallow the whole pig in this perjurious poke?
Ben-Menashe is the last major player in this game of liar's poker. According to the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee, Senator Murkowski, the committee found his story totally unbelievable. Then again, strange things happen to your imagination when sitting in a Federal prison for illegal arms deals.
Now let us look specifically at the ringleader of this conspiracy cabal: Gary Sick. I was simply astonished by Mr. Sick's revelations today before the subcommittee. Gary Sick said he relied on six sources to confirm that a key meeting took place launching the October Surprise. Among these six sources, there was only one supposed eyewitness--Jamshid Hashemi--an indicted arms dealer. And we have no proof other than Hashemi's word that he was there. The only other possible witness, Mr. Casey, continues to be unavailable for comment.
None of the five corroborating witnesses that Sick used were at this elusive meeting. In fact, most of them are Hashemi's partners in crime.
We have already talked about convicted arms dealer Ben Menashe. Menashe was not there but told Sick that he read about the meeting in intelligence cables. We asked Sick if Menashe had given him a copy of these cables--well, of course he had not.
The second corroborating witness is Admiral Madani--a close friend of Hashemi, whom Hashemi promoted for President over in Iran. Madani was not at the meeting--but if his friend said the meeting happened, then it must be true.9
That is the logic there.
Mr. President, the next witness Sick relied on was an arms dealer named Durrani, a Pakistani. But he also was not at the meeting. Sick never actually spoke with Durrani personally but heard about him from journalists.
The fourth corroborating witness was a Mr. Rupp. Rupp is a close friend and associate of Richard Brenneke, whom we have already discussed. Even Sick must have felt a little queasy about Rupp because he could not bring himself to interview Rupp but relied on hearsay from some unidentified journalist's account.
Finally, Mr. President, the last corroborating witness to Hashemi's eyewitness account is a Mr. Babayan. Mr. Babayan was not at the secret meeting either and Sick never actually spoke to Mr. Babayan either.
So, Mr. President, these are the sources on which we are going to bet hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars for an investigation of their wild and unproven allegations.
I have to wonder what the Senate and the world is coming to when we base decisions on how to spend large amounts of taxpayers' money on the ravings of channelers, liars, felons, and flat out flakes. Millions of dollars and years of investigative work later there is still no serious evidence today about the `October Surprise' that was not available to congressional committees, the independent counsel, and the Tower Commission.
Even the former hostages who testified yesterday could offer no factual basis for this inquiry to proceed. Both of them admitted to no first-hand knowledge. In fact, both described their conditions as total isolation and a communication vacuum.
The facts, Mr. President, we need facts. We have none. What does the other side want to spend to investigate this collection of wild, unsubstantiated allegations?
Let us start with travel: $40,000 is budgeted at a time when the voters are fed up with congressional junkets. Yet the committee will be jetting around the globe looking for more lost
clues. We ought to call this expense `Air October' or better yet `Air Sick.' Then we have $400,000 for more staffers. Just what Congress needs, a few more staffers. And we have a budget item of $72,000 for consultants. There is even $15,000 budgeted for special stationery. Why in the world are we spending $15,000 for `October Surprise' stationery. That will be a real keeper for the Archives. I am surprised there is not a budget item for `October Surprise' T-shirts or coffee mugs.
Add all of this on top of the nearly 70 staffers and a $3 million budget that the Foreign Relations Committee already gets. Voters all across America, and even Democratic leaders are saying we should pay more attention to domestic problems and issues. So what does this resolution propose? That we give more tax dollars to the Foreign Relations Committee to investigate some wild ravings, wild ravings about foreign affairs that supposedly happened more than a decade ago.
If the voters want any proof that Congress does not understand or respond, this resolution is absolute convincing proof.
Some say we should pursue this just to lay it to rest once and for all. Mr. President, with that rationale, then why not investigate all the persistent allegations of vote buying by Democrats in the 1960 Democratic Kennedy campaign? Why do we not lay that to rest?
Frankly, Mr. President, we will never lay this to rest until we lay the President to rest. There will always be conspiracy-minded partisans who, for a buck or for a book contract, will be willing to smear the President and those around him. I think the taxpayers and our country have suffered this partisan witch hunt long enough. Sooner or later our constituents are going to think that the United States and U.S. Senate stands for unending scandals. It is time to bring the scandalmongering to an end, Mr. President, before our scandalmongering becomes itself a scandal.
As I said, the only `October surprise' envisioned by this investigation is an October 1992 surprise. I think it is entirely inappropriate to proceed with this resolution. I certainly hope cloture will not be invoked.
Mr. President, how much time do I have remaining?
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator has 12 minutes remaining.
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I yield 3 minutes to the Senator from Wyoming.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator is recognized.
Mr. WALLOP. I thank the Chair, and I thank the Senator from Kentucky especially for what he just said. From time to time, Mr. President, it is becoming difficult to hold our heads up and call ourselves Senators. One really wishes maybe by now we might be to the point where Gilbert and Sullivan could relieve us of the unending pain of what we are doing to ourselves.
Fortunately, the Senator from Kentucky spoke with wit and made light of some of the idiocies and the ironies that are upon this. And my friend from Rhode Island also has wit. And I know him to be a friend, but this is not worthy of his committee.
What we are faced with here tonight is silly, it is petty, it is political and the country cannot stand all that. They have watched us be silly and petty and political and they watched us make fools of ourselves and they are used to it.
But what the country should not have to do is what the Senator from Kentucky just pointed out that they are going to have to do, should this resolution pass, is pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to prove what they already know to be the case. There is absolutely nothing that substantiates any kind of venture such as this. No doubt, no unusual kinds of things that sit in the bank, nothing.
What the public's interest is, besides a sort of prurient kind of current affairs type of interest is, I assume, what we do to ourselves. The public knows. The public has spent its hard-earned money learning this already. Why they should say that we are behind the expenditures of more funds to play political party games is beyond me. We are looking at trying to find some kinds of reasons for two failed Presidents, that of Bani-Sadr and that of Jimmy Carter.
I say to my friend I thank him for having wit. I find myself without any tonight as I look at what I am asked to vote on in behalf of the public that we all serve.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Who yields time?
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I yield 2 minutes to the Senator from South Dakota.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from South Dakota is recognized.
Mr. PRESSLER. Mr. President, I will speak briefly. First of all, I want to commend my friend from Kentucky for the very scholarly presentation he has made. As a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, I followed this debate and approached it with an open mind and there is absolutely nothing there to investigate.
Several of our national publications have completely blasted this theory. We are in a situation where we are wasting money. It is an absurd proposition. I could repeat many of the arguments that Senator McConnell has made, but I shall not do so except to say that as a member of the Committee, as one who has looked over the various documents and heard the testimony, this is something the Senate should not do, and I shall vote against it with a very firmly held conviction.
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, how much time do I have remaining?
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator has 8 minutes.
Mr. McCONNELL. I reserve the remainder of my time.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from North Carolina.
Mr. SANFORD. I yield myself 30 seconds, simply to set the record straight. I am not going to attempt to answer.
The Tower Commission formed by President Reagan did not look into the 1980 allegations. The Iran-Contra committee did not investigate the allegations, had a simple footnote. The independent counsel, like the Iran-Contra Committee, was limited to the period of time covered by the Boland amendment, so they did not cover it. The truth of the matter is the October surprise has never been investigated by an official body and that is the reason we need to have the kind of investigation that can put people under oath.
Now, Mr. President, I yield 2 minutes to the Senator from Tennessee.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee is recognized for 2 minutes.
Mr. GORE. I thank my distinguished colleague from North Carolina. I thank the chairman of the committee for his patience. I shall only take 2 minutes.
I commend the Senator from North Carolina for his initiative in sponsoring this resolution. Indeed, this matter has not previously been investigated except by a number of prominent investigative journalists who have laid on to the public record sufficient facts to raise very troubling questions about what did occur.
I have taken note of the reports by other journalists who have sought to debunk the theories put forward by Mr. Gary Sick, by Nightline, by Front Line, and others. But, Mr. President, more than sufficient evidence remains on the public record to warrant the kind of inquiry that the resolution before us would authorize.
Much has been made about the nature of some of these characters who have spoken out as part of these investigations. It is a fact that the kinds of people who are sought out as intermediaries in the sort of deal that is alleged here are frequently people of slippery reputations. The fact that those reputations now are used to indict what they are saying is perfectly fair, but they were not chosen by those who wished to investigate this matter as witnesses because of their reputations. They were chosen because they were the people who were sought out allegedly as intermediaries.
I believe that the evidence remaining, which has not been rebutted, is sufficiently powerful and credible to warrant not a presumption of any guilt of what has happened but a presumption that it does deserve to be looked into.
I shall vote for this matter, and I commend my colleague from North Carolina.
Mr. SANFORD. I yield 4 minutes to the Senator from Rhode Island.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Rhode Island is recognized for 4 minutes.
Mr. PELL. I thank the Senator from North Carolina.
As we all know, our Committee on Foreign Relations ordered reported Senate Resolution 198, the resolution to authorize and provide supplemental funds for inquiry into the allegations concerning the release of the American hostages in Iran.
The reports do keep coming up over and over again that someone may have tried to make a deal that involved delaying the release of the hostages in Iran in 1980 for political purposes. We all trust and believe that this is not correct, but the allegations keep rising, and I would think that those who are most vociferous in their opposition would really be enthusiastic if we are all equally sure that there is no fire where the smoke is.
Accordingly, it is my own view that this subject should be examined once and for all if for no other reason than the charges could finally be laid to rest, which would be a great relief to all of us, Democrats and Republicans alike.
Finally, I applaud the conscientious, nonpartisan manner in which the responsibility for this important task has been assumed by the chairman of the Subcommittee on Near East and South Asian Affairs, Senator Sanford, and by the ranking minority member of our subcommittee, Senator Jeffords.
I yield the floor.
Mr. KERRY. How much time remains?
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from North Carolina has 12 minutes.
Mr. SANFORD. I recognize the Senator from Maryland, and yield him 4 minutes.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maryland is recognized for 4 minutes.
Mr. SARBANES. Mr. President, I thank the able Senator from North Carolina. I commend him and the ranking minority member of the subcommittee, the very able Senator from Vermont, for their efforts to move forward on a fair and objective investigation.
Mr. President, I think the best way to start is to quote from a letter, an open letter to the United States Congress from a number of former American hostages in Iran. I now quote:
For the last 10 years there have been rumors, reports and allegations of foul play in the 1980 Presidential election. The thought that any American, whether a private citizen or Government official, may have participated in delaying release of the hostages for political gain is distressing. Until recently * * *
And this letter is dated June 13 of this year--
these allegations have been dismissed as unsubstantiated, but substantial enough information has been presented by respected and persistent investigators to warrant a thorough examination of this matter. It is not appropriate to say there is insufficient proof until there has been an official investigation. The question of whether there is evidence of any wrongdoing must be answered by an unbiased, bipartisan congressional investigation with full subpoena powers. Unless this happens, speculation and unanswered questions will erode public confidence in our electoral system.
The sort of inquiry that they are asking for has not been conducted, and that is what this resolution, which is before us, is all about. This is not, as one of my colleagues said, a silly or a petty or a political matter. It seems to me people on both sides of the aisle ought to be concerned with having a proper inquiry in order to find out the answers to these questions that have been raised.
Yesterday, before our committee, Charles W. Scott, one of the hostages, a very impressive witness said:
I'm frustrated. I want to see the thing put to bed one way or the other so we can get on with the important things that the United States has to face in the future.
And he later went on to say:
I do find it appalling though that as a private citizen, if this thing took place, the question is how far will people go to ensure that their candidate is elected to the highest and most powerful position on the face of this Earth today. And that is really the question, and that is what bothers me. I want to believe that within our constitutional framework and our electoral process that is the way people reach that highest office in the land. And I'm not saying in this case, because you have no information. In fact, you might as well know this. I voted for President Reagan in '84. I voted for President Bush in '88. So I have no political or personal ax to grind on this thing.
And he went on then, Mr. Scott, to conclude, saying,
The best shot we have to get at the answer is to go forward with this investigation.
I have heard Gary Sick put down here on the floor of the Senate tonight. All I can say to that is we have here a book, the `October Surprise,' which is a very careful, reasoned book which deserves to be addressed on its own terms.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator's 4 minutes have expired.
Mr. SARBANES. It deserves to be examined.
If the Senator will just give me 30 seconds.
Sick was for 24 years an officer of naval intelligence. He served on the National Security Council, first under President Ford, then through President Carter's term, and then for a few months during Ronald Reagan's term.
The allegations which are widespread need to be addressed. They are not going to go away, obviously.
It seems to me the responsible thing to do is for the country to go forward with this inquiry, use the subpoena power, the other resources available, and try once and for all to find out the answer to these disturbing questions.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from North Carolina has 7 minutes remaining.
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I yield 2 minutes to the Senator from Alaska.
Pick Up Strip in Box here (Notice)
Pick Up Strip in Box here (Notice)
Mr. HARKIN. I would be happy to engage in a colloquy with the distinguished Senator from New Jersey.
Mr. LAUTENBERG. The Senator from Iowa included funding in the Senate Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill for the Community Education and Employment Centers [CEEC] that were authorized in the 1991 Perkins Vocational Education Act--section 363 of Public Law 101-392. I worked hard to secure this authorization. Section 363 was based on my bill to establish CEEC's, S. 1477, which I introduced in the last Congress. It was adopted in revised form as my amendment number 1466 to the Perkins Vocational Education Act when it was considered on the Senate floor. As finally enacted, it authorized $7.5 million per year to be made to no more than five school districts. The Senator from Iowa included full funding for this program in the fiscal year 1992 Labor-HHS-appropriations Senate report and additional report language encouraging the Department of Education to demonstrate this program in an urban school district in New Jersey. The Senator also included $2 million in the national programs and demonstrations section of the Vocational Education Program to carry out two demonstrations of centers described in the CEEC authorizing legislation. In fact the Senate report language cites section 363 of Public Law 101-392 as the basis for these demonstrations.
Unfortunately, final funding for the Vocational and Adult Education Basic Grant Program did not meet the $1 billion trigger level and the $7.5 million was dropped in conference. The conferees did, however, retain the $2 million in funding for the two demonstrations.
Yet, the conferees have provided sufficient room within the $14 million appropriated for national demonstration programs to allow an initial demonstration of CEEC's in both urban and rural settings. The $2 million was retained for two demonstrations that would enable a test of the CEEC concept in rural settings. But, the problems of poverty, joblessness, and mismatches of training and job opportunities prevail in many of our urban centers. The CEEC was intended to test a broad-based approach to the educational and vocational needs of students from impoverished and disadvantaged urban backgrounds.
While a portion of the remaining $12 million for national demonstration programs has also been earmarked for other purposes, it is my understanding that funds remain for use by CEEC's in urban areas. So, my question to the Senator from Iowa is as follows: Within the $14 million appropriated for national demonstration programs, would there be funds available to demonstrate the CEEC concept in an urban area?
Mr. HARKIN. Yes; $3 million is available in the vocational education national demonstration account for three CEEC demonstration programs.
Mr. LAUTENBERG. In addition, if a New Jersey school district or districts submit a meritorious application for a CEEC demonstration, would the distinguished chairman of the Senate Labor-HHS Subcommittee encourage the Department of Education to fund such a demonstration?
Mr. HARKIN. Yes; the committee has previously noted that economically and disadvantaged students in low-income urban school districts in New Jersey would greatly benefit from the extensive services offered in these model demonstration centers. The committee has also encouraged the Department of Education to test the success of the CEEC model in an urban school district in New Jersey, where students face the same barriers to education and employment that the program is designed to address.
Mr. LAUTENBERG. I would like to thank the Senator for engaging in this colloquy and providing direction to the Department of Education with respect to a demonstration of the CEEC Program.