Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I want to join you in welcoming not only two very distinguished Americans to the committee, two distinguished ambassadors, but also two ambassadors and Americans who have worked tirelessly to bring peace to the former Yugoslavia.
Chuck Redman has served several Republican and Democratic presidents with distinction, served for nearly a year as the special envoy to the former Yugoslavia. Peter Galbraith served for many years with distinction on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff, and in 1993 became the first U.S. ambassador to Croatia. I commend both ambassadors for their efforts on behalf of peace. And I appreciate their willingness to appear today. They have important assignments and responsibilities to which I know each must return.
So I'm looking forward to the testimony from our distinguished witnesses in both the open and the closed sessions.
I do have two reservations about the hearing.
First, the House voted three weeks ago to authorize nearly a million dollars to establish a select committee of this committee to investigate arms deliveries to Bosnia. It's my understanding that the select subcommittee was necessary because the full committee was too busy to undertake the inquiry. Today we find ourselves in a hearing held by the full committee and our witnesses are two of the key players in the deliberations of that select subcommittee. These two witnesses almost certainly will be called in several weeks to give the same testimony before the select subcommittee. They'll have to fly back from Europe. I wonder whether the work of the full committee and the select subcommittee will overlap, what other witnesses does the full committee plan to call, who is conducting the inquiry, the full committee or the select subcommittee.
My second reservation concerns the focus of the committee's inquiry. This hearing will focus on the past, a set of events that occurred in Bosnia two years ago. Events of '94 of course are not irrelevant. I know that many members are interested in the events of '94, and so am I. But I wonder, considering the critical questions we face in Bosnia in the weeks ahead, whether we should be focusing today on the past. Eighteen thousand U.S. troops are stationed in Bosnia today. My preference would be to focus on the key issues of the next several months, specifically the following areas that deserve our urgent attention -- the safe return of our troops, the elections in Bosnia scheduled for the fall, the freedom of movement for all Bosnians, and the return of refugees, civilian reconstruction, the build-down arms reduction talks among all parties in Bosnia, the buildup, equip and train program for the Bosnian Federation, and of course the possible follow-on force for IFOR.
I understand that a hearing on Bosnia is scheduled for two weeks hence by the chairman and that is good. But my sense of Bosnia today is that the situation there is so complex and the decisions of the next few weeks especially on the civilian side so critical, that I believe the full oversight resources of the committee should be focused on them -- not just a single hearing, as helpful as that may be. It is better, it seems to me, at this moment for the committee to be looking forward, not backward. We should let the select subcommittee do its work and this committee should focus on the issues of 1996 before it.
Mr. Chairman, I want as much of this hearing as possible in open session. I think you do, too. I think we agree that there are certain issue that can only be handled in closed session. I hope we will follow the procedure used by the Senate Intelligence Committee in its recent hearings on this subject and ask our witnesses to please let us know when the questioning is getting into areas that can only be adequately addressed in closed session.