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Perhaps the most frequently used argument in favor of the proposed
treaty is that, if we don't ratify it, there will be violence, sabotage
and perhaps warfare and the canal will be shut down, in support of this
logic, treaty proponents point to statements by military leaders to the
effect that, in the event of violence or sabotage, they cannot guarantee
that our armed forces could keep the canal open all the time. However, I
feel sure that if you asked those same leaders if they could guarantee
that Metro would never fall victim to sabotage, they would also have
to say no
as they would in the case of almost any other major trans
portation facility. Maybe the answer is to give Metro to the Panamanians as
payment for taking the canol over but, unless you believe that, the vio
lence and sabotage argument simply doesn't hold water. Just because there
is a little risk in an investment such as a transportation system does
not mean we should give it away.
Finally, I suspect that if we go through with such
a giveaway, it
will not be viewed as a gesture of generosity but as a sign of weakness.
political fare for generations
Latin Americans respect us more when we
show our strength. Instead of American prestige sinking to a low ebb in
Latin America after the missile crisis of 1962 or the Dominican crisis of
1965 just the reverse occurred and so it will be in the future if we
demonstrate the willpower that made us a world power.
that is the key. More than anything else, this canal
treaty is a test of American willpower. If we are willing to give up
our legitimate, and long since paid for,claim to sovereignty over the
Canal Zone, others will wonder if there is anything we won't be willing
to give up. On the other hand, if we reject this treaty, we will have
demonstrated that we have not entirely lost our intestinal fortitude
and that we are still capable of standing up for what is rightfully
ours in the face of criticism. In this context, we should keep in mind
that America has nothing to be ashamed of relative to the canal; without
the original canal treaty (of 1903) Panama would, most likely, still be
a province of Colombia and it certainly wouldn't have the fourth highest
per capita income in Latin America.
I beg your pardon for I have gone on too long, but I
feel very strongly about this issue and about the fact that it is time
for the Congress to stand up and be counted. And while I can't speak on
their behalf, I think you will find a number of other Members of Congress
who feel much as I do and want to have a chance to vote on this matter.,
With all due respect, I believe that we are entitled to have such a
vote, and I hope that this subcommittee will see fit to make that very
Again, thank you for your indulgence. If you have any questions
I will be more than happy to try and answer them.
20-266 O -78 - 5
Mr. CRANE. Congressman Flood appeared with me on "The Advocates,” the public service television program, back about 3 or 4 years ago. I believe it was 1974. We argued this question of whether to give away the Panama Canal. Dan Flood was, of course, the most eloquent witness that we had on our side.
The returns of that program were most intriguing. The program appealed to listeners to send communications to the station indicating which side they supported. By the very lopsided margin of 89 percent support for our position, they upheld the position that I would advance today in opposition to alienating any portion of the canal or the zone.
The thing that was intriguing about the return was that the producers of the show acknowledged to us that their viewing audience was more liberal philosophically than conservative. So, the returns were doubly surprising to them.
I think, Mr. Chairman, that this is an issue that is neither ideological nor partisan. It is a question of what is in America's interest. In that connection, I would only put some stress on a couple of points. One is the national strategic interest of the canal. As we all know, Congress seems ill-disposed to beef up our national defense, notwithstanding the evidence that the Soviets are engaged in the most massive military buildup since Hitler's Germany.
That being the case, we are potentially creating a situation that would necessitate having a two-ocean navy if we did not have absolute control over the canal and the Canal Zone. Contrary to the impression left by the President-and it is a point that probabiy already has been referred to—there are only 13 of our combat naval vessels that cannot pass through the canal; those are the aircraft carriers.
I think there is also, from an economic point of view, a point that needs stressing. That is that almost 70 percent of the shipping that passes through that canal is bound for or originates in U.S. ports. This takes on added significance when we realize that the President made the decision not to permit any of the Alaskan oil to be sent to Japan in a tradeoff with Japanese oil from Persian Gulf. This means that great quantities of oil will be passing through the Panama Canal for refining in our eastern States.
I think that is one of the reasons why we have found such pronounced objections to the treaty coming from the Governors of such great States as Texas and Louisiana, major port States.
In addition to that, Mr. Chairman, there is one other point that I would stress. That is the potential conflict of interest represented by Mr. Linowitz' interest in Marine Midland Bank and the loans of that bank to the Republic of Panama. There is also Mr. Kissinger's potential conflict of interest serving on the board of Chase Manhattan Bank, and that major bank's interest in loans that it has extended to the Republic of Panama.
In fact, I think, when one examines the magnitude of loans by both domestic U.S. banks and their foreign branches, that the total amount of loans to that tiny country of Panama amounts to about $1.5 billion. Thirty-nine percent of Panama's budget right now is being extended to service debt.
Very frankly, I find it hard to believe that the banks, with that magnitude of interest there, have not attempted to exert some influence not only on people in government, but I suspect that in the business community as well. I even wonder whether conceivably there may not be some interest that they have exerted over some of our national TV networks.
Last night I heard Howard K. Smith come out editorially for ABC in support of the canal giveaway; the night before, Eric Severeid very forthrightly came out in support of the treaty. I do not know yet what NBC's position is. But it does seem to me that that is an area of potential conflict of interest that warrants serious investigation.
The only other point I would make, Mr. Chairman, has to do with this question of separation of powers and the primary concern of the subcommittee. I would cite and read from the testimony by the legislative attorney for the American Law Division of the Library of Congress, Mr. Kenneth Merrin.
It is clear that Congress has often asserted an exclusive right to dispose of Federal territory and property. It is also apparent that both the Executive and the Senate have recognized that claim in past dispositions of property in the Canal Zone to Panama. Therefore, wbile it is impossible to make a categorical assertion that article IV, section 3, clause 2 is either exclusive or concurrent, it appears that those powers have been recognized as exclusive for purposes of disposal of property in the Canal Zone to Panama.
Of course, those were inconsequential dispositions of property in contrast to what we are contemplating here today.
I think the virtue of guaranteeing that the entire Congress cast a vote on this is that the Founding Fathers, in their wisdom, initially assumed that you gentlemen in this body would be representing States and simultaneously that those of us serving in the House would be representing people. Both entities should have a voice on so serious a subject.
If one examined the polls on this subject, they show. overwhelming opposition to ratification of this treaty.
Opinion Research, for example, conducted one recently indicating 76 percent opposition. The American Conservative Union polled senatorial offices just about a week and a half ago; 66 Senators responded to that poll. The opposition to the treaty was running about 94 percent.
I have spoken to colleagues in both the House and the Senate who have put this question on questionnaires to their districts. The opposition runs about 90 percent.
The Council on Inter-American Security, which has been polling on this subject for the previous 3 months, has had consistent returns in the neighborhood of 90 percent opposition.
So, I would hope and pray that the House indeed would be forced to render a judgment on this. General Torrijos, the dictator of Panama, indicates that there will be some kind of national plebiscite or referendum to determine whether Panamanians support it. I would not trust any referendum conducted by any dictator.
On the other hand, I think that we can have the closest thing to a national referendum if we guarantee that those people who are represented in government, the American electorate, have an opportunity to render a judgment on the merits of this treaty. They can do that with their votes in the congressional elections of 1978.
It seems to me that, based not only on the historical precedence, but I think the unequivocal language of the U.S. Supreme Court, from Wilson v. Shaw in 1907 down through the last decision in 1974, that the Supreme Court has clearly upheld the fact that the United States owns that Canal Zone. We are sovereign in that zone.
We could never even have begun the construction of the zone had that not been the case from a constitutional point of view. That being the case, the article IV, section 3, clause 2 provision of the Constitution it seems would clearly indicate that the Senate and the House should both render a judgment. It would be my hope and prayer, very frankly, that that judgment would be consistent with what are in America's long term best interests.
That, in my judgment, is not running away from this situation but facing up to it foursquare, acknowledging that we have not only economic and national security interests involved, but so does the entire free world for that matter. In that sense, the United States would be doing a disservice to free world interests to contemplate yielding up this canal to probably one of the tiniest countries in Christendom that is not even in a situation to exercise self government or enjoy human rights so long as it is under the repressive regime of General Torrijos.
Senator ALLEN. Thank you very much, Mr. Crane. You made a fine statement.
Does the administration give any indication, other than holding briefing sessions, that it is going to submit any portion of the treaty or the conveyance of the property to the House?
Mr. CRANE. To the best of my knowledge, no, sir.
Senator Allen. What do you feel the sentiment of the House is on this question?
Mr. CRANE. I think sir, that at the present time—an overwhelming majority would vote against alienation of the canal.
I think that that majority is going to grow with the increasing communications from constituents. My mail—and I have not yet solicited any input from my district through a questionnaire-has run about 7,000 letters. So far, I have two letters supporting alienation of the canal. All of the rest are violently opposed.
During the August recess when I was home, I had people coming up to me identifying themselves as Democrats and Republicans indicating that it was their sincere hope that we would not consider giving up our canal. I did not have one individual approach me during the August recess supporting alienation.
As best I can determine in the House, as in the Senate, that sentiment is overwhelming in opposition to alienation. I think House Members, of course all being up for election in 1978, will be a lot more accountable to the views of their constituents.
Senator ALLEN. Do you feel that a delay in the taking of action by the Senate and the House would improve the treaty's chances of being ratified? Or would it harm the chances?
Mr. CRANE. My own feeling, Mr. Chairman, is that time is not on the side of the State Department or the administration on this question.
The argument has been advanced by the administration that they will educate the public to an understanding of the merits of the give