WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade, made the following statement during today's hearing entitled, "U.S.-India Counterterrorism Cooperation: Deepening the Partnership":
Our hearing comes soon after our 9/11 memorials, and as India has once again suffered a terrorist attack. Last week, a powerful bomb decimated part of one of New Delhi’s high-profile courthouses, killing a dozen and injuring scores. A few months ago, a coordinated triple bombing struck Mumbai during rush hour. Indian authorities are still searching for answers.
July’s coordinated Mumbai attack brought back the horrors of 26/11. Three years ago, a coordinated rampage rocked this great city, killing 166, including six Americans. But unlike in 2008, this time India authorities responded more capably, though there is still frustration in India. Defending an open country of India’s size is no easy task. Mumbai is particularly challenging, with a population of 20 million.
Fortunately, there are good opportunities for the U.S. to increase its counterterrorism cooperation with India. The two countries have worked together on this for over a decade. But by all accounts, this cooperation substantially improved after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, when investigators from both countries stood shoulder-to-shoulder in response.
The Counterterrorism Cooperation Initiative, Homeland Security Dialogue and other working groups plug along. This April, the FBI, working with the Indian Home Ministry, hosted 39 senior police executives from across India in Los Angeles, where they participated in an exchange on counterterrorism, crisis response and megacity policing. They visited the FBI’s Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory in Orange, California, to be trained in all aspects of digital evidence recovery.
This is good, but I’d like to get to a point where our counterterrorism exchanges are just as high-profile, numerous and unprecedented as our combined military exercises. I think Secretary Clinton had it right this July when she stressed in India “how important it is that we get results” from all of our counterterrorism agreements.
Let’s be clear: this is more than just helping a democratic ally. There are real, hard U.S. interests at stake. Simply put, the militants targeting India are also targeting us.
Indeed, at a Subcommittee hearing on the “Future of al-Qaeda” after bin Laden’s death, many experts placed just as much importance on Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba as any al-Qaeda affiliate. LeT India's mortal enemy, has gone global, with Western targets in its sights.
This week Vice President Biden said of Pakistan, “they have to get better…We are demanding it.” But are we?
Last month, the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. has begun to condition security assistance to Pakistan on a “secret scorecard of U.S. objectives to combat al-Qaeda and its militant allies.” Although details are classified, from the Journal’s reporting, it does not seem that the U.S. has put emphasis on Pakistan making further progress on the Mumbai attackers or LeT in this “scorecard.”
This is shortsighted, and is getting in the way of greater cooperation with India. As one witness will testify, “the U.S. cannot allow its national security to be held hostage by nearly two decades of unfulfilled expectations in Pakistan.”
In the past decade, U.S. relations with India have grown considerably. But we’ve hit a lull. Counterterrorism cooperation is a way to reinvigorate this relationship, and better protect America.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) slammed the U.S. Department of State as it released its Annual Report on International Religious Freedom. The State Department failed to list Vietnam as a “Country of Particular Concern” (CPC) for violations of religious freedom, a recommendation that was made by the congressionally-mandated U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
"The State Department’s failure to list Vietnam as a CPC is a grave mistake," said Royce. "The fact remains that no religious group is immune from government coercion and harassment. Buddhists, Catholics, and Evangelicals alike face the heavy hand of Vietnamese government tyranny if they step outside its tight restrictions."
"This report is even more disappointing given Secretary Clinton’s remarks in Hanoi last year, where she said human rights concerns are raised at all levels, both in Vietnam and Washington. When given the opportunity for concrete action, however, the State Department fell flat," said Royce.
Although the State Department’s report gives credit to Vietnam for improving in some areas, it notes that religious groups like Protestants and Buddhists still face government sanctioned violence.
"As the current state of human rights and religious freedom in Vietnam is deplorable, the State Department’s decision not to relist Vietnam as a CPC is extraordinarily short-sighted. Secretary Clinton’s call for Vietnam to value the rights of its citizens look like empty words," said Royce.
Since 1999, the U.S. State Department has designated countries that "engage in or tolerate particularly severe violations of religious freedom," as "Countries of Particular Concern."
Due to Vietnam's egregious human rights violations, the State Department had listed it as a CPC from 2004-2006. This subjected Vietnam to sanction, according to law. In 2006, however, the State Department removed Vietnam from this annual list.
"When Vietnam was placed on the CPC list, we saw some positive changes. Unfortunately, when it was released in 2006, Vietnam ramped up its persecution. The State Department’s failure to relist Vietnam does its people a great disservice," said Royce.
Furthermore, the State Department failed to follow the prescription of a House of Representatives Royce-passed resolution that calls for Vietnam to be relisted as a CPC.
Ed Royce is the author of H.Res.16, a resolution calling on the State Department to relist Vietnam as a CPC. Royce is also a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Subcommittee on Asia, as well as the co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Vietnam.