THE CUBAN PROGRAM: TORTURE OF AMERICAN PRISONERS BY CUBAN AGENTS (David Duart)

     Thursday, November 4, 19994House of Representatives,

              Committee on International Relations,
        Washington, D.C.
    The Committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:10 a.m., in 
room 2172, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Benjamin A. 
Gilman (Chairman of the Committee) Presiding.
    Chairman Gilman. The Committee will come to order. Members 
please take their seats.
    Between July 1967 and August 1968 a team of interrogators, 
believed to be Cubans, brutally beat and tortured 19 American 
airmen, killing one in the prisoner of war camp known as ``The 
Zoo.'' I want to thank Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, our 
distinguished Chairman of our Subcommittee on International 
Economic Policy and Trade for her leadership in pursuing this 
issue.
    I served on the Select Committee that initially 
investigated the fate of American prisoners of war and those 
missing in action, and I look forward to hearing from our 
witnesses today. This morning, we will hear testimony from two 
distinguished panels.
    On our first panel, we are honored to have three former 
prisoners of war, including two who were subjected to the so-
called ``Cuban Program'': Captain Raymond Vohden, who later 
served with the Defense Department's POW-Missing Personnel 
office, and Air Force Colonel Jack Bomar, of Arizona. Our other 
witnesses include Michael Benge, a foreign service officer who 
was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for 5 years; and Andres 
Garcia, the Vice President of the Cuban American Veterans 
Association.
    On our second panel, we will be joined by Robert Jones, 
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Prisoner of War and 
Missing Personnel Affairs; and Robert Destatte of the Defense 
Department's Prisoner of War-Missing Personnel office.
    Recent press reports have revived interest in this terrible 
chapter of the Vietnam War and raised hopes that those 
responsible for those crimes can be identified. In that regard, 
we have written to FBI Director Louis Freeh to ask the Bureau 
for its assistance in pursuing information in the files of 
former Soviet Bloc countries regarding the Cuban program.
    Those who murdered or tortured our American servicemen are 
still at large somewhere, possibly in Cuba. There is no statute 
of limitations on the crimes committed against these American 
servicemen. Neither shall there be a statute of limitations on 
our commitment to discovering the true identity of those 
responsible for such crimes, so that they may be brought to 
justice. Our Nation owes this to the courageous men and women 
who served us so loyally in Vietnam.
    Before we begin with our first panel, let me ask our 
Ranking Member, Congressman--Judge Hastings, if he would like 
to make any opening remarks.
    Mr. Hastings. In the interest of time I will ask that any 
comment that I make be inserted in the record.
    I would like to thank Ileana Ros-Lehtinen for her 
leadership in this effort.
    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Chairman Gilman. Dr. Cooksey has asked to be recognized.
    Mr. Cooksey. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    My request, Mr. Chairman is that we minimize opening 
statements as much as possible. I am particularly interested in 
this issue. I want the facts out. I would like to have the 
maximum amount of time with these witnesses. Due to a counter-
request, I am not going to demand that we have a total limit of 
time. But I hope we can get to the witnesses.
    Chairman Gilman. We will get to the witnesses as quickly as 
possible. I would like to recognize the distinguished Chairman 
of the Subcommittee on International Economic Policy and Trade, 
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen, the gentle lady from Florida.

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