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SEN. FEINGOLD: Good morning, everybody. Senator Isakson is here, so we will get started. The hearing will come to order. And I'd like to begin by welcoming you all here and thanking our nominees for their willingness to serve.
I'm, as I said, honored to be joined by the ranking member of the Subcommittee on African Affairs, Senator Isakson. I'll invite him to deliver some opening remarks in just a minute. We have several distinguished individuals here to introduce our two nominees. So I will keep my remarks brief.
First, let me say, as a 17-year member and the current chairman of the Subcommittee on African Affairs, I have closely followed U.S. policy toward the African continent, for many years, both its successes and shortcomings.
We're at a point where it is critical for the United States to have a carefully planned and strategic approach, to Africa, that seeks to promote stability and combat threats, to our national security, while at the same time promoting --
We must institute long-term strategies to build civilian institutions and the rule of law.
If confirmed, Ambassador Johnnie Carson will have his hands full as assistant secretary for African Affairs. There are multiple areas on the continent that will compete for his attention: Sudan, the Sahel, the Horn, Congo, Zimbabwe. And I hope we will talk about many of these today.
Despite the urgent nature of crises, we must not lose sight of the vital need to support the many nascent and fragile democracies on the continent, which are likely to face increasing societal pressures, as a result of the global economic crisis.
Sustaining democratic momentum and shared economic growth will be a real challenge in the years ahead.
To that end, we need to think more carefully about how we can cultivate sustainable partnerships with Africans and their governments that advance our mutual interests. I'm confident, from our conversations and his very distinguished career, that Ambassador Carson understands these challenges, and I look forward to hearing from him today as to how, if confirmed, he and the administration plan to address them.
Luis de Baca, if confirmed as ambassador-at-large for trafficking in persons, will also face great challenges. Fortunately, Mr. de Baca has direct experience working for over a decade on trafficking cases at the Justice Department and understands the legal complexities of law relating to human trafficking, forced labor and slavery.
Director of the GTIP office must focus attention and resources on the severe problem of human trafficking, working in close consultation with other governments as well as with other agencies here at home. The international community has taken notable strides to address this problem, but countless women, men and children are still trafficked every year, subject to sexual exploitation, forced labor and abuse.
Here at home, the U.S. government estimates that approximately 800,000 people are trafficked across borders each year, 80 percent of whom are women and girls, and up to 50 percent of whom are minors. According to a GAO study in 2006, the United States lacked a fully coordinated interagency strategy to address this problem. So I'm eager to hear today from Mr. de Baca how he intends to maximize the resources of the GTIP office and strengthen its coordination with other government bureaus in the State Department and, of course, other U.S. agencies.
So again, I'd like to thank you both for embracing the responsibilities that come with these positions, as well as extending a warm welcome to your families and friends. I know that these people have played a critical role in your respective journeys and will continue to support you in the challenges that lie ahead. So when you speak, please feel free to introduce any family or friends who are present when you begin your testimony.
And now I'd like to introduce my friend and colleague Senator Isakson to offer his opening remarks.
SEN. JOHNNY ISAKSON (R-CA): Well, thank you very much, Senator Feingold. And I welcome Representatives Payne, Royce and Conyers, whom I had the pleasure of serving with in the U.S. House. It's good to have all of you here today.
And I welcome Johnnie Carson. I was saying that we "Johnnys" over 60 have to stick together. I'm one of them. (Laughter.) I was looking forward to meeting a guy named Johnnie Carson, and I was looking forward because I knew he would be a pleasure, with a name like that, and he really was. We had a great meeting and a great conversation.
And I think your nomination is most appropriate for the State Department. Your experience in Africa, your ambassadorships there, your understanding of the issues in Africa, to me, were extremely impressive in our conversation. And I, like Senator Feingold, share a real interest and a passion because what does go on in Africa does matter in the United States. And we have made significant investments on that continent to improve the plight of the African citizens, whether it be with PEPFAR or the malaria eradication program or the Millennium Challenge investment or what we're doing with our Corps of Engineers in Djibouti in terms of drilling wells and helping to make life -- (word inaudible).
I know that Johnnie Carson will be a fantastic appointee and I applaud the president for his nomination.
Equally, I have not met Mr. de Baca before, but I have to say, if you read his resume and you look at the job description for what he's been nominated, it's what they call a perfect fit or a perfect match. And it should not go unnoticed to any of us that the trouble that's going on on the Mexican border right now is, in part, human trafficking. We have serious issues, obviously, from Southeast Asia in human trafficking and in Africa we have a problem with not only human trafficking but narcotrafficking, which is a growing danger.
So Mr. de Baca, from every appearance that I read from his resume -- which I'm sure is totally accurate -- is absolutely qualified for the job. And I welcome him here today and welcome the families and the supporters of both the nominees.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. FEINGOLD: Thank you, Senator.
At this time I'd like to ask Congressman Payne and Congressman Royce to begin their introduction of Ambassador Carson. They'll be followed by Senator Harkin and Congressman Conyers' introduction of Mr. de Baca. And I look forward to our nominees' testimony and some discussion.
Recognizing how pressed we are all for time, if the introducers need to leave after they finish their remarks, they should feel free to do so, although, of course, they're welcome to stay for the duration.
We're grateful to have all of you here. Let me especially express my thanks to Congressman Payne, the chairman of the House Africa Subcommittee, who has been a great leader and partner on so many critical Africa issues.
So let's begin with Congressman Payne.
REP. DONALD PAYNE (D-NJ): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And it's an honor and a pleasure to be here. And it's also an honor to work with you as you chair the subcommittee on Africa here in the Senate. Ranking Member Isakson, it's certainly a pleasure for me to be here and commend both of you for your outstanding work.
It's also an honor to be with my colleague, Ed Royce. Congressman Royce, as you know, from California has served as chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa and we work so closely together in a bipartisan manner. And his passion for Africa exceeds no one in the House.
It's certainly a pleasure for me to have the honor and privilege to say a few words about my good friend, Ambassador Johnnie Carson, a man I've known for many, many years and a person that I have a deep respect for.
You may ask, who is Ambassador Johnnie Carson? Well, some of you may not know who this man is. He is a person that once you get to know him, he's kind of infectious in a positive way.
Usually infections are not good, but -- (laughter) -- he's a good infection, if there could be such a thing today.
He's a person of patience; he's a person of integrity; he's a person of high principle. He's a man that's been tested on numerous occasions. His service with the United States government goes over many years, and he's certainly proved beyond a doubt that he has the highest caliber of leadership. He is a person who is driven by a desire to help people in need and to serve our nation.
His bio lists the ambassadorships in Kenya, Zimbabwe and Uganda and his leadership in other positions here and around the world. But what it doesn't say is that beyond the bio, during the difficult times that the United States had after the bombings of the U.S. embassies -- in Nairobi, he was so instrumental in working with the government of Kenya, who felt very violated that this was done on their soil. And they said because they have a positive, friendly relationship with the United States, they were targeted.
And it was the calm, steady hand of Ambassador Carson who worked with then-President Moi and even encouraged him to step down and have a smooth transition of democracy from their one-party system to accepting multi-party democracy.
So I'm -- and finally, last year I had the opportunity to be in Kenya at the 10th anniversary commemorating the tragedy at the U.S. embassy, and I could see, when Ambassador Carson went to the podium, the eyes of Kenyans, and you could see that there was a tremendous amount of respect for what he has done.
So I'm just here to say that I think that he would be a very positive person as the next assistant secretary of State for African affairs. And I just left Secretary of State -- not dropping big names, but I was with Secretary Clinton, and she said she really would appreciate if you speed it up for us. (Laughter.) Thank you.
SEN. FEINGOLD: Thank you, Congressman. No one is -- more eager to speed up this nomination than myself. I have enormous regard for Mr. Carson. I would have done it a couple weeks ago if I'd been permitted to.
REP. EDWARD R. ROYCE (R-CA): Chairman Feingold, I thank you for this opportunity. I've enjoyed working with you, Mr. Chairman, on several issues concerning Africa, especially bringing war criminals Charles Taylor to the bar of justice at the International Criminal Court and Viktor Bout to justice as well. And hope we're ultimately successful there.
It is an honor and a privilege to introduce Ambassador Carson here today. I served as chairman of the House Subcommittee on Africa for eight years, and I remain on the Foreign Affairs Committee there, deeply interested in Africa issues. Over several years, I worked with Ambassador Carson, and I can tell you with confidence that he has the makings of an excellent assistant secretary of State.
I first met Johnnie Carson in 1997, when I led a congressional delegation to Zimbabwe. He was ambassador there, and at that time there was a growing engagement with Africa.
And several of us were part of that engagement, including today's nominee. And the results have been AGOA, PEPFAR, the MCC and AFRICOM, and in no part -- no small part, because of Ambassador Carson's engagement. I think other successes have been bringing stability to Sierra Leone and Liberia. There is a north-south peace agreement in Sudan, however shaky it might be. And these results did not come easily, and if we're honest, we'll recognize that keeping the momentum going for U.S. engagement with Africa is going to be difficult. Resources are stretched, and our country faces critical problems throughout the world. Ambassador Carson will have to fight for attention and fight for resources, and he can do that.
And Johnnie, let me say, you'll have an ally in me, and surely in Don Payne, in that struggle.
And one of the things, in fact, that impressed me about Johnnie Carson was his contact with Congress. Johnnie sought us out -- which is fairly unusual -- not that we always agreed; but we talked and worked together, indifferent to partisanship. It helps that Johnnie Carson spent time as a fellow on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He understands our perspective. And it helps because he can be more effective by working with Congress, not ducking us. And he always worked with Congress.
Africa faces many challenges. The global economic downturn, frankly, is a hammer-hit to the subcontinent. Radical Islam is spreading in some countries. I don't think China is a positive presence, including its role degrading many African environments. And of course, there are far too many civil conflicts in Sub-Saharan Africa.
We need very strong leadership at the State Department. Ambassador Carson has spent his career focused on Africa. You have his biography, and it's very impressive. I can't think of a better- rounded nominee. And were I in your shoes, senators, Ambassador Carson would have my hearty endorsement. And thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts about this fine nominee.
SEN. FEINGOLD: Thank you so much, Congressman.
And now we'll go to the other nomination. Senator Harkin?
SEN. TOM HARKIN (D-IA): Good morning. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. It's a pleasure and an honor to introduce and speak in favor of the nomination of Luis de Baca, to serve as ambassador-at-large to monitor and combat trafficking in persons.
I first want to acknowledge that I am here in no objective fashion, whatsoever. (Laughter.) I have known Lou de Baca since he was a little kid, Johnnie. Hard looking at him now to think that he was once a little kid. (Laughter). But when my wife and I returned to Iowa after our law school, we went -- moved to Ames. His parents, Bob and Mary, were close family friends of mine -- and worked with them on a variety of different things.
I first ran for Congress in 1972, and "little" Lou de Baca was in charge of "Kids for Harkin." (Laughs, laughter.) He ran the sign- making operation.
I also want it noted for the record that it was not at all his fault that I lost that first election. (Laughter.)
So I've known his family forever, and I can tell you he comes from good stock. His folks were involved in Angus cattle breeding in Huxley, Iowa, for many years. Lou then went on to become a 4-H student and was very active in 4-H. As a freshman at Iowa State University, he came to Washington as an intern in my office.
After he graduated from Iowa State, he then went to Michigan to go to Michigan Law School, where he was editor of the law review. And his first job after law school was an attorney in the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division, where he prosecuted involuntary servitude cases, among others. And knowing Lou all these years, that's sort of where he really developed this great interest and passion for involuntary servitude and trafficking in persons and child labor.
He rose to the position of chief counsel of the Civil Rights Division's human trafficking prosecution unit. During the Clinton administration he was the department's involuntary servitude and slavery coordinator. And more recently, of course -- and I'm sure you'll hear it from my great friend Congressman Conyers -- he was detailed to serve as counsel to the House Committee on Judiciary, under the great tutelage of Congressman Conyers.
As I said, I've known Lou from his earliest years. I've followed his career with great interest and great pride. He is a person of the highest intelligence and character and integrity. That I would vouch for 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And I can tell you he brings a genuine passion to the cause of combatting human trafficking and slavery.
So again, Mr. Chairman, Lou de Baca is extremely well-qualified to serve in every way for this position. I thank the -- President Obama for nominating him, and I urge the committee to report his nomination with a positive recommendation.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. FEINGOLD: Thank you, Senator Harkin, for the warm testimony. I appreciate it. And of course we're thrilled to have a guy called "Mr. Chairman," John Conyers, here. John?
REP. JOHN CONYERS (D-MI, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee): Thank you very much. Thank you very much, Chairman Feingold. And good to see Senator Isakson, a former colleague with whom we worked closely. And Senator Kaufman, I'm happy to be here in your presence as well.
There are two approaches that I could make to this. The first one that I -- is one I disavow is that I prepared him for this assignment -- (soft laughter) -- and it was through our training and polishing we got him ready. And I don't think that's correct at all.
He -- but he did bring things that -- almost everyone noticed immediately was a vast experience about the subject matter, which had not been given the attention it deserves in the House of Representatives, in the Judiciary Committee.
And notwithstanding the global aspect of this hearing and his responsibilities, he brought to our attention that there was involuntary servitude going on inside the United States as well.
And so when we came to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and other pieces of legislation, the Wilberforce Trafficking Reauthorization Act, he brought -- he brought to us other experts in the field. I can think of two people I met through him who had written books about this -- the subjects of slavery, involuntary servitude, who had spent most of their lives working on these subjects and still are.
And so I think at this point in time of our history, of the global -- this global concept of the world getting smaller and all of us interacting in a more connected way with not only countries but with people -- and we can see today that there is no -- it's terrible about what's happening way over there. I feel as -- my heart bleeds for them. What's happening way over there has a direct implication of what's happening right here and vice versa.
And so there couldn't be a more appropriate or finer person to be nominated for this position. I think it is an excellent fit. And we're very proud of the president of the United States for bringing this name forward. And I'm happy to support it.
SEN. FEINGOLD: Thank you so much, Representative Conyers. And again, all the members of Congress here are welcome to stay. I know they're very busy. And feel free to leave at this point if you need to. But thank you all for supporting these nominees so effectively.
Now, we'll begin with the nominees. And I remind them to please feel free to introduce the family and friends. And we'll start with Ambassador Carson.
MR. CARSON: Mr. Chairman, thank you very, very much. And I would like, before I begin my presentation, to introduce my wife who is here this morning, Anne Diemer Carson, who is two rows in back of me, my son, Michael Dupris (sp) Carson and my youngest daughter, Catherine (sp). They are also joined by two long-time family friends, Anne (sp) and Roland Blocksom (sp), who have been a part of our family for many, many, many years. And they are also here.
SEN. FEINGOLD: We welcome all of you.
MR. CARSON: I would also like just to note, too, the presence -- and I know there are many distinguished people in the audience, but I would like just to note the presence of the deputy secretary of the African Union, Mr. Mwencha, who is here in the audience, and also the ambassador of the AU, Mrs. Ali, who is accompanying Mr. Mwencha here this morning.
SEN. FEINGOLD: We welcome you, as well. Thanks for being here.
MR. CARSON: Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, it is an honor to appear before you today as President Obama's nominee to be assistant secretary of State for African Affairs. I am extremely pleased to have been nominated for this position, and I thank the president and also the secretary of State for the confidence that they have shown in me.
In recent years, U.S. policy towards Africa has generally been built around broad bipartisan consensus. If confirmed, I want to continue that practice and maintain a constructive dialogue between the Congress and the executive branch. I look forward to working with the Congress, and particularly with members of this committee, to strengthen U.S.-Africa relations.
Mr. Chairman, my professional interest and service in Africa spans nearly 40 years. I began my overseas experience in Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania, where I lived and taught in a small village for three years. I entered the Foreign Service shortly after my Peace Corps tour ended, and in over three decades in the State Department I had the privilege of serving in six different African countries, and in three of those countries as the United States ambassador.
Mr. Chairman, my years of service across the continent have given me a deep respect for Africa's people, for their rich history and culture and the challenges that they confront today. I also have a deep respect for all of the dedicated men and women who work at the State Department and at USAID, and especially those who work in the African bureaus.
And I certainly look forward to leading the State Department's Africa team.
Africa is enormously important to the United States for a number of reasons. Our history and our heritage are directly linked to Africa, and we have a fundamental interest in promoting peace and stability, good governance and sustained economic growth across the continent, the absence of which invariably impacts the United States.
Africa is also a major trading partner, especially in the area of hydrocarbons, supplying over 15 percent of America's oil and the majority of its liquefied natural gas consumed in the eastern part of the U.S. Africa's economic potential is vast, and its importance as a trading partner will only continue to grow.
As we near the conclusion of the first full decade of the 21st century, the greatest moments in Africa's long history have not yet been written. I remain optimistic about Africa's long-term future and believe the continent has the capacity to overcome its past problems and meet its current challenges.
During the past decade, Africa has made advances in three important areas. The greatest progress has been made in the area of democracy and governance. The two most recent examples of this are to be found in Ghana and in South Africa. On January 3rd of this year, Ghanaians went to the polls and selected John Atta Mills as their new president, marking the fourth successful presidential election in that country in the past 15 years and the second time that the ruling party has been replaced by the opposition.
And just 10 days ago, on April 22nd, over 14 million South Africans, blacks, whites and Coloureds, went peacefully to the polls to elect a new president, Jacob Zuma, South Africa's fourth president since the end of the apartheid era.
The elections in Ghana and South Africa are not unique, and represent a positive aspect of Africa's unfolding democratic history. Africans support democracy, and since the early 1990s dozens of African countries have embraced democratic rule.
Africa's governments have also made measurable strides in the economic field, liberalizing their economies, embracing free-market reforms and adopting pro-business policies. And prior to the onset of the global financial crisis in early 2008, Africa had experienced nearly a decade of steady economic growth.
Mr. Chairman, violent conflicts in Africa have also declined over the past 10 years. The bloody and awful, often barbaric, civil wars that ripped Liberia and Sierra Leone apart in the 1990s have ended. The hot war that erupted along the Ethiopian-Eritrea border has gone dormant. And the massive outside intervention that threatened to split the Congo apart has now faded away.
African leaders recognize the negative impact violent conflicts can have on their region and are trying to do something about it.
Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, despite these very meaningful achievements, Africa still faces serious challenges in all of the areas that I've just enumerated.
Africa's democratic gains cannot, cannot be taken for granted. Democratic institutions across the continent remain fragile and vulnerable to authoritarian leaders and ambitious soldiers. In the past 12 months, African militaries have intervened illegally in at least four different African countries. And deeply flawed elections in a number of states over the last several years, including in Kenya, Nigeria and Zimbabwe, have caused deep concern at home and abroad.
Africa's strong decade-long economic performance is also in jeopardy because of the current global financial crisis. The steep rise in fuel, food and fertilizer costs last summer and the wild swings in commodity prices threaten to erode some of Africa's recent economic gains and to throw Africa's poorest nations back into indebtedness and deeper poverty.
Mr. Chairman, although the overall level of violence and warfare in Africa has also witnessed a sharp decline, several complex and deeply rooted political conflicts persist in Somalia, in Sudan and the eastern Congo. Somalia's deep decline has generated an epidemic of piracy, a massive influx of refugees into Kenya and a growing concern about cross-border terrorism. Sudan faces two major challenges in Darfur and in southern Sudan, conflicts that have uprooted millions of people, destabilized neighboring states and generated one of the world's worst humanitarian disasters. And in the Great Lakes region of the eastern Congo, several different rebel groups continue to defy central government authority and to terrorize the population.
Mr. Chairman, I think the United States has significant political, economic and humanitarian interests in wanting to help Africa to deal with its most pressing challenges. And if I am confirmed, I will focus on four key areas: strengthening Africa's democratic institutions and adherence to the rule of law, working with African countries to prevent conflict and to build local peacekeeping capacity, fostering sustained economic development and growth, and finally partnering with Africa to combat threats like health pandemics, climate change and narcotrafficking.
Let me say just briefly a few things about each of these four issues.
Democracy is a process; it is not an event. We must work in partnership with African governments and civil society organizations to strengthen their democratic institutions and to protect the democratic gains that they have made.
If confirmed, I will speak out against corruption, against abusive government, against human-rights violation. And I will be a strong advocate for greater resources for the United States government-funded democracy and governance programs, which are vital in many parts of Africa.
Conflict prevention and conflict mitigation will be among my highest priorities as well. Conflicts in Africa do more to undermine progress than almost anything else. They destabilize states, halt economic growth, cause enormous loss of life and frequently result in major refugee flows.
If confirmed, I will be proactive in working with African leaders, civil society organizations and the international community, in preventing conflicts. And I will work with African leaders to resolve the conflicts that already exist. If confirmed, I will also work closely with President Obama's special envoy on Sudan.
Africa remains the poorest and most economically vulnerable continent in the world. And fostering sustained economic growth will also be a very high priority.
I would also like to point out that renewed and sustained emphasis should be placed on Africa's agricultural sector, where 70 percent of Africans directly or indirectly derive their income.
We must help African countries transform the farming sector, to achieve the green revolution, like the one that has improved the lives of millions of people across Asia.
Finally Africa's poverty has put it at a distinct disadvantage, in dealing with major global problems like health pandemics, climate change and narcotrafficking.
In the fight against AIDS and malaria, the United States has been a strong partner with Africa. The U.S. must build similar partnerships, with Africa, to deal with narcotrafficking, climate change and maritime insecurity. All of these problems have a global as well as an African dimension.
Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, I'm aware of the deep interest and importance you attach to strengthening relations between the United States and Africa.
If confirmed, I look forward to working with you, to advance the agenda I've laid out and the many goals that we share in common, with respect to Africa's future and our relations with that great continent.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. FEINGOLD: Thank you, Mr. Ambassador.
Mr. de Baca.
MR. DE BACA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the committee.
I appreciate the confidence that President Obama and Secretary Clinton placed in me through this nomination. And I would like to thank Chairman Conyers and Senator Harkin for their kind introductions.
Chairman Conyers, despite his demurrals, has been a mentor to me. But more importantly his civil rights activism helps all of us confront the badges and incidents of slavery in this country.
And since I was young, Tom Harkin has been not just an inspiration but also a friend, and one of the friendly adults in the neighborhood. And he's continued that through. His commitment to child labor is an inspiration to all of us, and his fight against that is directly applicable to the topic at hand.
Before I start, I would like to thank -- and point out a couple of folks who are in the audience. My wife Lorena (sp), who is in the front row, surprised me on the altar when she suddenly added into her vows that she would always support my fight for justice. She has done so, and, perhaps against her best interests, has seen me get on airplanes to fly off and try to help people around the world.
Some other special guests: Jim Green (sp), a dear friend from law school who, whether in the weight room or the law library, has always encouraged me to succeed. And then two of the folks who were key players on this during the Clinton administration, Steve Warniff (ph) and Theresa Loar, who worked closely with the late Senator Wellstone to stand up the anti-trafficking movement in the late 1990s.
SEN. FEINGOLD: We welcome all of you.
MR. DE BACA: I appreciate the support of these folks today and throughout the years.
As a federal prosecutor, I fought modern slavery on the front lines, and as a congressional staffer through the -- last year's Wilberforce Act, the reauthorization, I was able to help carry our anti-trafficking efforts forward. The Wilberforce Act passed both houses of Congress by unanimous consent, demonstrating the national consensus that we have to take every measure to counter this global tragedy. This is in keeping with the best of the United States's traditions. Last year was the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade, and we'll soon celebrate the 150th anniversary of emancipation.
Emancipation was not a one-time thing. It's an event, not -- a process. Through the 13th Amendment, emancipation stands as a living promise of freedom from this country. So about 10 years ago, Congress and the Clinton administration updated the involuntary servitude laws that had been enacted in the wake of the civil war by passing the Trafficking Victims Act of 2000. The resulting counter-trafficking movement is the successor to the civil rights pioneers like Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass and William Wilberforce as we continue forward as modern abolitionists.
President Obama recognized this last fall when, during the campaign, he pledged to have the United States lead the fight against enslavement at home and abroad. As Senator Harkin pointed out, over the last decade I've served as the lead counter-trafficking prosecutor in both the Clinton and Bush administrations. There, with dedicated colleagues, I enforced the 13th Amendment by protecting victims and punishing the traffickers.
We developed the U.S. government's 3P approach, which gives equal consideration to prevention, protection and prosecution alike, and now this is the global standard for anti-trafficking efforts. Over the last decade, as a result, we've seen in country after country how that approach in a comprehensive anti-trafficking law can fuel the work of police and NGOs to work together to find and help these hidden victims. Here in the United States, we've seen a tenfold increase in the number of cases, the rescue and support of thousands of victims and new relationships between police and a network of social-service providers dedicated to freedom.
In my cases, I saw the impact of human trafficking up close: the violence, the greed of the traffickers, and the suffering and trauma -- but also the strength -- of the victims. To me, these people were not statistics. They are those who share painful memories, and the joyful experience of healing.
Going forward, a cultural shift needs to accompany enforcement efforts, both in the United States and abroad, so that the people most vulnerable to trafficking are not dismissed as somehow vulnerable. So rather than seeing an abused migrant as just an illegal alien, or a woman as just a prostitute, we can confront how traffickers exploit their victims' vulnerabilities to hold them in bondage, and how end users create the demand that traffickers so brutally meet. Instead of assumptions about movement and migration, we can focus on the compelled service that the Palermo Protocol and other international instruments put at the heart of this phenomenon.
And so, if confirmed to lead the Trafficking Office, I would monitor human trafficking in all of its forms in a rigorous TIP Report; ensure consistent, transparent and competitive grant programs that build on the shortcomings highlighted and identified by the TIP Report; and I would lead the interagency process to leverage scarce resources and implement key Wilberforce Act provisions, such as the victim services, the reporting requirements and data gathering, programs for traffic in at-risk children and the protections for guest workers and servants of diplomats.
In the Bush administration, Ambassadors Mark Lagon, John Miller and Nancy Ely-Raphel stood up an office that ensured that this issue could not be ignored. They deserve the country's thanks, and serve as an example as the Obama administration takes the baton. Secretary Clinton has long been personally committed to combatting human trafficking, and she is ready and engage -- to engage and lead. And with your leadership and the unanimous passage of the Wilberforce Act last year, you gave us a road map for those efforts and new tools to fight this ancient evil.
We have to act, because so many remain in bondage around the globe. Most of the survivors with whom I've worked say that they thought that they were alone and just had to suffer in silence. If they thought of the police, it was with fear, not with the promise of rescue. If they thought of escape, they didn't know that churches and service providers stood ready to help. Their path to freedom must begin with the idea that they are not alone; that someone somewhere is searching for them; that they matter; that no one is for sale. By monitoring, reporting, having programs and conducting public awareness and harnessing the power of governments and NGOs, the Trafficking Office at the State Department can demonstrate to the world that to the United States these people matter.
I appreciate that you consider me to represent the country in this effort, and I welcome your questions.
SEN. FEINGOLD: Thank you, Mr. de Baca.
We will begin with seven-minute rounds.
Ambassador Carson, as you know, I held an Africa Subcommittee hearing last week on strengthening U.S. diplomatic capacity to anticipate and prevent and respond to conflict. It was noted at the hearing that the Africa Bureau was one of the smallest regional bureaus and has been under capacity for a long time. So in your view, how can we rebuild and re-energize the Africa Bureau so it's not simply a force to respond to the crisis of the moment and just putting out fires?
MR. CARSON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for that question. Indeed, the Africa Bureau is one of the largest in the Department of State, responsible for some 48 different countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and requiring a lot of resources, both in terms of people and money.
We could always use additional assistance, particularly in places that are of extreme importance to the United States. Countries like Nigeria, for example, would be ideal to have more consulates and more representation.
And I use Nigeria as a good example. I spent my first diplomatic tour in that country many, many years ago. And when I first went there, we had an embassy in Lagos, a consulate in Ibadan, a consulate in Kaduna, an American presence post in Kano. And because of the civil war, we had had to close down our consulate in the eastern part of the country.
Today, Nigeria is two-and-a-half times the population it was when I served there, but yet we only have an embassy in Abuja and a consulate in Lagos. It's a place where we probably should be represented more broadly with more resources and with more people. I also note that some 70 million Nigerians are Muslim and live in the northern part of that country, where we have no diplomatic representation at all in what is, in fact, the seventh largest Muslim country in the world.
That's an example. Other places are out there. We could afford to have more diplomatic representation. The more people that we have on the ground, the more we understand about the countries that we're working in and can, in effect, be helpful with those who are seeking to do the right thing.
SEN. FEINGOLD: I certainly agree with your example of Nigeria. I've seen this on the ground there as well. The lack of coverage there is really serious. So thank you for that answer.
One of the challenges we especially face in Africa, as you well know, is that peace and security issues cut across boundaries both on land and water. And in light of recent events, the issue of piracy and maritime insecurity comes to mind. In your view, ambassador, how can we better enhance our diplomatic capacity to address these regional and maritime challenges?
MR. CARSON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The issue of piracy in Somalia is a result, as you know, of the absence of any government in Southern Sudan, the absence of a judicial law enforcement system and more importantly the absence and breakdown of the formal and informal economy.
We need to be positioned wherever we can, with diplomatic representation in the region, to help facilitate the efforts to find solutions, to problems like those in Somalia.
SEN. FEINGOLD: On Somalia in more detail, I know, from our discussion, that you share my concern about it: the humanitarian consequences, the threat to regional stability, the impact on our national security.
And I appreciate your reference to the need to develop a comprehensive strategy in your testimony. That's something I've been literally talking about for many, many years.
And to deal with this crisis and its outgrowth, like piracy, I think, we need a full-court diplomatic push, to engage with a wide range of actors, within Somalia, and stakeholders in the wider region, both in the Horn of Africa and also in the Middle East.
So if confirmed, how would you actually go about leading a more robust diplomatic effort toward Somalia and the wider region? And what do you see as the first steps to that end?
MR. CARSON: Mr. Chairman, a lot of this is under way already, as a result of initiatives that have been taken, by the State Department, in conjunction with the National Security Council and with the Department of Transportation.
The U.S. is a part of a contact group, of largely Western European and maritime powers, working to devise rules and regulations that will improve the security of shipping, through the Red Sea and the northern part of the Indian Ocean. There have been a number of meetings, of this contact group, to work out details on how they can help address this issue.
The U.S. government has also been very active in working with maritime shipping companies, in the United States, encouraging them to adopt policies that will make it harder for pirates to capture or to attack their ships, as they move through the region.
And there is indeed an unprecedented level of cooperation, among navies of the world, to deal with this issue as well, led by the United States Department of Defense.
SEN. FEINGOLD: Thank you.
I think I'll turn to Senator Isakson's round now. I'll do another round later.
SEN. ISAKSON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ambassador Carson, I was pleased, in your remarks, that you noted wanting to work with and support General Gration, the new envoy appointed to the Sudan. Senator Feingold and myself wrote the president, in February, urging him to make that appointment, as rapidly as possible, because of the deteriorating events in the Sudan.
And I noted from the previous envoy, Mr. Williamson, I think, we really need to give Gration all the support in the world, particularly with his expertise as a two-star Air Force general, with specific assignments at the Department of Defense on strategy. Because it appears to me the African Union troops that are now in that region, to protect the NGOs trying to deliver humanitarian effort, to Darfur, really are not effective.
And I think a lot of that's because of the weakness of their military system and the African Union.
So anything you can do to support General Gration with his expertise that can in turn help those NGOs would be greatly appreciated.
MR. CARSON: Yes, sir. Senator, I think the selection of Scott Gration was a wonderful choice -- a man who is very much dedicated to the job and the assignment that he has been given, and a man who has an enormous amount of experience in Africa as well. It is my intention to be as supportive as possible as he proceeds in his important mission.
SEN. ISAKSON: Well, that's an important -- that is a very difficult situation in the Sudan. I will be traveling there in the near future and look forward to working with you and with General Gration on doing anything we can to help the tragedy that's taking -- stop the tragedy that's taking place in that country.
And on that same note, I think I have an obligation to mention that tragically a month and a half ago, a young lady by the name of Cate Puzey was murdered in Benin. Cate lived in my state, was a resident of Forsyth County. I attended her funeral. I never knew her personally, but having attended that funeral, I recognize what I've always known about Peace Corps volunteers, and that is that they do great work at great risk and sometimes at great peril.
And any time you lose a Peace Corps volunteer in any country, I think it's important for our State Department to take note of that and to do everything we can to ensure the parents of these young volunteers that go into the Peace Corps that we will do everything we can within our power to work with the governments to ensure the security of those workers.
MR. CARSON: Mr. Senator, I couldn't agree with you more. I think that the Peace Corps is the best volunteer -- international volunteer organization in the world. And our Peace Corps volunteers are probably America's best ambassadors overseas, particularly in Africa. They represent all of the high ideals and energy that we, as Americans, are a part of.
And I think you're absolutely right: When we lose a volunteer, we lose not only a citizen, but we lose someone who is the face of America to an important audience overseas.
SEN. ISAKSON: And I want to note on that comment that the government of Benin could not have been more responsive and more effective and the international community on the ground in other parts of Africa lent support both forensically as well as medically to be able to quickly determine and identify the individual who allegedly did the bad act. But the country of Benin and their government were absolutely fantastic.
But we do owe it to those Peace Corps volunteers and their families to do everything we can to protect them.
Mr. de Baca, I made a comment in my opening statement that probably was a little bit out of ignorance, and I want you to elaborate on it. But one of the things -- since we put the Merida funding into Mexico and began to put pressure on the drug trafficking, it became evident to me that some of the violence that -- taking place now is not just the narcotraffickers, but it is the human traffickers that have been trafficking up the land bridge from South America all the way through Mexico into the United States. Am I right on that, or am I wrong on that?
MR. DE BACA: Senator, human trafficking and alien smuggling are inexorably intertwined. As we see, many of the Mexican citizens who are victimized in the United States, exploited and enslaved, whether in prostitution or field work or as servants, have been victimized by the alien-smuggling rings. There's not always a one-to-one correlation between the alien smugglers and those who bring the folks up in order to enslave them or in order to hold them in involuntary servitude, but they use the same routes; they're often the same people.
And often what happens is migrants who are coming north for personal reasons fall into the trap that the human traffickers lay for them. I prosecuted a case in South Texas where two women were held as concubines by a(n) alien-smuggling ring. As they would bring people through, they'd basically cherry-pick the women who were the most vulnerable, who they felt that they could get away with holding there in the safehouse -- not just until they could move to the north, not just until they could extort money from the families -- all of which the alien smuggling rings do -- but in this case, and in many others, holding them as cooks, maids and, at night, another form of service much worse.
So one of the things that we've done in -- at the Justice Department, one of the things that I would do if confirmed, is to work closely with the Mexican government so that we can strengthen their ability to protect their citizens, to investigate the trafficking rings, to investigate the smuggling rings and to start dismantling the northern flow of people for exploitation.
But sadly, we've also seen a problem with people being brought up from -- across the southern border of Mexico through -- from Guatemala, from Honduras, El Salvador, and never making it to the United States, ending up in factories or brothels in southern Mexico and exploited there.
So if confirmed, I would want to work closely with the Mexican federal police, with the Mexican authorities, so that we could actually harness the power of some of the nongovernmental organizations that are standing ready to try to help those immigrants who are actually being harmed in Mexico, not just in the United States.
SEN. ISAKSON: Well, I'm glad you're going to do that emphasis, because my experience has been that President Calderon has really stepped up to the plate, in terms of both manpower, as well as some prosecutors on the border with the United States, to really try and help, on their side, to stop the trafficking that's taking place. And now may be the -- a great opportunity for us to make a major effort there, with your leadership and with his openness to that. And I appreciate your willingness to serve.
MR. DE BACA: Senator, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that a number of those -- our Mexican counterparts serve at great risk to themselves. And in fact, Nemesio Lugo, who was with the federal police, who was one of the real leaders of Mexico's anti-trafficking organization, was transferred to a narco squad and was killed by the narcotraffickers. And in doing that, the United States lost a great partner, somebody who had really engaged on this.
SEN. ISAKSON: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. FEINGOLD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Kaufman, thank you for joining us. You can start your round.
SENATOR TED KAUFMAN (D-DE): Thank you.
And Ambassador Carson and Mr. de Baca, I want to thank you for volunteering for service. The country will be well served when you two are confirmed.
Ambassador Carson, you mentioned speaking out on corruption. Could you just spend a couple minutes and tell us what you'll be saying, about corruption in Africa?
MR. CARSON: Thank you, Mr. Senator.
Yes, if confirmed, I will speak out on corruption. I think corruption is a cancer on the economies of any country. But they are particularly devastating on African economies, because they tend to be weak and small.
Too many places around the continent, we see a misuse of resources, by individuals who are doing things that undermine the integrity of the government budget, undermine their companies' operations and undermine state development objectives.
If one looks at the corruption indexes that are published, one finds very sadly that many African states are at the very bottom of the index. And many states that depend on oil and minerals generally have the highest levels of corruption.
This destroys economies. It diverts important assets away from education, from health care, from infrastructure development and into the hands of individuals.
I think many in Africa, many African civil society groups, recognize this and speak out against it. I think we should join them in their efforts to speak out against corruption on the continent as well.
SEN. KAUFMAN: Great. I couldn't agree more.
And you also spoke quite eloquently about Democratic institution- building. Can you talk a little bit about freedom of the press and the continent of Africa?
MR. CARSON: I think press freedom is one of the major pillars of democracy. And I think that it varies around the continent. There has been increased press freedom over the last 15 or 20 years.
Press freedoms have been aided by the introduction of the electronic media: telephones, Internet and text messaging. But it is extremely important. Many people in Africa get their news from radios and from both local and international broadcasting.
I think that the media provides both information as well as a check on government excesses. It allows individuals to make their governments and organizations more accountable. And I think it is the backbone of most good democracies.
SEN. KAUFMAN: Can you spend just a couple minutes on Zimbabwe?
MR. CARSON: Zimbabwe is a extraordinarily tragic case. We have seen Robert Mugabe take Zimbabwe, a once very successful, economically strong country, down to the lowest level.
It is a country that has extraordinary agricultural and mineral potential. It has a citizenship which is broadly well educated, for Africa. But under Robert Mugabe's leadership -- dictatorial leadership, authoritarian leadership, he has basically destroyed the country in order to maintain himself and a small group of leaders in power.
It -- we have worked very hard, ourselves, as a -- as a country. You know, the previous administration worked with the Southern African Development Community, SADC, to encourage that they put greater pressure on Zimbabwe for change. That change has resulted in some small incremental steps. We now have a transition government in place with the leader of the opposition, Morgan Tsvangirai, serving as the prime minister. But Mugabe and the key leadership of ZANU PF continue to control the instruments of power in that country. They control the intelligence services, the police and the military. They also have enormous control over the central bank and the reserve bank. And until we see changes in the -- in those areas, it's unlikely that we will see any real change in the governance of that country.
SEN. KAUFMAN: Thank you. Mr. de Baca, can you talk about coordinating your efforts with the Justice Department?
MR. DE BACA: Yes. Senator, as a creature of the Justice Department, I think, you know, my first priority will actually be, if confirmed, to start doing some in-reach with the -- (audio break) -- State Department in no small part so that we can create those linkages and strengthen those linkages between the Department of Justice and the Department of State.
Whether it's the Civil Rights Division, which prosecutes the cases here, whether it's the child exploitation and obscenity section of the criminal division, which has shown such great leadership on issues like child sexual exploitation, the Protect Act, et cetera, there are a number of offices that work every day with their State Department counterparts, both on the individual level and then through the senior policy operating group, which is the formal interagency process I'll look to strengthen and build on those relationships.
I would point out that in the Judiciary Committee right now, Tom Perez is being questioned and Tom Perez, not only is an experienced former prosecutor in the criminal section, civil rights division, but he's the man that assigned me my first slavery case.
Mr. Perez founded -- was one of the key founders of the Interagency Working Group during the Clinton administration on the operation side, the National Trafficking Worker Exploitation Task Force, and if confirmed, the two of us will work very closely together so that we can have a seamless relationship between the departments.
SEN. KAUFMAN: Great. Thank you. Mr. Chairman.
SEN. FEINGOLD: Thank you, Senator Kaufman. I'll do another round and, first, let me thank the Senator for bringing up Zimbabwe. This is going to be one of the toughest challenges we face. I had a chance to meet yesterday with the new finance minister for Zimbabwe who is a member of the MDC, the opposition party and naturally their hope is for as much normalization as possible, especially in light of our legislative restrictions. On the other hand, the ambassador has very properly pointed out the limitations of this given the continued role of Robert Mugabe and his party.
So this will be a complex issue that we're going to have to work our way through with the hopes of improving Zimbabwe's situation responsibly.
Mr. de Baca, you have had extensive background as a federal prosecutor of human traffickers at the Justice Department. You've worked on many trafficking cases, albeit predominately on the domestic side for a long time.
How will your case work experience at DOJ translate to international policymaking as ambassador at-large for trafficking persons? And what lessons from your previous experience will you draw on in your new post if confirmed?
MR. de BACA: Senator, the commonality between these cases, whether they take place in another country or in the United States is the compelled service and the suffering that the victims go through. A lot of what the United States has brought to the table and what I've been able to work with over the last 15 years is what we in the United States law enforcement community have learned about -- victimization, have learned about imbalance of power through the domestic violence and sexual assault efforts since the 1970s. That understanding of the imbalance of power, the information differential that the traffickers often take advantage of, but then also have -- the most effective traffickers are ones who create a dependence upon the victim, so the victim themselves starts feeling like they can't leave their abuser, something very similar to the domestic violence understanding that we have.
And so that, plus working with the non-governmental organizations hand-in-hand, which we first started doing when we were working in the migrant communities largely has a way to be able to just find the victims who once they escaped would flow out into the migrant community as a whole. Those linkages between law enforcement and the non-governmental community are one of the reasons why the civil rights division has such a strong track record of doing both labor and sex trafficking cases here in the United States.
And so, if confirmed, one of the things that I would like to take to the international community is that notion that for a government to give up a little bit of power in the relationship with the NGOs so that they can work together on cases actually empowers the entire effort, and for NGOs to be able to forge these alliances and trust some police and detectives, hopefully, in elite units will actually put a dent in this problem.
SEN. FEINGOLD: What do you see as the new frontiers for trafficking problems? Are there potential regions where we might be able to prevent at an early stage a human trafficking industry from becoming entrenched?
MR. de BACA: Senator, I think that it's perhaps less a matter of trafficking popping up in places as it is, sadly, a matter of us turning our attention to them. I think wherever you have a vulnerable population and greedy and abusive employers or greedy and abusive pimps, you will see human trafficking manifest itself. That said, I think that much of the resources and much of the energy on this issue has been in Southeast Asia or in Eastern Europe in the wake of the fall of the Soviet Union.
I think there is much work to be done in Africa and in Latin America where this is, certainly, seems to be a growing phenomenon, again, whether that's because the problem is itself growing or because people are turning their attention to it, the data does not yet tell us.
SEN. FEINGOLD: Thank you. Ambassador, back to you and important, though often understated part of our approach to Somalia is our close partnership, of course, with Ethiopia. But as you know, perceptions in Somalia whether they're justified or not of unconditional U.S. support for Ethiopia's incursions and activities has hurt our credibility with a lot of actors. I believe Ethiopia is an important partner of the United States. We do have shared interests, but I'm concerned by growing reports of repressiveness by the Ethiopian government, moreover, the State Department's annual country reports on human rights practices have long described a pattern of arbitrary arrest, detention and torture by the police and armed forces in Ethiopia.
And so I've tried for some time to call for a more balanced partnership with Ethiopia, one that basically does not turn a blind eye to these abuses.
If confirmed, what steps will you seek to take to strike a more balanced partnership with Ethiopia centered on genuine democratic progress?
MR. CARSON: Thank you, Senator, for that question.
Ethiopia has, in fact, been a strong partner in the effort to combat extremism emanating from Somalia, but you're absolutely right. The United States needs to have a broad and balanced relationship with Ethiopia, one that is based a common set of shared ideals and principles built around democratic values.
It is extremely important that Ethiopia continue and not to close down its democratic space, that it allow its political opposition, its civil society to participate broadly in the political life of that country.
It's important also for Ethiopia to allow a free and vibrant press to operate there, that it allow trade unions and other organizations to meet and associate with one another. All of these core values and core principles in democracy and we have our strongest relationships among our democratic partners where we share ideals and values together rather than where we share common enemies together.
A balanced relationship is absolutely essential and we will certainly be dialoguing if I am confirmed with the Ethiopian government to encourage them to have good elections in the next two years when they are scheduled to take place.
SEN. FEINGOLD: Ambassador, I'll ask you one more question about an area you know well. You were ambassador to Kenya about a decade ago. Kenya is, obviously, an extremely important country for the stability of the Horn of Africa and East Africa. I'm very concerned about a pattern of extra judicial killings in Kenya and the continued failure to seek accountability for those most responsible for the violence after the December 2007 elections.
Just yesterday, there were reports of the coalition hitting another impasse with the Kenyan parliament speaker refusing to rule on who should lead the legislative body's government business, an important position that remains unfilled and -- wake of ongoing disagreements.
Of this and other underlying rule of law problems are not addressed, I'm worried that there is a very real potential for political instability to return to Kenya, which, of course, has enormous implications.
In your view, how great of a risk is this? And what steps should the United States take to prevent future conflict in Kenya?
MR. CARSON: Senator, very important question about a very important country. Kenya is our strongest partner and has been our strongest partner in the greater Horn of Africa since the early 1960s. We have our greatest economic ties there. We have our strongest military ties there as well and its been an important partner with the United States.
We are deeply concerned and continue to be concerned about the failure of all sides to implement the agreement hammered out by former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, in February and March to end the stalemate that arose over the flawed elections that occurred in December of 2007.
It is absolutely essential that both sides, both the majority party, as well as the main opposition party, work together to implement the agreement that was put together by Kofi Annan.
We are engaged in talking to President Kibaki and his senior political leaders, as well as Prime Minister Odinga and his senior leaders to move forward to implement the constitutional changes that were encouraged and to establish a new election, electoral commission that broadly represents the country.
It is important that these reforms be completed and that they enjoy the support of both of the major political parties. But it is worrying what is, in fact, happening there. It's too important a country to ignore. We have to do everything we possibly can do, and certainly if I'm confirmed, I will certainly do everything I possibly can to bring both sides together to address the impasse that exists right now.
SEN. FEINGOLD: Thank you, Ambassador.
SENATOR JOHNNY ISAKSON (R-GA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I apologize, I'm going to have to leave after one question because I've got to go to the floor, but I do want to talk about China for just a second in this context.
I think one of the lasting -- I've told you, Ambassador Carson, I think Africa is the continent of the 21st century as far as American foreign policy is concerned, but they can be a great partner for us in trade, a great opportunity for us to improve the quality of life there and become great customers of the United States.
I think President Bush's lasting investment in humanitarian effort in PEPFAR and malaria eradication really set a great tone for the United States in the continent of Africa, but in my limited travel there, which is not as expansive as the chairman, I've also observed the tremendous investment China is making in the continent of Africa in a very different way, not necessarily in the humanitarian interests of the people of Africa, but in the interests of the country of China, and most particularly, when I went to Equatorial Guinea where the largest supply of natural gas in the world recently found is now made that one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
We had an embassy that had a hole ten feet wide in diameter in the ceiling, and the ambassador was living in a one-bedroom ground level apartment with sliding glass doors and no security and the Chinese were building what looked to me to be about a 50,000-square foot edifice for their new embassy.
So one of the things that I have worked on some with the State Department in the last administration and want to work with you on is making sure that we're making the investment in our embassies' infrastructure to be sure that our ambassadors and our staff on the ground have the facilities they need to be competitive in that area and I'm getting to my question, which is the following.
In testimony last week, Mr. Chairman, and I've forgotten which panel it was, but one of those testifying recommended an expansion of discretionary accounts in the hands of the ambassadors and we talked specifically about Africa as a mechanism for them to be able to quickly respond to an incident or a need within a country to help us in our relations with those countries and what brought me to ask this question is, when I was in Equatorial Guinea, I saw where the nation of Israel had responded to the need for a hospital in Guinea by actually building one and staffing it with physicians as a gift to Equatorial Guinea.
So do you think the expansion of budgets or allocations of discretionary funds for ambassadors, raising them, say, to $250,000 would be a wise idea on the continent of Africa and for those investors or do you not?
MR. CARSON: Speaking for myself, I think it would be excellent. I know that ambassadors have self-help funds, but those self-help funds are limited and generally only amount to $100,000, $200,000 in some cases, which is very little to spread over five or six projects. I think, I certainly if confirmed will work with my colleagues inside the State Department to argue for larger amounts of discretionary funding to be put in the hands of ambassadors to be able to respond to emergency situations.
I also support the idea of trying to improve wherever possible, as quickly as possible the facilities that we operate in overseas. I think it's very important that we have embassies that represent us well, that are useful platforms for doing our business and that are also safe.
SEN. ISAKSON: Well, thank you very much for that, and thank you very much to both of you for your willingness to serve the country.
SEN. FEINGOLD: Thank you, Senator Isakson. I want to thank you for raising this issue of diplomatic capacity and funding. I think it's a wonderful opportunity for bipartisan work together to improve the situation, and also for raising the issue of China. No one who has been to Africa hasn't noticed the role that the Chinese have played, but I think we have to make sure that we don't see it as a static role. There is some evidence that they're cutting back and there is also a question here about what exactly is the depth of their engagement.
Building a soccer stadium is one thing. Actually engaging with people is another. And what are their motives? Their motives are not necessarily the same as the Russians. This will be valuable, not only in our work on the Africa committee, but with regard to overall international approach to China, to really understand what they're trying to do and it's one, I think, one of the valuable functions of this subcommittee can serve is to sort of analyze China through the eyes of what they're trying to do in Africa as part of the broader picture.
But Senator Isakson, your role on this has been terrific, and I thank you for your involvement and I thank the nominees. I will do everything I can to move this to a vote, both of these to a full vote in the committee as soon as possible.
That concludes the hearing.