Page images

(2) Art. VI. Superseded Article V of the Boundary Convention of September 2, 1914 and described new boundaries for the areas described in the superseded Article.

(3) Art. VII. Abrogated the second paragraph of Art. VII of the 1914 boundary convention and provided that a landing pier in a small cover constructed pursuant to the abrogated paragraph "shall become the property of the Government of the Republic of Panama."

(4) Item 2 of the Memorandum of Understandings referred to Art. V of the Treaty and stated that "legislation will be sought" to authorize the transfer to Panama of the areas of land described in the item and stated that the transfers contemplated by Item 2 were in addition to the conveyance of Patilla Point "and to the transfer of real property effected by Article VI of said treaty."

At the hearings on the 1955 treaty, the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter American Affairs (Henry F. Holland) testified that "Under Article V of the treaty, the United States agrees, subject to the enactment of legislation by the United States Congress, to transfer to Panama certain lands, with improvements thereon, in territory under Panamanian jurisdiction and in the Canal Zone when and as determined by the United States to be no longer needed for United States Government purposes. *** The lands and improvements to which this article refers. * ** are set forth in Item 2 of the Memorandum of Understandings Reached." Hearings, Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, 84th Congress, on Executive F, 84th Cong. "The Panama Treaty," p. 43.

Nothing was said in Secretary Holland's prepared statement about Articles VI and VII of the Treaty.

In response to a question from Senator Morse, Sec. Holland submitted for the record the following statement (Hearing, supra.. pp. 60-61):

"Legislation Required to Implement Proposed New Agreement with Panama : "Legislation will be required to implement the following provisions of the treaty and memorandum of understanding reached :

"Articles V, VI, and VII of the treaty and Item 2 of the memorandum. "Transfer of certain lands and improvements to Panama. Authorizing legislation is required. Necessary replacements would require appropriations."

c. Colon corridor.-Provisions of Article VIII in the 1936 Treaty under which the United States "transfers to the Republic of Panama jurisdiction over a corridor" to be more precisely defined by later agreement, are not included as transfers of title although the U.S. agreed to extinguish "private titles existing or which may exist in and to land" included in the corridor. (TS 945, See Exec. B. 74th Congress.)

This article was amended by Art. III of the Colon Corridor Convention of May 24, 1950, and by Art. VI of the 1955 treaty, defining the boundaries between Colon, Panama and the Canal Zone.


Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the Subcommittee on the Separation of Powers,

I am honored to be here as a witness. I hope my testimony will prove helpful in these hearings regarding the U.S. Canal Zone and the Panama Canal.

My military experience during the last twelve years of active duty, from 1962 to 1974, offered me some extraordinary and unique opportunities to assess the importance of the Panama Canal to the United States, as well as its value to our Allies and friends and, indeed, to all maritime nations.

My evaluation of this waterway as an invaluable possession of the United States was intensified in 1962. At that time I was Commander Seventh Fleet operating in the Western Pacific. Frequently my fleet's capabilities depended on the prompt arrival of supplies from the Atlantic seaboard, supplies loaded aboard ships which were utilizing the Panama Canal.

From the Seventh Fleet I went to Commander-in-Chief, Pacific; from there to Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic, and NATO's Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic; from there to Chief of Naval Operations and from there to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Each of these commands provided unique opportunities, and sometimes urgent reasons, to evaluate the Panama Canal. I saw this strategic waterway from many vantage points and under stressful circumstances.

As Commander-in-Chief, Pacific, I recall in some detail the Tonkin Gulf era of 1964. During that period I saw the Panama Canal as a conduit for rapid reinforcement from the Atlantic Fleet should the naval forces of the Soviet Union or mainland China become involved in the Vietnamese War. The U.S. high command was never sure during those early phases of the war of the intentions of either the Soviet Union or mainland China. We knew they had the naval and air capabilities to make trouble and therefore we had to draw up contingency plans for such eventualities. In order to equalize the wartime exposure and hardship throughout the entire Navy, large numbers of Atlantic Fleet units were continuously rotated through the Canal to the combat theatre in the Pacific. In addition, as the Pacific Fleet Commander, I looked to the Atlantic side for rapid logistics support. The U.S. Army, the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy all required a continuous and heavy flow of logistic support; such necessities as fuel, ammunition, spare parts and food. Our allies fighting with us in Vietnam also required considerable support from the United States. If the Panama Canal had not been open and available, the war in Vietnam would have been much more difficult and costly to conduct. This conclusion is also true for the war in Korea.

To give you some idea of the magnitude of Panama Canal usage and its relationship to the war effort, in 1963 there was a total of 300 U.S. government transits through the Panama Canal. As the war escalated, the number of government ships transited by 1966 had almost doubled. The records show for that year-1966-a total of 591 government ships transited the Canal. Most of these ships were carrying critically needed logistics support to the forces operating under my command.

As Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic, and NATO's Supreme Allied Commander, I saw the situation at Panama in another perspective. That was for the period 1965 to 1967. The war in Vietnam was still expanding, but now I was looking at the Canal not only as a means of sending support to the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific, but also from the Atlantic perspective. I saw the possible need to reverse the flow of ships through the Canal, particularly if the situation deteriorated in the Middle East or in the Caribbean during those volatile months of tension and conflict in both these areas.

Both in our U.S. planning and in our NATO planning we envisioned contingencies calling for reinforcements from the Pacific Ocean areas. We envisioned

99-592-78- 8

the need for combatant tonnage, Army and Marine Divisions, and particularly we saw the need for amphibious lift.

As Chief of Naval Operations I had to look at the Panama Canal as an essential means of equalizing the strength and providing the balance between the Atlantic and Pacific fleets. The Canal made it possible to pre-position certain types and tonnages, but always with the knowledge that the balance could be shifted to meet unforseen situations. The Panama Canal gives the naval planner much flexibility and versatility that he would be deprived of without it.

As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff I became even more sensitive to the strategic value of this U.S. Canal as a means of protecting the security of the United States. My job as Chairman involved all of the Armed Forces of the United States.-their collective requirements—and I was primarily responsible to the President for their ability to carry out their roles and missions as assigned by the Congress. Any Commander acting in that capacity will immediately perceive that it is vital to United States interests to retain complete ownership and control of the Panama Canal.

It was at this juncture of my command responsibility that I became concerned about the proposals to surrender the Panama Canal to a leftist oriented government allied with Cuba. There existed the potential danger for giving this U.S. advantage to a man who might allow or might be persuaded that it was in his best interest to permit Soviet power and influence to prevail by proxy over the Canal, in much the same manner as happened in Cuba. I was convinced as Chairman of the JCS-and I remain convinced today-that if the Soviet Union ever gained even proxy sovereignty and control over the U.S. Canal Zone and Canal through Cuba, U.S. security as well as U.S. prosperity would be placed in serious jeopardy.

The United States would be placed in jeopardy because interocean mobility would be threatened. The mobility of allied commercial shipping and naval forces would face the same threat. The economic lifelines of the entire Western Hemisphere would be needlessly jeopardized, and the point is: there is no point in surrendering this vital interest. I have yet to see any solid justification advanced as to why the United States should willingly sacrifice the strategic advantages afforded to us by our possession of the Panama Canal. Also, by relinquishing control of the Canal Zone and the Canal, we would force all those nations who depend on our power and leadership to accommodate to the adverse implications of such action on our part. The Canal Zone could become the satellite base of an adversary, and the advocates of "giveaway" do not appear to take this factor into account.

For the foregoing reasons and others not listed, I co-signed with three former Chiefs of Naval Operations a letter to President Carter. The key message in that letter was this: "Under the control of a potential adversary the Panama Canal would become an immediate crucial problem and prove a serious weakness in the overall U.S. defense with enormous potential consequences for evil.” The military and commercial considerations are obvious.

Although the large aircraft carriers and large supertankers cannot use the Canal, 97 percent of the world's commercial and naval fleets can use the Canal as it is. The Canal does need some modernization.

About two-thirds of all the current Canal traffic is bound to or from U.S. ports. When ships round the Horn instead of going through the Canal, they must travel about 8.000 extra miles, have 8,000 extra miles of wear and tear, need 8,000 extra miles of fuel. On an average it takes 31 extra days to round the Horn.

If we were denied use of the Canal, we would have to build a much larger Navy: much larger storage and harbor facilities on both the East and West Coasts of the United States, and provide more merchant ships as well as escorts.

Surrender of U.S. sovereignty over the Canal Zone would inevitably lead to the transformation of the entire friendly character of the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. Everything would depend on the attitude of those who held sovereignty and ownership.

In military affairs there is no substitute for ownership of the territory and the ability to control or to deny the waters and the air space.

After having lived through three decades of conflict I don't believe it takes much imagination to envisage some of the pitfalls we might face in turning the U.S. Canal Zone and Canal over to any government that might see fit to use it against us. Mr. Chairman, I would like to include in the record the letter signed by four Chiefs of Naval Operations, including myself, and the forwarding endorsement signed by four distinguished members of the United States Senate as part of my statement.

Regarding the question of sovereignty, ownership and control of the U.S. Canal Zone and the Canal, I am not a lawyer, but I am satisfied with the Supreme Court's decision of 1907 in the famous Wilson v. Shaw case that the United States does have legal sovereignty and ownership for the purposes enumerated in the Treaty of 1903. This ruling was reaffirmed as recently as 1972. Also, our Constitution states in Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2, that only Congress has the authority to dispose of U.S. territory and other property of the United States. The language in the Supreme Court's decision of 1907 is quite precise. It is not ambiguous. So is the language in our Constitution. Since the Supreme Court's decision of 1907 still stands-it has never been overruled-and since the Constitution, in my opinion, is still the best governing document in existence, I can only conclude that we would be well advised to abide by these documents in our negotiations with other countries.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.

« PreviousContinue »