The Panamanian press has recently reported that, after many months of
“pushing and shoving back and forth” the Panama Canal pilots and the
Panama Canal Commission have reached an agreement on a collective
bargaining contract. This is very good news for the security of our
nation and for the neutrality and operation of the Canal as ostensibly
protected by the treaties between our two nations, Panama and the U.S.

The differences that lead to the pilots threatening to strike and
ultimately to this beneficial outcome are very revealing, however, of
just what was going on — particularly as regards the Hutchison Whampoa
subsidiary Panama Ports Company and their attempt to work their way into
controlling the piloting on the Canal. This was a serious danger which
the Panamanian-American William Bright Marine and I revealed when he
helped me with my reply testimony for the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee in the summer of 1998 — testimony which was necessitated by
the critical responses which President Clinton and his administration
had then-Ambassador William Hughes make to my original testimony before
that committee in June of that year.

Since that time, and particularly in recent months, President Clinton
and his spokesmen have again engaged in misleading both the American
people and concerned members of Congress and their staffs on this point.
They have inaccurately told congressional members and staffers that the
now infamous Panama Law No. 5 never gave Li Ka Sheng, a man now
unequivocally identified as working hand in glove with the Communist
Chinese military to advance its strategic goals, any entree into
controlling the pilotage at the Canal. The administration’s press
spokesperson, Joe Lockhart, who does not appear to have any
qualifications regarding, or knowledge of, these matters, that can be
discerned by an objective observer, has quite inaccurately stated, as it
was reported by UPI, CNS and others, that Law No. 5 “merely lets it
(Mr. Li’s Communist front company) load and unload cargo, and gives it
no authority over ships traveling through the Canal.”

As neither the president nor his professional spokespersons have ever
shown the slightest hesitance to misinform the public on these as well
as other matters, it might well be helpful to the public — which has
become increasingly concerned about these matters as the statutory date
before which the Canal cannot be turned over to Panama is only days away
— if I briefly review the original reply testimony on this point and
ask Mr. Marine, in particular, as he did at that time, to add a
comment. His comments may be particularly helpful because without his
intervention in informing the Pilots Association of what was afoot with
the Chinese Communist company and its corrupt Panamanian official allies
— the Chinese Communists, without a doubt, would have gained control of
the piloting in this chokepoint so vital to our national defense and
essential if we are ever to again have a military victory on the world
stage should there be any extensive combat, God forbid.

After Marine had alerted the pilots to the impending danger from
changes the Panama Canal Commission was planning to bring them under
communist control, they went public with their protests this past
January, leading to bargaining while the pilots still, before the
handover scheduled for the end of this month, had the bargaining
leverage to stop the move and reach this new accord. Those protests
made quite clear what was afoot and who would be its beneficiary. As
reported openly in the Panamanian press, the Panama Canal Commission
planned, among other measures, to compel the retirement of 72 extremely
experienced U.S. pilots as “antipatriotic,” a move which had no benefits
and would have cost the government 10.3 million dollars. The Panama
Canal Commission also planned to reduce the number of pilots aboard
large beam ships, reduce the training time for pilots under the
established procedures and to privatize the pilot services, not
only in the Canal itself, but also in the two ports, one on either end,
Balboa and Cristobal, the very ports taken over by the Chinese Communist
front company.

In my original testimony before the Helms Committee on this point I
made it clear that a de facto move was afoot toward control of
the pilotage by Hutchison Whampoa and the Hutchison-Whampoa interests.
I never indicated that Law No. 5 openly stated that the pilotage was
being turned over overtly and directly to the Communists.

My exact language, so that the reader may note the way that this is
being twisted misleadingly by the president and his spokesmen, is as
follows (the entire reply testimony, by the way, may now be read on the
website of Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle
which is supporting us in our effort
in court to undo the rest of the damage to our U.S. defense sought by
the Li Ka Sheng/PLA interests.):

    It takes a long time to train a pilot for any particular
    waterway. Piloting skills are irreplaceable in a short span. This is
    even more critical for a “lock” canal where pilots are normally granted
    complete control during a ship’s passage. The mere power to train its
    own pilots in an operation so closely tied to the PLA as the PPC is,
    will be a threat to our national security. But now we learn from
    William Bright Marine that Panama has agreed in Law No. 5 to allow
    Communist Chinese affiliated Hutchison to retain and use its own pilots,
    thus giving it the right to train pilots. All Hutchison has to do is to
    state that its (Hutchison’s) customers are not satisfied with the
    performance of pilots provided by the Panama Canal Commission (which
    will become the Panama Canal Authority once the U.S. leaves).
    Hutchison’s customers include COSCO and many other arms of the People’s
    Liberation Army, as well as those entities so anxious to do business
    with Communist China that they are willing to compromise the security of
    nations to please the Chinese Communists. In the meantime the training
    of pilots by the PCC is declining as the U.S. departure nears. It is
    easy to see where this is headed — toward de facto control of
    pilotage by Hutchison, which is subservient to the interests of the
    Chinese Communist military and its strategic goals. In the Vietnam
    conflict the president authorized the mining of Haiphong Harbor with the
    proviso that mine activation be delayed to allow sufficient time for
    neutral merchant ships to leave port. The Vietnamese, not wishing to
    lose the materiel in the unloaded ships, precluded their timely
    departure by the simple expedient of moving the qualified pilots up
    river out of the reach of those ships. The pilot issue is one that
    should not be avoided or evaded by an American Ambassador. To do so is
    to place us in a position where hostile action by Communist China, e.g.,
    against Taiwan, could only be dealt with by the massive use of military
    force under extremely adverse conditions to retake the Canal with a
    large cost in American lives and extensive collateral damage to
    non-combatants — to Panamanians, to Americans, to other allies and to
    ships of other countries.

As can plainly be seen, I never said that Panamanian Law No. 5
overtly gave over the control of the piloting to the Hutchison Whampoa
subsidiary company. I said that it did so de facto. The
protests of the pilots bring to light that I was exactly right and that
only the action of the pilots — once alerted by William Bright Marine,
the lead plaintiff in our U.S. Defense-American Victory lawsuit to block
the turn over of the Canal altogether under these flawed treaties —
saved the day or the Communists would have gained control of the
piloting in the Canal and in the ports on either end.
Subsequently, when I spoke of Law No. 5 as giving Hutchison Whampoa
control of the piloting it was this de facto control to which I
was referring.

So you can see with regard to this president and his henchmen, it is
as President Reagan said to President Carter: “There you go again.” In
this case they are once again lying (“spinning” the reluctant press
calls it) to the American people and to congressmen and their staffers.
As between Lockhart and myself I leave it to you to judge which one is
doing the deceiving and which telling the truth.

In the original reply testimony back in the summer of last year I
asked Mr. Marine, as a Panamanian-American knowledgeable of Law No. 5,
its wording and its implementation to give the details of just how Law
No. 5 created this de facto control of the pilotage which has now
been rebuffed by the Pilots Association. Because of that deep knowledge
and his own involvement in alerting the pilots to the danger which led
to their protest and successful bargaining just completed, I again ask
him to undertake such a detailed explanation — which follows directly
after this piece.

I also want to express my gratitude that of all Americans, as well as
that of the majority of the Panamanians who are equally concerned, for
his courage in stepping forward and being willing to be the lead
plaintiff in order to stop the even greater danger of the turnover of
the Canal itself under such circumstances pursuant to flawed treaties.
Other Panamanians, Panamanian-Americans and Americans have now begun to
join his lawsuit which we at U.S. Defense-American Victory have handled
and supported from the outset, now also with the able assistance of
Larry Klayman and Judicial Watch and
Mrs. Schlafly and her Eagle Forum, and it will come to the crucial point
in a hearing for emergency relief this very week.

It is extremely important that the federal courts in the District of
Columbia where the suit is filed understand from the citizens that their
actions are being closely followed and that we all expect the law and
the Constitution, rather than corrupt policies or vested interests to be
obeyed. This distortion surrounding the pilotage controversy is but a
fraction of that which will surround our efforts to have the law and the
Constitution applied to have the turnover delayed and the treaties
declared invalid.

At this juncture in our history when we have, for the first time, a
president in the White House whose will is to serve the interests of a
hostile foreign nation ahead of our own, it is important that all
citizens arise to defend the Constitution, since not only this president
but all too many others in positions of ostensible leadership seem
disinclined to do so. As the Panamanian press itself has noted in
discussing our lawsuit for Mr. Marine and others, the judicial branch in
the United States is not dependent upon or controlled by the actions
(or, in this case, refusal to act) of the legislative or executive
branches of our constitutional government. The pilots have their
contract, but we have only, as General Sumner has noted, “bad contracts
with bad people.”

The treaties are seriously flawed, and all who have examined them
objectively know it. What is important now is that the courts examine
these flaws without fear of favor and apply the rule of law and of the
Constitution. Only our effort in court can now keep this keystone of
the Republic from falling into hostile hands.

William Bright Marine comments:

The pertinent part of what I originally said in the comments which I
submitted with Adm. Moorer in August of 1998 when he put in his reply
testimony, is this passage:

    It should be noted that in Law No. 5, paragraphs in 2.12 I and J
    are identical but for one important omission. Under J the language
    states “port pilots,” under I it just states “pilots.” Both sections
    state, it is true, that the rules must be enforced that the Panama Canal
    has in place. This was a concern to the U.S. embassy, I grant, and the
    embassy’s copy of Law No. 5, when it finally got it, shows underlining
    under these provisions. At present under these regulations, when a ship
    comes into a port, a Panama Canal Commission (pilot) brings it in. When
    the ship then leaves a port to transit the Canal, a Panama Canal
    Commission (pilot) also takes it. To reach the ports on the other side
    the ship must travel through Canal waters. But, under this article all
    the Hutchison Company has to do is to declare that its clients are
    unhappy with the existing services and it can name its own pilots.
    Hence the contracting of the training for the pilots to Hutchison
    Whampoa. We see in the figures given by Ambassador Hughes that a very
    large number of Communist Chinese ships transit the Canal each year and,
    of course, these ships are ships of COSCO, another branch of the PLA,
    Inc. So if the ships run by the Communist Chinese military declare that
    they are unhappy with the pilots from PCC/PCA, under Law No. 5 the
    Communists can simply train their own.

Notice that the law doesn’t overtly say, and neither the admiral
nor I have ever maintained, that Communists can now take over the
piloting. It is much subtler than that. Indeed, the parsing of
language is not unlike that used by President Clinton in covering up
lying and wrongdoing generally. Plus, such things as contracting to
train the pilots were not included in the law, but were undertaken
immediately upon the securing of its passage in order to “push the
envelope” and see how much control, with the help of Balladares and
Clinton’s operatives, the Communists could obtain and how fast they
could obtain it.

Hand-in-hand with the White House style parsing of language in Law
No. 5 is spokesthug Lockhart’s comments, obviously aimed at the
admiral’s having pointed out these important truths, about “silly
stuff.” I think most Panamanians would rather have Adm. Moorer’s
comments than those of young Mr. Lockhart, who does not appear to have
any knowledge of either Panama or strategic matters. As one Panamanian
involved in our lawsuit recently expressed it, “In a country of 250
million people, can’t you elect and choose better people than this?”

Former U.S. Ambassador Hughes did not think it “silly” when he
underlined the passage in the infamous Law No. 5 to which I referred in
my prior comments. I have a copy of the actual document showing his
underlining. He clearly had been left out of deal concocted between
Clinton, Balladares and the Communists leaving not only himself but the
Panama desk at the State Department out of the loop and was startled to
see such a dangerous hidden ploy in the Panamanian law. One wonders why
he left the ambassadorship?

Of course in typical Clintonian style, in his response to Adm. Moore
and myself (for which he was clearly just the errand boy) he changes his
tune. But let’s remember that this is the same U.S. ambassador who
failed in securing a base agreement that both Panamanians and Americans
wanted because neither the pro-Chinese communist Clinton nor the left
wing of PRD party in Panama that was in charge of the negotiations and
was being corrupted monetarily by the communists, wanted a strong U.S.
military presence in the Canal area. As Gen. Sumner has testified, they
don’t want a strong U.S. military even in the U.S.

Let’s actually look in further detail at the agreement itself and you
make up your mind who is right:

On pages 17-18, Section 2.12 “Obligations of the State (I and J),” it
addresses the situation of the pilots:

I. At the choice of the clients of Hutchinson Whampoa/China Resource
Enterprises/COSCO/Lippo Group an on a non-discriminatory basis,
guarantee the services of any pilots authorized by the National Port
Authority or those designated by the Panama Canal Commission or it’s
successors after termination of the Panama Canal Treaties, and provide
such piloting services in accordance with the established rules. Said
rules shall require that a pilot board the vessel within 30 minutes
after being advised of the requirement for the service. However, said
rules may be modified from time to time to adapt them to commercial

J. Coordinate with the Panama Canal Commission or with any other
entity, until the termination of the Panama Canal Treaties, the service
of pilots in The Ports and ensure that such services are provided in
accordance with the established rules. Said rules shall require that a
pilot board a vessel with 30 minutes after being advised of the need of
service. However, said rules may be modified from time to time to adapt
them to commercial practices. If said levels of service are not
provided Hutchinson Whampoa/China Resource Enterprises/COSCO/LIPPO Group
may request Panama to provide and Panama shall provide the Panama Canal
Commission, or the successor agency, sufficient additional pilots in
order to permit the institution to provide an efficient service at a
reasonable cost.

Under I., there is no mention of the ports, just of the pilots.
There is no mention in J, which has to do with the ports, about naming
their own pilots, but that Panama would have to honor the request of
Communist China to add more pilots. So much for sovereignty and the
hollow assertions that Communist China was not given functions of the
Panama Canal.

Communist China was also given control of the Panama Canal
anchorages. The ships wishing to use the Canal proceed to the
anchorages under the command of their own Captain. Once inside the
anchorages they are in Panama Canal waters. They are only allowed to
proceed through the Canal or to the ports with a Panama Canal pilot on

Under Section 2.11 “Obligations of Communist China,” paragraph E
states: “Carry out corrective maintenance and repair projects; or at the
option of Communist China, replace any facility or installation if
considered convenient for technical and/or economic reasons. Said
maintenance includes dredging projects to be conducted by Communist
China in the marine area of the Existing Port and the marine ACCESS TO
THE PANAMA CANAL, as detailed in Annex 1, that will allow the COMMUNIST

In September 1998, I organized a meeting between senior congressional
officials and the pilots. Following that meeting I met in private with
the pilot union leadership. They, like Lockhart, did not believe me
when I told them. But they did believe me when I showed them. The
pilots awakened and, shocked, spoke out and started the protests as the
admiral recounts — protests which lead to their now having a contract
before the scheduled date of the final turnover at the end of this

But now it is time to wake up not just the pilots, but the people of
both countries, and the only way to do it is through our court suit. If
the law and the Constitution are applied, the treaties and the act
purporting to enable it will be invalidated as not ever properly
concluded and as unconstitutional, respectively and the turnover will be
enjoined while these important issues are determined on their merits,
not on spin and sell-out and corruption. At that point the people of
both situations can take a hard look at the truth and determine whether
they, like the pilots, were being sold out.

Retired Adm. Tom Moorer is a
former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, chief of Naval Operations,
commander in chief Pacific, supreme allied commander Atlantic and
commander in chief Atlantic. He is the honorary chairman of U.S.
Defense-American Victory
Washington, D.C. Information about the organization and its current
lawsuit are available at USD-AV’s website.

William Bright Marine is a dual
U.S.-Panamanian citizen who has led the fight to secure a new Panama
Canal treaty and U.S. base treaty since 1995.

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.