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Statement on Signing the International Narcotics Control Act, 1990

November 21, 1990

Today I have signed H.R. 5567, the "International Narcotics Control Act, 1990." I am pleased that the Act contains certain provisions that will assist the Administration in implementing our international narcotics control strategy.

I have, however, a number of serious reservations about the Act. In general, I am concerned that many provisions of the Act would unreasonably undercut the flexibility needed by the Administration to implement effectively our international counternarcotics program. Despite the fact that the Administration has consistently kept the relevant congressional committees fully informed of its efforts to implement an international counternarcotics strategy, the Act includes cumbersome reporting, determination, and notification requirements that could impair the effectiveness of the program.

Many of these provisions, however, need not impair implementation of our counternarcotics strategy because, as a matter of law, they may not apply to funds appropriated in the recently enacted Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act (P.L. 101 - 513). This is because many of the restrictions of H.R. 5567 expressly apply only to funds authorized to be appropriated by H.R. 5567, and funds appropriated by P.L. 101 - 513 were not expressly made available under the authorization contained in H.R. 5567. Accordingly, I sign H.R. 5567 into law with the understanding that it may not subject our counternarcotics program to the most burdensome constraints of H.R. 5567. Nevertheless, recognizing the concerns that the provisions of H.R. 5567 reflect, we will work with the Congress to help ensure that congressional concerns are carefully considered in the implementation of our programs.

The Administration is committed to conditioning Andean counternarcotics assistance on effective counternarcotics performance, the implementation of sound economic policies, and respect for human rights. I note that section 4 requires that I make certain determinations on additional conditionality as a prerequisite to furnishing assistance authorized to be appropriated by sections 2(a) and 3(a) of the Act, or provided pursuant to section 517 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended. I do not believe that the Congress intended this provision to require a termination of vital anti-narcotics assistance, and, to the degree appropriate, will interpret the section 4 requirements in a manner consistent with the shared concerns of the Congress and myself regarding the effective implementation of the Andean initiative. For instance, I appreciate the concern expressed in the Act regarding the control of the governments of these countries over police and military operations related to counternarcotics and counterinsurgency activities. I understand, however, that this legislation would not preclude my ability to make the necessary determinations if the amount and nature of government control is sufficient to ensure that assistance is effective. I am signing the Act on the basis of this understanding.

I have certain additional concerns. First, while the Administration is already working toward the goal of increasing host country capability to conduct air operations, the arbitrary deadline contained in section 13 could endanger the lives and property of U.S. and foreign citizens. Second, I regret that the Congress has not provided a satisfactory provision regarding title to aircraft, and I hope to work with the new Congress to resolve this important problem.

Finally, I do not believe as a matter of principle that development and economic assistance should be necessarily conditioned on the same standards as military assistance, since its nature and purpose is considerably different. Subjecting these countries to a degree of scrutiny unmatched in other assistance programs risks alienating the very countries that we are seeking to engage in our narcotics control efforts.

George Bush

The White House,

November 21, 1990.

Note: H.R. 5567, approved November 21, was assigned Public Law No. 101 - 623.

George Bush, Statement on Signing the International Narcotics Control Act, 1990 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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