|The Committee for the Future of the Peace Corps
Testimony of Jack Hook Vaughn
before the Committee on Foreign Relations of the United States Senate
The confirmation hearings of the nominee for Director of the Peace Corps
NEW on the nomination:
The Case against Gaddi Vasquez
Letter for the record from John Coyne
Statement for the record from Barbara Ferris
Statement for the record from Hugh Pickens
Letter to Sen. Dodd as follow-up to hearing
Coyne OpEd in The Hill
READ Judy Mann in the Post on the nomination
MORE on the nomination:
Some talking points on the nomination
A letter from Richard Lipez
Contact members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen of this distinguished Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today representing the Committee for the Future of the Peace Corps. We are grateful to the Committees positive response to our unprecedented request to have our voices heard the voices of the Peace Corps Family. The Committee is made up of thousands of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, former staff, concerned citizens, friends and their families from across the country and around the world who have come together to form this distinguished Committee to oppose the nomination of Gaddi Vasquez as director of the Peace Corps because he does not posses the qualifications, leadership tools or the demonstrated financial management skills to head a large federal agency. We are a non-partisan group representing the Peace Corps family.
With me today are John Coyne, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer from Ethiopia I, 6264, and editor of PeaceCorpsWriters.org; Barbara Ferris, a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer from Morocco 8082, who served as the Women in Development Coordinator for the Peace Corps and most recently, as chair of the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the Peace Corps; and Hugh Pickens, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer from Peru 7273 and publisher of PeaceCorpsOnline.org. And behind us are just a small percentage of the thousands of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, former staff, recently evacuated Volunteers from Uzbekistan and Tajikstan and others who are part of the Committee for the Future of the Peace Corps and who share my disappointment and sadness in President Bushs decision to nominate a clearly unqualified individual to be Director of the Peace Corps.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has had, through the centuries, the responsibility of deciding weighty questions related to Americas place in the world and its relationship to its neighbors, friends and adversaries around the globe.
Todays discussion is no different. Whether to confirm a Presidents nominee as Director of the Peace Corps is among the most important decisions this Committee can make.
As a former Director of the Peace Corps and retired Ambassador to Colombia under President Nixon, and as someone who was fortunate enough to be at the creation of what many people believe to be one of the finest example of Americas foreign policies, I want to voice my grave concern to you about President Bushs nominee to be the new Director of the Peace Corps, Gaddi Vasquez.
Today, the mission of the Peace Corps is more urgent than ever, and more difficult. The new Peace Corps Director must possess a depth of knowledge about the democratic and economic transitions in the countries where Volunteers serve. The director is the key person, not only repositioning the Peace Corps to play new roles in the transitions underway in country after country, but in inspiring Volunteers and staff to the maximum effort. It is in this context that the President and this Committee need to work together in identifying and confirming the best possible leadership for the Peace Corps. This nomination is incompatible with a forward vision of the Peace Corps.
These are the qualities along with the stature to inspire confidence inside the U.S. and around the world that President Bush must insist on in the person who will direct the Peace Corps in the age of terrorism. The President has chosen wisely an experienced team of leaders in the Vice President, Secretary Powell, Advisor Rice, to meet the current foreign policy challenges of our nation. Why not a demonstrated leader of equal caliber, experience, skill and intelligence for the critical role of Peace Corps Director?
Volunteers dedicated to peaceful change are vital in any effort to improve both the appearance and substance of U.S. involvement overseas. All they need is an experienced and knowledgeable Director, someone with both the skills and experience combined with the commitment they bring to each country to promoting peace in the world.
Peace Corps Volunteers should be on the vanguard of the rebuilding and reconstruction of Afghanistan once stability comes. More than 1,800 Americans have served as Peace Corps Volunteers in Afghanistan and who continue to live and work the third goal of Peace Corps to bring the world back home. Every Peace Corps Volunteer and staff member who served there knows we were popular there. Let me share with you an excerpt from an article in the October 4th edition of The New Jersey Record:
Peace Corps, aid can defuse terrorism, ex-envoy say
To truly win a war against terrorism, the Bush administration should beef up the Peace Corps and launch a new version of Americas post-World War II policy that rebuilt shattered Europe and Japan.
This statement, it should be noted, is from a former Pakistani diplomat. And he is not alone. Walter Cronkite, in response to David Lettermans question of What can we do? just after the September 11 attacks, answered, Join the Peace Corps!
I believe the Peace Corps needs a Director of stature with a demonstrated record of sound personnel and fiscal management combined with competent leadership. There are over 7,000 Peace Corps volunteers living and working in 71 countries with a budget of over $265 million dollars. The Director must bring to the agency the fiscal management experience necessary to run a large organization along with an acute understanding of global affairs.
The Securities and Exchange Commission Report of January 24, 1994 states:
In this case, the Supervisors approved Official Statements that, among other things, failed to disclose certain materials information about Orange Countys financial condition that brought into question the Countys ability to repay its securities absent significant interest income form the County Pools. The Supervisors were aware of material information concerning Orange Countys financial condition; this information called into question the Countys ability to repay its securities. Nevertheless, the Supervisors failed to take appropriate steps to assure disclosure of these facts. In light of these circumstance, the Board members did not fulfill their obligation under the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws in authorizing the issuance of the municipal securities and related disclosure documents.
Mr. Vasquez resigned from the Orange County Board of Supervisors after a recall effort was initiated in 1995 and after Orange County filed for bankruptcy costing local taxpayers $1.7 billion dollars and leading to the indictment of two of his colleagues.