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PRESS RELEASE


LaRouche Challenges Kerry:
Be Presidential—Show the Guts
To Support Democrats' Call for Investigation

June 7, 2004 (EIRNS)—This statement was released today by the LaRouche in 2004 Presidential campaign committee.

On June 3, the senior Democratic members of six committees of the House of Representatives sent an open letter to President George Bush, demanding his cooperation in getting information to hold a public House investigation of the Abu Ghraib torture scandal. They said: If the House Republican leadership continues to block such hearings, the Democrats were determined to carry out an investigation themselves.

Lyndon LaRouche immediately announced support for the House Democrats' move: "I demand that John Kerry support that complaint, openly. He must stop being wishy-washy. I challenge Kerry to have the guts to support these House Democrats."

LaRouche warned that the continued stonewalling by the Republican House leadership is a campaign issue for this Fall's general election. "If the Republicans continue to Stonewall on this investigation, the elimination of certain relevant Republicans in the coming election campaign, is going to be a big issue. This is Watergate stuff.

"No one is fit to run for Democratic nominee for President, unless he or she is willing to take leadership on this issue. This is a real, live issue, not a maybe-it-depends-on-how-you-interpret-it issue. We should not choose a new Presidential candidate until this is cleared up. The Republicans responsible for this, should be out of office! This should be a leading campaign issue for any candidate qualified to run for President."

A New Watergate Coverup

The ranking Democrats who issued the open letter to President Bush sit on six House committees which should be carrying out oversight over the abuses at Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere. They reported that they each contacted the chairs of their committees, to request committee hearings and investigations. The Democratic leader, and Democratic Whip, and the Democratic Caucus are reported to have made the same request to the House Speaker.

The Democrats who signed the letter are: Henry A. Waxman, ranking minority member, Committee on Government Reform; David R. Obey, ranking minority member, Committee on Appropriations; Tom Lantos, ranking minority member, Committee on International Relations; John Conyers, Jr., ranking minority member, Committee on the Judiciary; Ike Skelton, ranking minority member, Committee on Armed Services; and Jane Harman, ranking minority member, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

The Republicans who have obstructed the necessary investigation of the Abu Ghraib scandal are: House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois, and Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas; Duncan Hunter of California, head of the Armed Services Committee; James Sensenbrenner of Wisonsin, head of the Judiciary Committee; Porter Goss of Florida, head of the Intelligence Committee; Bill Young of Florida, head of the Appropriations Committee; and Henry Hyde of Illinois, head of the International Relations Committee.

If these Republicans cannot be forced politically, to stop the coverup, they should be out of office this year.

The letter from the six Democratic Committee ranking members is tough and to the point. In summary, they report:

  • It is a "dereliction of Congress's oversight responsibility" not to have a formal public investigation.

  • "Members cannot adequately assess the deteriorating sitution in Iraq or the prospects for the future of our endeavors there without a thorough understanding of the nature, extent, and ramifications of the prisoner abuse."

  • "In order to reestablish U.S. credibility in the eyes of the world, Congress must conduct a full and transparent investigation.... A thorough and open investigation is also critical for the emergence of a stable and secure Iraq."

They conclude:

"To address these needs, we intend to investigate the prison abuses at Abu Ghraib and the allegations of prison abuses at other locations in Iraq and in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay.

"While we would prefer to participate in committee investigations with our respective chairs, we cannot allow the refusal of the Republican leadership and committee chairs to pursue these matters to obstruct Congress' access to essential information."

After listing 35 categories of documents required, the Congressmen ask that they be delivered on or before June 17, 2004.

The ball is now in the President's court—but not only his. The challenge has also been put before the Democratic Party, and its would-be standard bearer. Presumptive Democratic nominee John Kerry is now on the spot to support the House Democrats' demand.

LaRouche, who is the only Democratic Presidential candidate who has so far shown himself qualified to end the war and deal with the depression, sends a challenge to Senator Kerry. Does Kerry have the guts to support the House Democrats, without hiding behind any slippery spin, on this "Watergate-like" issue?