OCTOBER SURPRISE -- HON. JIM KOLBE (Extension of Remarks - February 07, 1992)
HON. JIM KOLBE
in the House of Representatives
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 1992
- Mr. KOLBE. Mr. Speaker, Democratic hysteria in Congress over the economy continues to grow, and a March 20 deadline for congressional action to provide relief to taxpayers is rapidly approaching. The American people are looking to the Congress for leadership, especially since Democratic leaders have pronounced President Bush's economic package dead on arrival.
- So, what is the first order of business for this session? Surprise! We are going to vote on a resolution to form a task force to investigate the October Surprise. The task force will investigate 12-year-old rumors that have been repeatedly called false and have been repeatedly discredited during the past decade.
- The majority party's ideas of an October Surprise task force is blatant partisanship in its worse form. This task force has nothing to do with public policy, with solving our economic problems, or with improving the plight of taxpayers. Instead, Democrats will use this task force as a platform to bash the President and to try to expose events during the 1980 Presidential election, even while the American people will be choosing a new President in 1992.
- There is no accident in bringing forth this issue this year. The Democrats know that even by discussing the October Surprise rumors, they will lend them credence, especially in an official congressional forum. Even worse, the majority resolution to create the task force has no time limit which allows it to conduct its investigation right up to election day.
- The Republican substitute resolution, which I will support, sunsets at the end of 6 months.
- The issue of whether or not the Reagan-Bush campaign participated in any way in the release of our hostages in Iran has been investigated to death already. The New Republic investigated the allegations and found that `the conspiracy as currently postulated is a total fabrication ***. The key sources on whose word the story rests are documented frauds and imposters.'
- There are at least three individuals who will be counted on as sources for exposing the October Surprise.
- The first is Barbara Honnegar, who was the first to claim knowledge of the October Surprise. She held a low-level Reagan administration job, but quit after hearing a channeled voice that told her President Reagan would lose the 1984 election.
- The second is Richard Brenneke who claimed to have witnessed meetings in Paris between George Bush, William Casey, and representatives of the Iranian government. However, it's been proven that Brenneke was in the United States during the time of the alleged meetings thus making it impossible for him to be a witness.
- The third is Ari Ben-Menashe who has made numerous unrealistic claims about his relationship with the Israeli government. He only came forward with his October Surprise claim after landing in jail on charges of selling transport planes to Iran.
- With a group of witnesses like this, it is no wonder Newsweek said, after conducting a lengthy investigation, `that the key claims of the purported witnesses and accusers simply do not hold up.'
- Even though the allegations are totally outrageous, it does appear that we will have a task force. So the question then becomes, what kind of task force will be assembled? Here again, the majority party of this Congress has stacked the deck.
- The scope of the task force's hearing is limited only to allegations regrading the Reagan-Bush campaign. However, allegations have been raised regarding the conduct of the Carter administration during the 1980 election season. Surely both sets of allegations, those against the Reagan-Bush campaign and those against the Carter administration, should be investigated equally.
- The Republican substitute resolution would form a task force to investigate both sets of allegations. Even the General Accounting Office has indicated that in order to conduct a thorough investigation, it is necessary to include Carter administration officials. Not according to the Democrats, who refuse to investigate the allegations regarding the Carter administration. Again, this smells of partisan politics of the most heinous kind.
- Other portions of the majority resolution set dangerous precedents for conducting House business. For instance, the majority proposal would allow a single Member or staff member to take depositions or affidavits. House rules require that at least two Members or designated staff should be present to conduct business. The Republican substitute is consistent with House rules.
- Finally, there is the question of cost. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the costs that will be incurred by the task force will run between $1.2 and $2.5 million. We have another precedent for wasting the taxpayers' money on a similar endeavor. More than $30 million has been spent as a result of chasing down the alleged culprits of the Iran-Contra affair. The taxpayers should not have to put up with more spending nonsense.
- Mr. Speaker, the majority resolution before us today is an affront to the traditions and values of this institution. Any semblance of fairness and bipartisan cooperation has been cast aside in a desperate attempt to gain an election year advantage.
- Apparently, to the Democrats, the ends really do justify the means. Doubts will be raised, and suspicions will be cast by this October Surprise task force. However, the task force will uncover no wrongdoing, and a lot of political blood will be unnecessarily spilled to reach that conclusion. Reputations will become suspect, even in the face of unsubstantiated charges that will be reported in the media in the months to come. Merely by elevating unsubstantiated rumors to official status, as this task force will do, damage will be done. Unfortunately, that is precisely what the majority party of this institution has in mind.