News Release

Hawk Slated to Chair International Relations

Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) is the ranking Democrat on the House International Relations Committee and is reportedly slated to chair the committee in the next Congress. His foreign-policy views are widely deplored by antiwar analysts. For several articles about and by Lantos, see: Peninsula Peace and Justice Center.

PAUL GEORGE
George is director of the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center. (Much of the Center’s membership lives in the congressional district of Rep. Lantos.) George said today: “Labor likes Tom Lantos. Environmentalists like Tom Lantos. In fact, quite a number of liberals and the majority of the voters in his district like — or tolerate — Tom Lantos.

“Peace activists really can’t stand the guy. Lantos isn’t just a Democrat who voted for the Iraq war, he was one of its co-authors. …

“Lantos has never met a war he didn’t like. His unblinking defense of Israeli policy gives him tunnel vision with the rest of the Middle East. That’s a potent combination of volatile materials.

“When he takes over as Chair of the House International Relations Committee, Lantos won’t be a ‘stay the course’ kind of fellow. I’m afraid he’ll be more ‘let’s hit Iran.'” Early this year, Lantos wrote the article “Now or Never to Prevent a Nuclear-Armed Iran.”

George added: “Even if the Democrats are sincere in their vows to change Iraq policy, they’ll find Lantos won’t be just a bump in the road. They’re going to run into a wall.”

JOHN R. MACARTHUR
Author of the book Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War, MacArthur said today: “Lantos played a major role in one of the most outrageous episodes in U.S. foreign policy. As chair of the Human Rights Caucus in 1990, he oversaw the ‘testimony’ of a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl who claimed that she witnessed Iraqi soldiers pulling babies out of incubators and leaving them to die after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. What Lantos knew at the time, but didn’t share with the public, is that the girl, known only as ‘Nayira,’ was in fact the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the U.S., Saud Nasir al-Sabah.

“Lantos basically turned over the Human Rights Caucus — which he had set up for junkets — into a front for Hill and Knowlton — the PR firm the Kuwaiti government had hired on the advice of the White House. When you called up the Human Rights Caucus Foundation, you got the offices of Hill and Knowlton. The Kuwaitis even ended up donating $50,000 as thanks to the Foundation.”
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STEPHEN ZUNES
Zunes is Middle East editor for the Foreign Policy In Focus Project. He said today: “Through his chairmanship of the Human Rights Caucus on Capitol Hill, Tom Lantos has steered their advocacy towards countries the U.S. government opposes while covering up for human rights abuses by U.S. allies. He has co-authored legislation with House Republican leaders directly challenging findings by Amnesty International and other reputable human rights groups regarding Israeli violations of international humanitarian law and has denounced the United Nations and the International Court of Justice for their defense of the Fourth Geneva Conventions.” Zunes wrote the article “Congress Attacks Human Rights” and is professor of politics at the University of San Francisco.
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MIKE CAGGIANO
President of Peace Action of San Mateo County, in the district represented by Lantos, Caggiano said today: “Lantos was the floor manager for the ‘Patriot’ Act for Bush, and then later supported modifications along with his party’s position. He beat the drums incessantly for the Iraq war until its failure and the entire Democratic Party turned against its present conduct. … He was a backer of the School of the Americas until … progressive groups put enough pressure on him to moderate that. Other than that you couldn’t find a more liberal Democrat. His record on environment, women’s rights, labor issues is excellent. But his position would be on the International Relations Committee where his neo-con look-alike behavior is hard to miss.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020, (202) 421-6858; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167