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May 18, 1992 CONGRESSIONAL RECORD HOUSE 11 3367 to court in order to defend the constitutional privileges and immunities of the U.S. House of Representatives. I still say and I will continue to battle the cause that no matter what overwhelming vote on the part of my colleagues, 434, cannot waive my right to my constitutional powers and immunities and privileges invested in this House, because they do not belong to me. I am here transitorily, but they belong to the office; that is, to the people who elected me from the 20th District of Texas. That is the issue, and it pains me to see the unawareness of it. We will still go before the court and insist that we be heard e, y.1 -he merits. We have not up to now on any level, district, appellate, or Supreme Court level, but the day will come that inevitably we will be heard on the merits of the issue; not the procedural, which is the way they have decided it up to now, the fact that an overwhelming majority of the House voted to dispense with the independence and coequality and separateness of this body. If that is not working, forget about our Constitution and our system. So it goes here in the executive branch where it is an upstart, considered as an upstart if a Member of Congress dare say this. But wait, by what right do you in the executive branch do this? .What is the constitutional authority? There is no answer to that question; rather, just the brute force of power, political power. Well, we have seen all through history that that may not suffice. I will send a letter to the President. In fact, I am in the process of doing that today, asking for more specific information: No. 1, who were the 11 Cabinet officials for whom the President waived conflict of interest rules, and are they still covered by that waiver? No. 2, what were the conflicts of interest that precluded them from ‘engaging in aspects of Iraqi policy in the first place? No. 3,, why was this information withheld from the public? There are many additional questions that need to be answered regarding the conflict of interest waivers .and how they related to the administration’s policy prior to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Some of the more important questions that need to be addressed as well are: No. 1, which policymakers had primary responsibility for the United States ‘policy toward Iraq, United States policy toward the Middle East? No. 2, when the United States Senate voted to confirm these Cabinet officials, did the Senators know that the candidate would have a limited or no role in setting Iraqi policy? No. 3, did the Senators know that these officials had serious conflicts of interest related to the Middle East? By asking these questions, I do not maintain that the President did the wrong thing by granting the waivers, if such is inherently his power, as it seems to be and which is a surprise to me, as I said before; but I am startled by the breadth of the waivers. There is a problem of perception when the President surrounds himself with Cabinet officials who have serious conflicts of interest regarding one of the most important areas of the U.S. foreign policy. In addition, it is disturbing that the Secretary of State has to recuse himself from participating in important areas of United States policy toward Iraq and the Middle East. Mr. Baker and the other Cabinet officials are supposed to be the President’s best and brightest advisors, yet many apparently were not directly involved in setting important policies prior to the invasion of Kuwait. My floor statements on the BNL, the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, have helped to reveal many of the flaws in United States policy toward Iraq. I would be interested to know how Mr. Baker’s recusal affected our policy and whether or not the President received the best advice on how to deal with an increasingly belligerent Saddam Hussein. I also think the President has an obligation to explain why he thought it was in the best interests of our . Nation to conceal the waivers from the public. The effort to conceal the waivers is captured in a passage from that State Department memo which I just read, that last paragraph, and I am going to repeat it Because of the breaath and sensitivity of the waiver, the White House is currently unwilling to distribute copies to affected individuals. We Meaning the State Department are working to reverse this position so that we can provide a copy to the Secretary of State Or Secretary Baker is the word they use. This passage makes it obvious that the White House did not want anyone to find out about the waivers. The White House did not even want the Secretary of State himself to receive a copy of his own waiver for fear someone would leak the information to the public. In fact, the memo was kept secret until January of this year, almost a year-and-a-half after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Whatever the President’s motivation for not informing the public in August of 1990 about the waivers, the BNL investigation have taught us that the administration will go to great lengths to conceal the details of the United States-Iraq policy. The conflict of interest waivers are another example in a long list of similar incidents. The Secretary of State James Baker is not new to this question of conflict of interest. His ethical problems go back to his days as Secretary of the Treasury and they relate to the plan he was credited with creating to handle the lesser developed countries’ debt crisis. In 1985, the Treasury Department devised a plan to deal with the lesser developed countries and their debt crisis, which observers coined “the Baker plan.” 0 1230 One of the main pillars of the Baker plan called on the debtor LDC’s to remain current on their commercial bank loans. Well, of course. These are all what they call sovereign debts. That is countries owing our private bankers. This has been the name of the game. I first reported that in August 1979 *when I reported in this well of the House to my colleagues that in one year and a half the principal banks in the United States, the first eight or nine, but particularly the first six., top six at that time, have loaned to countries that I knew would not be able to pay and had increased that overhang in a year and a half’s time from about 3 billion to over $47 billion. Unfortunately at that time the only one man that took heed of my words was the then Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Arthur Burns, who asked me to have breakfast with him, and then, when he told me there was not anything he could do, then I really feared for the country because I knew. I had been chairman and was chairman of the International Finance Subcommittee, as it was called then, for 10 years, and I was intimately aware of the specific countries, particularly Latin America and their inability to pay the huge sums that these banks were lending out willy-nilly in a manner that a local bank board of directors would not think of doing. These are the biggest bankers at the time. Well, the rest is history. It is still out there, and of course the U.S. taxpayer has tried for years to unload that, and they have in a way, in a manner of speaking, but that is another subject matter. I just to point out that at that time the Secretary of the Treasury then, now the Secretary of State, revealed the so-called Baker plan. It was predicated on these debtor nations keeping their U.S. banks, commercial banks. However even those countries could not, and so they have not paid on the principal. They had to roll over, and in many cases they could not even pay the interest. So, they just rolled over interest payments. In return for doing that, they were eligible for financial aid from the IMF, the International Monetary Fund, and the multilateral development banks, like the InterAmerican ‘Development Bank and the like. Well, the Baker plan may not have solved the LDC crisis. It did help U.S. commercial banks collect billions of THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21