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Wednesday, August 06, 2003

The word from our Congressman:
Mitch of the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace reports on a conversation he had with our Congressman John Dingell, who has been in Congress since early in the Eisenhower administration:

Congressman John Dingell paid an impromptu two-hour visit to the tabling section of the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market on Saturday. We hand-delivered over 600 signatures to him, calling for an independent, bipartisan investigation into the Bush Administration's allegations of weapons of mass destruction leading up to the war on Iraq. He thanked us for them, said that he strongly supports us, but said that our efforts would not lead to an investigation. What follows is a rough transcript of the conversation, as best as memory serves.

Q: Why won't we get an investigation?

Dingell: The Republicans would never let an investigative committee be established. They are bad people, and they strongly protect the president. We couldn't get near him.

Q: With President Bush assuming responsibility in his recent press conference and Condoleezza Rice saying that it was basically her fault, aren't we making headway?

Dingell: In every situation like this, they set up a fall-guy. Condoleezza Rice may be that person here. At the most, what this will do is cause someone to take the fall and be fired.

Q: Mr. Levin seems to be making headway in the Senate with calls for an investigation. Why can't we get the House members to start clamoring for an investigation as well? You never know where it will lead.

Dingell: You're looking at the Number One investigator in the House. I've had hundreds of investigations, all of them successful except for one. Even if an investigation could be established, the Republicans won't let it get anywhere. It won't find anything.

Q: Well then what do you suggest we do?

Dingell: Get out and vote, replace them in 2004.

Q: Can we get a fair election with touch-screen voting? Do you support the move toward computerized voting?

Dingell: No. I am strongly opposed to computerized voting. It makes it much easier for tampering to be done. But look, stealing elections is nothing new. Let me tell you a story. Back when I was a prosecutor in Wayne County, the inspector general came running in one election day saying, "They're stuffing the ballot boxes! They're stuffing the ballot boxes!" My boss came over and said, "Calm down. Don't worry about a thing. THOSE aren't the boxes we'll be counting."

I also had a chance to ask Dingell a few questions. I asked him what he thought about Kucinich's proposal to scrap NAFTA and the WTO. Dingell said he voted against NAFTA back in '93, but that he supports the WTO. I asked why, and he said the WTO doesn't give anything away--it's just a framework. I said, well, that framework is awfully secretive. How can it be a good thing when we don't even know what they're up to? Dingell replied that the Europeans are always secretive.

Dingell is a little intimidating to me, but overall I think he's an excellent congressman, especially considering what most of the rest of the country has. He voted against the Patriot Act and against war in Iraq, and NAFTA too! For all I know, he may have voted against the KOREAN war. Last spring I asked him about civil liberties. He said he nearly lost his seat in Congress back in 1964 because he supported LBJ's civil rights legislation. Can your representative in the House claim that?