House Subcommittee Wants Answers From Reno

July 7, 2008 - 8:25 PM

( - House Crime Subcommittee Chairman Bill McCollum (R-FL) sent a letter Monday to Attorney General Janet Reno demanding answers as to why the federal government used "excessive force" in Miami Saturday for the removal of six-year-old Elian Gonzalez.

In his letter, McCollum said, "As Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Crime, those U.S. Marshals who engaged in this horrifying act fall directly under my oversight responsibilities. I am shocked and disheartened by what I have seen. As Attorney General, you have a responsibility to answer the following questions:
    Why this happened? What, if any, rationale exists to use tactics that are reserved for terrorist and hostage situations, as we clearly witnessed in this case? What, if any, constitutional and legal authority existed for such action under the circumstances? Who authorized this outrage? What plans are being taken to ensure it never, ever happens again?"

McCollum also told Reno, the psychological well being of Elian Gonzalez should be of paramount concern. "How can you possibly reconcile that goal with the reality of the boy waking up to an armed invader in his home pointing assault weapons and screaming obscenities at him and his loved ones?"

McCollum requested that Reno contact him within the next 24 hours with a "complete explanation" detailing the answers to all his questions. He also requested that Reno be available to "answer any additional questions that may rise out of this disgraceful and sorry episode in American history."

The Justice Department told Monday it had no comment on McCollum's letter.

Meanwhile, one of McCollum's colleagues, House Government Reform and Operations Committee Chairman Dan Burton (R-IN) in a statement released on Monday said, "The Attorney General's decision to remove Elian Gonzalez from his Great Uncle's home at gunpoint was reckless and it unnecessarily endangered lives."

Burton went on to say, "There was absolutely no reason for Federal agents to storm this family's home and aim automatic weapons at unarmed family members. Negotiations to bring both sides in this dispute together for a family meeting were very close to being resolved. The appeals court had scheduled a hearing for May 11th (in Atlanta). There was no reason to do this and every reason not to."

"The Attorney General's decision risked lives and further traumatized a six-year-old boy who has already gone through too much," Burton said.