Jewish World Review April 25, 2000 / 20 Nissan, 5760
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- "WHEN ALL EFFORTS FAILED, there was no alternative but to enforce the decisions of the INS and the federal court, that Juan Miguel Gonzalez should have custody of his son. The law has been upheld, and that was the right thing to do." So declared the president of the United States on Saturday, explaining why federal agents armed with military assault rifles seized 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez from the home of his Miami relatives in the pre-dawn hours that same morning.
The problem is the president lied, as he has on so many important occasions in the past. But this time, it was not a little lie, not some prevarication about his sexual peccadilloes, nor even perjury in a civil court -- all of which we've come to expect from this mendacious man. No, this was a big lie. A lie from beginning to end. A lie repeated over and over again by all the president's men and women, not least of whom was Attorney General Janet Reno, the nation's chief law-enforcement officer.
Leaving aside the question of who ultimately should have custody of Elian -- an issue about which reasonable people can differ -- the president's statement of the facts of the dispute are simply untrue. The federal courts have not decided that "Juan Miguel Gonzalez should have custody of his son"; no "law has been upheld." Indeed, the highest court yet to pronounce on the issue -- the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals -- last week, explicitly rejected the administration's request that it direct the Miami family to turn over the boy to his father. "We decline to proceed in that manner," the three judges wrote in their unanimous ruling.
The INS is not empowered by Congress to determine final custody of minors or settle custody disputes. The INS is, however, charged with determining who may be granted asylum in the United States, so long as it does so within the law, as written. This issue -- whether Elian Gonzalez should be allowed to petition for asylum, and who may speak on his behalf -- his father, his Miami uncle Lazaro Gonzalez, or the boy himself -- is still very much an open matter before the courts. The court of appeals has not yet decided this issue, which will be argued on May 11th.
The appeals court last week also issued this warning in reference to the INS's decision to withdraw Elian's asylum request because the boy's father objected. "It is not clear that the INS, in finding Plaintiff's father to be the only proper representative, considered all of the relevant factors -- particularly the child's separate and independent interests in seeking asylum."
Moreover, the court said that "the INS cannot properly infringe on the plain language of the (asylum) statute or the clear congressional purpose underlying it.
Make no mistake, those storm troopers who pointed their weapons at young Elian were not enforcing any lawful order of any court or government agency. Nor was this horrific action taken because, as the president alleged, "all efforts failed" at reconciliation between the boy and his father. Indeed, as the agents assaulted the Miami home, mediators were on the phone with the attorney general, working out the final details of the reunion.
Janet Reno claims that the assault was necessary because the family "kept moving the goal post." But that is not what Aaron Podhurst, Reno's 30-year-long friend and the mediator with whom she was on the phone, says. "The goal posts were moved by them (the government)," Podhurst told the Miami Herald. "I've never been more devastated in my entire life."
Florida Democrat Sen. Bob Graham called the raid a "gross, excessive use of force, and asked, "What is the motivation for the administration to act in such a perverse way?" What, indeed? Perhaps the lesson for the American people in all of this is that the failure to care enough about Bill Clinton's little lies has emboldened him to engage in the tyrant's Big Lie.
The president and his appointees have decided that they -- alone -- are the
law. And now they have proven they are willing to enforce their law with the
barrel of a