Activities of Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Toward the Branch Davidians/Additional Views of Hon. Tom Lantos

I welcome the dissenting views on the majority report, which I have signed with a large number of my colleagues. That statement points out clearly the many serious deficiencies of the majority report.

One issue, which is completely ignored in the majority report but which was raised at the time of the original hearings and which is raised in the dissenting views which I have signed, is the issue of the highly questionable involvement of an outside interest group--the National Rifle Association--in the investigation which preceded the hearing.

It is my view that this issue deserves greater attention and investigation. The active involvement of an outside organization in a subcommittee investigation raises the most fundamental questions about the integrity of the entire investigation, and the failure to address this important matter is a fundamental flaw of the majority report.

The outside organization--the National Rifle Association (NRA)--is not a disinterested third party. That organization and its leaders have made it clear that they had a particular point of view on the matters being considered by the subcommittee. Members of the subcommittee repeatedly urged the chairman of the subcommittee to investigate these matters, and the chairman has repeatedly refused to do so. In the interest of fairness and integrity, it is important that these issues be made part of this report.

The first matter is the subcommittee majority's use of outside "experts" to test firearms. These "experts" were contracted for and paid for (at a cost of some $25,000) by the National Rifle Association. Furthermore, the chairman of the subcommittee and members of the majority staff initially tried to cover-up the involvement of the National Rifle Association, and majority staff even refused to identify to officials of the U.S. Department of Justice the name of the outside advocacy group which selected and paid for the outside experts. Furthermore, in conversation with Justice Department officials, majority staff admitted that the so-called "experts" in fact had no expertise whatsoever in firearms testing. Later, during the course of the hearings the involvement of the National Rifle Association in this case did become public.

The second issue is the matter of an employee of the National Rifle Association identifying herself as a member of the subcommittee staff to at least one individual who was called to testify before the subcommittee. Furthermore, two witnesses testified under oath during the hearings that they were contacted by an employee of the National Rifle Association prior to testifying at the hearing. This raises serious questions about witness tampering. Again this issue was not investigated by the subcommittee chairman and is not dealt with in the majority report.

Both of these instances regarding the involvement of the National Rifle Association in the congressional hearing and investigative process not only raise questions about the ethical behavior of the majority staff, but also may be a violation of the law. This issue was raised in a July 17, 1995, letter from Congressman John Conyers, Jr., and Congressman Charles E. Schumer to the chairman of the Judiciary Committee and the chairman of the Government Reform and Oversight Committee. The instances of the National Rifle Association providing valuable services to the subcommittee may have violated the law and the Rules of the House. This issue should have been investigated and resolved. It was not.

The refusal of the subcommittee chairman and the majority to investigate these issues fully and openly--despite repeated requests by me and other Members who participated in the hearings--raises the most fundamental questions about the integrity of the majority report as well as the hearing and investigation conducted by the subcommittee.

Hon. Tom Lantos.