Levine Seeks Contras Report Before Vote
California Rep. Mel Levine (D-Santa Monica) said Saturday that it would be “inappropriate” for Congress to approve any aid for the Nicaraguan rebels unless President Reagan reports on charges that anti-Sandinista leaders are trafficking in arms and narcotics before the House votes on Reagan’s aid proposal.
Levine, delivering the congressional Democrats’ response to Reagan’s weekly radio talk, called on the President to supply the information before a House vote expected Tuesday on the proposed $100-million package of military and logistical aid for the contras, as the rebels are widely known.
“I call on the President to provide Congress with a full written report on these charges before Tuesday’s vote,” Levine said. “If such a report is not forthcoming, it would be inappropriate for Congress to give the contras one penny in additional aid.”
Deputy White House press secretary Peter Roussel declined to speculate on the likelihood of Reagan’s providing the requested report.
“Our attitude on aid to the contras is well known,” he said. “Otherwise, no comment.”
Allegations that contra leaders are involved in arms and narcotics deals are the focus of a federal investigation centered in Miami, according to the Associated Press. But while law enforcement officials, who asked not to be further identified, confirmed that the inquiry is under way, they cautioned that the reports about such activities have been overstated.
Would Support Probes
On Friday, State Department spokesman Bernard Kalb said the department would support inquiries by the FBI and “any other government agency that believes it has cause to investigate.” He noted that the Senate-passed version of the Nicaraguan rebel aid bill bars aid to any contra group that tolerates abuse of human rights, drug smuggling or misuse of funds.
Rep. Charles W. Stenholm (D-Tex.), a supporter of Reagan’s aid proposal, told the Associated Press the President had informed a group of congressmen Thursday that the White House was reviewing the charges and that there would be a “written refutation” of some of them, while more information would be sought on others.
Levine said that Reagan’s “misguided and dangerous” policy has already cost $100 million and “made the situation in Nicaragua worse rather than better.” He charged that it will lead to “gradually expanding American involvement” in hostilities.
Urging Reagan to follow the process for a negotiated solution to Central American conflicts developed by the Contadora Group of Latin nations--Mexico, Colombia, Panama and Venezuela--Levine added, “The President should meet face to face with the Contadora heads of state to discuss how the United States can best advance the cause of peace and democracy in the region.”