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Congressman Brian Baird Challenges Congressional Leadership's

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The Goldstone Report found that there is evidence of serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law committed by both Israeli forces and Hamas fighters and recommended that there should be criminal investigations where there is evidence of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949.

Washington State Congressional representative Brian Baird is one of only 8 US members of Congress that has visited Gaza since the Israeli attack ended on January 18, 2009, and the only member of Congress that has visited Gaza twice. His constituent, twenty --three year old Rachel Corrie, was killed in March, 2003 in Gaza when an Israeli military bulldozer ran over her as she was protecting a Palestinian home from destruction.

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On November 2, 2009, in an article for Capitol Hill's Roll Call newspaper , Baird questioned why the leadership of Congress is bringing the House resolution to a vote without ever giving former South African Constitutional Court Justice Richard Goldstone a hearing to explain his findings. House Foreign Affairs committee chair Howard Berman and committee ranking Republican member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and committee members Dan Burton and Gary Ackerman co-sponsored the resolution.

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Brian wondered in the article how many who will vote on House Resolution 867 will have read either the resolution or the Goldstone report and whether they aware that Justice Goldstone has issued a paragraph-by-paragraph response that pointed out that many of the resolution's assertions are factually inaccurate or deeply misleading.

Baird noted that Judge Goldstone is one of the most respected jurists in the world having led the investigations of human rights abuses in South Africa, the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Kosovo, and worked to identify and prosecute Nazi war criminals as a member of the Panel of the Commission of Enquiry into the Activities of Nazism in Argentina. Judge Goldstone is a member of the Jewish faith.

Baird said that he has seen firsthand "the devastating destruction of hospitals, schools, homes, industries and infrastructure. Much of that devastation was wrought using U.S. manufactured and paid for weaponry." After reading the Goldstone report in its entirety, Baird concluded that the finding were "consistent with the facts and evidence" and that the incidents in the report are "worthy of further investigation," not of obstruction by the Congress.

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Baird commented that "" if our own country is truly to stand for human rights and the rule of law, and if facts matter, how can we do other than insist that legitimate questions and evidence are followed by further investigation and, if necessary and warranted, appropriate consequences?"

"This is about whether we as individuals and this Congress as an institution find it acceptable to drop white phosphorous on civilian targets, to rocket civilian communities, to destroy hospitals and schools, to use civilians as human shields, and to deliberately destroy nonmilitary factories, industries and basic water, electrical and sanitation infrastructure. This is about whether it is acceptable to restrict the movement, opportunities and hopes of more than a million people every single day."

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Ann Wright is a 29-year US Army/Army Reserves veteran, a retired United States Army colonel and retired U.S. State Department official, known for her outspoken opposition to the Iraq War. She received the State Department Award for Heroism in 1997, after helping to evacuate several thousand (more...)

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