May 18, 1995 in Idaho

Chenoweth Takes Hits From Congressmen Her Federal Agent Permission Bill Called ‘Loony Concept’

Associated Press
 

U.S. Rep. Helen Chenoweth’s idea for requiring federal law enforcement agents to get written permission from county sheriffs before taking action is “an absolutely loony concept,” a New York congressman says.

Rep. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a leading gun-control proponent, said on Tuesday that such a law could allow a local sheriff to block federal officers investigating such crimes as the federal building bombing in Oklahoma City.

But calling the proposal loony is “not the way to debate the merits of the bill,” Chenoweth said during the pair’s appearance on NBC’s “Today” Tuesday.

Earlier, she said her bill - which has yet to be introduced - would allow federal agents to seek written permission from a state attorney general if local sheriffs will not cooperate.

The bill has some exceptions, and Chenoweth said it would not limit federal authority.

“It only asks for cooperation so that the federal agents will know the local lay of the land and the people that they’re dealing with, as well as provide a cooling off period,” she said.

Schumer said Chenoweth’s idea about cooper ation between law enforcement agencies is fine. However, “This is basically pandering to a group of people who have paranoid delusions about the FBI and the federal government.”

Also Tuesday on the Fox network’s local morning news show in Washington, D.C., Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., charged that Chenoweth and others have been irresponsible in their public remarks.

Miller said she has suggested “people who have an irrational fear of the government can somehow create the political space and the right to confront federal law enforcement officials as their enemies.”

But Chenoweth said federal law enforcement activity is escalating in Idaho.

“I don’t think that we should arm up our federal government while trying to disarm our citizens,” she said. “Now anyone who tries to use violence as a means to solve any of society’s problems should be held accountable before the people. But if Watergate taught us nothing less, it taught us that even the president is not above the law.

“The Nuremberg trials taught us that people don’t commit acts of violence and murder, like occurred in Waco and Ruby Ridge, upon the command of one their commanders. There is a higher law,” Chenoweth said.

“It’s absolutely ludicrous to suggest that U.S. law enforcement officials can be equated with the Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg,” Miller countered.

© Copyright 1995 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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