Originally created 12/10/97

Arlington lies



The widow of former Ambassador Larry Lawrence says she'll remove his body from Arlington National Cemetery, but her decision must not end the matter.

America's sacred burial ground is at Arlington and indications are that the Clinton administration -- if it didn't actually sell a coveted spot there to the Lawrence family -- it looked the other way when its own investigation found no evidence to support the ambassador's claimed "heroism" aboard a World War II Merchant Marine ship. In fact, it found no evidence he ever even served in the Merchant Marine.

Yet despite this glaring lack of confirmation, Army Secretary Togo West, press secretary Mike McCurry and other partisans -- including the Big Media -- waxed indignant at published allegations the administration was selling plots on the hallowed ground to large campaign contributors.

West, especially, claimed every waiver, including Lawrence, had been thoroughly investigated for authenticity and any claim to the contrary was a slur on the good names of persons buried at Arlington.

Then it turns out that the State Department's investigation didn't involve confirming Lawrence's Merchant Marine service at all. Rather the agency accepted his story at face value when it could find no documents to contradict it.

Unbelievable! By this standard, anyone could claim a spot at Arlington as a "war hero" so long as no documents showed up to disprove the claim. However, we know that's not the way it really works.

That Lawrence got in, when others couldn't, is due to the same reason he was named ambassador to Switzerland -- he contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Clinton and Democrats over the years.

The cemetery scandal follows the same script as all the other Clinton fund-raising scandals: Indignant denials, followed by reluctant admission "mistakes may have been made;" finally, the "everybody does it" canard is raised, as if that makes it all right.

Does anyone recall this administration came to power on the promise of being the most ethical in U.S. history? Now Clinton says he's going to investigate the Lawrence waiver. We know where his investigations go. Congress must conduct its own probe. The nation needs to know what's going on.