|December 18, 2002
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|WASHINGTON, D.C.—FALEOMAVAEGA RESPONDS TO ALLEGATIONS MADE BY MRS. AMATA RADEWAGEN|
| Congressman Faleomavaega
announced today that the time has come to set the record straight about
several issues Mrs. Amata Radewagen has raised since the November election
and in her December 6 and December 15 press statements to the Samoa News
and Samoa Post.
"For some time now, Mrs. Amata Radewagen has continued to release false and malicious statements to the press although the election ended on November 19th," Congressman Faleomavaega said. “During the campaign period, I refrained from responding to Mrs. Amata Radewagen’s personal attacks. However, there comes a time when an elected official should defend himself from false accusations and I am hopeful that the people of American Samoa will understand and appreciate my effort now to set the record straight about issues affecting our territory.”
Federal Airport Security Screeners
“First, I would like to address the issue of federal security screeners. On September 11, 2001, when terrorists crashed two planes into the World Trade Center, another plane into the Pentagon, and a third plane in Pennsylvania, the U.S. Congress quickly rushed a bill through the House and Senate to secure our homeland," Congressman Faleomavaega said. "First and foremost, Congress wanted to do everything in its power to make sure our airports were safe. This included making baggage screeners federal employees and requiring that all screeners be U.S. citizens. The question of whether U.S. Nationals and legal permanent resident aliens should be included within the definition of U.S. citizens was not considered a national priority. Nevertheless, I introduced legislation to alert Congress of the problem."
"Not only did I introduce a bill but I also got the support of U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta and Congressman Don Young, Chairman of the House Transportation Committee," Faleomavaega said. "To be clear about the matter, I wrote Chairman Don Young on November 27, 2001. I introduced a bill on December 12, 2001. Chairman Young responded to my letter and offered his support on January 4, 2002. In fact, Chairman Young informed me that he was considering a technical corrections bill and this would provide us with an opportunity to address my concerns."
"In other words, my bill would be included in Chairman Young's bill, and this is typical of how the legislative process works in Congress. For Mrs. Amata Radewagen to suggest that my bill went nowhere is simply misleading and such a statement shows her lack of familiarity about how Congress operates in Washington. However, I can understand why Mrs. Radewagen is not familiar with the legislative process. Mrs. Amata Radewagen’s real job in Washington was as a scheduler for now retired Congressman J.C. Watts. For those unfamiliar with Washington, a scheduler is a staff person assigned in a Member's office to schedule appointments for the Member.”
“A scheduler does not handle legislation and it was never Mrs. Amata Radewagen’s responsibility to handle legislation for Congressman Watts,” Faleomavaega said. “For a scheduler to say she is responsible for dealing with insular affairs is also not true. Former Congressman Watts listed Mrs. Amata Radewagen as his scheduler in the official Statement of Disbursements of the House. This is a public document and anyone wishing may look under Congressman Watts' name to find Mrs. Amata Radewagen officially listed as a scheduler for J.C.Watts. Under the official records of the House, Amata is also listed as Amata Radewagen rather than Aumua Amata Coleman."
“It should also be noted that former Congressman J.C. Watts was never a member of the House Committee on Resources which oversees issues that directly affect all U.S. territories, including American Samoa,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “This probably explains why neither he nor Mrs. Radewagen contacted my office to discuss the issue of federal airport security screeners and the question of U.S. Nationals.”
“On the other hand, I have worked since November of last year to address this issue. Anyone wishing to review my record may request copies of the legislation I introduced as well as copies of my correspondence to Chairman Young and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta which date from last year to this year. I would also suggest that Mrs. Amata Radewagen make available any public document or correspondence Congressman Watts may have written to federal agencies and other members of Congress regarding this matter,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “To the best of my knowledge, Congressman Watts never wrote a single letter to Secretary Mineta or Chairman Young concerning this issue."
Trip to Asia with Chairman Henry J. Hyde
"Mrs. Amata Radewagen also expressed doubt whether Chairman Henry J. Hyde personally invited me to accompany him on a trip to visit world leaders in China and Japan. Once again, Mrs. Radewagen made the wrong assumptions about this matter,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “The Republican Chairman of the House Committee on International Relations did personally invite me to accompany him."
"Furthermore, by suggesting that the House Committee on International Relations is not important, Mrs. Amata Radewagen simply ignores the fact that Congress works its will through this Committee to review the operations of the U.S. Department of State under the leadership of Secretary Colin L. Powell. Secretary Powell is the most senior member of President Bush's Cabinet and a revered and respected leader of our nation. Our whole nation is praying and hoping that Secretary Powell will succeed in his mission to deal peacefully with the crisis in Iraq rather than resorting to war. To suggest that this crisis is not important is unconscionable,” Faleomavaega said.
"Simply put, the House Committee on International Relations is playing a critical role in supporting the President’s war resolution against Iraq. The Committee also continues to play a critical role in the war against terrorism. The House Committee on International Relations was also very involved in supporting the Gulf War and in ending the Vietnam War.”
“In addition to directly dealing with matters involving war, the House Committee on International Relations is also responsible for reviewing the problems of foreign policy and security threats from rogue regimes that have or could gain the power to create or use weapons of mass destruction, which include nuclear weapons and chemical and biological warfare. For Mrs. Amata Radewagen to suggest that these issues are not important to American Samoa is insulting to our youth, our veterans, our men and women in the armed services, and every other resident of American Samoa that I represent in the U.S. House of Representatives.”
“As a veteran of the Vietnam War, I care deeply about American Samoa's men and women in the military. I also care about the threat of nuclear build-up in the Asia Pacific region and I want to do everything in my power to see that our children and grandchildren are protected from the threat of nuclear war and international terrorism," Congressman Faleomavaega said. “I would hope that anyone seeking public office would be responsible enough to also care about these issues.”
The Andean Trade Agreement
“I would also hope that anyone seeking public office would get the facts straight when discussing serious issues affecting our territory. For Mrs. Amata Radewagen to suggest that American Samoa’s canned tuna industry was saved in the 11th hour by Senator Inouye once again demonstrates her ignorance of the facts on this most critical issue facing our territory. American Samoa’s canned tuna industry was not saved in an hour,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “In fact, it took more than a year to win this battle and it was absolutely necessary to have the support of Republicans and Democrats in both houses of the Congress. For example, Congressmen Bill Thomas (Republican), Charles Rangel (Democrat), and Duke Cunningham (Republican) were critical players in the U.S. House of Representatives. Senators Daniel Inouye (Democrat), Daniel Akaka (Democrat), Tom Daschle (Democrat), Ted Stevens (Republican), Frank Murkowski (Republican), John Breaux (Democrat), Max Baucus (Democrat), Blanche Lincoln (Democrat), Olympia Snowe (Republican), Robert Torricelli (Democrat), Orrin Hatch (Republican), Jay Rockefeller (Democrat), and Craig Thomas (Republican) were the key senators who assisted our territory in the Senate.”
“No matter what, American Samoa’s representative to Congress cannot afford to play partisan politics, regardless of party affiliation. A clear example of this is my friendship with Senator Olympia Snowe. Senator Snowe was one of our critical supporters on the Senate Finance Committee. Senator Snowe is also a Republican and a friend of mine. We are friends because years agowe both served on the House Committee on International Relations before she became a U.S. Senator from Maine. Senator Craig Thomas, a Republican from Wyoming, also supported us. Senator Thomas was a former Congressman on the House Committee on Resources whom I knew personally. Senator Thomas was also a member of the Senate delegation that visited American Samoa years ago.”
“In addition to the support of key Republicans and Democrats in both the House and Senate, the Governor, the Fono, the U.S. tuna industry, and more than 10,000 residents of American Samoa also stood united to save American Samoa’s economy,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “Mrs. Amata Radewagen, on the other hand, never once called my office during this critical time. She never offered any assistance. She never expressed one bit of concern for the welfare of our territory and to my knowledge she never called upon one of her so-called Republican connections in Washington to support American Samoa in its critical hour. In fact, it was her former employer, Republican Congressman Phil Crane, who introduced and rushed damaging legislation through the House Committee on Ways and Means that almost caused more than 1,000 workers at Samoa Packing to lose their jobs.”
“Despite Mrs. Radewagen’s lack of interest in the matter, every elected official in American Samoa took the matter of Andean Trade seriously and, thanks to the efforts of many, we were successful in protecting American Samoa’s canned tuna industry. It is unfortunate, however, that Mrs. Amata Radewagen personally attacked and slandered Senator Inouye’s good name when discussing this issue during the campaign. More specifically, Mrs. Radewagen suggested that Senator Inouye is too old and becoming less effective in the U.S. Senate. Nothing could be further from the truth and, quite frankly, I believe Mrs. Radewagen’s characterization of Senator Inouye is offensive and insulting. In case Mrs. Radewagen is not aware, Senator Inouye’s contributions and tremendous support in providing for American Samoa’s financial needs for the past four decades are well known to our Samoan communities, including those in American Samoa, Hawaii and California. Given all that the good Senator has done for our territory, I believe Mrs. Radewagen owes Senator Inouye and the people of American Samoa an apology.”
Mrs. Radewagen’s Comments about Scotland
“Regarding the issue of Scotland, I want Mrs. Amata Radewagen to know that I went to Wales, not to Scotland, and I went to attend a rugby match, not a soccer match. For the record, I went to Wales in 1991 to give moral support to the Manu Samoa rugby team because this was the first time in the history of rugby that Samoa’s national team became one of the top sixteen teams in the world to compete for the world cup,” Faleomavaega said.
“Since Mrs. Amata Radewagen does not live in American Samoa, it may be difficult for her to appreciate or understand that like all Samoans the people of American Samoa were also very supportive of the Manu Samoa rugby team. In fact, when the Manu Samoa team stayed at Vailoatai village years ago as part of their fundraising program, the team pushed a wheelbarrow from one end of our island to the other to collect donations,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “In a matter of just one day, the people of American Samoa donated over $100,000 in cash and thousands more in in-kind contributions as a way of expressing their pride and support for the team’s efforts to compete in the World Cup finals.”
“Samoans from around the world, including our Samoan soldiers serving throughout Europe, also supported the team. Even His Highness Malietoa Tanumafili II, Head of State of Samoa, personally thanked me for the effort I made to go to Wales on a weekend to show my support,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “Therefore, I make no apologies for supporting Samoa’s rugby team which I believe represented the best of Samoans everywhere. Furthermore, I will continue to support any and all accomplishments made by Samoans in sports, the arts, and in other areas that bear the name of Samoa for good throughout the world.”
“In conclusion, I simply want to say that my service in Congress is a matter of public record and everything I have mentioned in this press release can be verified. Although I am disappointed that neither the Samoa News nor the Samoa Post took the time to verify Mrs. Amata Radewagen’s claims before printing her allegations against me, I am hopeful that both papers will now set the record straight by printing my statement in its entirety.”
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