Arlington Controversy Stirs Again (12/4/97)
Cohen Intervened To Allow Arlington Burial (11/26/97)
Army Releases List Of Arlington 'Exceptions' (11/21/97)
Arlington Controversy Continues
GAO asked to investigate waivers for burial
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Dec. 11) -- Congress is asking its watchdog agency, the General Accounting Office, to launch an independent investigation of how waivers are granted for burial at Arlington National Cemetery.
A senior Republican and two senior Democrats on the House Veterans Affairs Committee submitted separate letters to the GAO Wednesday. They each requested the GAO look into the approval process when the normal qualifications for burial at Arlington are waived.
The requests came from Rep. Terry Everett (R-Ala.) chair of the oversight committee conducting the House investigation of the waivers, Lane Evans (D-Ill.) and James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.). Evans and Clyburn asked to GAO to specifically look into whether political contributions helped buy people waivers for burial at the cemetery.
"An independent and responsible inquiry into the issues surrounding the waiver process at Arlington Cemetery should help bring the facts to light and provide some much-needed perspective to this issue," Evans said.
The waiver controversy began with allegations from conservatives that Democratic donors were being rewarded with burial plots in the famous cemetery. Army Secretary Togo West addressed the allegations by releasing the names of those who had received waivers.
The only big Democratic donor was M. Larry Lawrence. Lawrence was serving as ambassador to Switzerland when he died in 1996. Lawrence's waiver was granted in part because of his claim to have been wounded while serving as a Merchant Marine in 1945. But congressional Republicans have been unable to find any evidence of his Merchant Marine service. Lawrence's widow announced earlier this week that she will have his body removed from Arlington.
Another waiver recipient was the father of a Republican staff member of a House subcommittee that oversees the Pentagon.
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Thursday Dec. 11, 1997
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