President Bush has rejected Jesse Jackson's offer to intervene on behalf of the U.S. to end the international tensions created by China's insistence that the U.S. should apologize for the collision between U.S. and Chinese aircraft. The Chinese government is "detaining" our 24 naval personnel. China insists they are not hostages, but former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Thomas Moorer, in an interview with NewsMax.com last week, called them "prisoners."
The president's rejection of outside diplomatic help was intended not just for Jackson but also for other unnamed individuals. Ross Perot has contacted families of the U.S. hostages being held by the Chinese government.
"Diplomacy sometimes takes a little longer than people would like," said Bush, who urged "patience."
Rep. Joseph R. Pitts, a member of a key House committee dealing with foreign affairs, was more blunt about Jackson's offer.
"He [Jackson] is looking for some cause as a distraction from his problems," Pitts said, referring to the financial scandal stemming from the fact that Jackson fathered a child out of wedlock. "Nobody has elected him to anything."
When it was pointed out to him that Jackson had engaged in free-lance diplomacy in the past, Pitts said that would be breaking the law.
"If Jackson is even thinking of doing that," the Pennsylvania lawmaker said, the State Department should "politely admonish" him that he would be in violation of the Logan Act, which effectively forbids American citizens to strike out on their own and undercut their government's diplomatic efforts.
"Of course, breaking the law probably doesn't bother him," said Pitts, referring to Jackson's defense of ex-President Bill Clinton's criminal activity.
As for Jackson's statement that the U.S. should apologize to get the hostages back:
"Wrong again!" declared Pitts, who sits on the International Relations Committee's Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights.
"Rewarding nations for bad behavior merely begets more bad behavior," he said.
"The Chinese should be apologizing to us," the congressman added. "It was their reckless actions [in the air] that caused all the problems in the first place. We should get an apology from them."
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