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By Mike Hudson

Don't put Rep. Louise Slaughter on the "pay no mind" list.

The congresswoman, who serves as ranking member on the House Rules Committee, has joined the ranking members of the Judiciary, Government Reform, Homeland Security and Ways and Means committees to author what is known as a Resolution of Inquiry, which would require the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security to release all documents relating to the presence of phony journalist Jeff Gannon at White House press briefings.

Gannon, whose real name is James Dale Guckert, had apparently unrestricted access to the White House briefing room for a period of two years, and was frequently called on by Press Secretary Scott McClellan and President George W. Bush.

In February, he was outed as a Republican operative working for an organization called GOPUSA. Subsequent revelations revealed his ties to gay pornography and male prostitution, and a statement he'd made concerning his access to a classified memo revealing the identity of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame.

In a Feb. 8 editorial, the Reporter asked Slaughter to look into the matter and, on Feb. 9, she fired off a letter to Bush demanding an explanation. Subsequently, five senators and a number of other House members followed Slaughter's lead with letters of their own.

All of which were met with a deafening silence from the White House.

"We cannot allow the White House to stonewall the United States Congress and the American people on an issue of such importance," Slaughter said. "This is a matter of national security and unethical White House media manipulation." The Resolution of Inquiry would force the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security to assist Congress in getting to the bottom of the matter. The measure must be considered by the House Judiciary Committee by March 24 and, unless blocked by Republican committee members, will go before the House.

Either way, Washington insiders say, the maneuver will result in a victory for Democrats.

"You've got six Blue State Republicans on the Judiciary Committee and this thing already smells like a cover-up," said one Capitol Hill source. "They've got enough problems with the deteriorating situation in Iraq and the president's plan to gut Social Security without handing their opponents another issue."

Committee members coming from more traditional Republican areas such as Utah, Arizona and Tennessee might also be a bit squeamish at the prospect of telling their constituents why they quashed an investigation involving a gay male prostitute with apparently close ties to the Bush administration, he added.

The resolution, signed by Slaughter and 24 of her House colleagues, will at the very least keep the issue in the public eye for the rest of the month.

"Every day, more questions are raised and, so far, the White House is not providing any answers," Slaughter said. "We intend to find out what the White House is hiding."

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com March 8 2005