WASHINGTON – Former Republican presidential candidate and nationally syndicated radio talk-show host Alan Keyes today called on Congress to launch an immediate investigation into the death of Commerce Secretary Ron Brown.

Citing reports by two Armed Forces pathologists about the possibility of a gunshot wound to Brown’s head, Keyes said that even the hint of a possible assassination of a high-ranking official contributes to a growing lack of confidence in our American institutions, particularly when that official happens to be an African-American.

In a letter to Congressional leaders, Keyes said, “It has become clear in recent days that the circumstances of the death of Commerce Secretary Brown may not have been competently investigated. ..It is essential that the Congress act to ensure that the truth be known and that the suspicion of foul play be dealt with honestly.”

Keyes cautioned that the appearance of indifference could fuel a growing national

atmosphere of distrust and aggravate racial misunderstanding by not showing a proper respect for the serious circumstances surrounding Secretary Brown’s death.

“The perception that a possible assassination of a Cabinet officer does not merit

the vigorous attention of Congress because that Cabinet officer is black reinforces lingering suspicions … that, even at the highest levels, black life is cheap in America,” Keyes said. “The Congress must act to forestall these corrosive suspicions.”

Keyes expressed concerns about reported efforts to suppress statements by the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology experts and the apparent disappearance of key forensic evidence — x-rays, photographs and medical examiner reports — increase the urgency of a congressional inquiry.

“The Clinton Administration has presented Congress with a variety of occasions for considering extraordinary oversight and investigation of the executive branch,” Keyes said in a letter. “All such decisions are important opportunities for legislators to demonstrate their firm resolve to exercise their constitutional responsibilities with diligence and prudence. But none of the subjects of investigation is as potentially

important as the recent revival of questions regarding the plane crash that left 35 American citizens dead, including Commerce Secretary Brown.”

Alan Keyes is an experienced statesman and public servant, having served as ambassador to the United Nations and assistant secretary of state during the Reagan Administration. The popular commentator, who hosts a daily syndicated radio and television program, has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the GOP presidential nomination in 2000.

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