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Probe Sought of Brown's 'Gunshot'

  • Now black leaders are looking into the killing of a former commerce secretary.
By James P. Tucker Jr.

Alan Keyes, a black economist who rallied social conservatives when he sought the Republican nomination for president In 1996, has joined those demanding a new investigation into the death of the late Commerce Secretary Ron Brown.

Three forensic experts claim Brown may have died of a gunshot wound to the head, not the plane crash that killed 35 Democrat donors on a European junket in April 1993.

However Brown died, it was most convenient for the Clinton administration. Several ranking Commerce Department careerists have said that if not ow in his grave, Brown would be in prison for bestowing partisan favors at taxpayers's expense.

On the other end of the political spectrum, Kweisi Mfume, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), wrote Attorney General Janet Reno demanding the government investigate.

"The NAACP is very concerned about the ramification of these allegations, and left unanswered and unresolved, they raise serious questions,' says Mfume, a former congressman. "It is clear to me that this issue should not be allowed to fester."

The White House told The SPOTLIGHT that President Clinton has no comment on the Brown matter. Asked later at a press briefing, White House spokesman Mike McCurry attributed recent allegation to people wh "hate" Clinton and refused to answer questions.


But Keyes puts Congress in a delicate situation with a letter suggesting that, if there is no further investigation, it would suggest that a black life is less valuable that a white's life.

"It has become clear in recent days that the circumstances of the death of Commerce Secretary Brown may not have been competently investigated," Keyes wrote to congressional leaders.

"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 wrote.

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 Brown's death, Keyes warned.

"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 wrote.

"Congress must act to forestall these corrosive suspicions," he added.

Keyes served as ambassador to the United Nations and assistant secretary of state under former President Ronald Reagan. He is a popular commentator who hosts a daily syndicated radio and television program.

Keyes said efforts to suppress statements by the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology experts and the apparent disappearance of crucial forensic evidence -- X-rays, photographs and medical examiner reports -- add to the urgency of a congressional inquiry.

The Army has ordered the pathologist who raised the issue to shut up (SPOTLIGHT, December 28).