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Negotiating Denby's Release

February 26, 1988

In his Op-Ed piece ("Lone Ranger Diplomacy a Risky Path for Liberals," Feb. 12), Christopher Layne accuses me of meddling in foreign policy by negotiating the release of James Denby from a Nicaraguan prison. "Should Democrats in and out of Congress conduct their own independent, entrepreneurial foreign policy?" he asks.

The answer is: You bet. The lack of a coherent foreign policy by the Reagan Administration compels American citizens to develop their own independent foreign policy, especially in Central America. Democrats and Republicans are by no means bound to support Ronald Reagan's illegal war against Nicaragua. Democrats and Republicans alike have the alternative, which I choose, of supporting and working for peace in Central America.

There is only one reason I attempted to free Jim Denby: to assist with the peace process.

There is only one reason I succeeded. Because I tried, and Reagan did not. In the course of my negotiations, I was shocked to discover that neither the State Department, nor the U.S. Embassy in Managua, nor the White House had made any effort to free Denby.

Is Lone Ranger diplomacy a risky path? That's for analysts like Layne to waste time writing about. All I know is: An American spent 56 days in solitary confinement. I went to Nicaragua. I secured his release through negotiations, not arms sales. I brought Jim Denby home to freedom in time to influence the House vote on Contra aid. And I'm proud I did.

BILL PRESS

Los Angeles

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