WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole, warning against any hasty decision to invade Haiti, proposed Friday that a bipartisan panel be formed to develop a new policy toward the nation.
"It's high time for cooler heads to prevail on U.S. policy toward Haiti," Dole (R-Kan.) said in a Senate floor speech. "The Administration appears to be lurching toward the use of military force in Haiti without thoroughly considering the consequences of such action and the history of U.S. involvement in Haiti."
The comments came hours after U.S. officials denied that a huge mock invasion this week that involved 44,000 military personnel had anything to do with a Haitian invasion scenario.
"Anything that happens in this hemisphere, whether it be a troop movement or an exercise, people are trying to tie to reports of a Haiti invasion. It's just not valid," said Air Force Maj. Jamie Roach, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Atlantic Command.
Dole said Congress should authorize any deployment of military forces in Haiti. He proposed the establishment of a bipartisan fact-finding commission whose recommendations could form the basis of a new Haiti policy.
The press has been full of invasion rumors. On Wednesday, the Pentagon and the White House strongly denied a Los Angeles Times report that the United States was planning a military operation with the aim of "purging" the Haitian army, which overthrew Haiti's elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, in 1991.
And on Friday, military officials sought to knock down a story in the Boston Globe on the invasion exercise.