Inouye blamed by
critics of Akaka

The senator denies the 1993
apology laid the groundwork
for the Akaka Bill


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

» The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii is a group opposed to the so-called Akaka bill in Congress. A Page A1 article in the Monday morning edition incorrectly listed the organization as Grassroots Institute.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin strives to make its news report fair and accurate. If you have a question or comment about news coverage, call Editor Frank Bridgewater at 529-4791 or email him at corrections@starbulletin.com.

Sen. Daniel Inouye slammed two former Republican colleagues for criticizing him last week over what they called a "betrayal of express commitments" made to them during passage of the 1993 apology resolution for the U.S. government's role in the 1893 overthrow of the kingdom of Hawaii.

Former Sens. Slade Gorton (R-Wa.) and Hank Brown (R-Colo.) put their names to a lengthy opinion piece that appeared in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal criticizing Inouye for misrepresentations they claim he made to them about the intent of the apology.

They claim Inouye gave his word that the apology would not give special rights or privileges, reparations or land to native Hawaiians that would not be available to non-Hawaiians living in the state.

Inouye was unhappy with the piece.

"I am disappointed my former colleagues would take my comments out of context, then piece it together to support their own position and thereby impugn my integrity in the process," Inouye said this weekend.

Gorton and Brown said the apology is being used "to justify" the passage of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005 as a means to make right the wrongs of the past against native Hawaiians. The act, known as the Akaka Bill for chief sponsor Sen. Daniel Akaka, is expected to come before the U.S. Senate the week of Sept. 6.

The Akaka Bill authorizes the organization of a native Hawaiian governing body that, once recognized by the federal government, will have a government-to-government relationship with the United States.

In an interview on Friday, Gorton said he and Brown were "concerned that the apology resolution would be used for the basis of something like the Akaka Bill in the future, and it seems we were assured it would not be."

Gorton and Brown urged defeat of the Akaka Bill, writing, "The champions of the proposed legislation boast that the new native Hawaiian entity could secede from the Union like the Confederacy, but without the necessity of shelling Fort Sumter."

Partly with the help of the Grassroots Institute of Hawaii, a group opposed to the Akaka Bill, the opinion piece was e-mailed and drew national attention, including commentators such as Rush Limbaugh, who read it and railed against the bill on his national radio show.

In an online request to the Wall Street Journal to reprint the piece, the Star-Bulletin was told that the author must be asked for permission. The Wall Street Journal identified the author as Dick Rowland with the Grassroots Institute of Hawaii.

"Well, I'll be damned," said Rowland when asked about authorship. "No, I didn't write it."

Rowland, a co-founder of Grassroots, is a retired military officer and two-time Libertarian candidate for the U.S. Senate. In addition to Rowland, Grassroots includes local real estate executive Walt Harvey, State Sen. Sam Slom (R, Hawaii Kai-Aina Hina-Kahala-Diamond Head) and Malia Zimmerman, a Grassroots co-founder and close associate of Slom's who also runs and frequently writes for the Hawaii Reporter, an online news operation.

Zimmerman said yesterday, "I know that no one in Grassroots wrote it."

Last week, Zimmerman's Hawaii Reporter promptly hosted both the Wall Street Journal opinion piece and a transcript of Rush Limbaugh's radio show criticizing the Akaka Bill.

Grassroots also has hired Bruce Fein as a spokesman and general counsel who is scheduled to speak as an opponent of the Akaka Bill in forums that will be televised tonight and tomorrow night.

Rowland said yesterday, "We're just trying to get as much public debate as we possibly can."

Rowland said Grassroots also wants "a plebiscite (on the issue) before some high-and-mighty types in Washington tell us what to do."

Critics of the Akaka Bill frequently note that it is vague, and suggest that one day Hawaii could host two governments, the state and the new sovereign Hawaiian government. If that were true, the state would not in any way secede from the Union. Instead, many proponents of the bill say that one day there will be a sovereign nation within a nation.

Gorton and Brown wrote that the Akaka Bill "invokes the apology resolution to justify granting persons of native Hawaiian descent -- even in minuscule (blood) proportion -- political and economic rights and land denied to other citizens of Hawaii."

The two said Inouye "unambiguously told (us) that would not be done."

They wrote: "We were promised on the floor of the Senate by Daniel Inouye, the senior senator from Hawaii and a personage of impeccable integrity that (now quoting Inouye) 'as to the matter of the status of native Hawaiians ... this resolution has nothing to do with that. ... I can assure my colleague of that.'" They concluded, "The Akaka Bill repudiates that promise."

During the apology debate, Inouye said, "to suggest that this resolution is the first step toward declaring independence for the state of Hawaii is a painful distortion of the intent of the authors. To suggest that this resolution is intended to expel non-Hawaiians from the state of Hawaii is something that even the most severe critics of this resolution in Hawaii would not even consider."

At the time, Inouye told his fellow senators that the resolution is "simply an apology" and nothing more.

But during that debate, Brown said on the floor that the bill "is not clear as to what it means."

In that 1993 debate, Gorton said that after talking to Inouye, he did not believe Inouye wished "the consequences of this resolution to be the restoration of the independence of Hawaii itself. What this senator (Inouye) said was that there are some splinter groups in Hawaii who believe this (independence) is the only appropriate response to the overthrow, and they will clearly use this resolution as the basis on which to make this demand."

Meanwhile Akaka, like Inouye, is doing some clarification in the media on the bill.

Last week, Akaka spoke on National Public Radio and was asked about the intent or outcome of his bill. He stated the outcome would be determined by future generations of the people of Hawaii, including his children and grandchildren.

In a statement released the next day, Akaka said he "is not a proponent of independence or secession of the state of Hawaii, as was indicated in a broadcast by the National Public Radio on Aug. 16, 2005."

He said the Akaka Bill "has nothing to do with independence or secession of the state of Hawaii from the United States. I support addressing the legal and political relationship between native Hawaiians and the United States within federal law. I do not support independence or secession of the state of Hawaii from the United States."

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