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Tom Lantos.... United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs [View All]

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Flabbergasted Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-12-07 12:08 PM
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Tom Lantos.... United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs
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Personal and family life

Born to a Jewish family in Budapest, Hungary, Lantos was part of an anti-Nazi resistance movement during the German occupation of that country and sought refuge in a safe house established by Raoul Wallenberg. In 1981 Lantos sponsored a bill making Wallenberg an Honorary Citizen of the United States.

Lantos considers himself a secular Jew and is the only Holocaust survivor ever to serve in the House.<7> Upon immigrating to the United States, he attended the University of Washington and the University of California, Berkeley (Ph.D. 1953).

For three decades prior to his service in Congress (19501980), Congressman Lantos was a professor of economics, an international affairs analyst for public television, and a consultant to a number of businesses. He also served in senior advisory roles to members of the United States Senate.

Tom and his wife Annette are the parents of two daughters Annette and Katrina and they have seventeen grandchildren. Though his wife, their children, and many of his grandchildren are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Congressman continues to retain his Jewish faith. Annette Lantos is a first cousin of the Gabor sisters, Zsa Zsa, Eva, and Magda.<8> Their daughter Katrina is now Katrina Swett, former candidate for US Senate in the State of New Hampshire and wife of Richard Swett, the former house representative from New Hampshire's second congressional district.

Foreign affairs issues
Congressman Lantos currently serves as the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Through its more than 20 years of work, the Congressional Human Rights Caucus<9> of which Congressman Lantos is co-chair with Representative Frank Wolf has covered a wide range of rights and abuses, speaking out for Christians who want to practice their faith in Saudi Arabia and Sudan, fighting for Tibetans to be able to retain their culture and religion in Tibet and advocating for other oppressed minorities worldwide. Lantos efforts to protect religious freedom in 2004 resulted in a bill to halt the global spread of anti-Semitism.<10>

Congressman Lantos and his colleagues on the International Relations Committee are also involved with many decisions that affect other aspects of American foreign policy. Lantos has spoken out strongly against waste, fraud and abuse in the multi-billion dollar U.S. reconstruction program in Iraq, and has warned that the U.S. may lose Afghanistan back to the Taliban unless the Bush Administration takes quick action to halt the current decline in security and political stability in Afghanistan.

Lantos, then the ranking Democrat in the US House of Representatives International Relations Committee, tried to redirect U.S. military aid to Egypt towards desperately-needed economic assistance. Lantos argued that the Egyptian military had made insufficient efforts to stop the flow of money and weapons across the Egyptian border to Hamas terrorists in Gaza, and had not contributed troops to internationally-supported peacekeeping efforts in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Congressman Lantos has recently made a controversial statement accusing former German Chancellor Gerhard Schrder of being a "political prostitute," with regards to Schrder's ties to energy business in Russia, and remarked that this appellation would offend prostitutes.

1991 Persian Gulf War
Main article: Gulf War
Lantos was a strong supporter of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. During the run-up to the war, Lantos used his Congressional Human Rights Caucus to host a well-spoken young Kuwaiti woman identified only as "Nurse Nayirah", who told of horrific abuses by Iraqi soldiers, including the killing of Kuwaiti babies by taking them out of their incubators and leaving them to die on the cold floor of the hospital. These alleged atrocities figured prominently in the rhetoric at the time about Iraqi abuses in Kuwait. This story later proved to be a complete fabrication. "Nurse Nariyah" was, in fact the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States, and had been coached on this story by the PR firm of Hill & Knowlton, who were paid $14 million by representatives of the Government of Kuwait to create a PR campaign to generate U.S. support for an invasion. Hill & Knowlton also provided free office space to the Congressional Human Rights Foundation (distinct from the similarly named caucus), of which Lantos was co-chair at the time.<11><12>

War in Iraq
By September, 2002, Lantos had shown himself to be a supporter of the White House position on the war. On October 4, 2002, Mr. Lantos led a narrow majority of Democrats on the House International Relations Committee to a successful vote in support of the President's path toward war, seeking the approval of the United Nations, but allowing the President to strike out on his own if necessary. "The train is now on its way," said Mr. Lantos after his - and the President's - victory. <13> In later hearings on the war, Mr. Lantos continued his enthusiastic support. At one point he was confronted by witnesses who questioned the likelihood of enthusiastic Baghdadis welcoming the invading Americans; Mr. Lantos called this a kind of racism, to suggest the Iraqis might be so ungrateful.

More recently, Mr. Lantos has distanced himself from the now derailed Iraq policy.

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