Inouye mum about possible China sanctions

TGI Staff Writer

U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye had a busy day Thursday, first greeting at Hickam Air Force Base on O’ahu the crew of the U.S. spy plane held for 12 days in China, and then jetting to Kaua’i for a series of meetings of the Kaua’i Economic Development Board.

Friday morning, he made another inter-island trek, something the 76-year-old Inouye seems to handle easily.

Even the senior senator from Hawai’i and ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense couldn’t talk with the spy plane crew members before their two days of briefing and debriefing on O’ahu, followed by their return to their home base at Whidbey Island, Wash., where “families are eagerly waiting,” Inouye said.

Asked how much of a security risk was left on the ground in China in the form of the spy plane, he said it’s too early to tell.

“No one knows if intelligence is in jeopardy,” he said, adding that the the crew knew what couldn’t fall into Chinese hands and “destroyed what needed to be destroyed” before the landing.

Inouye effectively evaded a question about potential U.S. sanctions or any other actions to be undertaken as a result of the incident, and instead talked of local issues.

If a race for the U.S. House of Representatives seat next year has the incumbent, Democrat Patsy Mink, facing off with Republican Maryanne Kusaka, who would Inouye support?

“Patsy Mink. She’s my candidate,” Inouye, a Democrat, said without hesitation.

Kusaka, mayor of Kaua`i County, has been involved in past campaigns of Inouye, who isn’t up for re-election until 2004. Kusaka has been urged by state Republican Party officials to run against Mink.

On another subject, Inouye seemed offended when asked why some Native Hawaiian pro-sovereignty folks on Kaua’i and in the state may regard him as a traitor who once supported sovereignty efforts fully but has softened that stance over time.

“I was one of the first to bring up sovereignty, long before some of the hot shots complaining,” said Inouye, who as vice chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs has taken up many Native Hawaiian issues.

Further, through his efforts in Washington, D.C., he has funded or instituted many programs to benefit Native Hawaiians, Inouye added before entering his first meeting with the Kaua`i Economic Development Board at the Radisson Kaua’i Beach Resort here.

Staff Writer Paul C. Curtis can be reached at or 245-3681 (ext. 224).


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