House Members Want Justice Dept. to Investigate Elian Raid

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:26 PM EDT

( - Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL) along with 15 of his House colleagues Wednesday sent a letter to the Justice Department Inspector General, requesting an immediate investigation into the April 22nd government raid on the Miami home of Elian Gonzalez' Miami relatives.

"We believe the so-called 'show of force' policy used by the Attorney General unnecessarily put lives at risk on April 22. We also believe that these actions merit an immediate and thorough investigation by your office," said the letter addressed to Justice Department Inspector General Robert Ashbaugh.

"It is our duty to do everything in our power to safeguard the fundamental Constitutional rights of the American people and assure that lives are not placed unnecessarily at risk by the use of force on the part of federal law enforcement, especially when other less violent alternatives exist."

Diaz-Balart and his Republican colleagues are angry at the timing of the raid, which happened a few days after a federal appeals court in Atlanta encouraged mediation to resolve Elian's custody dispute and ordered Elian to remain in the United States until his case was resolved.

The their letter, the Republicans complained that Attorney General Janet Reno sent armed federal agents to raid the Gonzalez home, forcibly removing Elian while negotiations were in progress.

The Republicans said "equally alarming questions" include the way the government obtained the search warrant to enter the home before dawn on April 22.

Co-signing Diaz-Balart's letter were the following Republican Representatives: Ros-Lehtinen, Stearns, Weldon and McCollum of Florida; Shadegg of Arizona; Burton of Indiana; Chenoweth-Hage of Idaho; Doolittle and Pombo of California; Bartlett of Maryland; Duncan of Tennessee; Tancredo of Colorado; and Tiahrt of Kansas.

The Justice Department had no immediate comment on the letter.