Effort to restore honor of Vietnam-era general hits resistance

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An official push to rehabilitate the reputation of a long-deceased Air Force general has hit a wall in the Senate, where some of the most influential names in U.S. foreign policy are tangling, once again, over fateful decisions from the Vietnam War.

After years of trying, the family of Gen. John D. Lavelle thought it had achieved a breakthrough in August, when the White House formally asked the Senate to restore his honor, 38 years after the four-star commander was fired and demoted in rank to major general for allegedly ordering rogue bombings of North Vietnam.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle said they were sympathetic to the family's argument - that the bombings were carried out on secret orders from the chain of command, all the way up to President Richard M. Nixon - and pledged prompt action.

But the Lavelle case has now bogged down on Capitol Hill. And unless the Senate acts in the waning moments of its lame-duck session, the general's ailing 92-year-old widow and children fear that their efforts to clear his name will fail....

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