- The Washington Times - Friday, May 12, 2000

Phones bugged

President Clinton signed off on the installation of eavesdropping devices on the phones of White House staffers, WorldNetDaily reports.
The secret bug means there's a strong likelihood that audio recordings of personal White House phone conversations, as well as White House staff meetings, exist unbeknown to investigators who have subpoenaed all media containing information relevant to their probes of several White House scandals, reporter Paul Sperry said.
Mr. Clinton also had "a special box" installed on his and his top aides' phones so that their phone conversations and meetings could not be recorded using the same technology, says the technician who ran the White House phone operations for several years.
"White House officials went to AT&T; and Bell Labs and had them develop a special box to put on these phones for some of the very top people, so this [eavesdropping] couldn't be done," said former White House phone manager Sheryl L. Hall in an interview.
"It's only some of the phones that have this special box on them," which blocks the remote recording feature, she added. Mr. Clinton and his top aides "can look down, but no one can look up."
The rest of White House staff are vulnerable to having their phone conversations recorded from locations elsewhere in the White House. Meetings in conference rooms can also be recorded via the new phone system, Mrs. Hall says.

Calamitous turn

The decision of Donna Hanover, wife of New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, to mention how "his relationship with one staff member" made it "difficult to participate in Rudy's public life" has raised the prospect that the mayor will be publicly exposed as a liar, writes New York Post columnist John Podhoretz.
"After all, he flatly denied the 1997 Vanity Fair story that suggested he was having an affair with his communications director, Cristyne Lategano," Mr. Podhoretz said.
"His reputation as a straight shooter is now on the line, and that reputation is vital to his appeal. As someone who believed his denials and hotly defended the mayor against the Vanity Fair allegations, I for one will take the deception none too well if Hanover's words have truth to them. And I imagine many voters will feel betrayed as well."
The columnist added: "This is a calamitous turn of events. There's good reason to worry that the effort to block Hillary Clinton's ascension to the Senate has been mortally damaged. If the end result of the Giuliani chaos is Senator Hillary, the mayor will have done severe injury not only to his marriage, but to his party, his city and his state as well."

New diplomatic low

"We Americans have been foolish, though we might be forgiven much for good intentions. But Secretary of State Madeleine Albright achieved a new diplomatic low last year when she bullied the elected government of Sierra Leone into granting amnesty to the ugliest murderer of our time, Foday Sankoh, whose adult warriors and armed children had gleefully lopped off the hands, arms, feet, legs and facial features of their fellow citizens, or simply slaughtered the lucky, by the tens of thousands," writes Ralph Peters, a retired U.S. Army officer.
"Unsated by mere forgiveness for this monster, Ms. Albright further insisted that Mr. Sankoh be included in a government of national unity, and that his blood-drenched inner circle be rewarded with four Cabinet posts and control of the country's diamond fields, guaranteeing his continued ability to arm and reward his followers. In return, Mr. Sankoh's forces were to disarm and behave as good citizens, embracing the neighbors whose limbs they had hacked away," Mr. Peters said in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.
Mr. Peters added: "One wonders what our reaction might be if the armless mothers and limbless kids, in the thousands, were white. Perhaps no presidential administration in American history has diverged so mightily between its rhetoric and its actions."

Clinton's rating sinks

President Clinton's approval sank over the past year, falling below 50 percent for the first time since August 1995, a Pew Research Center poll found.
In contrast, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan won a favorable rating of 76 percent and Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates was viewed favorably by 80 percent of respondents familiar with him.
The poll taken in early May shows 48 percent of respondents rated Mr. Clinton favorably, compared with 55 percent in March 1999, a month after the U.S. Senate voted against impeachment charges.

McCain's explanation

Arizona Sen. John McCain has turned to the Internet to reassure supporters upset over his endorsement of George W. Bush, the Associated Press reports.
In an e-mail message to 120,000 backers of his campaign, the former Republican presidential candidate said, "To those who I have disappointed, let me simply reiterate that I will never give up my fight for real government reform."
In the seven-paragraph message, Mr. McCain noted that he promised early in his campaign to support the Republican nominee if he lost.
"And like all the promises I've made along the campaign trail, this one I intended to keep," he said.
Mr. McCain added: "My primary reason for endorsing Governor Bush is based less on policy than it is principle. Quite simply, I believe that he is our best hope to end the Clinton-Gore era and restore honor and integrity back to the White House."

Ventura's namesake

What was once St. Augusta Township, Minn., has officially become the city of Ventura named after Gov. Jesse Ventura.
Five new city officials took the oath of office Wednesday, with longtime township supervisor Ollie Mondloch sworn in as mayor of the city of about 3,200, the Associated Press reports.
The name of Neenah had been previously agreed upon, but township officials changed it to Ventura.
Mr. Mondloch said the new name seemed appropriate because they blame their legal difficulties in becoming a city on state lawmakers, who put the township's request for city status on hold last year. The governor has been trying to cut the Minnesota Legislature from two chambers to one, and township officials said they believe a single-chamber Legislature would have been more friendly to their request.

Fresh review

The National Archives is considering a review of the 18 and 1/ 2-minute gap on one of former President Nixon's Watergate tapes and whether new technology can help unlock its mystery, NBC News reports.
A team of audio-recording experts examined the tape and concluded in 1974 that its erasure was not accidental and the tape recorder's buttons were deliberately turned on and off at least five times during the gap.
But new technology may help today's audio recording experts figure out what Mr. Nixon said in that conversation, which former Watergate prosecutor Richard Ben-Veniste told NBC may deal "with the origins of the cover-up that took place over the next several months."
The National Archives was planning a meeting of experts to decide whether it was worth re-examining the tape, assuming that any such investigation would not damage the tape, the network said.

No party label

"ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, The Washington Post, and the original wire stories from AP and Reuters all saw fit to report on the conviction for racketeering and fraud of former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards without mentioning that he is a Democrat. At least the New York Times story mentioned his party affiliation in the sixth paragraph," Ramesh Ponnuru and John J. Miller write at National Review's Internet site, www.nationalreview.com.

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