- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 4, 2005

Tehran footnote

Ironically, American freelance reporter Steven Vincent, who was found dead in the southern Iraqi city of Basra this week after he and his Iraqi translator were abducted at gunpoint, and his Internet blog In the Red Zone, were featured in this newspaper July 29 in a column penned by Diana West.

Two days later, in Monday’s New York Times, Mr. Vincent charged that the police force in Basra, where he had been researching a book, was riddled with members of radical Shi’ite political groups who were behind the assassinations plaguing the city.

Yesterday, we took one last opportunity to visit Mr. Vincent’s blog, and saw where he had written most recently about these religious parties that dominate Basra.

“When you read this, keep in mind that for various reasons — not the least of which were safety concerns — the piece only scratches the surface of what is happening here,” he began.

“Down Basra way, the country most preoccupying the locals is not Amrika, but that brooding, seething, over-cleric’d Mordor to the east, Iran. Whether it’s supporting religious parties, smuggling oil and gas, sabotaging the energy infrastructure, orchestrating sectarian assassinations or other neighborly deeds, Basrawi detect the stealthy hand of Tehran in nearly every aspect of their lives.

“‘We don’t talk about this in public,’ a professor at Basra U. told me. ‘Get too explicit and you get disappeared.’”

One man’s history

There wasn’t space in yesterday’s interview with U.S. Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainerto observe that his predecessor, James M. Powell the first-ever chief of the federal police force — died recently at age 91.

In fact, before Congress created the U.S. Capitol Police as its own independent agency in 1979, Inspector Powell in 1965 was appointed by the Metropolitan Police Department to supervise the sprawling Capitol Hill beat.

Prior to that, it’s worth noting, he was assigned to the Metropolitan Police detail that helps protect the president of the United States. Surely, he never forgot the bloody day of Nov. 1, 1950, when, while he was protecting President Truman, two Puerto Rican nationalists came to town.

Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola, who had been active in the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, thought that assassinating Truman would draw attention to Puerto Rico’s cause for independence. They staged their two-man assault on the Blair House, where the Truman family was residing during a four-year renovation of the White House.

Approaching from two directions, the pair tried shooting their way inside the mansion across the street from the White House. When the gunfire ended, Torresola and one policeman lay dead. Two other officers were shot, but they recovered.

As for Collazo, who had his eyes trained on Truman in the upstairs window — the president had been napping and reportedly rushed to the window to see what was happening below — he was struck once and collapsed on the Blair House steps. There to apprehend him was Mr. Powell.

Jihad Jane’

So, Marine Corps veteran Oliver North, how do you really feel about JaneFonda’s upcoming bus tour opposing the U.S.-led war in Iraq?

“‘Hanoi Jane’ Fonda seems to have tired of her moniker. The wilted flower child who firmly established her place in American history when she mounted a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun has decided it’s time to teach a whole new generation to blame America first. If she actually goes through with her plans for a new protest movement, she may well become known as ‘Jihadist Jane.’ It has a better ring. More alliteration.”

Saudi salute

President Bush has designated his father, former President George Bush, as part of the presidential delegation to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to express condolences on the passing of the “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.”

Accompanying Mr. Bush is Vice President Dick Cheney, leading a delegation that includes former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia James C. Oberwetter,and Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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