- The Washington Times - Monday, May 1, 2006

Going on offense

It’s time for the White House to go on offense and “get our mojo back,” Joshua B. Bolten said yesterday in his first interview since taking over as the president’s chief of staff.

Mr. Bolten made no promises of pulling up President Bush’s all-time-low approval ratings, but he said he and Mr. Bush have decided they want to be more open with the press and the public, the Associated Press reports.

“We’ve taken advice from a lot of folks that we ought to put the president out more in ways that the American people can see what he’s really like,” Mr. Bolten said on “Fox News Sunday.”

But he said that does not mean the president’s policies are going to get an overhaul. “I don’t think we need to change, but we do need to refresh and re-energize,” Mr. Bolten said.

The former budget director replaced Andrew H. Card Jr.,thelongtime chief of staff, on April 14.

A different tune

Apparently disagreeing with President Bush, who said on Friday that U.S. citizens “ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday that it does not offend or upset her to hear the national anthem sung in Spanish.

“From my point of view, people expressing themselves as wanting to be Americans is a good thing,” Miss Rice said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“I think what we need to focus on is an immigration policy that is comprehensive and that recognizes our laws and recognizes our humanity,” she said.

Debate over the anthem was spurred last week by the release of “Nuestro Himno,” or “Our Anthem,” a recording in Spanish featuring popular Hispanic musicians.

Miss Rice said she had heard previous versions of the anthem done in rap, country and classical styles. “The individualization of the American national anthem is quite under way,” she said.

Powell’s case

Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell says he made the case to President Bush for the United States to send more troops to Iraq to deal with the aftermath of the war.

In an interview yesterday in London with a private British television station, Mr. Powell said there had been debates about the size of the force and how to deal with the aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion.

“The aftermath turned out to be much more difficult than anyone had anticipated,” said Mr. Powell, adding that he had favored a larger military presence to deal with the unforeseen.

“I don’t think we had enough force there to impose order,” he said on ITV’s Jonathan Dimbleby program.

“I made the case to General [Tommy] Franks, to [Defense] Secretary [Donald H.] Rumsfeld and to the president that I was not sure we had enough troops,” Mr. Powell said.

He argued, however, that his view was not ignored but that those responsible for the troop levels thought they had the appropriate number, Reuters news agency reports.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, appearing on CNN’s “Late Edition,” said she did not remember “specifically what Secretary Powell may be referring to, but I’m quite certain that there were lots of discussions about how best to fulfill the mission when we went into Iraq.”

Miss Rice said Mr. Bush “asked time and time again” whether everything needed to execute the plan was available, “and he was told ‘yes,’”

The real losers

“No, there’s not a recent deluge of leaks of classified information. The numbers are consistent with those in the past couple of decades. What is different today is that the kid gloves are off regarding the government’s treatment of reporters,” Victoria Toensing writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“Thanks to the clamoring by editorial pages of many major newspapers — which resulted in Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald investigating the publishing of CIA employee Valerie Plame’s name — case law makes it clear that journalists can be hauled before the grand jury and forced to cough up their sources, or face Miller time in jail,” said Mrs. Toensing, a Washington lawyer, former chief counsel for the Senate intelligence committee and former deputy assistant attorney general in the Reagan administration.

“Editorial writers professed to be shocked and appalled by the leaking that led to columnist Bob Novak publishing Ms. Plame’s name (in the context that perhaps nepotism was involved in the CIA sending her husband on a mission for which he was unqualified). The Chicago Tribune ranted that ‘there is a burden on the Justice Department and the White House to prove that they will pursue this aggressively and honestly. … If someone in [the administration] leaked classified information … boot him out and let the prosecutors deal with him.’ ‘The leakers should be prosecuted,’ railed the Dallas Morning News, joyful that the CIA asked the Justice Department to investigate. The Los Angeles Times echoed that sentiment.

“The Providence Journal declared that if people at the White House leaked, ‘heads should roll’ and called Bob Novak’s reporting ‘despicable.’ The most legally unsophisticated response was from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, characterizing the charges as ‘perilously close to treason.’ The only debate for the media in the fall of 2003 was whether the Justice Department or a special counsel should investigate the matter.

John Ashcroft’s Justice Department bowed to the pressure and appointed Mr. Fitzgerald, a prosecutor who pursued alleged leakers with the same vigor, legal tools and blinders he had used against terrorists. Without ever establishing an underlying crime, he managed to tie in knots numerous media giants, including Time magazine and the New York Times. Time’s Matthew Cooper agreed to testify just before the jail cell clanked shut, but the Times’ Judith Miller spent 85 days in the clink. In the process, Mr. Fitzgerald firmly established that when the government pursues a leak of merely alleged classified information, the reporter loses.”

Backing Angelides

The California Democratic Party endorsed state Treasurer Phil Angelides late Saturday as its candidate for governor in the hotly contested primary election to determine who will challenge Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Mr. Angelides, who has trailed in recent polls, won the endorsement with 67.2 percent of the delegate vote, party officials said. He defeated state Controller Steve Westly, who earned 28.1 percent. A 60 percent majority was required.

“I’m still the underdog in this race, but I know I’m in it. Delegates saw that,” Mr. Angelides said.

The convention vote in Sacramento marks the first time the state party has formally backed a candidate in a contested gubernatorial primary since 1990.

How much the internal party decision will help Mr. Angelides with voters in the June 6 primary is not clear, the Associated Press reports. Despite the endorsement, Mr. Angelides faces an uphill battle against Mr. Westly, a multimillionaire former EBay executive who has spent more than $20 million of his personal fortune on his gubernatorial campaign.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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