- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 17, 2008

WHITE HOUSE

Cheney-FBI talks kept from Congress

President Bush invoked executive privilege to keep Congress from seeing the FBI report of an interview with Vice President Dick Cheney and other records related to the administration’s leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity in 2003.

The president’s decision drew a sharp protest Wednesday from Rep. Henry A. Waxman, chairman of House Oversight Committee, which had subpoenaed Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey to turn over the documents.

“This unfounded assertion of executive privilege does not protect a principle; it protects a person,” the California Democrat said. “If the vice president did nothing wrong, what is there to hide?”

Mr. Waxman left little doubt he would soon move for a committee vote to hold Mr. Mukasey in contempt of Congress.

POLITICS

Ex-manager ready to work for Clinton

CHICAGO | Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s former campaign manager, now on Sen. Barack Obama’s team, says she could easily work for her old boss again if Mrs. Clinton were on the Democratic ticket.

Mrs. Clinton replaced Patti Solis Doyle after poor early showings in the primaries, but Mrs. Solis Doyle told the Associated Press on Wednesday she didn’t think their longtime friendship was permanently damaged. She joined the Obama campaign last month as chief of staff to Mr. Obama’s eventual running mate.

Mrs. Solis Doyle said her move came as no surprise to Mrs. Clinton. Still, some of Mrs. Clinton’s backers were outraged by what they saw as a slight to Mrs. Clinton and an indication that she would not get the vice presidential slot.

She said she understood the “deep emotion and passion.”

“But as heartbreaking as it was, she lost,” Mrs. Solis Doyle said. “And now it’s time, for the good of our country and for the good of my kids, to move on and get Barack Obama elected.”

HOUSE

GOP presses Pelosi on Colombia pact

Republicans pressured House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday to set a vote on a free trade pact with Colombia, which they said would die if Congress does not approve it this year.

“If the 110th Congress adjourns without a vote in both the House and the Senate, the agreement will be well and truly dead,” senior Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Rules Committee said in a letter to colleagues.

The free trade deal with Colombia, one of the United States’ staunchest allies in Latin America, has been in limbo since April, when Mrs. Pelosi rebuffed an effort by President Bush to force a vote on the pact.

SENATE

AIDS bill shorn in favor of Indians

The Senate on Wednesday diverted $2 billion from a $50 billion global AIDS bill to improve the lives of American Indians.

Senators mainly from the West successfully argued on the need to carve out a small portion of the five-year AIDS spending bill for Indian programs, saying Congress shouldn’t forget a humanitarian crisis much closer to home.

“We don’t have to go off of our shore to find third world conditions,” said Sen. Byron L. Dorgan, North Dakota Democrat. The money would go to law enforcement, health and water projects in Indian country.

The agreement set the stage for passage of the AIDS bill. With that, the House and Senate would work out a final version to send to President Bush.

COURTS

Convention protest restrictions upheld

ST. PAUL | A federal judge in Minneapolis sided with St. Paul city and police leaders Wednesday in rejecting a protest group’s attempt to get closer in time and space to the upcoming Republican National Convention.

Judge Joan Ericksen said the government officials have security reasons to justify the restrictions on the permit for the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War.

The group plans to march in St. Paul on Sept. 1, the first day of the convention. Its members wanted thousands of marchers to get closer to the Xcel Energy Center and be able to conduct the parade from the Capitol later in the day, when the convention will be in session and delegates will see them.

A city permit keeps marchers at least 84 feet from the arena’s doors and orders them to clear the streets around the arena by midafternoon. The coalition is expecting 30,000 to 50,000 people to participate.

AIRLINES

Pilots union claims safety issue on fuel

The pilots union for US Airways is accusing the airline of pressuring pilots to use less fuel than they feel is safe in order to save money.

James Ray, a US Airways captain and spokesman for the 5,200-member US Airline Pilots Association, says eight senior pilots and the union have filed complaints with the Federal Aviation Administration. They accuse the airline of trying to intimidate captains into flying with less fuel than they are comfortable with.

Mr. Ray says the airline sent the eight captains to training sessions that could place their pilot licenses in jeopardy after they requested extra fuel.

FAA regulations say each plane must carry enough fuel to reach its destination and an alternate destination, plus 45 minutes worth of fuel.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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