- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 16, 2008

COUNTERTERRORISM

Al Qaeda said to be ‘imploding’

Top U.S. counterterrorism officials Monday said that al Qaeda is “imploding” and that its violent tactics have turned Muslims worldwide against the organization.

“Absolutely, it’s imploding. It’s imploding because it’s not a message that resonates with a lot of Muslims,” said Dell Dailey, the State Department’s coordinator for counterterrorism.

Al Qaeda still remains the most dangerous threat to the United States. But of growing concern are organizations such as Lebanese Hezbollah and Hamas, which combine social services, local governance and national politics with extremist attacks, said Undersecretary of State James Glassman.

“These are models that have a lot more popular appeal than al Qaeda, that has almost no popular appeal,” he said.

Vastly more Muslims than Westerners are killed by al Qaeda car and suicide bombs, particularly in Iraq, where local tribes have largely turned against al Qaeda in the last two years. Extremist violence claimed more than 9,500 civilian victims in Muslim countries in 2007.

HOUSE

Rangel keeps chairmanship

Rep. Charles B. Rangel emerged from a private meeting with fellow lawmakers Monday night having survived another day as chairman of the House tax-writing committee, despite lingering questions about his personal finances and unpaid taxes on a beach house.

“I am unable to say anything,” the New York Democrat said, before rattling off his name, rank and serial number from his days as a soldier in the Korean War. “Do to me what you want; I’m not talking.”

Asked if he was still the chairman of the Ways & Means Committee, Mr. Rangel smiled and said nothing.

“You’re … right, he’s the chairman,” replied Rep. Sander Levin, Michigan Democrat.

Mr. Rangel’s meeting with fellow Democrats on the committee lasted nearly an hour. During that time, many lawmakers in the room voiced support for Mr. Rangel continuing in his high position while the House ethics committee probes his finances, according to people who were there and spoke on the condition of anonymity because the discussions were private.

Republicans have called for Mr. Rangel to be removed from his chairmanship over unreported income and unpaid taxes on his beach house in the Dominican Republic.

The issue is expected to come up again Tuesday morning at a meeting of Democratic leaders.

CAMPAIGN

Barr will appear on Pa.’s ballot

HARRISBURG, Pa. | A Pennsylvania judge’s ruling that keeps Libertarian Party presidential candidate Bob Barr on the ballot will force Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama to take him seriously in a key battleground state, a Barr campaign spokesman said Monday.

The major-party candidates “will have to compete for the votes of Pennsylvania citizens, instead of taking them for granted,” said Russell Verney, Mr. Barr’s campaign manager.

The challenge to Mr. Barr, a former Republican congressman from Georgia who some Republican strategists fear might siphon votes from Mr. McCain, was filed by Harrisburg lawyer Victor Stabile, who also is chairman of the Cumberland County Republican Party.

Commonwealth Court Judge Johnny Butler rejected arguments that the party tricked voters by gathering signatures under another candidate’s name and substituting Mr. Barr’s name in August, three months after he was nominated at its national convention.

CAMPAIGN

Biden sharply attacks McCain

ST. CLAIR SHORES, Mich. | The once independent-minded John McCain has adopted the serve-the-rich policies of President Bush and the divisive tactics of ex-Bush strategist Karl Rove, Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. said Monday during a campaign stop in Michigan.

Mr. Biden blamed the Bush administration for inaction in the face of sharp cuts in automotive jobs and said Mr. McCain, like Mr. Bush, was out of touch with the economic suffering of ordinary Americans.

Speaking to hundreds of people in a sweltering high school gym in the Detroit suburb of St. Clair Shores, Mr. Biden decried what he called “a culture in Washington where the very few wealthy and powerful have a seat at the table and the rest of us are on the menu.”

STATE DEPARTMENT

Cuba refuses U.S. hurricane aid

Cuba has rejected an offer from the United States of $5 million in relief aid for hurricane victims, the State Department said Monday.

However, Washington has licensed about $250 million in agricultural sales to Cuba since the island was struck by hurricanes in the last few weeks, including lumber for rebuilding, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

On Saturday, Washington told Havana that “the U.S. is committed to providing up to $5 million in relief assistance for Cuban hurricane victims, and that we could fly emergency-relief supplies to Cuba as soon as they, the Cuban government, authorized such assistance,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

“On the 14th of September … the Cuban government informed us that they would not accept a donation from the United States,” he said.

“We regret that Cuban authorities have not accepted this offer of humanitarian assistance for the Cuban people.”

‘08 POLITICS

Wilder’s advice: Focus on economy

RICHMOND | Former Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder says Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama should focus on Wall Street’s disasters and the worsening economy and less on what his campaign views as falsehoods.

Mr. Wilder, currently Richmond’s mayor, made the comment at a news conference called to decry claims in Republican rival Sen. John McCain’s ads.

Mr. Obama has aired his own ads to claim that Mr. McCain is running a deceitful campaign.

Yet the strategy has done nothing for Mr. Obama in recent polling. Mr. Wilder said Mr. Obama is missing a chance to make Republicans account for the worst calamity on Wall Street since the Great Depression.

Mr. Wilder, an Obama supporter and the nation’s first elected black governor, says people ask him why Mr. Obama hasn’t tackled the issue forcefully.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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