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Political Scene

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 31, 2010

DISTRICT

Gray to challenge Fenty for mayor

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty is getting more competition for his job.

D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray announced Tuesday that he will enter the 2010 mayor's race and filed papers that will allow him to raise money. There has been speculation for months that Mr. Gray would enter the race, as polls showed about 50 percent of Washington voters disapprove of the job Mr. Fenty is doing.

"The reality is, we can do better in the District of Columbia," Mr. Gray said.

Standing amid supporters outside the building where he filed his paperwork, Mr. Gray said there would be time to talk about issues and differences with Mr. Fenty another day.

Both men are Democrats - as are 75 percent of the city's approximately 420,000 registered voters - and would face each other in a September primary before November's general election.

The first challenge for Mr. Gray, 67, is likely to be raising the funds to finance his race. Mr. Fenty has $3.3 million to spend on his campaign, according to a March report with the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance. His green yard signs already adorn some D.C. residents' lawns.

POSTAL SERVICE

Electronic query on Saturday mail

The Postal Service is asking regulators for an opinion on dropping delivery service on Saturdays.

Plagued by loss of mail business to the electronic media, the post office was required to send its request to the independent Postal Regulatory Commission electronically.

The commission posted the request on its Web site late Tuesday afternoon.

The Postal Service said last week that it would request the opinion on its plan to drop Saturday deliveries to homes and businesses to save money. Post offices would remain open on Saturdays.

Congress also would have to approve the change, but it is likely to give great weight to the regulatory commission's response.

JUSTICE

Stronger fight urged against identity theft

The U.S. Justice Department has failed to treat identity theft, one of the nation's fastest growing crimes, as a priority, the agency's inspector general said in a report released Tuesday.

The department has not made a coordinated approach to fight identity theft, and efforts to reduce the crime have faded as a priority, according to the report from Inspector General Glenn A. Fine.

Identity theft affects an estimated 10 million Americans annually, the report said. Victims suffer financial losses and tremendous inconvenience in trying to repair damage to their names or credit histories.

The report was released after last week's sentencing in Boston of one of the world's most notorious computer hackers, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for helping run a global ring that stole tens of millions of payment card numbers.

Albert Gonzalez, a 28-year-old college dropout from Miami, had pleaded guilty to helping lead a ring that stole more than 40 million payment card numbers by breaking into retailers, including TJX Cos. Inc., BJ's Wholesale Club Inc. and Barnes & Noble.

The inspector general's audit determined that the Justice Department does not have an internal strategy to fight identity theft and that it has not appointed any individual or office to coordinate its efforts.

FBI

Little threat seen of militia violence

FBI officials see little chance that the arrests of nine suspects in a suspected Christian militia plot will spur other anti-government extremists to launch violent attacks.

Suspected members of a group that called itself Hutaree were accused of plotting to kill police officers. The suspects were captured over the weekend in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.

The FBI issued a bulletin to police departments saying they have picked up Internet chatter among other militia groups - including some expressing sympathy for the suspects - but few signs of criminal copycats.

CIA

Judge seeks penalty after costly settlement

A federal judge is chastising the government for striking a $3 million settlement over suspected CIA misconduct without punishing anyone.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth is approving the settlement of a case brought by a former federal drug agent who accused the CIA of illegally spying on him when he was stationed overseas. The strange case became an important test of the Obama administration's use of the so-called state secrets privilege, used to protect national security.

Judge Lamberth said Tuesday that the payment, which was made not long after a $6 million settlement with someone wrongly implicated in the anthrax letter attacks, is too costly to taxpayers to be swept under the rug.

CALIFORNIA

Rove speech cut short by protesters

BEVERLY HILLS | Anti-war activists heckled former White House political adviser Karl Rove off the stage at his book signing in Beverly Hills.

About 100 Rove supporters watched Monday as Code Pink co-founder Jodie Evans walked toward him with handcuffs, called him a war criminal and said she was making a citizen's arrest.

Ten protesters repeatedly interrupted Mr. Rove's talk at the Saban Theatre as he promoted his memoir, "Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight."

Mr. Rove says accusations that the Bush administration lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq "is a pernicious political attack launched by cynical and hypocritical individuals."

No arrests were made.

From wire dispatches and staff reports