- The Washington Times - Monday, June 5, 2000

Sundown or else

We're not sure what else Energy Secretary Bill Richardson has been up to over the past year, but it hasn't been answering mail dealing with espionage and national security.

"I am writing to express my strong disappointment and deep concern with your failure to answer all of the questions the committee sent to you following your testimony [on] protecting the nation's secrets on Thursday, May 20, 1999," House Science Committee Chairman Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., writes to Mr. Richardson.

"The committee sent these questions a year ago, June 3, 1999, and yet still awaits responses to the problems with security at the Department of Energy and steps taken to fix those problems," scolds the chairman in a letter we obtained Friday.

Under the rules of the House, the committee chaired by the Wisconsin Republican has sole jurisdiction over DOE's weapons laboratories and authorizes hundreds of millions of dollars in spending for research at Lawrence Livermore in California, Sandia in New Mexico, Oak Ridge in Tennessee, and the now infamous Los Alamos laboratory in New Mexico.

In 1998 alone, these labs hosted more than 10,700 foreign visitors and academic assignees, the latter bunch staying on site for as long as two years. Of this number, 3,100 came calling from "sensitive" countries, including more than 1,100 from Russia, 918 from China, 516 from India and 134 from Israel.

Among Mr. Richardson's 18 unanswered questions, the secretary was reminded, was one submitted by his own Democrat minority, directing him to describe cyber-security measures.

Mr. Sensenbrenner says there is no "reasonable explanation" why the secretary can't answer the questions in a year's time, and warns Mr. Richardson that "Congress has a constitutional authority" to hold him accountable for his failure of duty.

"Let me be clear: this committee takes oversight seriously and does not tolerate actions that impede it from carrying out this responsibility."

Mr. Richardson was given until sundown Wednesday to respond.

Arkansas people

"This election is not about who is from New York," says Hillary Rodham Clinton, deflecting the "carpetbagger" theme still being used against her in her race for the Senate.

"While my opponent tells you where he is from, I tell you what I am for," she says, referring to Rep. Rick A. Lazio, a homegrown New Yorker with allegiance to not only the New York Yankees, but the Mets.

Still, it's Mrs. Clinton's former, albeit unofficial challenger, New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who said it best about Mrs. Clinton's roots.

"I feel very, very proud of the fact that people from around the country want to come to New York, including people from Arkansas," he said. "We welcome all newcomers, and recognize the fact that they are newcomers."

Enemy smoke

President Clinton might have appeared offended when German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder offered him a Cuban cigar during a late-night dinner last week, but he's not kidding anybody.

First, it's his administration that has been working tirelessly over the past seven years to loosen the trade embargo with communist Cuba.

Second, court transcripts reveal that Mr. Clinton appreciates a fine cigar, lit or not.

Finally, Cuban stogies, while illegal in this country, can be found in many of Washington's official corridors, including the hallowed halls of Congress, where senators and congressmen, past and present, have been known to keep a private stash of Fidel's finest.

Top five chiefs

Reservations are recommended for tomorrow's lecture at the National Archives, where Marc Landy and Sidney M. Mikis will discuss their book, "Presidential Greatness."

And how does one gauge a president's greatness?

The authors believe that five presidents Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt set the standards for presidential leadership and achievement.

Jumping mice

Congress, for the record, has added $400,000 to the current budget to study the Preble's jumping mouse.

And unlike the mice in Washington, this critter you can't trap.

"Designated an official endangered species," Citizens Against Government Waste educates, "this little 3-inch varmint has disrupted development in Colorado and southern Wyoming, creating monumental headaches for developers and citizens alike."

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