- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 6, 2000

Noble: Sen. Jesse Helms, for fighting to keep Ronald Reagan's dream of missile defense alive.

A real national missile defense may not be possible under President Clinton. But thanks to Jesse Helms and 24 of his friends in the Senate, it may be possible in just a few short months under the next administration.

Mr. Helms has stated that any arms treaty Mr. Clinton signs on his upcoming trip to Russia will be dead-on-arrival in the Senate. Mr. Helms explained Mr. Clinton's weak position on arms control recently in a prepared statement. First, Mr. Clinton tried to squash missile defense. Early in his first term this president slashed the missile defense budget by more than 80 percent. In 1993 Mr. Clinton also withdrew proposals from the Bush White House to alter the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty to permit deployment of missile defenses. At the time Russia was inclined to strike a deal. Early in his second term, Bill Clinton signed two deals with the Russians to revive and expand the U.S.-Soviet ABM Treaty, to prevent national missile defense. Furthermore, Mr. Clinton favors a limited missile defense system that would prevent the development of other dynamic systems (including space based monitors). In other words, Mr. Clinton's missile defense plan is a plan to leave the United States defenseless.

Thankfully, the Constitution requires the president to seek the advice and consent of the Senate on foreign treaties. Mr. Helms and his colleagues can keep the idea of missile defense alive, and for that he is the noble of the week.

* Knave: Former White House counsel, Charles F.C. Ruff, for washing Bill Clinton's dirty e-mail laundry.

After years of White House stonewalling in the face of scandal after scandal, Charles F.C. Ruff would have us believe the failure to turn over a quarter of a million e-mails under subpoena was a simple mistake. This is too amazing an argument for an honest man to make.

Mr. Ruff explained to Congress on Thursday that "[i]f in fact we failed … it was by inadvertence and unintentional." He also said, "I'm willing to suffer the embarrassment if I failed to adequately pursue the matter." And of course, Mr. Ruff believes that no one on his staff ever sought to cover-up any document production. Unfortunately, the facts say otherwise. The White House was under subpoena from Ken Starr's federal grand jury, Congress and the Justice Department to hand over e-mails sent out during the Monica Lewinsky affair. Administration officials claim the problem started as a "glitch" when the computer system somehow stopped archiving e-mails in a searchable data base in 1996.

Mr. Ruff admits to knowing of the possibility of the missing e-mails, but explains the Starr investigation seemed to take precedence at the time. Telling Congress of the missing e-mails never seemed important. The White House did not ask for funds in 1999 to archive the missing e-mails, which would have required revealing the problem. It took the investigative work of this newspaper's Jerry Seper to uncover the missing e-mails in February of this year.

It seems, however, that Mr. Ruff believes it is wrong to blame this administration for not knowing that 246,000 e-mails under subpoena and pertinent to several ongoing investigations were missing. For that Mr. Ruff is a knave.

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