- The Washington Times - Friday, April 27, 2001

Galls defense

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton announced Wednesday that she will oppose the nomination of Mary Sheila Gall to be chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Miss Gall responded yesterday with a letter to the New York Democrat pointing out that Mrs. Clinton´s husband had nominated her for another seven-year term as a commissioner in 1998.

Miss Gall has been a member of the commission for 10 years. Mrs. Clinton said she feared that child-safety rules enacted during her husband´s time as president would be overturned by Miss Gall.

"I find your position curious and inconsistent on a number of grounds," Miss Gall said in the letter.

"The major flaw in your reasoning lies in the fact that President Clinton nominated me for another seven-year term as a commissioner of the CPSC in 1998. By that time, I had already cast public votes on three of the four issues that you cited for opposing me. (The fourth issue did not come before the commission as a vote.)

"If President Clinton felt sufficiently comfortable with my record after seven years as a commissioner to renominate me for another term, it is highly unlikely that the Clinton administration, with which you were very closely associated, had any fears along the lines that you expressed in your interview ."

Miss Gall said that even if she wanted to overturn a rule, it would require a long process, including approval by the full commission. She also included public statements she had made at the time of her votes on issues involving baby bath seats, baby walkers, bunk beds and asbestos fibers in crayons.

Kerrey to keep medal

Former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey, after publicly acknowledging he led a squad that killed civilians during the Vietnam War, said he did not plan to return the Bronze Star awarded him after the incident.

"It´s not my intent to do so," Mr. Kerrey told a crowded news conference in New York City. "The medal has meant nothing to me. I put it away with other memories as far as I could."

Mr. Kerrey, a Democratic presidential aspirant, said he has carried the memory of that night with him for 32 years not even sharing the details with his children.

Mr. Kerrey received the Bronze Star for the Feb. 25, 1969, raid in the Mekong Delta. The award citation says 21 Viet Cong were killed and enemy weapons were captured or destroyed. Witness accounts and official reports of the number of dead vary from 13 to more than 20.

Mr. Kerrey said he and his fellow soldiers began shooting only after they were shot at in a free-fire zone an area cleared of civilians by the U.S. military. Anyone remaining was assumed by U.S. forces to be the enemy.

"It may be that I did nothing wrong," Mr. Kerrey said. "But I felt like I did something wrong. Here´s what happened, and I cannot justify it."

Mr. Kerrey had kept his recollections private until his hand was forced when squad member Gerhard Klann told "60 Minutes II" and the New York Times that the victims were herded into a group and massacred.

Rich´s non-explanation

Denise Rich concedes in a TV interview to be aired on ABC tonight that her political contributions bought access to the Clinton White House.

But the New York songwriter does not explain why she refused to testify before a congressional committee investigating the pardon of her former husband, billionaire Marc Rich, Cox News Service reports.

She also denies tabloid reports that she had an affair with President Clinton before he granted a last-minute pardon to the billionaire fugitive financier.

"I never had a sexual relationship or any kind of relationship that would be improper with President Clinton," Denise Rich tells Barbara Walters in an interview on "20-20." "And I never slept at the White House."

By invoking her constitutional protection against self-incrimination, Mrs. Rich frustrated investigators from the House Committee on Government Reform. However, she reportedly since has been granted immunity to testify before a federal grand jury in New York that is probing the pardon of her former husband.

"I took the Fifth on the advice of my lawyers," she said. "They said that was what I should do and that´s what I did. So you´d have to ask my lawyers."

Martin Pollner, her attorney, said innocent people often take the Fifth to avoid being "ensnarled by ambiguous circumstances."

100-days mania

President Bush appears swept up in what might be described as the "hoop de la" over his first 100 days in office, giving press interviews and inviting every member of Congress to the White House for lunch.

"But Bush is mistakenly accepting the essential premises of the 100-day measurement, which are: How busy has he been? How much legislation has he stampeded Congress into passing? How profoundly has his continuing campaigning and dominance of television seized the imagination of his compatriots? How ringingly has his oratory reassured the one-third of the nation that, as FDR might now say, is ill tempered, ill advised and ill at ease?" New York Times columnist William Safire writes.

"That´s a fair way to assess a liberal president, but no way to assess a conservative president. The hundred-day yardstick measures activity, not stability; new entitlements, not new restraints; historic milestones, not necessary review; dramatically getting the country moving again, not quietly getting the country back on the right track.

"A review of Bush´s record in the first 16th of his term is better directed to what the gathering Bush administration is and is not. It is low-key, lower-voiced, deliberate, right of center but not confrontational. It is surely not Clintonesque, makes a big point of not being star-struck, and is no hotbed of hostility. The 'tone,´ most agree, is changed."

No leaks, please

"Oops. Advocates of New Yorker Charles Gargano´s bid to become Bush´s ambassador to Italy have learned it is not smart to lobby in public or leak word that Edward Cardinal Egan supports him," the New York Post´s Deborah Orin writes.

"Some now claim Bushland was very unhappy, and the bid by Gargano a top priority for Gov. Pataki is now 'on life support, but not dead.´ Bush doesn´t like being pressured in public. But others insist Gargano still has a real shot," Miss Orin said.

"Unhappy Gargano pals say he had nothing to do with the leak. After all, they note, he´s a savvy guy politically and knows that leaks like that do more harm than good. Some Gargano pals suspect the leak was malicious and meant to hurt him."

Next drug czar?

President Bush has picked John P. Walters, a top anti-drug official during his father´s administration, to be the nation´s next drug czar, the New York Times reported yesterday.

A public announcement of Mr. Walters´ nomination is imminent, the Times reported, citing Bush administration officials. If confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Walters would succeed Barry McCaffrey.

Mr. Walters declined to comment on his pending nomination, the Times said.

Mr. Walters, 49, was the top deputy to William J. Bennett, the elder Mr. Bush´s drug czar. He was the acting drug czar briefly in 1993, but he quit in protest when President Clinton cut his staff to 25 from 146 and announced he would reorient anti-narcotics policy, de-emphasizing law enforcement and interdiction.

Mr. Walters favors severe prison sentences for violent felons, marijuana smugglers and repeat offenders, but he views first-time drug users more leniently. He criticized a recommendation by the U.S. Sentencing Commission in 1995 to reduce sentences for dealers of crack cocaine significantly.

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