- The Washington Times - Friday, December 7, 2001

Cops can't win

The least popular politician this week on Capitol Hill at least in the eyes of the U.S. Capitol Police is D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton.

The highly skilled police force is miffed by Mrs. Norton's response on Wednesday to its decision to keep the U.S. Capitol building closed to tourists because of security concerns, not the least being deadly and invisible anthrax.

Stopping short of saying the officers were incapable of walking and chewing gum at the same time, Mrs. Norton requested the "resignation" of any officer who couldn't adequately protect the sprawling U.S. Capitol compound and its visitors.

One police officer said of Mrs. Norton yesterday: "We were good enough for her when she requested 24-hour security."

Spontaneous summit

Vice President Richard B. Cheney hosted a holiday reception at his Washington residence this week for 250 politicians, dozens of media personnel, and to his surprise one 23-year-old woman from Kurdistan.

Some 25 million Kurds make up the world's largest ethnic group without their own country, and Nareen Ahmed, a pre-dentistry student at George Mason University in Northern Virginia, was interested in seeing what the vice president knew about the Kurdish situation in northern Iraq.

Miss Ahmed, it turns out, was one of 6,000 Kurds who fled Iraq with the help of the CIA in December 1996.

She and her three sisters and parents landed in the Virginia suburbs outside Washington, where there is a vibrant Kurdish community.

She attended the vice president's gala as a guest of a Washington journalist, and the young woman wasn't shy about approaching the vice president, asking first whether he was familiar with the Kurds' desire for their own country.

Well, yes, replied Mr. Cheney, who then posed a question to Miss Ahmed: Are warring Kurdish factions willing to work together? He said the tricky question was where one should draw boundaries for a new country (Kurds spill over into Iran, Syria, Iraq and Turkey, and, as the vice president reminded Miss Ahmed, the latter country is a NATO partner not open to losing its eastern half to the Kurds).

Undaunted, Miss Ahmed reminded Mr. Cheney that Kurds are being tortured and killed in Turkey, where they are not permitted to speak their own language. Why, she asked, does the United States give Turkey such unqualified support in the face of such human rights violations?

The conversation next shifted to al Qaeda terrorist links to Iraq, and specifically what the United States intends to do about Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Ignoring a line of people awaiting his attention, the obviously intrigued Mr. Cheney then posed another question: Would Miss Ahmed be willing to go back to Iraq under the right circumstances?

Miss Ahmed, a Muslim who was fasting that day in observation of Ramadan, shook her head. For now, replied the dental student, the best opportunities for Kurdish women like herself were here in the United States.

Before they parted, Miss Ahmed assured Mr. Cheney that Americans have one "ally" within Iraq. The Kurds, she said, have never forgotten American and British warplanes coming to their aid beginning in the spring of 1991.

Shoes off his feet

Familiar celebrity faces Connie Stevens, Pat Boone, Cheryl Ladd, Mark Victor Hansen and Efrem Zimbalist Jr. were dinner hosts of last night's Tribute to the Heroes of September 11th held at the Washington Hilton Hotel and Towers.

Awards were presented to Officer Isaac Hoopii of the Pentagon Defense Protective Services and to Lt. Dan Williams (Ladder 16) and Jeff Coniglio (Engine 39) of the New York Fire Department, who collectively saved the lives of fellow firefighters and civilian victims of the terrorist attacks on Washington and New York.

Officer Hoopii, a native Hawaiian (who sings and plays guitar with a local band called the Aloha Boys) assigned to the Pentagon police bomb-detection canine unit, was actually at the Fort Myer veterinarian's office with his dog, Vito, when the nearby Pentagon was attacked.

Within minutes, he arrived at the burning military headquarters and began pulling people to safety. Some he guided through the black smoke with his voice.

The awards dinner was followed by a celebrity charity auction, which included items donated by Bob Hope (autographed golf putter), Paul Newman (autographed racing jacket), Jane Fonda (autographed book), Elizabeth Taylor (collectible doll), Clint Eastwood (autographed hat from his movie "Space Cowboys") and Mr. Boone (autographed shoes).

Several politicians also showed up to thank the 911 honorees, including Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona and Rep. Dave Weldon of Florida, both Republicans.

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