- The Washington Times - Friday, December 7, 2001

A serious failure

"President Clinton and his national security team ignored several opportunities to capture Osama bin Laden and his terrorist associates, including one as late as last year," writes Mansoor Ijaz, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a self-described political supporter of Mr. Clinton.

"I know because I negotiated more than one of the opportunities," Mr. Ijaz said in a commentary Wednesday in the Los Angeles Times.

"From 1996 to 1998, I opened unofficial channels between Sudan and the Clinton administration. I met with officials in both countries, including Clinton, U.S. National Security Adviser Samuel R. 'Sandy' Berger and Sudan's president and intelligence chief.

"President Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir, who wanted terrorism sanctions against Sudan lifted, offered the arrest and extradition of bin Laden and detailed intelligence data about the global networks constructed by Egypt's Islamic Jihad, Iran's Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas.

"Among those in the networks were the two hijackers who piloted commercial airliners into the World Trade Center.

"The silence of the Clinton administration in responding to these offers was deafening," said Mr. Ijaz, who called the missed opportunity "one of the most serious foreign-policy failures in American history."

Reno snubbed

Citing the Elian Gonzalez case, Cuban-American members of the Florida House walked out of the chamber yesterday after former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno was introduced as a visitor.

Miss Reno, a Democratic candidate for governor, was watching from the visitors gallery as lawmakers worked in special session to cut the state budget.

Nine Cuban-American lawmakers, all Republicans, left the chamber. Three Republicans who are not Cuban-Americans also walked out, the Associated Press reports.

"We decided that we had to demonstrate that we did not welcome Ms. Reno to the House of Representatives, considering the manner in which she treated Elian Gonzalez," said Rep. Carlos Lacasa of Miami.

Elian was rescued in November 1999 off the Florida coast after his mother and most of the passengers traveling illegally from Cuba to the United States died when their boat capsized. He was taken in by relatives in Miami, but his father in Cuba pressed for his return.

Miss Reno ordered armed Border Patrol agents to raid the relatives' home late at night on the day before Easter in April 2000 and take the boy away. Elian eventually was handed over to his father and returned to Cuba.

"I know they feel very strongly, but I made a decision based on what was right for a little boy and his daddy," Miss Reno said after leaving the chamber.

Kennedy's high hopes

"It looks like Rep. Patrick Kennedy, Rhode Island Democrat, may have a devil of a time holding on to his House seat next year, but that hasn't stopped him from speculating that he could become speaker of the House or even president in 20 years," Ed Henry writes in Roll Call's "Heard on the Hill" column.

"For the fall issue of Newport Life magazine, Kennedy sat down for a fluff piece that never gets around to mentioning that his approval ratings have plummeted back home. The uncertainty about his re-election prospects, however, didn't stop the congressman from speculating that he's headed for much greener pastures," Mr. Henry said.

Said Mr. Kennedy: "There is a high probability that I could run and have a very good chance of being elected speaker of the Democratic House in 20 years."

When Mr. Kennedy was asked about the likelihood of a presidential run, he replied: "Nothing is outside the realm of possibility."

McKinney's problem

The Georgia State Elections Board has found probable cause that U.S. Rep. Cynthia A. McKinney and her father, state Rep. Billy McKinney, may have violated six state election laws by holding a political rally at a polling place in DeKalb County, Ga., on Election Day in November 2000.

Secretary of State Cathy Cox's investigative report, filed on Wednesday, found no such wrongdoing. However, the board, in a unanimous vote Wednesday, took the unilateral action in response to multiple eyewitness accounts placing the McKinneys at the elementary school polling place, according to the Southeastern Legal Foundation, which has been probing the matter for months.

As a result of the board's action, the matter now goes to a state administrative law judge, who will hear evidence, probably next month. The judge could level fines or even refer the matter to other authorities for possible criminal prosecution.

'Get ahead of it'

Are folks in Hollywood fans of The Washington Times? The Nov. 28 episode of NBC's "The West Wing" suggests the writers on the notoriously liberal program know which paper is first with the big stories in the nation's capital.

On the show, White House deputy communications director Sam Seaborn played by Rob Lowe is worried about a nuisance lawsuit accusing President Josiah Bartlet of negligence, claiming that a negative remark about seat belts he made during a speech contributed to a fatal accident.

Seaborn raises the subject with Chief of Staff Leo McGarry (John Spencer).

"That's not going to be anything," McGarry says of the lawsuit.

"The Washington Times is running it under 'Bartlett accused of criminal negligence,'" says Seaborn.

"I didn't think The Washington Times could spell all those words," replies McGarry.

"Yep A29, above the fold," says Seaborn.

"There's a fold that deep in the paper?" McGarry says.

Seaborn, upset that McGarry is dismissing the story, says: "Look, after three, four, five days, it's going to be picked up by The Post and the New York Times. Let's get ahead of it."

Odd site for rally

"On the occasion of what it calls 'the first anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's infamous decision' in Bush vs. Gore, the group Democrats.com is hosting a gathering to review plans for the future," United Press International reports in its "Capital Comment" column.

"On Dec. 12, they will 'gather near Ground Zero in New York to declare that a nationwide campaign to rebuild American Democracy has begun.' Why Ground Zero? The group says, 'The events of Dec. 12, 2000, have been partially eclipsed by the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001. But 12-12 has tremendous bearing on 9-11.' Speakers at the main event, to be held in New York's historic Cooper Union Great Hall, include former Clinton adviser Paul Begala; Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., Illinois Democrat; former Texas Democratic Gov. Ann Richards; and NYU Professor Todd Gitlin, author of 'Media Unlimited.'"

Hillary's style

"When Laura Bush gave a recent radio address for her husband to highlight the cause of Afghan women, the airwaves hummed with commentary on the new assertive role," Collin Levey writes at OpinionJournal.com.

"'For Laura Bush to be speaking out on women's rights is like Nixon going to China,' simpered one head of an international women's group, adding that 'it's so counterintuitive and unexpected that it is having a very powerful impact and positive value.'

"An editorial in the New York Daily News took it a step further, remarking that Mrs. Bush's outspokenness on women's rights would have gotten Hillary in a load of hot water.

"Really?" asks Miss Levey, an editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal.

"As best we can recall, Hillary grated on people's nerves for an altogether different kind of feminism. You know, the kind in which an unelected woman barges her way into her husband's policy debates, demands to be taken seriously, and then rides his coattails to the Senate."

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