- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 4, 2001

'A river in Egypt'

What ever happened to the National Commission on Terrorism report from June 2000? That's what Rep. Frank R. Wolf wants to know. Yesterday, the Virginia Republican asked the CIA, FBI and Department of Defense to explain why recommendations from the report found at www.fas.org/irp/threat/commission.html were never implemented.

"It would be helpful to know what recommendations from the NCT report your agency or department did not implement and why," Mr. Wolf wrote to all three.

The report was chaired by L. Paul Bremer, once Ronald Reagan's "counterterrorism czar," according to Mr. Wolf. Former CIA director R. James Woolsey and Retired Army Gen. Wayne Downing now with the new homeland security agency were also on the panel, which stressed practical readiness, expanded wiretap authority and other strategies.

Mr. Wolf rediscovered the report, he said, in an article by Franklin Foer in this week's New Republic, which charged that some intelligence operatives tried to discredit the report's findings.

"The CIA opposed the NCT's recommendations for the same reason virtually every other government agency did: They trespassed on its turf," Mr. Foer wrote, later concluding, "In Washington, denial was a river in Egypt."

Hitchens switch

For years, it has been a tradition for C-SPAN's Brian Lamb to ask left-leaning journalist Christopher Hitchens if he was "still a socialist," or if he had "seen the light" about that persuasion. Mr. Hitchens would say, yes, he was still a socialist.

But that is no longer the case, it would seem.

Had Mr. Lamb inquired, "I no longer would have positively replied, 'I am a socialist,'" Mr. Hitchens tells Reason magazine in its November issue.

"There is no longer a general socialist critique of capitalism certainly not the sort of critique that proposes an alternative or a replacement," Mr. Hitchens continued. "There just is not, and one has to face the fact, and it seems to me further that it's very unlikely, though not impossible, that it will again be the case in the future."

Uniform appeal

Both Republicans and Democrats may start recruiting congressional candidates with either military, law enforcement or intelligence backgrounds in a post-Sept. 11 electoral world, Roll Call reports.

"Assuming the issue of national security continues to be an important issue, I suspect that people with a military or intelligence background will be interested in serving," said Rep. Rob Simmons, Connecticut Republican. The National Republican Congressional Committee called the possible trend "beneficial."

But it's not necessarily a new idea. Eleven years ago, then-Sen. Newt Gingrich, Georgia Republican, asked his party to recruit 80 veterans for Congress to "capitalize on their experience and the public's appreciation of their service," said Roll Call. "Gingrich's effort to nationalize the election of 1992 by recruiting veterans was largely deemed a failure after strong sentiments about the [Gulf] war quickly dissipated."

Rudy, Judy, Donna

He may be a hero, but his domestic travails continue. A Manhattan appeals court has upheld a ruling that bars New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani's girlfriend from hanging around Gracie Mansion while his children live there.

In a 3-2 decision, the state Supreme Court's Appellate Division said a lower court ruling was right to bar mayoral sweetheart Judith Nathan from the mayor's home to avoid an accidental meeting between her and Mr. Giuliani's two children.

The court agreed such a meeting "would be harmful to the children's emotional well-being." Mr. Giuliani and his wife, Donna Hanover, are in the throes of divorce; she remains in the manse with Andrew, 15, and Caroline, 11.

In past months, Mr. Giuliani hoped to make official appearances with Miss Nathan in the house, which caused hubbub in the courts and media. But it will be moot by year's end. The current missus must vacate the premises when the mayor's term ends Dec. 31.

Faith, hope, charity

Adam Meyerson, the Heritage Foundation's education point man for the past eight years, has left to head the Philanthropy Roundtable, where he hopes to help donors think strategically about the war on terrorism.

The $700 million raised in relief efforts is splendid, but it's "not the only important objective for philanthropy in the war on terrorism," he said yesterday, noting that Americans the most generous people on earth give $200 billion a year to charity.

"It's just as important to use philanthropic contributions to make sure these sorts of attacks don't happen again," he said, adding that worthy projects could promote international civil society and "build bridges with freedom-loving people in the Islamic world."

Mr. Meyerson succeeds John P. Walters, tapped by President Bush to head the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. At Heritage, Mr. Meyerson edited Policy Review for several years, and developed a "No Excuses" campaign to boost high-performing schools in poor neighborhoods.

Strong Thurmond

At 98, Sen. Strom Thurmond, South Carolina Republican, reports he is "feeling strong" and "anxious to get back to work" just a day after collapsing in the Senate, a spokeswoman said. There is no doubt he misses the place; Mr. Thurmond first arrived in the Senate in 1954. Meanwhile, doctors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center are evaluating his symptoms.

His estranged wife, Nancy, said it's "much ado about nothing." She has not lived with him for a decade, but she said media reports were "blown out of proportion" and that he "was in good spirits."

Taking license

"Three weeks ago, when the conversation was about farmworkers and not terrorists, a bill to allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses in California seemed to be heading for approval," the San Jose Mercury News noted yesterday.

"But now as it sits on Gov. Gray Davis' desk, the measure may become one of the casualties of the Sept. 11 attack. And if that happens, it may derail a national movement to make it easier for undocumented laborers to obtain driver's licenses."

"The bill by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, [Los Angeles Democrat], would waive a state law requiring people who apply for driver's licenses to submit Social Security numbers," and has the support of the California Farm Bureau, insurers and even the Sacramento Police Department, who argue that illegal immigrants drive anyway and should be tested and insured.

"'Things have changed dramatically. This isn't just about Mexican farmworkers any more,'" said Lt. David Myers of the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco. 'The concern is about people coming to get a second set of identities, people involved in criminal activities.'

"It says a lot about the respect that elected officials have for Latino immigrants," countered Liz Guillen of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. "If people want our labor, they ought to be able to give us a license to drive so we can get to work. We're concerned that this bill will be a victim now. But this isn't about terrorists or terrorism."

But no White House

While the rest of Hollywood shelves projects that might capitalize on the Sept. 11 attacks, Miramax is going ahead with a film based on the 1999 novel "Crisis Four" by Andy McNab. The plot centers on an Osama bin Laden plan to attack the White House.

"In light of this tragedy, we are reviewing the material," Miramax spokesman Matthew Hiltzik told writers at the media news site www.mrshowbiz.com. "There will be no plotline involving Osama bin Laden or a plot to blow up the White House," he said.

What will the target be then? It was "premature" to talk about the details, the spokesman said.

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