- The Washington Times - Monday, January 28, 2002

Tough taskmaster
Former White House Chief of Staff John Sununu, who toiled under George Bush the father, gives the new administration high marks for its handling of the terrorist crisis and its ability to remain focused on the domestic agenda.
Asked by Washington Times congressional correspondent Audrey Hudson to grade top members of the administration, the former New Hampshire governor gave President Bush an A+, although he was a little tougher when grading White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card.
"I'll give Andy an A," Mr. Sununu said with a grin.
White House historians will recall that Mr. Card served as Mr. Sununu's assistant in the prior Bush administration.
"You do what you can and then you step aside and let the next generation handle it," says Mr. Sununu. "I'm happy to leave it to the new and improved versions."

Cuba links
In the midst of President Bush's war on terrorism, observes an alarmed Republican congressional official, Mr. Bush's own administration has made an exception for two Cuban "hawksbill sea turtle specialists" to be extended rare visas to attend a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service seminar on April Fool's Day in Miami.
"Smells like more Clinton-style people-to-people exchange," he said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
"I couldn't care less about sea turtles," said the official. "But after the September 11 terrorist attacks and the September 21 arrest of [alleged Cuban spy] Ana [Belen] Montes, the senior analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency, President Bush announced he would not allow Cuban government officials to travel to the United States, except for business in New York or Washington."
A mole of Fidel Castro deeply entrenched in the U.S. defense establishment, Miss Montes was arrested by the FBI after she sent repeated signals to her Cuban handlers in the days immediately after the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center.
Now, the official wonders, who in the U.S. government will be charged with monitoring the movement of the two Cuban "turtle experts" when they roam around Florida?
"Who else will the Cubans meet with in Miami?" says the official. "And whether they will attack the [U.S. trade] embargo remains to be seen."
The embargo remains in place, two reasons being that Cuba has been on the U.S. terrorist list for 17 years and harbors at least 77 fugitives wanted by the FBI.
Meanwhile, while we're on the communist island, a source close to the State Department informs Inside the Beltway that when Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, made his crossing to Cuba earlier this month to welcome Mr. Castro into the so-called anti-terrorism club, his wife, Joan, who accompanied him on the junket, felt like playing a round of golf.
"Thus, a U.S. Interests Section employee was tasked to her [caddie-of-sorts] for the day," says the source, "and played 18 holes at a course that was illegally confiscated by Castro from a U.S. owner 40 years ago."

Playboy scoop
Much response was generated from our item last week on bias in the news business, particularly surrounding the accusations of liberal bias leveled against CBS anchor Dan Rather by 28-year CBS News veteran Bernard Goldberg in his current best-seller "Bias."
Ernest W. Lefever, founding president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, reacts: "The current debate on liberal bias in the media should have been settled almost 30 years ago, when the dean of broadcast journalists, Walter Cronkite, said in Playboy (June 1973, p. 76): Most newsmen tend to be 'liberal, and possibly left of center as well. … They come to feel little allegiance to the established order. I think they're inclined to side with humanity rather than with authority.'"

Clinton appointments
Strobe Talbott, former deputy secretary of state (and Bill Clinton's Oxford roommate), will become the next president of the Brookings Institution, filling the post Sept. 1. Mr. Talbott, whose wife, Brooke Shearer, headed the Commission on White House Fellowships during Mr. Clinton's first term, is currently director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization.
The 55-year-old former Clinton appointee was elected the sixth president of the renowned public policy research institution by a unanimous vote of the Brookings board last week. He'll succeed Ambassador Michael H. Armacost, who asked to retire after seven years at the helm.
Meanwhile, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation informs us of the election of Dr. David A. Kessler, former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, to chair its board of directors.

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