- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 5, 2002

Enough already
Infighting between the CIA, FBI and Congress about September 11 is a dangerous diversion, writes John Podhoretz of the New York Post.
"The chattering classes seem determined to fight amongst themselves, rather than following the example of the American people who have remained united in their determination to fight the war on terrorism," he writes.
It's "Beltway groupthink: We're in the midst of a finger-pointing blame game. Federal agencies have been circling the wagons instead of connecting the dots. We need to get to the bottom of what happened pre-9/11 so that it won't happen again Doesn't anybody around here remember that there's a war on? The CIA did not attack the United States. Nor did the FBI or Norm Mineta. This nation was attacked by al Qaeda and remains threatened by that group and by militant Islam."
Mr. Podhoretz theorizes this "gotcha" stuff is comforting to the players because it's proof "the old game could still be played."
"Ask yourself: Do you want the heads of the FBI, the CIA and the Justice Department transfixed and paralyzed by questions about what happened before Sept. 11? Do you want the White House and Congress to focus on what should have been done then or to devote their complete attention to what needs to be done now and in the future?"

Pro-profiling
Sen. Dianne Feinstein's home turf has reacted to the Californian Democrat's observations that the FBI's racial-profiling phobia has had a "chilling impact" and done a "disservice" to U.S. anti-terrorism efforts.
An online San Francisco Chronicle poll of 1,700 people reveals that most agree the FBI has gotten too timid: 64 percent said, "Yes, FBI focus should be on Arabs."
Another 16 percent said "No, civil liberties must be protected." Meanwhile, 20 percent "found it ironic that a San Francisco Democrat would favor profiling."
Meanwhile, a CNN "instant" poll found late yesterday that 90 percent of the respondents said the congressional hearings would have no impact on terrorism.

Eyeing 2004?
Who's giving money to Sen. Hillary Clinton these days? In April, former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros gave $1,000 to the New York Democrat. Dreamworks exec Jeffrey Katzenberg sent $2,500 and Manhattan public relations maven Howard Rubenstein $5,000 according to the Federal Election Commission's April records for Hillpac, Mrs. Clinton's year-old fund-raising committee.
Meanwhile, "slightly less than one-fourth of the $1.3 million that the committee raised or about $300,000 went to Democratic candidates and organizations. The bulk of the rest $835,000 was spent on a range of other expenses, including legal fees and salaries for, among others, former White House aides who are now employed by her committee," the New York Times observed yesterday.
About $411,000 "went to pay salaries to six people employed by the committee. Political strategists and government-watchdog groups say that that is a significant sum for salaries and suggest that Mrs. Clinton is using Hillpac as a place to park political staff for whom there might not be room on the Senate payroll."
Hillpac's finance director Kelly Craighead and executive director Patty Solis Doyle are both Clinton White House veterans.
"Republicans and Democratic strategists say that having people with White House experience would prove extremely helpful if Mrs. Clinton decides to seek a national office, like the presidency," the Times noted.

Butt out
Heavens. Health officials in Martha's Vineyard have reversed a year-old smoking ban, hoping to hustle tacky smokers off those quaint street corners and back into bars where they belong.
The Board of Health voted 2-1 last week to repeal the town's ban on smoking in bars. The puffers were apparently congregating, confabulating and flicking their ciggy butts right there on the tidy sidewalks. Bars have had a big drop in business as well.
"The butts are a major problem, and so is the language you hear. They've taken the bar atmosphere and put it in the street," said Health Board Chairman Joe Alosso, who voted to eliminate the ban.
According to the Department of Health, 198 of Massachusetts' 355 cities and towns have enacted some form of smoking restrictions beyond state code. But this was the first reversal of smoking regulations, according to Roseanne Pawelec, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Health.

Historical perspective
Some look far afield for clues about the origins of September 11. Yesterday, one C-SPAN listener asked the New Yorker's Ken Auletta if the case of Sirhan Sirhan should be re-examined on the 34th anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy's assassination June 4.
Sirhan is an Arab American, the listener pointed out, and the shooting took place when Yasser Arafat was organizing the Palestine Liberation Organization.
"I think Sirhan Sirhan has been inspected and dissected, up and down over the years," Mr. Auletta said. "I don't know if there's any more information, but if there are some tips or clues we haven't uncovered, then sure it's worth looking at."

Chicago stakes
Things are getting a lot windier in the Windy City as Republican Attorney General Jim Ryan takes on Rep. Rod Blagojevich, Illinois Democrat, for governor in what local observers call a "poker game." The rivals have had to ante up over $300,000 each to pay for dueling TV campaign spots.
Mr. Ryan's fierce new ad spotlights the congressman's effort as a state legislator to increase fees for gun owners' ID cards, his opposition to laws that require girls who want abortions to get parental consent and his support for "legal recognition of same-sex partners."
Needless to say, such things don't play well downstate.
"I can't imagine that anyone would have any complaint with having their positions laid out in a neutral fashion, unless they are embarrassed about their positions," said Dan Curry, Mr. Ryan's spokesman.
"In the past, Democrats have been unwilling or unable to respond," countered Blagojevich spokesman Doug Scofield. "We're going to be very different. We're going to let no distortion go unanswered or uncorrected."
Their new campaign spots will, Mr. Scofield vowed, "make clear that Rod is not for any" increase in the cost of gun ID cards and "correct the misperception that somehow he is supportive of gay marriage."

Hit the stop button
The Daniel Pearl execution videotape has a new name: "political pornography." That is what Stephen M. Mindich, publisher of the alternative newspaper Boston Phoenix, calls it.
This week, his paper provides an Internet link to a Virginia-based company that is displaying grisly, unedited Pearl footage at its Web site, where normal fare includes violent and pornographic video clips. The company says it is an "advocate of the First Amendment."
The Pearl family has denounced the move. The FBI recommended against its broadcast as well, prompting the Virginia company to rush for the protection of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Meanwhile, publisher Mr. Mindich shares his reasoning for providing the link. "This is the single most gruesome, horrible, despicable and horrifying thing I've ever seen. The outrage I feel as an American and a Jew is almost indescribable," he writes.
"That our government and others throughout the world, who have had this tape for some time, have remained silent is nothing less than an act of shame. We, as a nation and as individuals, should, at minimum, write the president and our congressional delegations and call for the immediate withdrawal of all support of any nation or group that does not loudly and resoundingly condemn this act and who does not openly commit itself to rout out from its midst those who support this and other such heinous acts of pure, cold-blooded murder."


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