- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 4, 2003

New York, New York

A briefing yesterday on the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston got off to an aggressive start when the chief executive officer, Rod O’Connor, accused the Republican Party of exploiting the September 11 attacks by choosing New York City as site of its convention.

After being introduced by Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, Mr. O’Connor remarked: “All indications are that Republicans have gone to New York to exploit a terrible moment in our nation’s history.”

The 2004 Republican National Convention takes place the last week of August, one month after the Democratic convention.

Stocking stuffer

Here’s a holiday gift idea for the antiwar activist who thinks the United States has no business being in Iraq: “The Private Videos of Uday Hussein.”

“The girls! The parties! The beatings!” advertises the distributor, which is selling the video online. “While his people were living in poverty, the ‘Son of Satan’ was enjoying the fruits of the land with unprecedented excess.”

The distributor, which provides a video clip showing Uday beating Iraqi youths with a whip, says the footage “is so horrifying, scenes were never shown on U.S. TV … but we got footage direct from the shops in Baghdad.”

Sixties flashback

North Carolina Sen. John Edwards wants the Senate Judiciary Committee to investigate whether the FBI recently conducted surveillance of American antiwar demonstrators.

“This report is deeply disturbing,” the Democratic presidential candidate wrote to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, after reading a newspaper account of the contention.

“Law enforcement officials, of course, should take necessary and reasonable steps to ensure that demonstrations are peaceful and lawful,” Mr. Edwards wrote, “but this report suggests that federal law enforcement may now be targeting individuals based on activities that are peaceful, lawful and protected under our Constitution.”

He then saw fit to go a step further, charging that “the FBI has a history of harassing individuals based on their political views.”

“In the 1960s and ‘70s when J. Edgar Hoover was the bureau director,” he wrote to Mr. Hatch, “agents routinely spied on civil rights demonstrators, including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and on Vietnam War protesters.”

As for today, Mr. Edwards says guidelines developed by the Justice Department in the 1970s to govern domestic surveillance by the FBI “have been substantially weakened by Attorney General John Ashcroft.”

Honoring all

Normally the National Defense University Foundation’s American Patriot Award is presented to an individual, like past recipients former President George Bush and current Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.

Needless to say, this is not a normal year.

So this evening, the 2003 American Patriot Award will be presented to “Our Defense Team — those who responded, served and sacrificed” during the war on terrorism.

Accepting the honor on behalf of the entire U.S. armed forces will be Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, accompanied by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Richard B. Myers.

“Due to overwhelming sacrifice by so many Americans, the American Patriot Award Leadership Committee has chosen not one individual, but the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen — with special recognition of the National Guard and Reserves — and the career civilians who have and continue to respond, serve and sacrifice,” the committee says.

The National Defense University in Washington is considered the country’s pre-eminent institution for military and civilian national security and strategic education.

Letter of the week

” ‘For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind. I wonder if it will come to pass,’ ” asks Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat. …”

“The pious Senator Byrd should read more World War II history if he wants to comment intelligently on whether George Bush will reap a whirlwind by confronting Saddam and terrorism,” writes Brad Johnston of Warrenton, Va., after we quoted Mr. Byrd this week.

“The Saddam and Osama of 1939 were two other crazy people, Hitler and Mussolini. At the time, there also were fervent defenders of nonconfrontation, arguing, ‘Hitler only wants Czechoslovakia and the Sudetenland. Mussolini only wants Libya, Egypt and the Suez Canal. Hey, let’s don’t get all riled up. Let’s not upset the balance. Let ‘em go.’

“By the time the world belatedly wrestled those two maniacs to the ground, 60 million people had died.”

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]

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