- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Ample warning
The date was Nov. 11, 1995, and an editorial headline in The Washington Times warned: "Islamic Jihad in Florida."
"A professor at the University of South Florida (USF) has resigned to take over as leader of the fundamentalist terrorist organization Islamic Jihad following the murder of the group's former leader, Fathi Shkaki. Not your everyday academic career path."
Referring to international studies professor Ramadan Abdallah Shallah, an expert on Islamic affairs who, when not teaching America's students, ran a think tank called the World and Islamic Studies Enterprise (WISE). At one time, the think tank was closely affiliated with the university.
It turned out Mr. Shallah was one of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad's founders in the early 1980s.
"The university's initial reaction to the discovery has been interesting, to say the least," the editorial read. "Harry Battson, vice president of public relations, tried to defend the university's relationship with Mr. Shallah as part of its diversity commitment. Mr. Battson even disputed that Islamic Jihad promotes terrorism."
In time, however, the university had second thoughts. In a subsequent statement, University President Betty Castor called the disclosures "very disturbing."
But not disturbing enough, given the recent arrests of University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian and USF instructor Sameeh Hammoudeh. Both were charged with aiding international terrorist operations. And they weren't alone.
Wouldn't you know, among six others named in the 50-count indictment and labeled a "terrorist" by the U.S. government is none other than Mr. Shallah, who left Florida for Damascus, Syria, to become the Islamic Jihad's secretary-general.

Hawk over Iraq
No need to wait for Saddam Hussein to relinquish power before rebuilding Iraq.
That's what Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut says he will tell the Council on Foreign Relations tomorrow when he outlines steps for peace and reconstruction in a postwar Iraq.
Unlike dovish Democrats, Mr. Lieberman is the lead Senate sponsor of legislation authorizing military force if necessary against Iraq. He'll argue tomorrow that the ultimate measure of a war's success is the quality of peace that follows.
Mr. Lieberman says he will propose establishing an interim government, an international security force, securing weapons of mass destruction, coordinating humanitarian relief and increasing engagement in the Middle East.
Earlier this month, the presidential hopeful introduced a resolution pressing the Bush administration to undertake similar rebuilding plans in the event of war, and to publicly articulate them as he himself has now set out to do.

At home in Hanoi
Imagine ducking into a VFW post in Vietnam for a burger and beer.
Well, soldier, the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and its ladies auxiliary are holding overseas discussions this week to open the first VFW post in Vietnam.
Alan Greilsamer, spokesman for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, tells this column that VFW Commander in Chief Ray Sisk dispatched a VFW delegation to Vietnam to meet jointly with Vietnamese and U.S. government officials, as well as Vietnamese citizens.
The delegation also plans to meet with prospective VFW members, many of them American war veterans living in Vietnam.
The post would be located in Hanoi, the Vietnamese capital and the center of military planning during the Vietnam War.

National contest
Who during the 2000 presidential contest didn't hear of Sen. John McCain's "Straight Talk America" campaign theme?
The national Straight Talk America e-mail list remains in existence today three years after the Arizona Republican's unsuccessful presidential bid. We're certain of that because we just received a solicitation from the Straight Talk fund-raising PAC to contribute to Mr. McCain's just-announced 2004 Senate re-election bid.
While such fund raising is not illegal, it seems as if Mr. McCain, who's name is atop new restrictions in campaign fund raising, is turning to his presidential supporters to help fund his Arizona re-election bid.

Don't know why
"I've got nothing against cowgirls," says Rep. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican, "but why are my tax dollars paying for their halls of fame?"
He was referring to the 2003 omnibus appropriations bill, which forked over $90,000 for the Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Ft. Worth, Texas.
But that's not all that has Mr. Flake scratching his head. The Grammy Foundation received $800,000 in the bill just signed into law.
"The mission of the Grammy Foundation is certainly noble," he says, "but why is an organization affiliated with thousands of multimillionaire musicians and record executives receiving taxpayer money? Norah Jones won a handful of awards [Sunday] night for a song called 'Don't Know Why.' I think that could probably describe a lot of taxpayers."

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