- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 22, 2003

Believe it or not

Rep. Gil Gutknecht, Minnesota Republican, has a culinary passion for Spam and persuaded the Library of Congress to hold an exhibit on the luncheon meat.

When Sen. Evan Bayh, Indiana Democrat, was a child, one of his baby sitters was Lynda Johnson, daughter of President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Rep. Bart Gordon, Tennessee Democrat, can run three miles in about 17 minutes.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Maryland Democrat, was thousands of dollars in debt when he arrived in the House. He spent two winters without heat because he couldn’t afford to fix his furnace.

An aunt of sibling Reps. Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Mario Diaz-Balart, Florida Republicans, was once married to Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

When Rep. Anna G. Eshoo, California Democrat, was a schoolgirl in Connecticut, President Harry S. Truman gave her a ride home from school.

Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, was an aide to a Democratic member of the House.

Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, Ohio Democrat, was so unpopular as mayor of Cleveland that he wore a bulletproof vest to throw out the first pitch at an Indians baseball game.

Sen. James M. Jeffords, Vermont Republican-turned-independent, holds a black belt in tae kwon do.

Rep. Tom Lantos, California Democrat, fought with the Hungarian resistance against the Nazis. He escaped from a Nazi work camp.

Rep. Jessie L. Jackson Jr., Illinois Democrat, vacuums his office carpet for relaxation.

All this and more we culled from the trivia section of “Politics in America 2004: The 108th Congress,” just released by the Congressional Quarterly and edited by David Hawkings and Brian Nutting.

Arnett argument

The Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF) is asking the Justice Department to bring “criminal treason” charges against former NBC reporter Peter Arnett, who during a lengthy interview with Iraqi TV claimed that American military planning had failed in the war with Iraq.

It wouldn’t be the first time the U.S. government prosecuted Americans for wartime broadcasts.

Oscar R. Ewing, a top policy adviser to President Truman and the head of the Federal Security Agency — the Homeland Security Department of its day — made the national security decision to pursue criminal prosecutions against three American citizens who broadcast their pro-Nazi views on European radio during World War II.

“I argued that [past legal] cases involved nothing more than a man getting on a stump and talking to a crowd of people that were within the normal range of his voice,” Mr. Ewing recalled. “I felt this was quite different from words spoken into a microphone that could project the words all over the world.

“Furthermore, that propaganda had become a definite weapon of warfare, and that anyone who used that weapon against his own country should be prosecuted for treason,” he continued. “When I had finished, the attorney general [Francis Biddle] said, ‘Well, I think you’ve got a point. Will you prosecute them?’

“This would present an opportunity to get a court’s reaction to our theory that mere words could be the overt act required for a treason conviction when the words had been spoken into a radio microphone for all the world to hear.”

Fast forward to today, where Phil Kent, president of SLF, says the U.S. Constitution “makes plain that treason is a crime witnessed by at least two persons, there’s legal intent, and it provides aid and comfort to the enemy — and Peter Arnett’s worldwide television tirade on Iraqi TV against U.S. military activity certainly meets those criteria.”

“The Truman administration during the post-World War II period aggressively pursued at least three Americans who gave aid and comfort to the enemy Axis powers by broadcasting their views,” he said. “In these seminal cases, U.S. citizens who broadcast anti-American sentiment on behalf of Nazi Germany while in Germany during the war were extradited, tried and convicted of treason. …

“This is the Arnett argument,” says Mr. Kent. “It didn’t fly then, and it doesn’t fly now.”

Confirm your pride

We’ve checked the TV listings for this Memorial Day holiday and find nothing as patriotic as Saturday night’s very special “After Hours with Cal Thomas,” featuring World War II veteran and former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who spent more than five years as a prisoner of war in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” of Vietnam.

Mr. Dole and Mr. McCain will talk about their wartime experiences and what Memorial Day means to them. Singer Ann Hampton Callaway will conclude the show with her gripping “I Believe in America” over a montage of patriotic symbols.

“It’s an old-fashioned, flag-waving romp that will lift your spirits and confirm your pride in being an American,” Mr. Thomas says.

The show airs on the Fox News Channel at 11 p.m.

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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