- The Washington Times - Monday, May 17, 2004

Fear the snakehead

Former Sen. Malcolm Wallop, a Wyoming Republican who retired in 1994 after 18 years in the Senate, hopes he never sees, let alone reels in, a northern snakehead while fishing the Potomac River.

The avid angler, along with Sen. John B. Breaux, Louisiana Democrat, established the Aquatic Resources Trust Fund, better known to fishermen as the Wallop-Breaux Trust Fund. Since its passage in 1984, the legislation has generated $400 million annually for sports fish restoration and wetlands projects — just what the dreaded snakehead now threatens.

“I haven’t seen any snakeheads,” Mr. Wallop says of the exotic Asian species, which slithers across land on its fins.

But earlier this month, a 12-inch snakehead was caught by a fisherman in Little Hunting Creek, a tributary of the Potomac near Mount Vernon in Virginia. Last month in Maryland, a 19-inch female snakehead was caught by a fisherman in a Wheaton pond; and two years ago, several snakeheads were pulled from a pond in Crofton. Both ponds had to be completely drained.

The sharp-toothed fish, which are native to China and Korea, threaten to alter the local ecological system by consuming other fish, frogs, even ducks. Americans can legally own snakeheads, so long as they’re kept in aquariums. Release one outdoors, as one or more persons obviously have done, and you risk going to prison.

Unfortunately, John Odenkirk, a Virginia state fisheries biologist, doubts that the snakehead pulled from the Potomac is the only such creature that just happened to get caught. And you can’t drain the Potomac.

Photo award

Strict gun laws in place for the law-abiding residents of the District of Columbia (if not those who shoot people for sport) prevented Wayne LaPierre, head of the National Rifle Association (NRA), from presenting an 1873 Colt Army revolver to American Conservative Union President David A. Keene on occasion of the ACU’s 40th anniversary gala held in Washington.

So Mr. LaPierre instead presented Mr. Keene, a lifelong hunter who has worked in the White House and Congress, with a color photograph of the valuable collector’s item, saying presentation of the actual gun would have to be accomplished across the Potomac River in less-strict Virginia, where the NRA makes its headquarters.

“We’ll get the firearm to you as soon as we can,” Mr. LaPierre promised.

Article VI

America’s fight for independence is being waged all over again.

Concerned that Supreme Court justices are with “growing frequency” relying upon decisions of foreign judicial courts, the House subcommittee on the Constitution has approved the “Reaffirmation of American Independence Resolution.”

The passage “is a salute to the framers of the Constitution and a victory for those dedicated to the protection of American sovereignty,” reacts Rep. Tom Feeney of Florida, who introduced the measure with fellow Republican Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia.

“This resolution reminds the Supreme Court that their role is interpreting U.S. law, not importing foreign law,” he says.

Article VI states that the Constitution and laws of the United States are the supreme law of the land. Yet lawmakers point out that at least five justices, in order to justify their decisions, have written or joined opinions citing foreign courts from Jamaica and India to Zimbabwe and the European Union.

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor warned of late, “I suspect that over time [the Supreme Court] will rely increasingly … on international and foreign courts in examining domestic issues.”

Bubba’s prints

Just how deep into bureaucracy will the Iraqi prisoner abuse probe reach?

That’s what a concerned higher-up at the Department of Interior wants to know. The official noted at a recent Interior meeting that the department’s National Business Center (NBC) developed the contract for the Pentagon’s hiring of interrogators in Iraq.

NBC, a branch within Interior’s office of the secretary, provides various services for a fee to other federal agencies.

“The NBC was formed during the Clinton administration as a government business venture,” says our source, among other services running a “lucrative” drug-testing program for several federal agencies.

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

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