- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 24, 2005

Roberts’ response

Supreme Court nominee Judge John G. Roberts Jr.declined to call himself a conservative or to accept any other political label, Sen. Arlen Specter writes in the New York Times.

“In my discussion with Judge Roberts last week, I asked him if he would feel comfortable with any of the customary labels — liberal, moderate, conservative,” the Pennsylvania Republican and wrote in an op-ed piece.

“Rejecting those categorizations, he said he would strive for modesty. His goal was to be a modest jurist on a modest court that understands its place in the balance of powers inherent in our Constitution.

“He also emphasized the importance of stability. His focus on modesty and stability provide comfort that he would not be an activist but would respect congressional action and judicial precedent. Whatever assurances may be inferred from those statements, our history is filled with Supreme Court justices who have provided big surprises once confirmed.”


“In the days before President Bush picked a Supreme Court nominee, the White House was gripped by Souter-phobia,” Fred Barnes writes in the Weekly Standard.

“Bush and his aides desperately wanted to avert the disaster that befell his father’s White House in 1990. The elder Bush, on the advice of his chief of staff John Sununu and Sen. Warren Rudman of New Hampshire, picked an unknown judge, David Souter, for the Supreme Court, thinking he was a conservative. Souter turned out to be a flaming liberal, so much so that Sen. Ted Kennedy now regrets having voted against confirming him.

“In naming Souter, Bush had passed over another judge he’d interviewed for the job, a real conservative from Texas named Edith Jones. The reason: Confirmation of Souter looked easier and probably was. For conservatives, however, his elevation to the high court was a mistake for the ages,” Mr. Barnes said.

“Fear of another Souter led George W. Bush to seek the answer to a single question when he interviewed five potential nominees. All five were deemed to be conservatives. The question was whether they’d be the same 25 years from now as they are today — in other words, just as conservative. The interviews lasted from one hour to nearly two. Bush found John Roberts the most impressive. He decided Roberts would not lurch to the left as Souter had or even drift in that direction as other Supreme Court appointees of Republican presidents have. A White House official said Bush doesn’t expect Roberts to ‘grow in office.’”

Family outraged

The family of a Marine who was killed in Iraq is furious at Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll, who they say showed up unannounced at the Marine’s funeral and made anti-war statements.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports: “Rhonda Goodrich of Indiana, Pa., said … a funeral was held Tuesday at a church in Carnegie for her brother-in-law, Staff Sgt. Joseph Goodrich, 32.

“She said he ‘died bravely and courageously in Iraq on July 10, serving his country.’”

The funeral was packed with Marines in uniform, as well as uniformed police, because Sgt. Goodrich had served as a police officer before going overseas, Mrs. Goodrich told the paper. “Then, suddenly, ‘one uninvited guest made an appearance, Catherine Baker Knoll.’”

The Democratic lieutenant governor “sat down next to a Goodrich family member and, during the distribution of Communion, said, ‘Who are you?’ Then she handed the family member one of her business cards.”

According to Mrs. Goodrich, Mrs. Knoll told family members: “I want you to know our government is against this war.”

“Knoll felt this was an appropriate time to campaign and impose her will on us,” Mrs. Goodrich told the Post-Gazette. “I am amazed and disgusted Knoll finds a Marine funeral a prime place to campaign.”

Spy vs. spy

Former CIA agent Larry Johnson — who professes to be a Republican but nonetheless has become anti-Bush Democrats’ go-to man in the Valerie Plame kerfuffle — is in a spat with former CIA agent Fred Rustmann, who thinks the furor has been overblown.

Mr. Johnson said Friday at the Democrats’ mock hearing into the leak — which blamed Karl Rove — that Mr. Rustmann “said [Mrs. Plame] told friends and family that she worked at the CIA and that her cover was light.”

“These claims are not true,” Mr. Johnson said, adding that although Mr. Rustmann was Mrs. Plame’s boss early in her career, he had “no contact” with her since 1990 when he left the agency.

“He does not know what she has done during the past 15 years,” said Mr. Johnson, who left the agency in 1989.

So how would he know what Mrs. Plame was up to if he left a year before Mr. Rustmann? He’s a friend of Mrs. Plame’s and insists that she did travel overseas within the past five years to do work for the CIA. If true, that could lead to criminal charges against anyone who blew her cover.

“If she had been caught engaged in espionage activities while traveling overseas, she could have been executed,” Mr. Johnson said.

Mr. Rustmann, however, disputes all this. He told James G. Lakely of The Washington Times on Friday that he never said Mrs. Plame told all her friends and family she worked at the CIA.

“I was misquoted,” Mr. Rustmann said. “I said that for all appearances that her friends and neighbors could see that she was working at the agency in an overt capacity.”

Several neighbors, when reached by The Washington Times earlier this month did, indeed, know she worked at the CIA.

As for the idea that she traveled in the past five years on agency business, Mr. Rustmann is again skeptical.

“It’s possible,” Mr. Rustmann said. “She was based in Washington, though. She may have made short trips during those years.”

But taking a short trip is not the same as being stationed overseas.

“I don’t know if they count the small trips,” Mr. Rustmann said. “I’m not a lawyer.”

Fed watch

“Federal Reserve watchers got another clue last week about who might succeed Alan Greenspan when his 18-year stint as Fed chairman ends next January,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

Ben Bernanke, the former Fed governor just named President Bush‘s top economic adviser, said he’ll play a role in suggesting names to fill open Fed seats, but not Greenspan’s. ‘I don’t expect to be involved in the discussion of the chairmanship.’

“Some took that as a suggestion that he’s on the list of replacement candidates,” Mr. Bedard said.

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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