- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Peter surfaces

Veteran war correspondent Peter Arnett, who was fired by NBC in 2003 after declaring on Iraqi TV that the U.S. war plan in Iraq had “failed,” suggested yesterday that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was unnecessary because “Saddam was on his way out.”

Surfacing early yesterday morning on CBS’ “The Late Late Show,” Mr. Arnett told host Craig Ferguson that he thinks Saddam Hussein, who awaits trial in Iraq, would have been knocked from power within “five years” even without U.S. troops entering Baghdad.

Asked how long he thought the U.S. military would need to remain in Iraq, the war correspondent, who divides his time between homes in Virginia and Baghdad, said “a very long time” because, as he put it, “the country is on the brink of civil war.”

Mr. Arnett told the host that while most reporters live in Baghdad’s heavily secured green zone, he resides in downtown Baghdad’s “business district,” surrounded by what he calls “protective neighbors.”

For transportation, the correspondent whom critics accused of being a “stooge” of Saddam said he simply walks out onto the street and hails a taxi, explaining, “Terrorists don’t want to blow up a $200 taxi; their explosives cost more.”

“It’s worked so far,” Mr. Arnett said.

Asked whether Saddam was what “propaganda” had made him out to be — “a guy who bit the head off of puppies,” said Mr. Ferguson — Mr. Arnett said the first time he interviewed Saddam during the 1991 Persian Gulf War he found him to be a “very elegant, diplomatic guy.”

Ambassador Gray

President Bush this week sent to the Senate his nomination of C. Boyden Gray to be the U.S. representative to the European Union, with the rank and status of “ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary.”

A partner with Wilmer, Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr in Washington, his practice focusing on environmental law, Mr. Gray was counsel to the current president’s father, President George Bush, from 1989 to 1993.

The European Union consists of 25 independent states and was founded to enhance political, economic and social cooperation. If the states were a country, it would be the third largest by population after China and India.

Distinguished mouse

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s chief of staff, Tim Berry, was sent an overnight express package that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals hopes will help him in his quest not to hurt or kill a mouse that has taken up residence in the congressman’s office.

The package contains “state-of-the-art humane mousetraps,” which allow mice to be released safely outside.

“This is basically a source of great humor in the office,” Mr. Berry told Inside the Beltway when we rang.

He was trying to downplay PETA’s involvement. “There is a mouse that lives in my office, and I had told my staff not to crush it, and that’s how this began.”

Mr. Berry said as far as he is concerned, the mouse can stay put in its congressional mouse hole.

Smoke these

A cigar bar is set to open on Clinton Avenue in Little Rock, near the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum. The name of the operation, or so we read on the application filed with the Arkansas Secretary of State Business/Commercial Services: “Monica’s on Clinton.”

Pure as it gets

Amidst their struggles with terrorists, British residents had cause to chuckle this week when an exhibit “sculpture” on global warming — a plastic bottle of water from melted ice in the Antarctic — was misinterpreted by a presumably thirsty visitor.

Steven Morris wrote in yesterday’s edition of the Guardian that although the sculpture was “intended to be a telling comment on the dangers of global warming … the visitor is believed to have drunk the piece.”

“The sculpture was the creation of the American-born artist and writer Wayne Hill,” Mr. Morris said. “He brought back two litres of melt water from the west Antarctic and designed a bottle to hold it.”

Tracked down, Mr. Hill said: “If you put something in a frame or on a plinth people usually recognize it’s a piece of art and treat it with respect.”

Police in Devon and Cornwall have been called in to investigate. A spokesman confirmed: “We are looking at the possibility someone drank the water without knowing it was a piece of art.”

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

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