- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 9, 2005

Bay watch

President Bush yesterday left open the possibility that the prison camp at the U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, could be shut down amid mounting criticism from former President Jimmy Carter and others.

“We’re exploring all alternatives as to how best to do the main objective, which is to protect America,” Mr. Bush said when asked in an interview with Fox News Channel’s Neil Cavuto whether he would close the detention center.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, however, said he did not know of anyone in the administration who was considering closing Guantanamo. He defended the military’s operation of the camp, the Associated Press reports.

The military provides “a stable and secure and safe environment,” he told reporters traveling with him in Norway. “Information gained from detainees there has saved the lives of people from our country and from other countries.”

Mr. Carter told a human rights conference Tuesday that closing the Guantanamo prison would demonstrate the U.S. commitment to human rights at a time when the U.S. reputation has suffered because of reports of prisoner abuses at Guantanamo as well as in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dean’s loose lips

“‘I’m beginning to see through the Republican spin,’ a GOP Hill staffer instant-messaged me the other day, ‘and now I don’t think it’s spin anymore. Howard Dean is just totally nuts,’” David Freddoso writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“Under Dean’s leadership, the Democratic National Committee is different now from last year only in that it can’t keep up in fund-raising, and its chairman calls Republicans ‘evil,’ ‘corrupt’ and ‘brain-dead liars’ who ‘never made an honest living in their lives’ and ‘are not nice people,’” said Mr. Freddoso, a reporter for the Evans-Novak Political Report.

“Republicans, Dean said this week in San Francisco, are ‘pretty much a monolithic party. They all behave the same. They all look the same. It’s pretty much a white Christian party.’ If you belong to the GOP, he said in Washington last week, then you ‘are all about suppressing votes: two voting machines if you live in a black district, 10 voting machines if you live in a white district.’ If you are a Republican, Dr. Dean says you offer a ‘dark, difficult and dishonest vision … for America.’

“But Dean assures us, ‘We’re not going to stoop to the kind of divisiveness that the Republicans are doing.’ Quite a relief!

“There is much legitimate debate over what makes for a good party chairman, but one criterion that nearly everyone can agree on is that he should not be his party’s greatest liability. On that score, Howard Dean is really getting out of hand.”

Mehlman’s tour

While Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean defends himself for calling the GOP the party of white Christians, Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman continues to woo minorities from one end of the country to the other.

For example, Mr. Mehlman was in Santa Ana, Calif., last Thursday, meeting with Hispanic community and business leaders. “We want to make sure the American dream touches every willing heart,” Mr. Mehlman told them. “This party is the American party.”

Mr. Mehlman said the GOP’s encouragement of home and business ownership, personal accountability and hard work versus social-service handouts are the American values that appeal to many Hispanics, the Orange County Register reports.

His comments were delivered during a visit to the Lincoln-Juarez Opportunity Center, a nonprofit organization in the city’s immigrant business district. About 50 business operators and community members attended the invitation-only gathering.

Today, Mr. Mehlman takes his “Conversations With the Community” outreach series to Jewish business and community leaders in Pittsburgh.

Kerry’s records

While it was widely reported this week that Sen. JohnKerry, Massachusetts Democrat, had finally released all his military records to the Boston Globe, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth leader John O’Neill is not so sure.

James Taranto, writing in his Best of the Web Today column at www.OpinionJournal.com, cited a statement by Mr. O’Neill published by blogger Matt Margolis at www.blogsforbush.com:

“We called for Kerry to execute a form which would permit anyone to examine his full and [unexpurgated] [sic] military records at the Navy Department and the National Personnel Records Center. Instead he executed a form permitting his hometown paper to obtain the records currently at the Navy Department. The Navy Department previously indicated its records did not include various materials. This is hardly what we called for.

“If he did execute a complete release of all records, we could then answer questions such as (1) Did he ever receive orders to Cambodia or file any report of such a mission (whether at Christmas or otherwise); (2) What was his discharge status between 1970 and 1978 (when he received a discharge) and was it affected by his meetings in 1970 and 1971 with the North Vietnamese? (3) Why did he receive much later citations for medals purportedly signed by [then-Navy Secretary John F.] Lehman who said he did not know of them; (4) Are there Hostile Fire and Personnel Injured by Hostile Fire Reports for Kerry’s Dec. 1968 Purple Heart (when the officer in charge of the boat Admiral [William] Schacte, the treating Surgeon Louis Letson, and Kerry’s Division Commander deny there was hostile fire causing a scratch) awarded three months later under unknown circumstances.”

Byrd’s numbers

“Here’s good news to the cause of good government. West Virginia Sen. Robert C. Byrd, styled by partisan Democrats as the ‘conscience of the Senate’ and by those who are less biased as the last troglodyte in the body, could be defeated in his bid for his umpteenth term in the Senate,” Dick Morris writes in the Hill newspaper.

“He’s up for election in 2006, and the latest polling in West Virginia indicates that an attack of sanity and judgment may, at last, be hitting an electorate that has routinely elected the 87-year-old Byrd to the Senate eight times with never less than 59 percent of the vote. A survey by RMS Strategies, a West Virginia firm, shows Byrd barely ahead of Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, 46-43 percent.” Mr. Morris said.

” … While the West Virginia electorate remains 56-32 Democrat over Republican, it is also conservative as opposed to liberal by 67-30.”

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


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