- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 8, 2005

Naming names

The Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, under its chairman, Sen. Norm Coleman, Minnesota Republican, soon will make public the names of prominent individuals from several countries who received lucrative oil contracts from Saddam Hussein, Time magazine reports, citing anonymous sources.

Although the names of scores of rumored recipients have been circulating for more than a year, the subcommittee this week is expected to begin releasing voluminous details of oil contracts with Charles Pasqua, a former French interior minister and one-time close associate of French President Jacques Chirac who has categorically denied any involvement, the magazine said.

Among others to be named are a member of British Parliament, a politician in Russia and a former senior aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, reporter Adam Zagorin said.

As the Bush administration awaits the subcommittee’s revelations, sources tell Time that the United States has warned several foreign embassies in Washington that their nationals may soon be identified as suspected wrongdoers. The White House also urged the subcommittee to delay airing the Russian names, at least until after President Bush’s return this week from his meeting with Mr. Putin.

Three victories

“So it turns out Madrid was the exception, not the rule,” William Kristol writes in an editorial in the Weekly Standard.

“On March 14, 2004, the party of Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar was defeated at the polls after an al Qaeda attack in Madrid and after a campaign in which the opposition fiercely criticized Aznar for Spain’s involvement in the war to remove Saddam Hussein. In the wake of its electoral victory, the new leftist government withdrew Spain’s troops from Iraq,” Mr. Kristol noted.

“The question, a year ago, was this: Was Spain a harbinger of electoral defeat for the other democratic leaders of the war to liberate Iraq? Some hoped it would be, and have been severely disappointed. President Bush did not flinch in Iraq and was re-elected with a stronger showing than four years before. Australia’s John Howard, a steadfast supporter of the war in Iraq, was re-elected to a historic fourth term as prime minister with an increased majority. And last week Britain’s Tony Blair won a third term, the first Labour prime minister ever to do so.

“Blair won with a diminished majority, to be sure. Yet the main opposition party, the Tories, supported the war as well. So roughly 68 percent of the British electorate voted for parties with pro-war leaders. The Liberal Democrats, critics of the war who pledged a quick withdrawal from Iraq, did increase their vote by about 4 percentage points, but still received only 22 percent of the vote.

“The electorates of the major democracies — at least the English-speaking ones — have thus shown a willingness to support the leaders who took them to war. This despite the fact that no operational weapons of mass destruction were found, and despite the difficulties of the last couple of years in Iraq.

“In the cases of Howard and Bush, the victories were particularly impressive since they preceded the remarkable January 30 elections in Iraq and subsequent positive political developments there and elsewhere in the Middle East.”

Age vs. youth

A 30-year-old San Antonio city council member says his lead in the mayoral election should erase doubts that he’s too young to lead the nation’s eighth-largest city, but his 70-year-old opponent isn’t so sure.

Council member Julian Castro will face retired Texas appeals court Judge Phil Hardberger in a June runoff for mayor because neither received more than 50 percent of the vote on Saturday.

Mr. Castro led with about 42 percent, or 47,893 votes, after three-fourths of precincts were counted. Judge Hardberger received 30 percent of the vote, or 34,280 votes, the Associated Press reports.

“The lion’s share of voters in San Antonio believe I can effectively lead,” said Mr. Castro, who was the subject of jokes during his campaign because of his age and youthful appearance.

Judge Hardberger said Mr. Castro has “a lot of energy, but I’m happy to say, so do I, and I have a lot more life experiences behind me that I can utilize.”

The election gained attention last month when Mr. Castro’s twin brother, Joaquin Castro, stood in for him on a City Council parade float. Judge Hardberger accused the brothers of trying to deceive the public.

The brothers responded by joking about the so-called “Twingate” affair, with Julian wearing an “I’m Julian” T-shirt and his brother wearing one that said “I’m Not Julian.”

Challenger backed

The Los Angeles Times has endorsedCity Council member Antonio Villaraigosa in the May 17 mayoral run-off, saying the candidate has a “relish and intensity” for attacking the city’s woes that incumbent Mayor James Hahn lacks.

The Times also endorsed Mr. Villaraigosa in 2001, when the two candidates ran against each other in a tight race marked by attack ads that helped Mr. Hahn come from behind to win, the Associated Press reports.

“Villaraigosa’s drive, people skills and knack for coalition-building earned our endorsement in 2001. Given Hahn’s lack of dynamism, those traits seem even more desirable four ho-hum years later,” the newspaper said in an editorial yesterday.

The newspaper also cited reports of “pay-to-play” fundraising schemes within Mr. Hahn’s administration, saying the mayor’s “lax oversight and flawed appointments have fueled at least the perception that city contracts are for sale to the highest campaign contributor.”

At the same time, the Times applauded Mr. Villaraigosa for helping settle a 2003 transit strike and rallying the state’s congressional delegation to clear funding for a light-rail line.

Head of the pack

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani is the leading candidate for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, according to a Marist College poll.

The national survey found that 24 percent of Republicans favored Mr. Giuliani, while 20 percent backedArizona Sen. John McCain and 10 percent backedFlorida Gov. Jeb Bush, the New York Post reported Saturday.

In a hypothetical presidential race, Mr. Giuliani barely edged out Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the leading choice to be the Democratic nominee, 47 percent to 46 percent.

Mrs. Clinton was supported by 40 percent of Democrats surveyed as their choice for the presidential nomination, followed by 18 percent for former presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry, 16 percent for former vice presidential hopeful John Edwards, and 7 percent for Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware.

Mr. Giuliani narrowly topped Mr. Kerry 48 percent to 46 percent in the poll, but he trailed Mr. Edwards 48 percent to 45 percent.

Mrs. Clinton defeated Mr. Bush by 55 percent to 38 percent, but trailed Mr. McCain by 50 percent to 42 percent.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]

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