- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 17, 2005

Quote of the day

Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, was asked yesterday on CNN’s “The Situation Room” what he thought of former presidential running mate John Edward’s recent New York Times op-ed in which the ex-senator from North Carolina said he was wrong to vote for the resolution authorizing the invasion of Iraq.

“I said that before Senator Edwards wrote that,” Mr. Kerry said.

A failed panel

“It was interesting to hear from the 9/11 Commission again on Tuesday,” former FBI Director Louis J. Freeh wrote yesterday in an opinion piece on the Wall Street Journal editorial page.

“This self-perpetuating and privately funded group of lobbyists and lawyers has recently opined on hurricanes, nuclear weapons, the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel and even the New York subway system. Now it offers yet another ‘report card’ on the progress of the FBI and CIA in the war against terrorism, along with its ‘back-seat’ take and some further unsolicited narrative about how things ought to be on the ‘front lines,’ ” Mr. Freeh said.

“Yet this is also a good time for the country to make some assessments of the 9/11 Commission itself. Recent revelations from the military intelligence operation code-named ‘Able Danger’ have cast light on a missed opportunity that could have potentially prevented 9/11. Specifically, Able Danger concluded in February 2000 that military experts had identified Mohamed Atta by name (and maybe photograph) as an al Qaeda agent operating in the U.S. Subsequently, military officers assigned to Able Danger were prevented from sharing this critical information with FBI agents, even though appointments had been made to do so. Why?

“The Able Danger intelligence, if confirmed, is undoubtedly the most relevant fact of the entire post-9/11 inquiry. Even the most junior investigator would immediately know that the name and photo ID of Atta in 2000 is precisely the kind of tactical intelligence the FBI has many times employed to prevent attacks and arrest terrorists. Yet the 9/11 Commission inexplicably concluded that it ‘was not historically significant.’

“This astounding conclusion — in combination with the failure to investigate Able Danger and incorporate it into its findings — raises serious challenges to the commission’s credibility and, if the facts prove out, might just render the commission historically insignificant itself.”

An opinion gap

Nearly half of Americans think torturing terror suspects to gain information can be justified, according to a survey published yesterday by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

The survey of 2,006 persons found that 46 percent thought torturing terrorists to gain important information was sometimes (31 percent) or often (15 percent) justified; 17 percent thought it was rarely justified; and 32 percent were opposed.

By contrast, the study found that of 520 opinion leaders questioned on the issue, no more than one in four thinks that torture of terrorist suspects can be sometimes or often justified, Agence France-Presse reports.

The survey also found that opinion leaders differ on who should be held responsible for prisoner abuse in Iraq and at the detention center at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The survey noted that more than 50 percent of academics, journalists, foreign affairs analysts and scientists think such abuses are the result of official policy, against 60 percent of military and religious leaders who see it as mostly misconduct by soldiers and contractors.

NAACP switch

“For decades, Republicans have struggled to reach out to black Americans. But now in Orange County, the GOP has to reach no further than the NAACP,” writes Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell.

“As of this week, Derrick Wallace, head of Orange County’s NAACP, has switched parties — to become a Republican,” Mr. Maxwell said.

” ‘I’ve thought about this for two years,’ Wallace said Tuesday afternoon, just a few hours after returning from the elections office. ‘This is not a decision I made yesterday.’

“It is, however, a decision that rang out like a shot among political circles. Republican Party leader Lew Oliver described himself as ‘extraordinarily pleased,’ while Democratic leader Tim Shea said he was disappointed.

“Wallace, a construction-company exec, was candid about the fact that his business life was a big part of his decision to change.

” ‘It’s purely a business decision. Ninety percent of those I do business with are Republicans,’ he said. ‘Opportunities that have come to my firm have been brought by Republicans.’

“To that, Shea responded: ‘I’m a little confused. Are we talking about the National Association for the Advancement of Construction Professionals — or Colored People?’

“Wallace elaborated that … behind many of the power desks in this town sit Republicans. And he said he wants his organization to be part of that structure. Just as importantly, he said, he didn’t want people to immediately brand — or dismiss — NAACP concerns as synonymous with those of liberal Democrats. ‘I want this branch to be respected,’ he said.”

Shrum, the book

Longtime Democratic campaign operative Robert Shrum is writing a book, CNN reports.

“The book is about what I have seen the direction of progressive politics take, what happens to it and where I think it ought to go,” Mr. Shrum told CNN reporter Mark Preston.

Said the reporter on CNN’s Web site: “The veteran political operative was coy about what else he would say in his book, and Washington insiders were aflutter Wednesday about whether it would include sharp critiques of his clients and colleagues from past campaigns — particularly the failed presidential bids of Sen. John Kerry and former Vice President Al Gore.

“Shrum did tell CNN he would not disparage Kerry or Gore but left open the door regarding criticizing his own party.”

The book is expected to hit the shelves in spring 2007.

Cash haul

The Republican National Committee received more than $85.7 million in contributions during the first 10 months of the year, a fundraising record for a nonpresidential election year, RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman said yesterday.

The RNC reported more than $34 million cash on hand at the end of October after raising more than $7.2 million last month.

“Our continued fundraising success is testimony to the broad base of support for President Bush and the Republican agenda,” Mr. Mehlman said.

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

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