- The Washington Times - Monday, October 24, 2005

A scary moment’

It won’t be ghosts or goblins frightening many reporters and politicians this Halloween, but rather the final recommendation from a grand jury investigating White House leaks, says Abbe Lowell, defender to the politically famous and indicted.

“Without being hysterical in Washington, where hysteria reigns, this is a scary moment,” Mr. Lowell said on “Fox News Sunday.”

The grand jury investigating the disclosure of CIA officer Valerie Plame will expire on Friday after a two-year inquiry.

White House adviser Karl Rove and Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, are accused of leaking the information to several reporters and may face indictments for perjury or for obstructing the investigation.

Such indictments could set a precedent that will turn “leaks into crimes,” Mr. Lowell said.

“It can be very chilling to the media, and journalists and the American population ought to pay close attention if this statute is invoked for this set of conduct,” he said.

“There’s no doubt government officials should not release information that they shouldn’t, that deals with national security. That’s a given. The problem is, we live in a country in which virtually everything is put into the category of national security information,” he said.

There is a “vast array of laws that will now make it potentially a crime for people to leak information that should have never been in the national security domain to speak to,” Mr. Lowell said.

Another skeleton

Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers was deeply involved in an American Bar Association scheme that forces lawyers to pool their clients’ funds into checking accounts and pass on the interest to “public interest” law firms, Evan Gahr reports at www.chimpstein.com.

The program, known as Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts, or IOLTA, was intended to provide legal services to the poor but often ends up promoting left-wing causes, Mr. Gahr said.

IOLTA has helped fund “a panoply of left-wing advocates, including a California group that sued to overturn the state’s parental consent law for abortion, a gay organization that tried to force the organizers of St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston to include a contingent of gay marchers, and a Texas outfit that sued to disqualify military absentee ballots,” he writes.

Mr. Gahr added: “Now, Chimpstein.com has discovered an obscure report which places Miers at the forefront of the American Bar Association’s successful effort to foist IOLTA on the nation. This is the smoking gun which at least one conservative group tried to locate and failed.”

Law professor Charles Rounds, who opposed the scheme, said, “IOLTA is a program, created by state supreme courts or state legislation, whereby lawyers pool client funds — small sums and large sums held for short periods of time — into a designated interest-bearing checking account. The interest that is generated on those pooled funds is then funneled through a judicially created legal foundation to various ‘public interest’ legal firms.”

Miss Miers in the 1990s served on the American Bar Association’s Consortium on Legal Services and the Public, which pushed the idea, Mr. Gahr said.

A political blunder’

“Although skeptical from the start, we’ve restrained our criticism of the Harriet Miers nomination because we’ve long believed that presidents of either party deserve substantial deference on their Supreme Court picks. Yet it now seems clear — even well before her Senate hearings — that this selection has become a political blunder of the first order,” the Wall Street Journal says.

“Especially in the wake of his success with John Roberts, President Bush had a rare opportunity to fulfill his campaign pledge to change the Court by nominating someone in the mold of Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. In the process, he would have rallied his most fervent supporters and helped to educate the country about proper Constitutional interpretation. Instead, he picked a woman who was his personal and White House counsel, and who was unknown to nearly everyone outside the White House and his Texas circle,” the newspaper said in an editorial.

“After three weeks of spin and reporting, we still don’t know much more about what Ms. Miers thinks of the Constitution. What we have learned is that the White House has presented her to the country, and thrown her into the buzz saw that is the U.S. Senate, without either proper preparation or vetting. The result has been a political melee that is hurting not just Ms. Miers, who deserves better. It is also damaging the White House and its prospects for a successful second term.

“Instead of a fight over judicial philosophy, we’re having a fight over one woman’s credentials and background. Instead of debating the Kelo decision’s evisceration of private property rights, we are destined to learn everything we never wanted to know about the Texas Lottery Commission.

“Instead of dividing Red State Democrats from Senate liberals, the nomination is dividing Republicans. Pat Robertson is threatening retribution not against moderate Democrats but against GOP conservatives who dare to oppose Ms. Miers. Chuck Schumer couldn’t have written a better script.”

Diplomatic duties

“The Alabama-Tennessee rivalry has enough hype but it took on a surreal look in pregame ceremonies,” the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser reports of Saturday’s football game.

“With more than 50 photographers and Secret Service officers looking on, Alabama game captains Brodie Croyle, DeMeco Ryans and Roman Harper joined three Tennessee captains, seven game officials, Alabama president Robert Witt and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for the coin toss at midfield.”

Harper, an Alabama defensive back who forced a Tennessee fumble in the fourth quarter that helped set up the Crimson Tide’s 6-3 victory, said the secretary of state seemed nervous.

“She was shaking a little bit,” Harper said. “She didn’t want to make a bad toss. But it was cool.”

Alabama won the toss, but the security was heavy for Miss Rice, a Birmingham, Ala., native. “I was scared to move too close to her. I might get shot,” Harper said. “Any time you see the guys with the things in their ears, that means they’re important.”

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw was Miss Rice’s guest at the Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Fifth-ranked Alabama and No. 17 Tennessee fought a defensive struggle that was scoreless at halftime, prompting CBS announcers to say that Mr. Straw probably thought he was at a soccer game.

Always on the lookout for recruiting prospects, Alabama coach Mike Shula apparently was impressed with Miss Rice’s muscular security detail, saying: “There were a couple of Secret Service people here [Friday], and I saw them again today. I’m still wondering whether they have any eligibility remaining.”

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

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