- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Cheney link

Vice President Dick Cheney was the first to tell his chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jr., about the CIA officer at the heart of a leak investigation, the New York Times reports, citing lawyers involved in the case.

Mr. Cheney mentioned the CIA officer to his aide weeks before her identity became public in 2003, reporters David Johnston, Richard W. Stevenson and Douglas Jehl said.

“Notes of the previously undisclosed conversation between Mr. Libby and Mr. Cheney on June 12, 2003, appear to differ from Mr. Libby’s testimony to a federal grand jury that he initially learned about the CIA officer, Valerie Wilson, from journalists, the lawyers said.

“The notes, taken by Mr. Libby during the conversation, for the first time place Mr. Cheney in the middle of an effort by the White House to learn about Ms. Wilson’s husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, who was questioning the administration’s handling of intelligence about Iraq’s nuclear program to justify the war.

“Lawyers involved in the case, who described the notes to the New York Times, said they showed that Mr. Cheney knew that Ms. Wilson worked at the CIA more than a month before her identity was made public and her undercover status was disclosed in a syndicated column by Robert D. Novak on July 14, 2003.

“Mr. Libby’s notes indicate that Mr. Cheney had gotten his information about Ms. Wilson from George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence, in response to questions from the vice president about Mr. Wilson. But they contain no suggestion that either Mr. Cheney or Mr. Libby knew at the time of Ms. Wilson’s undercover status or that her identity was classified. Disclosing a covert agent’s identity can be a crime, but only if the person who discloses it knows the agent’s undercover status.

“It would not be illegal for either Mr. Cheney or Mr. Libby, both of whom are presumably cleared to know the government’s deepest secrets, to discuss a CIA officer or her link to a critic of the administration. But any effort by Mr. Libby to steer investigators away from his conversation with Mr. Cheney could be considered by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special counsel in the case, to be an illegal effort to impede the inquiry.”

The values issue

“The Republicans have had a bad few weeks. However, the Democrats have had a rough decade. …” syndicated columnist James P. Pinkerton writes.

“Yes, top GOPers in Washington are in deep trouble, even as the White House braces for the negative impact of the 2,000th American fatality in Iraq. So that’s one way of assessing the political situation,” Mr. Pinkerton said.

“But there’s another way, which asks, Which party better shares the bedrock values of most Americans? That’s a happier question for Republicans.

“A new paper by Democratic thinkers William Galston and Elaine Kamarck, ‘The Politics of Polarization,’ argues that over the past three decades a ‘great sorting out’ has occurred, leaving conservatives and religious believers mostly in the Republican Party, liberals and seculars mostly in the Democratic Party.

“The problem for Democrats is that self-described conservatives outnumber self-described liberals [34 percent to 21 percent]. Furthermore, Galston and Kamarck — veterans of the Clinton White House — contend many moderates incline toward conservatism on social issues such as abortion, gay marriage and the public display of religion. A Pew Center poll asked, for example, if it was proper to display the Ten Commandments in a government building; 72 percent of Americans said ‘proper,’ 22 percent ‘improper.’

“As Galston and Kamarck observe, religion and the social-issue controversies it raises have been ‘the overriding factor’ in the realignment of the parties — or, to put it more bluntly, the shrinkage of the Democratic Party. The authors regret this shrinking, but don’t see a reversal so long as their party is seen as anti-religious.

“But is it unfair to say that Democrats are anti-faith? Maybe. Yet in politics, perception is reality.”

Ex-judge to decide

A retired Texas judge has been selected to decide whether another judge should be removed from the money-laundering case against Rep. Tom DeLay, Texas Republican.

C.W. Duncan, a Democrat whom the Austin American-Statesman says has a reputation for fairness, has been selected to make the determination. Mr. Duncan is a retired judge.

Mr. DeLay and two associates are being prosecuted by Travis County’s Democratic District Attorney Ronnie Earle, who has accused the men of violating of the state election code and money laundering during the 2002 election.

Mr. DeLay and his attorneys have said the indictment is purely political and asked that state District Judge Bob Perkins be removed from the case because he had donated money to Democratic Party candidates and to left-wing groups. The American-Statesman reported that Judge Perkins asked 3rd Administrative Judicial District Presiding Judge B.B. Schraub to decide, and Judge Schraub, a Republican, has turned to Mr. Duncan.

A hearing on the issue was set for Tuesday in Austin, United Press International reports.

Immigration fight

“A fight on Capitol Hill over immigration reform now appears inevitable, even though it carries considerable risk for the GOP,” political analyst Stuart Rothenberg writes in Roll Call.

“Rank-and-file Republicans are up in arms over illegal immigration into the United States, and they are demanding legislative action,” Mr. Rothenberg said.

“Nothing illustrates the division within Republican ranks on the issue more clearly than the very different approaches being taken by Arizona’s two Republican senators.

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) have introduced a bill that would allow illegal immigrants in this country to continue working in the United States, eventually earning permanent residency if they meet certain conditions.

“McCain’s Senate colleague in the Grand Canyon State, Jon Kyl (R), not only hasn’t signed onto McCain’s bill, but he and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) have introduced an alternative bill that would require illegal immigrants to leave the country before they apply to return as temporary workers.”

Maine candidate

Former Republican Congressman David F. Emery announced plans to run for governor of Maine in 2006.

Mr. Emery, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1975 to 1982, will seek the Republican Party nomination to run against Democratic Gov. John Baldacci, the Associated Press reports.

Republican state Sens. Peter Mills and Chandler Woodcock also have announced their intentions to run.

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

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