- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Hey, ice man!

A high-ranking U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent, assigned to the Gulf Coast to assist with recovery from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, says he and his fellow agents were forced to remove their uniforms with “ICE” branded on the back (similar to “FBI” and “POLICE”) because storm victims were chasing them down in hopes of receiving bags of ice.

To end the confusion, several ICE agents changed into legacy uniforms — gear that reads “U.S. Customs” and “INS” (the old Immigration and Naturalization Service) — they had worn before the two agencies merged under the fledgling Department of Homeland Security.

Tough nut to crack

A difficult year for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay got even tougher yesterday when the Texas Republican was indicted on conspiracy charges. Knowing Mr. DeLay, he will take these latest charges in stride.

Take last February, when the embattled leader went ahead with plans to be keynote speaker before the Washington Press Club Foundation’s Congressional Dinner, even though the House ethics committee had just approved a “public admonishment” of him for influencing a fellow lawmaker to support Medicare prescription-drug legislation.

He caused further uproar when trying to change the ethics rules so they wouldn’t apply to him.

All eyes were on Mr. DeLay when he stood before the large crowd of press types and said it was an honor to appear before “so many friends” — adding upon second glance, “or so many people.”

Les enemies

Writing thrillers has gotten tougher since the Cold War ended, putting the handy Soviet villains out of business. So what’s a novelist to do?

Capt. David E. Meadows, an active-duty Navy officer and author of the acclaimed “Sixth Fleet” series of military novels, seems to have identified a new threat for fictional heroes.

“Over the waters of the Ivory Coast, a routine training exercise turns into a mysterious disaster, when a fleet of F-16 fighters simply vanishes,” warns the back cover of Capt. Meadows’ latest paperback. “Someone had gotten hold of an experimental weapon being developed by the American Missile Defense Office — and all signs point to the French.”

The new novel is “Joint Task Force: France.”

Imus at lunch

CNN’s Paula Zahn will serve has mistress of ceremonies for today’s 13th annual luncheon of the Action for Cancer Awareness Awards, the cornerstone event of the Congressional Families Action for Cancer Awareness.

The bipartisan network consists of spouses of members of Congress, senators, Cabinet members and Supreme Court justices who share an interest in advancing cancer prevention, early detection and education.

Among this year’s list of award recipients is Deirdre Imus, who with her radio host husband, Don, founded the not-for-profit Imus Ranch in New Mexico, providing children with cancer a nine-day cowboy experience.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Imus will be on hand for today’s presentation.

Cushing is capable

One congressman fed up with paying more than $50 for a tank of gas is Republican Rep. Ernest Istook, who is co-sponsoring legislation to ease restrictions that block construction of new oil refineries, including in his home state of Oklahoma.

Take the town of Cushing, dubbed “the Oil Pipeline Capital of the World.” Three-fourths of all crude oil flowing through North America reportedly passes through the Oklahoma town.

“Common sense says we should build more refineries in Oklahoma, especially near Cushing,” says Mr. Istook. “The town already has the infrastructure in place and land available for a huge plant. It would be a perfect fit.”

And, the congressman points out, Oklahoma is far enough away from the Gulf Coast that hurricanes wouldn’t render its refineries inoperable.

Hark the Herald

A new public affairs and strategic consulting firm opened its doors yesterday, among its areas of expertise politics, campaigning and — what often follows in these unethical times — crisis management.

Founders of the Herald Group include political industry veterans Taylor Gross, Doug McGinn and Matt Well, the latter a former aide to Sen. Bob Dole who recently stepped down as director of public affairs for the Securities and Exchange Commission.

A longtime political operative in Washington, Mr. Gross recently left the White House, where for almost five years he was a spokesman for President Bush. The previous stop for Mr. McGinn, a communications director and senior adviser to three members of Congress, was as assistant vice president at Dittus Communications in Washington.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]

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