- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 26, 2006

Hatch vs. Leahy

Although the much-anticipated Supreme Court nomination fight over Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. has turned out to be something of a dud, there have been a few feisty exchanges. Among the snippiest was the floor spat Wednesday between Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, and Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican.

Mr. Hatch had dismissed Mr. Leahy’s hyperbole about the threat to American liberties posed by Judge Alito. Speaking later, Mr. Leahy angrily chided Mr. Hatch.

“On several occasions, both publicly and privately, I’ve asked the distinguished senior senator from Utah if he purports to quote me to try to at least get within the ballpark of accuracy,” Mr. Leahy said. At this, Mr. Hatch asked to respond, but Mr. Leahy refused to surrender the microphone.

“I would like to find the quote where I said Judge Alito all by himself would do away with the liberties of Americans,” Mr. Leahy said.

Well, by the next morning, Mr. Hatch found the following prepared statement from Mr. Leahy: “This is a nomination that I fear threatens the fundamental rights and liberties of all Americans now and in generations to come.”

Mr. Hatch said: “I was not only in the ballpark, I was standing on home plate.”

A confident Romney

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, edging ever closer to a presidential run, says he isn’t afraid that evangelical and born-again Christian voters will stiff-arm him in the 2008 GOP primaries just because he’s a Mormon.

The Republican also told reporters yesterday that his views on abortion have changed, because of research into stem cells, and as a result, he now thinks “life begins at conception.”

“I am firmly pro-life. Each state should able to adopt its own policies with regard to abortion and choice,” Mr. Romney said at a press luncheon at the Capital Hilton.

He said most voters in his state are Catholics, but they could not care less about his religion.

Mr. Romney had a busy day in Washington, speaking first to a Medicaid reform commission, then a Christian Science Monitor luncheon for the press and finally at the Heritage Foundation, reports Ralph Z. Hallow of The Washington Times.

Senatorial request

Two Senate Democrats called yesterday for the appointment of a special counsel to take over the investigation of the corruption scandal spawned by former lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

The switch “would ensure that the investigation and prosecution will proceed without fear or favor and provide the public with full confidence that no one in this country is above the law,” Sens. Charles E. Schumer of New York and Ken Salazar of Colorado wrote Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.

The two Democrats said that so far, the public-integrity section of the Justice Department, which is in charge of the probe, has “pursued this case appropriately.”

Mr. Schumer and Mr. Salazar sent their letter several days after Democrats pressed the White House for information on contacts between the president, or other top officials, and Abramoff.

Foot in mouth

A Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate challenging Pro Football Hall of Fame member Lynn Swann in the Republican primary fired his campaign manager after the man told a televised call-in show: “The rich white guy in this campaign is Lynn Swann.”

Bill Scranton, a former lieutenant governor who is white and comes from a wealthy family, also issued an apology to Mr. Swann, who is black, after his campaign manager’s comments Wednesday, the Associated Press reports.

The remarks by James Seif “in no way whatsoever reflect my views or those of my campaign,” Mr. Scranton said. “I want to apologize to Lynn Swann, his family, supporters and PCN [Pennsylvania Cable Network] viewers for the offensive and disturbing comments made on my behalf.”

Thanks, Ralph

The expected confirmation of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court, after the confirmation of Judge John G. Roberts Jr. as chief justice, “represents a notable, and greatly satisfying, rebuke for the legal left and its ‘borking’ strategy,” the Wall Street Journal says.

“Sen. Chuck Schumer declared in 2001 that he wanted to turn judicial confirmations into battles over ‘ideology.’ The New York Democrat succeeded in doing so, but he ended up losing in a self-knockout. One reason Democrats couldn’t defeat Chief Justice Roberts or Judge Alito, despite near party-line opposition, is that their filibuster strategy had made judges a top-line election issue in both 2002 and 2004.

“The battle over their unprecedented filibuster of 10 appeals-court nominees helped to sweep Democrats out of the Senate in Bush-leaning states and give Republicans a larger majority. The Democrats who remain in red states — five of whom are up for re-election in November — saw all this and had no appetite for a repeat in 2006. The liberal interest groups that devised the filibuster strategy and wrote the anti-Alito talking points for Sens. Ted Kennedy and Patrick Leahy thus contributed as much as anyone to Judge Alito’s confirmation. Congratulations, Ralph Neas. It’s your finest hour.”

Still out

Edward Cox, a son-in-law of the late President Richard Nixon, said yesterday he will not resume his campaign for the Republican nomination to challenge Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s re-election bid this year, the Associated Press reports.

The Manhattan lawyer suspended his campaign in October after Republican Gov. George E. Pataki endorsed then-Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro’s bid for the Senate nomination. Mrs. Pirro’s campaign subsequently collapsed, and Mrs. Pirro heeded the call of state GOP leaders to run instead for state attorney general.

Worse now

The head of the FBI’s counterintelligence division, retiring after 33 years at the agency, warns that “the counterintelligence threat is worse now than it was in the Cold War.”

David Szady, assistant director for counterintelligence, said the threat is “broader, it’s more expansive, it’s huge.”

In an interview with Bill Gertz of The Washington Times yesterday, a day before retiring to join the private sector, Mr. Szady said: “We really think we’ve come a long way, but more needs to be done.”

Mr. Szady also said that FBI counterintelligence training is increasing and that more agents are choosing to become counterspies.

Since 2002, the bureau has set up squads of counterspies in all its 56 field offices and has begun better training and private-sector outreach programs, he said.

“If nothing else, you can be proud of the FBI because almost every other free-world intelligence service has not been able to do in counterintelligence what we’ve done. We’ve sustained it, and we’ve increased it,” Mr. Szady said.

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

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