- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Critic criticized

Coleen Rowley, who built a reputation as a fierce critic of her FBI superiors’ failure to encourage and support a Minnesota investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui in the weeks before the September 11, 2001, attacks, deserves some criticism herself, according to a newly released Justice Department report.

The report charges that Miss Rowley — now retired from the FBI and campaigning as a Democratic candidate for Congress in Minnesota — gave fellow FBI agents in Minneapolis bad or incomplete legal advice as they frantically tried to persuade bosses in Washington to approve seeking a search warrant for Moussaoui’s computer and personal belongings, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

Miss Rowley on Monday denied giving improper legal advice. She credited her 2002 whistleblowing memo to the FBI director for initiating the newly released investigative report by the Justice Department’s inspector general.

While the inspector general praised Miss Rowley for sparking an “important reassessment” of top FBI officials’ pre-9/11 performance, the report’s criticism of her role in the Moussaoui case is likely to tarnish her public image and may affect her congressional candidacy in Minnesota’s 2nd District, according to the Pioneer Press.

A high hurdle

Nearly half of Americans would definitely not vote for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for president, according to a CNN poll.

Respondents were asked whether they would “definitely vote for,” “consider voting for,” or “definitely not vote for” three Democrats and three Republicans who might run for president in 2008.

Regarding potential Democratic candidates, 47 percent of respondents said they would “definitely not vote for” both Mrs. Clinton, the junior senator from New York who is running for re-election this year, and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the party’s 2004 candidate.

Forty-eight percent said the same of former Vice President Al Gore, who repeatedly has denied that he intends to run again for president.

Among the Republicans, Sen. John McCain of Arizona and former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani fared better than the Democrats, andFlorida Gov. Jeb Bush fared worse.

Only 30 percent said they would “definitely not vote for” Mr. Giuliani; 34 percent said that of Mr. McCain.

Sixty-three percent said there was no way that Mr. Bush would get their vote. The younger Mr. Bush has denied interest in running for president in 2008.

Among all choices, Mrs. Clinton had the highest positive number; of those polled, 22 percent said they would “definitely vote for” her.

Mr. Giuliani was next with 19 percent, followed by Mr. Gore with 17 percent, Mr. Kerry with 14 percent, Mr. McCain with 12 percent and Mr. Bush with 9 percent.

No-go

Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy G. Thompson said Monday that he will not run for U.S. Senate this year, leaving Republicans with no clear major challenger to Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl.

“Governor Thompson will not run for the United States Senate in 2006,” Mr. Thompson’s office in the District said. “He is enjoying his work in the private sector and decided against a return to public office at this time.”

Mr. Thompson, 64, who served as governor from 1987 until 2001, recently had toyed with a run for governor or for senator, the Associated Press reports. Last month, he announced that he would not run for governor, but didn’t rule out a challenge to Mr. Kohl.

Mr. Thompson, a Republican, resigned as governor in 2001 to join the Bush administration as secretary of Health and Human Services. At the time, he was the nation’s longest-serving governor.

Mr. Thompson works for the consulting practice Deloitte & Touche and the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, and is president of Logistics Health in La Crosse.

About-face

Pennsylvania House Speaker John M. Perzel said he accepts the public’s verdict that last year’s pay-raise law was wrong and acknowledged that his comments defending it have hurt other lawmakers.

Mr. Perzel revisited the topic at a hastily called press briefing in Harrisburg on Monday, four days after he offered a strong defense of the law by saying that about 30 House members are having serious financial problems and claiming that legislators are paid less than some Philadelphia tattoo artists, the Associated Press reports.

“I stand here today to acknowledge that I’ve been defending something that the people of Pennsylvania have deemed as indefensible,” the Philadelphia Republican said.

In each attempt to justify it, he said, “I’ve only stirred the issue up even further. I cannot allow that to continue. I accept the will of the people and welcome the current spotlight on the work of the General Assembly.”

Mr. Perzel did not say that he had changed his personal opinion about the pay-raise law, which was passed without public notice or debate in July, immediately before the legislature recessed for the summer. It increased legislators’ pay by up to 54 percent and gave raises to state judges, the governor and some other executive-branch officials.

The public’s reaction has been severe. Voters rejected a sitting Supreme Court justice in November, a first. The law then was repealed, but the issue arose again during the May primary, when 17 sitting lawmakers lost re-election.

No ice cream

“The International Dairy Foods Association describes last week’s Capitol Hill ice cream party a success, scooping the frozen concoction to about 10,000 staffers, congressional leaders and their families,” CNN political editor Mark Preston writes in the Morning Grind column at www.cnn.com.

“The IDFA says that it went through 1,500 gallons of frozen yogurt, ice cream and sherbet as well as 44 cases of syrup. But while many staffers were satisfying their sweet tooth, Sen. Dick Durbin’s (D-Illinois) aides could only look on longingly. It seems that Durbin takes lobbying reform so seriously that he forbids his staffers from accepting gifts from lobbyists even if it comes in the form of a cone,” Mr. Preston said.

Chip Kunde, IDFA’s senior vice president for government affairs, took the snub in stride, noting that this is the 24th year his organization has been hosting ice cream day on the Hill.

“‘We just do it to celebrate all the good things that dairy has to offer,’ Mr. Kunde said in an interview with the Grind. ‘I think the vast majority of people come out and enjoy some of America’s favorite dessert.’

“Kunde noted that dairy state Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) asks for the value of the event and then reimburses the association for his staff’s cones,” Mr. Preston wrote.

“But Durbin is no Grinch about ice cream. His staff had their own ice cream social on Friday with sprinkles, syrup and all the fixings for a sundae.”

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

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