- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 8, 2006

CIA vs. Libby

The CIA said in court papers yesterday that any decision by a federal judge to hand over documents sought by attorneys for Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, would compromise the agency’s ability to advise President Bush on national security threats.

Mr. Libby is charged with lying to the FBI and a federal grand jury during an investigation into the identity of the person who leaked information to the press in 2003 about the identity of CIA employee Valerie Plame after criticism by her husband of the administration’s use of intelligence before the invasion of Iraq.

Defense attorneys have asked U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton to order the release of nearly a year’s worth of CIA intelligence briefs to help defend their client.

CIA information review officer Marilyn Dorn wrote that the agency would be “forced to divert the limited analytic resources of the president’s professional intelligence staff to time-consuming and painstaking research and analysis to determine exactly what information was provided to and received from the defendant in connection with his morning intelligence briefing.”

She said only those who had prepared the reports had enough security clearance to handle the sensitive job of finding and making them available.

In a response, Mr. Libby argued that he needed the documents to show that issues with which he was dealing “dwarfed in importance the snippets of conversations” he had about Mrs. Plame.

Teacher’s alibi

A high school social studies teacher who was put on leave after comparing President Bush’s State of the Union address to speeches made by Adolf Hitler defended his lecture, saying he was trying to encourage students to think.

“My job as a teacher is to challenge students to think critically about issues that are affecting our world and our society,” Jay Bennish said yesterday on NBC’s “Today” show.

Mr. Bennish is on paid leave from Overland High School in Aurora, Colo., while the Cherry Creek School District investigates whether his Feb. 1 lecture violated a policy requiring that balancing viewpoints be presented in classes.

A student recorded at least part of the lecture in Mr. Bennish’s world geography class and took it to a Denver radio station, which played parts of it on a talk show.

Mr. Bennish told “Today” that the excerpts broadcast weren’t representative of the full lecture, the Associated Press reports.

“This is 20 minutes out of a 50-minute class. The rest of the class provides the balance,” he said.

On the recording, Mr. Bennish told the students that some of Mr. Bush’s speech “sounds a lot like the things that Adolf Hitler used to say.”

Later in the recording, Mr. Bennish said he was not claiming Mr. Bush and Hitler were the same, “but there are some eerie similarities to the tones that they use.”

Lott and McCain

“Four days before the Southern Republican Leadership Conference — the first cattle call for potential 2008 candidates — Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) appears to have snagged the endorsement of Sen. Trent Lott (R-Mississippi),” CNN political editor Mark Preston wrote yesterday in the Morning Grind column at www.cnn.com.

“Lott tells the Grind that when he takes the stage in Memphis on Saturday, his remarks will focus on ‘the Republican Party in the South and about my friend John McCain.’

“‘We should be looking for leadership and character,’ Lott said he will tell attendees as they consider who to support for the GOP nomination in 2008.

“In typical Lott-speak, the Mississippi Republican said he wouldn’t characterize the speech ‘as an endorsement necessarily,’ but he noted that McCain will accompany him to a Mississippi delegation reception Friday night and then tour areas of the Mississippi Gulf Coast destroyed by Hurricane Katrina on Saturday afternoon.

“Lott acknowledged that the two men ‘fought like cats and dogs’ in the past, but added that McCain has deep Mississippi roots and a Lott-McCain political alliance goes back generations.

“‘The McCain Farm was right down the road from the Watson Farm, my mother’s farm,’ said Lott, adding that their uncles were political allies. Should McCain run for president, Lott might prove to be a key Southern ally for the Arizona senator.”

Candidate jailed

In what has become a bizarre sideshow to the New Orleans mayoral race, one of the candidates has been sentenced to three days in jail for contempt of court.

Kimberly Williamson Butler, a criminal court clerk who announced her candidacy on Friday, had defied a court order to relinquish her authority over the cleanup of a hurricane-flooded court evidence room after the state Supreme Court appointed an outside judge to the task.

Miss Butler dropped out of sight last week after being threatened with arrest, but Calvin Johnson, chief judge for state district criminal court in New Orleans, canceled the arrest warrant Friday after Miss Butler agreed to appear in court.

Miss Butler then announced she would run for mayor, making her one of 23 persons challenging Mayor C. Ray Nagin in the April 22 election.

In court Monday, Miss Butler defiantly defended her actions, saying she had made progress in getting the evidence room cleaned up, and her attorney said the outside judge had been a disruptive force in Miss Butler’s office.

However, Judge Johnson and eight other judges taking part in Monday’s hearing were unimpressed and sent her to jail, the Associated Press reports.

Cherry picking

“Both ABC News and The Washington Post ignored their own poll that showed a majority of Americans support electronic eavesdropping by the FBI and the NSA to combat terrorism — but they did report some poll results that fit their liberal media agenda,” the Media Research Center reports at www.mrc.org.

Instead, ABC’s “World News Tonight” and “Good Morning America,” as well as The Post, “all stressed how 80 percent believe ‘civil war’ is likely in Iraq,” the MRC said.

“ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas and political commentator George Stephanopoulos also ignored Bush’s approval level of 41 percent, 7 points higher than the ‘all-time low’ for Bush last week in a CBS News poll which was much-touted by the networks. That 41 percent number, however, is just 1 point lower than the 42 percent level in the last ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted in January — well within the 3-point margin of error.

“Nonetheless, on Tuesday’s ‘Good Morning America,’ Robin Roberts asserted that ‘President Bush’s job approval rating has sunk to a new career low.’”

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

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