Monday, October 9, 2006

Finding the truth

Retired CIA officer Michael F. Scheuer, in a letter to the American Conservative magazine, says former President Bill Clinton “does a vast disservice to CIA officers, to the historical record and to the truth when he continues to claim that he did all he could to stop bin Laden. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

Said Mr. Scheuer: “On behalf of CIA officers who risked their lives in Pakistan and Afghanistan to provide President Clinton with the chance to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, I can only shake my head with wonder over the former president’s unwillingness to accept his direct culpability for bin Laden being alive.

“The 9/11 Commission — notwithstanding its many faults — listed the occasions when Clinton could have ordered an attempt to kill or capture bin Laden based on information provided by CIA officers and on many occasions corroborated by signals intelligence or overhead imagery. On one day in particular, Clinton had the U.S. Air Force drop tons of bombs on the Serbs — who had not harmed or even threatened Americans — while refusing to sanction an attack on bin Laden.

“It would be in the interest of all Americans to settle this matter. The 9/11 commissioners chose not to. The documents submitted to them prove beyond doubt that Clinton had chances to kill or capture bin Laden. Indeed, on several occasions he, Sandy Berger and Richard Clarke were told that the quality of intelligence was very unlikely ever to be better.”

Mr. Scheuer added: “I personally submitted almost 500 pages of material pertaining specifically to missed opportunities to eliminate bin Laden, and I and many other officers testified under oath to the opportunities that were presented to Clinton and his National Security Council. None of these documents have been released to the public, and none of the officers were allowed to testify publicly.”

McGovern’s library

George McGovern may have lost the 1972 presidential election, but he inspired many others to work for justice, decency and a better life for poor people around the world, former President Bill Clinton said Saturday at a ceremony in Mitchell, S.D., to dedicate a library in Mr. McGovern’s honor.

“I believe no other presidential candidate ever has had such an enduring impact in defeat,” said Mr. Clinton, who directed Mr. McGovern’s presidential campaign in Texas. “Senator, the fires you lit then still burn in countless hearts.”

Mr. Clinton was the keynote speaker at the official dedication of a library and study center honoring the legacy of the former Democratic senator and his wife, Eleanor. Several thousand people, including Mr. McGovern, Sens. John Thune and Tim Johnson of South Dakota, and former Sen. Tom Daschle of South Dakota gathered at Dakota Wesleyan University.

Mr. McGovern, 84, was remembered not only as an anti-Vietnam war candidate who lost by a landslide to President Nixon but also as a three-term U.S. senator, war hero and tireless worker for programs aimed at ending world hunger.

Mr. McGovern, a three-term senator who was defeated in a 1980 re-election bid, said he is pleased the library was built but is sad that his wife of nearly 63 years had to stay behind at their Montana cabin and miss the event. The two met at Dakota Wesleyan when they were students.

“She’s critically ill, and as the old song goes, she’s in the hands of the Almighty at this time,” Mr. McGovern said.

Death of a film?

Several major theater chains are refusing to book the new movie “Death of a President” because it depicts the fictional assassination of President Bush, the Hollywood Reporter says.

Newmarket Films, a 12-year-old Los Angeles-based film financing, production and distribution company, plans to open the film Oct. 27, just in time for the Nov. 7 election, the newspaper said.

“Yes, it’s controversial,” Newmarket co-founder Chris Ball said. “It’s quite a compelling political thriller. In many ways it is sympathetic to George Bush. It talks about a rush to judgment. In no way is it a call for violence.”

But the country’s largest theater chain, Regal Entertainment Group, has passed on showing the movie, citing the subject matter as the primary reason. “We would not be inclined to program this film,” Regal Entertainment Group Chief Executive Officer Mike Campbell said. “We feel it is inappropriate to portray the future assassination of a sitting president, regardless of political affiliation.”

Texas-based Cinemark USA also has declined to play the indie film, corporate spokesman Terrell Falk said. The chain recently completed an acquisition of northern California-based Century Theatres, which will not book, either. “We’re not playing it on any of our screens,” Mr. Falk said. “It’s a subject matter we don’t wish to play. We decided to pass on the film.”

Boston-based National Amusements, controlled by Viacom Inc. chief Sumner Redstone, still is in negotiations as to whether it will show the R-rated film from director Gabriel Range, who reportedly was the subject of death threats before the film’s debut last month at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Family business

Bob Corker, a Republican candidate for Senate in Tennessee, on Saturday called his Democratic opponent, Harold E. Ford Jr., a member of a family engaged in “machine-type politics,” while Mr. Ford accused Mr. Corker of doing nothing about illegal aliens working on his job site years ago.

Mr. Ford, a congressman from Memphis who would be the first black U.S. senator from the South since Reconstruction, and Mr. Corker, a former Chattanooga mayor, are vying to replace Bill Frist, the Republican Senate majority leader, who is retiring.

In the first of three scheduled debates, Mr. Corker said it is unusual that a Ford has held the 9th District congressional seat for more than three decades and noted that the Ford family has long been active in area politics.

“Let me be clear: I love them,” Mr. Ford said of his family. But he urged Mr. Corker to stick to debating the issues.

Mr. Ford’s uncle is awaiting trial on federal bribery charges, and his father once was indicted in a federal bank fraud case but was acquitted.

Joy of taxing

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic state Treasurer Phil Angelides sparred over the direction of the state’s economy Saturday in their only debate planned for the gubernatorial campaign.

Mr. Angelides said fees at the California State University and University of California systems have risen by thousands of dollars under Mr. Schwarzenegger, a Republican. Mr. Schwarzenegger noted that college fees rose dramatically under his predecessor, Democrat Gray Davis, and that he has capped them this year.

He also attacked Mr. Angelides as wanting to raise billions of dollars in taxes if the Democrat is elected Nov. 7, the Associated Press reports.

“I can tell by the joy I see in your eyes that you love to raise taxes,” the governor said to Mr. Angelides. “Why don’t you just say right now, ‘I love increasing your taxes.’ ”

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or

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