- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Webb’s defense

Sen. James H. Webb Jr., Virginia Democrat, yesterday said he has a right to defend himself in the face of terrorist threats, but declined to comment about his aide’s arrest Monday on charges of carrying a loaded gun into the U.S. Capitol.

Mr. Webb described the arrest as “enormously unfortunate” but did not apologize, reports Christina Bellantoni of The Washington Times.

“It’s important for me personally and for a lot of people in the situation that I am in, to be able to defend myself and my family. Since 9/11, for people who are in government, I think in general there has been an agreement that it’s more, a more dangerous time,” Mr. Webb told reporters.

Phillip Thompson, a longtime Webb friend and an aide since he began his campaign a year ago, was arraigned yesterday on the charge of carrying a pistol without a license and being in possession of an unregistered firearm and unregistered ammunition. He will have a hearing May 1 in D.C. Superior Court.

U.S. Capitol Police detained Mr. Thompson after the bag he carried into a Senate office building was found to contain a loaded handgun and two fully loaded magazines, which police said belong to Mr. Webb.

The freshman senator said there may have been a car mixup owing to his being in New Orleans when Mr. Thompson was arrested. But he said “I did not give the weapon” to him and “I have never carried a gun in the Capitol complex.”

Bad numbers

Half of voting-age Americans say they will not vote for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York if she becomes the Democratic nominee for president in 2008, according to a Harris Interactive poll released yesterday.

More than one in five Democrats who participated in the survey said they would not vote for Mrs. Clinton. Overall, 36 percent say they would vote for the former first lady and 11 percent are unsure of their top choice, the Hill newspaper reports.

Forty-eight percent of independent voters also said that they would choose another candidate over Mrs. Clinton, according to the poll, which surveyed 2,223 potential voters.

Fifty-six percent of men said that they would not vote for Mrs. Clinton, while 45 percent of women said that she would not be their pick. In addition, 69 percent of those 62 and older said that they would not vote for Mrs. Clinton. Nearly half of the respondents said that they dislike the former first lady’s political opinions and her as a person.

No trial

Former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld cannot be tried on accusations of torture in overseas military prisons, a federal judge said yesterday.

U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan threw out a lawsuit brought on behalf of nine former prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said Mr. Rumsfeld cannot be held personally responsible for actions taken in connection with his government job.

The lawsuit contends the prisoners were beaten, suspended upside down from the ceiling by chains, urinated on, shocked, sexually humiliated, burned, locked inside boxes and subjected to mock executions, the Associated Press reports.

Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights First had argued that Mr. Rumsfeld and top military officials disregarded warnings about the abuse and authorized the use of illegal interrogation tactics that violated the constitutional and human rights of prisoners.

“Despite the horrifying torture allegations,” Judge Hogan wrote, he could find no case law supporting the lawsuit, which he previously had described as unprecedented. Government officials are normally immune from such lawsuits, and foreigners held overseas are not normally afforded U.S. constitutional rights.

Flattery only

“There’s been no shortage of flattering network stories about Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama,” the Media Research Center’s Rich Noyes writes at www.mrc.org.

” ‘You are the equivalent of a rock star in politics,’ NBC ‘Today’ co-host Meredith Vieira told Obama in October. ‘You can see it in the crowds. The thrill, the hope. How they surge toward him. You’re looking at an American political phenomenon,’ ABC’s Terry Moran gushed on ‘Nightline’ a few weeks later.

” ‘Barack Obama, with his fairy-tale family, has personal charisma to spare,’ ABC’s Claire Shipman enthused in January. ‘He does draw on something deeply good about this country. And we will have to see whether he can really deliver,’ MSNBC’s Chris Matthews announced on ‘Hardball’ in February.

“This weekend, the Chicago Tribune published a long investigative story about Obama’s youth, discovering that the story of his own life that Obama presented in his memoir is sometimes at odds with the facts. ‘Several of his oft-recited stories may not have happened in the way he has recounted them,’ the Tribune’s Kirsten Scharnberg and Kim Barker reported in Sunday’s article, ‘The not-so-simple story of Barack Obama’s youth.’

“The Tribune reporters retraced the years young ‘Barry Obama’ spent in Hawaii and Indonesia, and found several discrepancies in Obama’s autobiographical accounts. But Sunday’s ‘World News’ on ABC never mentioned the Tribune’s discoveries (the ‘CBS Evening News’ was pre-empted by college basketball, while East Coast editions of ‘NBC Nightly News’ were pre-empted by golf), nor were they mentioned on Monday’s ABC, CBS or NBC morning shows — nor Monday night either.”

Valenti in hospital

Former Hollywood lobbyist and presidential adviser Jack Valenti has been hospitalized after suffering a stroke, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Valenti, 85, had the stroke last week and remains at Johns Hopkins University Medical Center in Baltimore, according to longtime friend Barry Meyer, chairman and chief executive of Warner Bros.

“His family tells me that the doctors are encouraged by his progress,” Mr. Meyer said. No further details would be released, he said.

Mr. Valenti is the former president of the Motion Picture Association of America, where he devised the ratings system for films. He also served as an adviser to President Johnson.

Capital send-off

Some of Capitol Hill’s biggest names were scheduled to give a send-off to Taiwan’s chief of mission yesterday.

David Tawei Lee, who served a chief of mission to the United States for nearly three years, will be leaving soon to head up Taiwan’s office in Canada.

The party was to be held in the Mike Mansfield Room in the Capitol yesterday afternoon, co-hosted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat; Sen. Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican; Democratic Reps. Robert Wexler of Florida and Shelley Berkley of Nevada; and Republican Reps. Steve Chabot of Ohio and Dana Rohrabacher of California.

Joseph Jaushieh Wu, current chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council, will assume the duties of representing Taiwan in Washington.

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

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