- The Washington Times - Friday, May 18, 2007

‘Fanciful claims’

An attorney for Vice President Dick Cheney said yesterday that Valerie Plame’s lawsuit stemming from the exposure of her CIA identity is filled with “fanciful claims.”

“This is a fishing expedition,” lawyer John Kester said during nearly three hours of argument in U.S. District Court in Washington.

Attorneys for Mr. Cheney, Karl Rove and two others belittled Mrs. Plame’s suit, saying it should be thrown out of court.

The former CIA officer contends the Bush administration violated her constitutional rights by leaking her identity to reporters in 2003.

Her lawsuit is “principally based on a desire for publicity and book deals,” said Michael Waldman, representing former State Department official Richard Armitage.

The case is “about egregious conduct by defendants that ruined a woman’s career,” countered Mrs. Plame’s attorney, Erwin Chemerinsky.

Mrs. Plame is demanding compensation from Mr. Cheney and his former chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jr., White House political adviser Mr. Rove and Mr. Armitage.

A pall on Paul

The chairman of the Michigan Republican Party says he will try to bar Ron Paul from future Republican presidential debates because of remarks the congressman from Texas made that suggested the September 11 attacks were the fault of U.S. foreign policy.

State party Chairman Saul Anuzis said Wednesday that he will circulate a petition among Republican National Committee members to ban Mr. Paul from more debates. At a Republican candidates debate Tuesday night, Mr. Paul drew attacks from all sides, most forcefully from former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, when he linked the terror attacks to U.S. bombings.

“Have you ever read about the reasons they attacked us? They attack us because we’ve been over there. We’ve been bombing Iraq for 10 years,” Mr. Paul said.

Mr. Anuzis called the comments “off the wall and out of whack.”

“I think he would have felt much more comfortable on the stage with the Democrats in what he said last night. And I think that he is a distraction in the Republican primary and he does not represent the base and he does not represent the party,” Mr. Anuzis said during an RNC state leadership meeting in Columbia, S.C.

“Given what he said last night it was just so off the wall and out of whack that I think it was more detrimental than helpful.”

Mr. Anuzis said his petition would go to debate sponsors and broadcasters to discourage invitations to Mr. Paul, the Associated Press reports.

Jesse Benton, Mr. Paul’s campaign spokesman, said the candidate “is supporting the traditional GOP foreign policy. I think it’s a shame when people try to silence the traditional conservative Republican standpoint.”

Around the corner

“You wouldn’t know it from the media coverage — or, rather, the lack of media coverage — but it is less than three months until the Aug. 11 Iowa straw poll in Ames, the GOP’s first major test of candidate strength for the party’s White House hopefuls,” Stuart Rothenberg writes in Roll Call.

“No delegates are at stake, and it’s wise to view the event first as a state party fundraiser and only second as a test of the candidates. But the straw poll is worth watching anyway,” Mr. Rothenberg said.

“It’s true that the results of the first straw polls were a bit misleading — then-Sens. Phil Gramm (Texas) and Bob Dole (Kan.) tied in the straw poll in 1995, but Gramm drew less than 10 percent of the caucuses and was a nonfactor in the race — and they attracted few participants. But the 2000 turnout in excess of 23,000 Iowans (not quite a quarter of the expected caucus turnout) demonstrated that the event has become of considerable interest in the state, and the straw vote often has been an early warning sign of candidate strength or weakness.”

Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani is the only one of the 10 Republican candidates who has hedged on whether he will participate in the straw poll.

Study backs choice

Supporters of school choice yesterday praised a study by Georgetown University that found most of the parents participating in the District’s school choice program — created by Congress in 2003 — are happy with their experience and the program’s effect on their children.

“Opponents of school choice are running out of excuses for continuing to deny education choice to underachieving public school systems across America,” said House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican.

The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, officially begun in 2004, is the country’s first federally sponsored K-12 voucher program and gives low-income students $7,500 a year to attend one of 58 participating private schools in the District.

The study — funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and conducted through the School Choice Demonstration Project at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute — found that parents in the program were generally well-informed school choice consumers, reported greater involvement in their child’s education since entering the program, were concerned that they would lose eligibility for the program and were satisfied with their school choice experience, with 90 percent certain they’d remain in the program for at least another year. The study was based on interviews with about 100 families.

President Bush and some congressional Republicans are pushing to expand school choice as part of the renewal of the No Child Left Behind Act this year, but Democrats have rejected that idea.

More minorities

The number of people in the United States from ethnic or racial minorities has risen to more than 100 million, or about one-third of the population, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released yesterday.

The minorities figure stood at 100.7 million, up from 98.3 million a year earlier. Within that group, the Hispanic population was the fastest-growing at a rate of 3.4 percent between July 2005 and July 2006.

Hispanics were also the largest minority group, accounting for 44.3 million people on July 1, or 14.8 percent of the overall U.S. population, which, according to census data released in October, stood at more than 300 million.

“There are more minorities in this country today than there were people in the United States in 1910. In fact, the minority population in the U.S. is larger than the total population of all but 11 countries,” said Census Bureau Director Louis Kincannon.

The black population grew 1.3 percent in the year since July 2005 and reached 40.2 million in 2006, according to the census, while the number of Native Hawaiians and members of other Pacific Islander groups reached 1 million.

Asians were the second fastest growing minority group at a rate of 3.2 percent, with their numbers standing at 14.9 million.

The population of non-Hispanic whites who indicated no other race grew 0.3 percent during the one-year period, Reuters news agency said.

c Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]washingtontimes.com.

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