- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Gingrich’s stance

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said yesterday that top-tier Republican presidential candidates are making a mistake by skipping a forum focused on issues of importance to black voters.

Mr. Gingrich, in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America,” urged the leading candidates to reconsider their decision not to participate in a forum tomorrow at Baltimore’s Morgan State University to be moderated by talk-show host Tavis Smiley and aired by PBS, the Associated Press reports.

“I’m puzzled by their decision. I can’t speak for them. I think it’s a mistake. I wish they would change their minds — they still have a few days — and I wish they would in fact go to the debate Thursday night,” said Mr. Gingrich, who is considering entering the race for the Republican nomination.

The top four candidates in the Republican race — former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney — all declined to participate in the forum, citing scheduling conflicts and fundraising pressures.

Calling it quits

The White House withdrew its nominee to become the CIA’s top lawyer yesterday after Democrats raised concerns that the agency’s interrogation techniques may be illegal.

The president sent a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee informing it of the decision to withdraw the nomination of John Rizzo to be the CIA’s general counsel. The panel had been expected to consider Mr. Rizzo’s nomination at a hearing yesterday afternoon.

Mr. Rizzo, currently serving as the CIA’s interim general counsel, told a Senate panel in June that he did not object to a 2002 memo authorizing interrogation techniques that stop just short of inflicting pain equal to that accompanying organ failure or even death.

Sen. Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat, who led the opposition to Mr. Rizzo, called him the wrong man for the job.

“I hope that the administration’s next nominee for the position demonstrates greater respect for the rule of law and a firmer commitment to making sure that our nation’s counterterrorism programs have the strong legal foundation that they deserve,” Mr. Wyden said.

Mr. Rizzo has been with the CIA for more than three decades and served as acting general counsel from 2001 to 2002 and again since August 2004, the Associated Press reports.

Rather’s motives

“In a Friday afternoon Newsweek Web exclusive, reporter Johnnie Roberts talked to CBS insiders about Dan Rather’s lawsuit against his longtime employer,” the Media Research Center reports at www.mrc.org.

Don Hewitt, the founder and long-lasting executive producer of ‘60 Minutes,’ told the magazine he asked Rather the big bias question: ‘If this had been John Kerry, wouldn’t you have been more careful about the story?’ ”

Mr. Hewitt also remarked: “Any news organization, print or broadcast, has the right to protect its reputation by divesting itself of a reporter, irrespective of who he or she is, who it feels reported as fact something that reflected his or her biases more than the facts bear. And if the reporter’s defense is that he or she had been ‘had,’ isn’t he or she someone a news organization worth its salt can no longer trust not to be ‘had’ again?”

The Media Research Center said that “another former colleague questioned Rather’s motives, declaring that the former anchor is seeking to raise his profile in his post-CBS career at HDNet, a cable channel controlled by billionaire Mark Cuban. ‘Had he been a big success in his new life’ at HDNet, this person speculated, ‘I don’t believe this would have happened. How do I get myself back into the news? Sue CBS, of course. All of a sudden, people are now talking about Dan Rather again.’ ”

Way too late?

“During Hillary Clinton’s marathon of television performances Sunday, she was asked yet again about the MoveOn.org newspaper ad that questioned Gen. David Petraeus’ truthfulness,” John Dickerson notes at www.slate.com.

“Clinton had already been asked about the ad four times previously, but this time she had a new answer: She denounced it. ‘I don’t condone anything like that, and I have voted against those who would impugn the patriotism and the service of the people who wear the uniform of our country,’ she told Tim Russert.

“Isn’t it way too late to start with the condemnation? Clinton has already been extensively praised and attacked for not speaking out about the ad, which ran some two weeks ago. If you’re going to be outraged, don’t you have to express that soon after the offense occurs or at least in the first few times you’re asked about it? If this was really how she felt, she should have joined Joe Biden or Elizabeth Edwards, who criticized MoveOn before everyone moved on. Waiting so long and then claiming outrage just looks phony,” Mr. Dickerson said.

“The political result of the episode seems bad all-around for Clinton. She gets no points from independents or moderates for sticking up for the general when it mattered, and she loses whatever props she might have gotten from antiwar activists for sticking by her friends. (Hillary didn’t actually denounce MoveOn by name Sunday, but those already suspicious of her calculations won’t be fooled.)”

Dodd vs. Giuliani

The campaign of Democratic presidential candidateSen. Christopher J. Dodd said yesterday a fundraising party for RepublicanRudolph W. Giuliani seeking $9.11 each from guests exploits the September 11 terrorist attacks for political purposes.

The Connecticut senator’s campaign called on Mr. Giuliani, a former mayor of New York City, to refuse the money raised at the event, saying the theme “is absolutely unconscionable, shameless and sickening.” A Giuliani spokeswoman said the $9.11 idea was selected without the campaign’s knowledge, the Associated Press reports.

“Mr. Giuliani was quick to express much vitriol for the independent ad created by MoveOn.org last week; we would hope he would express the same kind of outrage and indignation about this group that he is the beneficiary of,” said Colleen Flanagan, a spokeswoman for Mr. Dodd.

The Dodd campaign also said Mr. Giuliani “should reject and/or return any money raised” through the party, which is to be held tonight at the home of Abraham Sofaer in Palo Alto, Calif. Mr. Giuliani’s campaign is sponsoring house parties across the country that night for the candidate’s backers.

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

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