- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Angry words

Gordon Fischer, the former director of the Iowa Democratic Party and a senior adviser for Sen. Barack Obama’s efforts in the Hawkeye State, is still very much involved in making sure Obama gets delegates as the caucus process continues,” ABC News correspondent Jake Tapper writes at https://blogs.abcnews .com.

“He’s also quite fired up about former President Bill Clinton’s comments in front of a North Carolina VFW Hall, which the Obama campaign took to be an impugning of Obama’s patriotism,” Mr. Tapper said.

“In his blog, Fischer writes: ‘B. Clinton questions Obama’s patriotism. In response (sic), an Obama aide compared B. Clinton to Joe McCarthy. This is patently unfair. To McCarthy.”

“ ’Bill Clinton cannot possibly seriously believe Obama is not a patriot, and cannot possibly be said to be helping — instead he is hurting — his own party. B. Clinton should never be forgiven. Period. This is a stain on his legacy, much worse, much deeper, than the one on Monica’s blue dress.’ ”

The Obama campaign rejected Mr. Fischer’s remarks. He later apologized “for a tasteless and gratuitous comment I made here about President Clinton.”

Myth dispelled

“Five years on, few Iraq myths are as persistent as the notion that the Bush administration invented a connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. Yet a new Pentagon report suggests that Iraq’s links to worldwide terror networks, including al Qaeda, were far more extensive than previously understood,” the Wall Street Journal says in an editorial.

“Naturally, it’s getting little or no attention. Press accounts have been misleading or outright distortions, while the Bush administration seems indifferent. Even John McCain has let the study’s revelations float by. But that doesn’t make the facts any less notable or true,” the newspaper said.

“The redacted version of ‘Saddam and Terrorism’ is the most definitive public assessment to date from the Harmony program, the trove of ‘exploitable’ documents, audio and video records and computer files captured in Iraq. On the basis of about 600,000 items, the report lays out Saddam’s willingness to use terrorism against American and other international targets, as well as his larger state sponsorship of terror, which included harboring, training and equipping jihadis throughout the Middle East.”

Passport probe

President Bush believes the unauthorized snooping into the passport files of presidential candidates should be fully investigated, reports Jon Ward of The Washington Times.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice briefed Mr. Bush on the issue over the holiday weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat, said White House press secretary Dana Perino.

The Washington Times first reported Thursday on security breaches involving the passport records of Sen. Barack Obama, Illinois Democrat. The furor expanded Friday to incidents involving the passport records of Sens. John McCain, Arizona Republican, and Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat.

“Obviously, this is an important [issue], and there is an investigation under way,” Mrs. Perino said. “The president agrees that it needs to be investigated.”

Mrs. Perino referenced the probe by the State Department inspector general, but senators from both parties Sunday urged the Department of Justice to investigate, and one of them said even the Senate Judiciary Committee might get involved.

The passport information was accessed by three State Department contract employees working for two different companies. Two employees of Stanley Inc., an Arlington-based information-technology firm, have already been fired for snooping into Mr. Obama’s file.

However, the State Department probe is focusing on one contract employee who accessed both Mr. Obama’s and Mr. McCain’s files, and is employed by a firm whose CEO is an adviser to Mr. Obama.

What video?

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton says her eight years as first lady make her “ready from Day One” to be president, citing as an example a Bosnia trip that she paints as a death-defying leap into a war zone.

Mrs. Clinton last week described the 1996 trip, both in her prepared remarks and in questions afterwards, as occurring under sniper fire. “There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles,” she said.

“Problem is, that’s not what happened. And we should know,” said CBS News correspondent Cheryl Atkinson, who was with Mrs. Clinton and daughter Chelsea in 1996.

CBS yesterday showed footage of a relaxed Mrs. Clinton and daughter Chelsea talking at the Tuzla airport with an 8-year-old Bosnian girl and hugging her after she reads a poem. In a boxed insert, Mrs. Clinton is saying, “I remember landing under sniper fire … there was no greetings ceremony, and we basically were told to run to our cars.”

Asked about the footage during a meeting with the Philadelphia Daily News’ editorial board yesterday, Mrs. Clinton said she “misspoke.”

“I went to 80 countries, you know. I gave contemporaneous accounts, I wrote about a lot of this in my book. You know, I think that, a minor blip … if I misspoke, that was just a misstatement,” she said.

Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor was not impressed, noting “contrary to the latest spin from the Clinton campaign, when you make a false claim that’s in your prepared remarks, it’s not misspeaking, it’s misleading, and it’s part of a troubling pattern of Senator Clinton inflating her foreign-policy experience.”

Primary switch

The Democratic Party yesterday approved Puerto Rico’s proposal to scrap its caucus and hold a presidential primary on June 1.

A primary will give more voters a chance to take part in the nominating process, said Puerto Rico Democratic Chairman Roberto Prats. He said caucuses were fine in previous years, when the party nominee already was settled and the only task was to choose delegates to attend the party’s national convention.

“Now it’s different,” Mr. Prats told the Democratic National Committee’s rules panel in a conference call. Puerto Rico will have 55 delegates at stake.

Puerto Rico’s original plan called for selecting delegates at caucuses June 7. However, after the DNC approved the plan in December, it was discovered that the date was a typo and should have read June 1, DNC officials said.

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

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