- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 1, 2008

VICE PRESIDENT

Cheney aide picked for case deposition

A group suing Vice President Dick Cheney to preserve a wide range of records from his time in office can depose one of his top aides, federal courts ruled Friday.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ordered Claire O’Donnell, the vice president’s deputy chief of staff, to make herself available to lawyers from a private group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, known as CREW. CREW is suing Mr. Cheney and the Executive Office of the President in an effort to ensure that no presidential records are destroyed or handled in a way that makes them unavailable to the public.

The group had wanted to depose Mr. Cheney’s chief of staff, David Addington, but a three-judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said deposing Mr. Addington “would constitute an ‘unwarranted impairment’ of the functioning of” the vice president’s office.

Appellate Judges Douglas H. Ginsburg, David S. Tatel and Thomas B. Griffith ordered that another aide be substituted, but they refused to throw out Judge Kollar-Kotelly’s order requiring the deposition. Mr. Cheney’s lawyers contended the depositions were an unprecedented intrusion into the vice president’s prerogatives, but the appellate judges said the deposition would “cause little to no inconvenience.”

SENATE

Stevens juror told to explain absence

A federal judge Friday ordered a juror who vanished during Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens‘ corruption trial back to court to explain her disappearance.

The woman identified as Juror No. 4 left the jury deliberating the charges against Stevens a week ago to fly to California after her father’s death. U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan halted the deliberations to wait for her, but court officials say she never responded when they tried to contact her to determine when she was returning to Washington.

The judge ordered the juror to appear before him on Nov. 3 to explain why “you have failed to respond to the court’s numerous and continued attempts to communicate with you beginning on Friday, October 24, 2008, and continuing through October 29, 2008.”

Defense attorneys asked the judge to let 11 jurors continue deliberating, but Judge Sullivan decided to replace the juror with an alternate. The other jurors were not told what happened to Juror No. 4 or why she was being replaced.

Stevens was convicted of lying on Senate records to hide hundreds of thousands of dollars in home renovations and gifts he received from a millionaire businessman. He is up for re-election Tuesday and plans to appeal his conviction.

PENTAGON

Gates, Petraeus vow better Afghan effort

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. | Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates welcomed Gen. David H. Petraeus as the new chief of Central Command with responsibility for America’s two wars, saying he hopes the general will help bring needed coherence to the U.S. and allied strategy in an increasingly volatile Afghanistan.

Mr. Gates presided at Gen. Petraeus’ change-of-command ceremony Friday at Central Command headquarters in Tampa.

He later told reporters traveling with him that Gen. Petraeus, who spent 20 months as the top U.S. commander in Baghdad, faces many new challenges after winning wide praise for turning around a failing Iraq war strategy.

“The military strategy throughout Afghanistan, with our coalition partners, needs greater coherence,” Mr. Gates said aboard his plane after stopping in Jacksonville to visit a nearby Navy submarine base.

At his change-of-command ceremony, Gen. Petraeus pledged to push for more than military solutions to the conflicts and instability of the greater Middle East, and alluded to his efforts in Iraq to use other U.S. government agencies as nonmilitary instruments of a coordinated strategy.

His first trip as chief of Central Command, starting Saturday, was to include a stop in Pakistan, a U.S. ally threatened with financial ruin, torn by an Islamic insurgency and armed with nuclear weapons.

Mr. Gates said he hopes the next administration in Washington sends the extra U.S. troops - upward of 20,000 combat and support soldiers - to Afghanistan in 2009. But he also offered a word of caution about getting drawn too deeply into a conflict with more American ownership.

HUMOR

‘Doonesbury’ calls an Obama victory

KANSAS CITY, Mo. | It’s not exactly “Dewey defeats Truman,” but some newspaper editors are pondering how to deal with a “Doonesbury” comic strip to be published the day after the election that assumes Sen. Barack Obama will win the presidency.

Comic creator Garry Trudeau delivered a series of strips for next week’s papers showing his characters reacting to an Obama victory. But he offered no such option in the event of a comeback by Sen. John McCain.

The syndicator is offering papers a series of rerun strips from August.

Tim Bannon, editor of the Chicago Tribune’s Live! section, where the paper’s comics usually run, said the strip won’t appear in the comics section because of deadline issues but might end up on another page.

Mr. Trudeau, who lives in New York, said he might have provided papers with a McCain option if the election were a tossup. But, he said, at the time he drew the strip, poll analysts were giving Mr. McCain less than a 4 percent chance of winning.

“From a risk-assessment viewpoint, I felt comfortable with the odds,” he said in an e-mail to the Associated Press. “If he loses, there’ll be such a national uproar that a blown call in a comic strip won’t be much noticed. Besides, I’ll be the one with the egg on my face - not the editors.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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