- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 25, 2008

COURTS

Rep. Jefferson cites Constitution clause

RICHMOND | A Louisiana congressman accused of taking bribes challenged his indictment before a federal appeals court Wednesday, claiming grand jury testimony infringed on his constitutionally protected activities.

Democratic Rep. William J. Jefferson’s attorney told a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that a congressional aide’s testimony about Mr. Jefferson’s leadership in passing trade legislation benefiting African nations violated the Constitution’s speech or debate clause.

The clause says congressmen “shall not be questioned in any other Place” for speech or debate associated with their legislative actions. A federal judge in February refused to dismiss the indictment. Mr. Jefferson, who faces up to 235 years in prison if convicted of bribery and other charges, appealed.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Lytle told the appeals court judges that U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III got it right when he ruled that Mr. Jefferson’s lawyers sought to apply the clause so broadly that it would make it virtually impossible to ever charge a congressman with a crime.

CAMPAIGN

New York Times, McCain aide spar

The feud between Sen. John McCain’s campaign manager and the New York Times heated up Wednesday as the newspaper ran an article trying to link him to the ailing mortgage company Freddie Mac.

Rick Davis, the campaign manager, responded by accusing the newspaper of a “willful disregard of the truth.”

On Tuesday, Mr. Davis accused the newspaper of doing everything in its power to boost Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign while going all out to discredit the McCain campaign.

The newspaper, in its article Wednesday, said Mr. Davis’ former firm, Davis & Manafort, was paid $15,000 a month by Freddie Mac from the end of 2005 through last month, and that Mr. Davis shared in the profits.

The McCain campaign, in a press release, said the article “is demonstrably false” and that Mr. Davis - who left the firm in 2006 - never did any work for the failed mortgage giant and has received “zero” income from Freddie, directly or indirectly.

STATE DEPARTMENT

Personnel banned from Pakistan hotels

NEW YORK | The State Department has banned all U.S. personnel from staying at or even visiting major hotels in Pakistan’s capital and two other cities over fears of new attacks following the deadly truck bombing at the Marriott hotel in Islamabad.

U.S. government employees also have been told to stay away from public restaurants in the three cities and limit their trips to shopping markets. The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad is advising other Americans working or visiting there to take the same precautions. The other two cities are Karachi and Peshawar.

The ban on hotel stays applies only to government employees, who frequently used the Marriott.

The notice repeats warnings to Americans to maintain a low profile in public while in Pakistan, avoid crowds and demonstrations and vary their travel routes and times.

The notice was issued late Tuesday amid concerns that militants may seek to repeat the carnage of Saturday’s attack on the Marriott that killed 53 people, among them the Czech ambassador and two U.S. Defense Department employees, and wounded about 270 others.

MILITARY

Generals disciplined in nuke mistake

Eight generals, ranging in rank from one to three stars, have been disciplined as a result of the mistaken shipment of fuses for nuclear warheads to Taiwan, the Associated Press has learned.

Defense officials said Wednesday that the six Air Force and two Army generals were given disciplinary letters that vary in seriousness but can often end careers or hopes of promotion.

The officers are mainly in logistical jobs and were involved to some degree in the mistaken shipment to Taiwan of four electrical fuses for ballistic missile nuclear warheads in 2006. The error did not come to light until this past March.

The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the actions are not being announced until Thursday.

According to officials, at least one Air Force general received a letter of reprimand, which is a more serious rebuke, while others got less severe letters of admonishment or counseling. The two Army brigadier generals received what are called “memorandums of concern,” also a lower level of punishment.

ECONOMY

Post office faces $2 billion loss

The economic slowdown means business is off sharply for the post office, Postmaster General John E. Potter said Wednesday.

Mr. Potter said mail volume could decline by as much as nine billion items in the current fiscal year. Total mail volume last year was more than 212 billion pieces.

While financial details for the year won’t be available until November, Mr. Potter has said that the agency could face a loss of more than $2 billion.

The size of that potential loss requires steps now, including reducing work hours, Mr. Potter told the monthly meeting of the agency’s governing board.

POLITICS

Sneaky call leads to aide’s departure

CHEYENNE, Wyo. | Republican candidate Cynthia Lummis running for a House seat said Wednesday that her press secretary was leaving her campaign after a report that the staffer called in to a rival’s news conference and used a fake name to pose a question.

Mrs. Lummis told the Associated Press that she did not ask Rachael Seidenschnur to call the news conference held Tuesday by Democratic opponent Gary Trauner and was not aware that she planned to do so.

Mrs. Lummis said Wednesday that the aide had decided to leave the campaign.

When asked her opinion of the appropriateness of the call, Mrs. Lummis said: “Well, I support transparency, that’s the best policy, but as I said she chose to leave of her own volition.”

CHINA

Physicist accused of illegal exporting

A physicist from Virginia was arrested Wednesday on charges of illegally exporting space launch technical data and services to China and offering bribes to Chinese government officials, the Justice Department said.

It said Shu Quan-Sheng, 68, a native of China who is a naturalized U.S. citizen, was arrested by FBI agents.

Mr. Shu, president, secretary and treasurer of AMAC International, a high-tech company in Newport News, Va., is charged with unlawfully exporting defense items in violation of the arms export control law.

Department officials said Mr. Shu has been involved in China’s effort to upgrade its space exploration and satellite technology capabilities.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide