- The Washington Times - Monday, June 22, 2009

INTELLIGENCE

Feinstein says U.S. can’t affect Iran

U.S. intelligence has not meddled in the mass protests sweeping Iran and has little real ability to do so anyway, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Sunday.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, said officials involved in U.S. clandestine operations were queried about it this week in a formal setting.

“I can say this, to the best of my knowledge there has been no interference with the election, there has been no manipulation of people following the election,” she said in an interview with CNN, adding that U.S. intelligence on Iran was not good.

“I think it’s a very difficult country in which to collect intelligence right now. So I think our ability to get in there and change the course of human events is very low, to be very candid with you,” she said.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused the United States and Britain of interfering in the country’s affairs, and Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told foreign diplomats that Britain had worked to sabotage the election.

“By blaming the United States and Great Britain, they are trying to take the responsibility from its own shoulders, and clearly I think most people see that the responsibility belongs on those shoulders, not ours,” Mrs. Feinstein said.

LEGISLATURE

New York Senate adds special session

ALBANY, N.Y. | Unsatisfied with New York senators’ efforts to resolve their paralyzing power dispute, Gov. David A. Paterson is ordering a special session beginning Tuesday.

Mr. Paterson, a Democrat, says his order could compel senators to stay in Albany every day, including weekends and the July 4 holiday, until they take up unfinished business. Although a governor can order a special session and set the agenda of bills to be considered, lawmakers can’t be forced to vote on or debate those bills.

The governor also offered senators two well-respected former politicians to act as mediators Monday, but held out little hope that would avoid the need for a special session.

The leadership dispute has gridlocked the Senate since June 8.

FEMINISTS

O’Neill elected as NOW president

INDIANAPOLIS | The National Organization for Women has elected a 56-year-old Maryland woman as the group’s next president.

NOW said Terry O’Neill, who is white, defeated Latifa Lyles, a 33-year-old black woman from the District during the organization’s three-day national conference in Indianapolis. The voting took place Saturday.

O’Neill spokeswoman Hannah Olanoff said Sunday that the vote totals were not immediately available, but she said it was a close election, as had been expected.

Ms. Lyles was endorsed by current NOW President Kim Gandy, who had said she would “take NOW to a different level” by recognizing the nation’s “generational shift.”

Ms. Gandy retires from NOW on July 20 after eight years as the group’s president.

Ms. O’Neill, who is one of the oldest women to lead the group at the start of a term, said in a prepared statement that she was “honored and eager” to lead NOW.

TRADE

Iran buying more U.S. goods

Iran spent nearly twice as much on U.S. imports during President Obama’s first months in office as it did during the same period in 2008, showing that despite trade penalties and tense relations, the two countries are still doing business.

The U.S. exported $96 million in goods to Iran from January through April, according to an Associated Press analysis of U.S. government trade data compiled by the World Institute for Strategic Economic Research in Holyoke, Mass. U.S. exports to Iran totaled $51 million during the same period in 2008 and $27 million over those months in 2007.

Soybeans, wheat and medical supplies - all considered humanitarian items exempt from U.S. trade sanctions - are among the top exports this year.

The latest trade figures reflect an increase in Iran’s agricultural imports over the past year because of poor harvests there, said Bill Reinsch, president of the National Foreign Trade Council, a business group in Washington.

“I wouldn’t read too much into it as far as trends are concerned,” Mr. Reinsch said.

HOUSE

Conservatives vow to fix motto mistake

On tap for the coming week is a House vote that would both welcome God to a prominent place in the U.S. Capitol complex and correct an embarrassing flub of the nation’s motto.

The House was supposed to have voted last Monday on a resolution directing the Capitol’s architect to engrave in stone in a central spot in the new Capitol Visitor Center both the Pledge of Allegiance and the nation’s correct motto: “In God We Trust.”

According to Lisa Hoffmann’s Washington Call column for Scripps Howard News Service, those in charge of the center seemingly thought “E Pluribus Unum” was the motto, and so identified it in bronze letters on a wall of the sprawling center, through which tourists must pass.

Rep. Dan Lungren, California Republican, and Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican, aghast at the motto mistake and the resulting absence of religion, vowed to correct both oversights. Because of the press of other business, House leaders postponed the vote until Wednesday, when lawmakers will be scrambling to wrap up before their summer recess. The measure’s next stop would be the Senate.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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