- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 30, 2009

SENATE:

Hearing sought on IG firing

Two Republican senators asked Monday for a congressional hearing on whether President Obama acted appropriately when he fired the national service agency’s inspector general earlier this month.

Sens. Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming and Orrin G. Hatch of Utah said they were concerned about “significant questions raised regarding the propriety of the decision to remove the IG.”

Mr. Obama fired Gerald Walpin, the inspector general who investigates AmeriCorps and other programs under the Corporation for National and Community Service, saying he had lost confidence in him. The firing followed an investigation by Mr. Walpin that found misuse of federal grants by a nonprofit education group led by Sacramento, Calif., Mayor Kevin Johnson, who is an Obama supporter and former professional basketball star.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama denies choosing a church

The White House denied a report Monday in Time magazine that President Obama had chosen an unexpected church for his family — the church dedicated by President George H.W. Bush at Camp David.

The article by religion reporter Amy Sullivan said: “Obama has told White House aides that instead of joining a congregation in Washington, D.C., he will follow in George W. Bush’s footsteps and make his primary place of worship Evergreen Chapel, the nondenominational church at Camp David.”

Ms. Sullivan wrote that the decision was primarily driven by a desire to “worship without being on display.”

But the White House told The Washington Times later Monday that the Time article was incorrect.

“The president and first family continue to look for a church home. They have enjoyed worshipping at Camp David and several other congregations over the months and will choose a church at the time that is best for their family,” said White House deputy press secretary Jen Psaki.

SUPREME COURT

Justice Souter thanks colleagues

It took Justice David H. Souter’s final day at the Supreme Court to bring him into the limelight after nearly two decades in Washington.

A New Hampshire native who became a member of the court’s liberal bloc after being appointed by a Republican, the typically reticent Justice Souter opened up a bit Monday, saying how much the strong bonds forged with his fellow justices had meant to him.

At the close of the morning’s business, Justice Souter read aloud from a letter to his colleagues, saying that friendship “has held us together” despite sometimes strong disagreements.

Justice Souter was replying to a letter from all his fellow justices, who wrote that “we have all felt a profound sense of loss. … For nearly 20 years, the court has had the benefit of your wisdom, civility and dedication.”

“We have agreed or contended with each other over those things that matter to decent people in a civil society,” Justice Souter wrote.

VETERANS AFFAIRS

VA oncologist defends mistakes

PHILADELPHIA | A radiation oncologist is fighting accusations he botched dozens of prostate surgeries at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Philadelphia.

Dr. Gary Kao admits that he sometimes missed his target when placing radioactive seeds or gave patients the wrong dosage. But he says that is not uncommon.

Dr. Kao’s voluntary testimony came at a congressional hearing Monday on prostate surgery problems at the VA hospital. Dr. Kao embraced one patient and apologized. The man says he spent months in bed after Dr. Kao implanted seeds into his rectum instead of his prostate.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says 92 veterans received incorrect radiation doses at the hospital over a three-year period, often because seeds were implanted in the wrong places.

DEFENSE

Air Force tests ballistic missile

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. | The Air Force successfully launched an unarmed Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile Monday from the California coast to an area in the Pacific Ocean about 4,200 miles away.

The ICBM was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base near Santa Barbara at 3:01 a.m. and carried three unarmed re-entry vehicles to their targets near the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, Lt. Raymond Geoffroy said.

The missile, configured with a National Nuclear Security Administration test assembly, was launched under the direction of the 576th Flight Test Squadron, whose members installed tracking and command destruct systems on it to collect data and meet safety requirements.

The Air Force says that the launch was an operational test to check the weapon system’s reliability and accuracy and that the data will be used by United States Strategic Command planners and Department of Energy laboratories.

INTERROGATIONS

Coalition targets 3 CIA attorneys

A coalition of advocacy groups is asking the District of Columbia and New York bar associations to disbar three government attorneys for approving and enabling the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program.

The groups are asking the legal panels to revoke the D.C. law licenses of acting CIA general counsel John Rizzo and former CIA Counterterrorism Center chief counsel Jonathan Fredman, and the New York license of former CIA General Counsel Scott W. Muller.

Mr. Rizzo is still at the CIA but is due to be replaced this week. Mr. Fredman is a CIA employee currently assigned to the Office of Director of National Intelligence’ policy, plans, and requirements directorate. Mr. Muller is now in private practice in New York.

The groups complain that the three attorneys approved and advocated the Bush-era CIA interrogation program that included waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning that President Obama has called torture. The CIA is standing behind the attorneys.

“This, to put it mildly, is something with which we do not agree,” CIA spokesman George Little said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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