- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Gibbs dismisses Cheney’s argument

The White House on Monday accused former Vice President Dick Cheney of refighting the Republican Party’s 2008 election defeat, after his latest attack on President Obama’s national security policies.

Mr. Cheney, in a Sunday television interview, said that tough Bush administration interrogations of suspected al Qaeda militants had saved “perhaps hundreds of thousands” of American lives.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Mr. Cheney was peddling ideas rejected by Americans in the November election that swept Mr. Obama to power.

“I think that - I think you’ve got a series of ideas and a series of thoughts that in many ways the last elections was about, and the last election rejected,” Mr. Gibbs said.

“They’re essentially going forward by looking backward. If the vice president believes that’s a way of growing and expanding the Republican Party, then we’re happy to leave him to those devices.”


White House rebukes comedian

The White House on Monday registered disapproval after comedian Wanda Sykes, at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner on Saturday, likened conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh to a Sept. 11 hijacker.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, who attended the dinner with President Obama, said he had not talked to Mr. Obama specifically about the joke.

But he added: “I think there are a lot of topics that are better left for serious reflection rather than comedy.”

“I think there’s no doubt that 9/11 is part of that,” Mr. Gibbs said, pointing out that Miss Sykes was booked by the White House Correspondents’ Association, not the White House.

At the annual dinner, where Washington political types mix with A-list Hollywood stars, Miss Sykes referred to Mr. Limbaugh, an Obama critic, as the “20th hijacker,” accused him of treason and referenced his former addiction to painkillers.

Riffing off Mr. Limbaugh’s remark that he hoped Mr. Obama’s political agenda fails, Miss Sykes said, “I hope his kidneys fail. How about that?”


FEC cites threat in unusual ruling

A California congressman may use campaign funds to pay for security improvements at his house in response to threatening visits from a man who has repeatedly violated a restraining order, the Federal Election Commission has ruled.

Rep. Elton Gallegly, a 12-term Republican, sought the commission’s approval for the spending because federal law stipulates that campaign donations may not be converted to personal use. The commission had never before considered whether home security constituted personal use.

Mr. Gallegly’s request came after he consulted the U.S. Capitol Police about what upgrades were needed for a security system at his house in Simi Valley, Calif. He represents the 24th Congressional District.

The FEC ruled 5-1 in favor of Mr. Gallegly’s request, stating that “the need for enhanced security at your home is due to threats to you and your wife stemming from your role as a member of Congress and a candidate.”

In all, the security upgrades are expected to cost between $6,000 and $7,500.


EPA acts to ban food pesticide

The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a final rule banning the use of the pesticide carbofuran on food.

The insecticide is used to control pests on fruits, vegetables and other food crops, including corn and potatoes. The EPA said Monday carbofuran poses unacceptable risks, especially to children, at any residue level and violates food-safety standards.

Carbofuran has been under EPA review for years. Its granular form was banned in the mid-1990s because it was blamed for killing millions of migratory birds. The agency began its effort to remove the pesticide completely from the market in 2006.

The EPA said it soon will issue rules banning other uses of carbofuran because of risks to farmworkers and the environment.


U.S. disputes Indian lawsuit

The federal government told a U.S. appeals court Monday it owes nothing to 500,000 American Indians and their heirs who claim they were cheated out of billions of dollars in land royalties.

The long-running suit, first filed 13 years ago, is before the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington after both sides appealed a lower court’s decision last year that the Indian plaintiffs are entitled to $455 million - far less than the $47 billion or higher they say they are owed.

The suit claims the Indians were swindled out of royalties overseen by the Interior Department since 1887 for oil, gas, grazing and timber.

Indian plaintiffs, led by Elouise Cobell, a member of the Blackfeet Tribe from Montana, have argued that the government has improperly accounted for the money and should pay it back with some form of interest.

The government appeal contends the court does not have the jurisdiction to award the money at all, pointing to a district court decision last year that the task of accounting for the trust money was ultimately impossible. It has also pointed to the lower court’s ruling that Congress has not given the Interior Department enough money to do a full accounting.


Obama to huddle with top senators

President Obama plans to meet with Senate leaders from both parties Wednesday to discuss replacing retiring Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter.

The White House on Monday confirmed that Mr. Obama will talk with Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Jeff Sessions, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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