- The Washington Times - Monday, September 28, 2009

EX-PRESIDENT

Clinton says ‘no’ to public office

Former President Bill Clinton says he is enjoying his role in private life and has no plans of seeking a return to public office.

“That’s Hillary’s job now,” he said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We’ve totally switched roles. She spent most of her life in the nongovernmental sector, and that’s what I do now.”

Mr. Clinton said he’s happy running his global initiative that brings together the public and private sector to discuss solutions for climate change, poverty, global health and education.

“While I can’t touch as many lives and as many things as I did as president, the things I do focus on, we can have a huge impact,” he said.

As for his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, making another run for the White House, Mr. Clinton said that’s up to her. But he added, “We’re not getting any younger.”

The former Democratic president called it “pretty thrilling” that Mrs. Clinton has established a good relationship with President Obama, her Democratic rival for the presidency in 2008. “It’s a good argument for reconciliation.”

NURSING HOMES

U.S. program misses troubled care facilities

A government program that brings extra scrutiny to poorly performing nursing homes leaves out hundreds of troubled facilities, investigators report.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services identifies up to 136 nursing homes as “special focus facilities” subject to more frequent inspections because of their living conditions. In every state except for Alaska, there are between one and six such facilities. But investigators said four times as many homes, or 580, could be considered among the nation’s worst.

The report from the Government Accountability Office does not identify the homes.

The chairman of the Senate Aging Committee said it indicated to him that the special focus is too limited. At the least, Sen. Herb Kohl, Wisconsin Democrat, wants more explicit warnings about nursing homes as people study quality ratings on a Medicare Web site, Nursing Home Compare at www. medicare.gov/nhcompare.

“If far more than 136 nursing homes boast the bleakest conditions, then perhaps we should consider expanding” the program, said Mr. Kohl, who requested the study with Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican.

The GAO said it made just that recommendation two years ago. Federal officials agreed with the concept, but said they didn’t have the resources to do so.

The report being released Monday also suggests adjusting the methods used to identify the worst performing nursing homes. The home now under special attention are the worst performing in their state. But not all states are created equal when it comes to nursing home quality. Comparing the homes nationally would ensure that scarce resources go to inspecting the nursing homes that truly need the most attention, according to the report.

TERRORISM

Fewer terrorism suspects go on trial

The government is prosecuting only about one out of four of those charged in connection with terrorism, according to a study that suggests federal agencies don’t agree on who is a terrorist.

People charged with terrorism often go free because the evidence wasn’t strong enough to bring them to trial, says the study by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a data research group at Syracuse University.

Since 2002, the percentage of terrorism cases that federal prosecutors declined to pursue has grown from 31 percent to 73 percent, the study found.

Nearly 6,000 of the close to 8,900 cases referred for prosecution by federal investigators between 2004 and 2008 were closed without action. Of the remaining cases, 2,302 people were convicted and 1,245 went to prison, the study found, and just 52 were sentenced to 20 years or more.

According to the data, U.S. attorneys reported that the cases brought to them by investigators were often based on weak or insufficient admissible evidence, lacked criminal intent or did not constitute a federal offense.

The Justice Department disagreed with the study’s analysis and conclusions, saying the data omit some statistics and the numbers used differ from the agency’s information.

FUNDING

Bloomberg presses for security funds

The arrest last week of former coffee vendor Najibullah Zazi on charges of plotting to attack New York City gives added urgency to the city’s pleas for federal funding to deter nuclear attacks, New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and area lawmakers said Sunday.

“Despite the incredible job the NYPD is doing, our city does remain a prime target for terrorists,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “That’s a fact. And so we can always use more resources, more technology and more boots on the ground to keep this city safe.”

City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly joined the mayor in pressing Congress for $40 million for a program to ring the region with sensors to detect radioactive material.

“With additional funding of $40 million that we’re looking for, we’ll be able to put in permanent, fixed cameras and radiation detection equipment at all the entry points into Manhattan,” Mr. Kelly said, “and we’ll also be able to establish a regional wireless system that will enable all the partners in this program to get notified immediately if in fact radiation material is discovered.”

The Homeland Security Appropriations Conference Committee is considering the act that would fund the program.

Federal prosecutors say Mr. Zazi, a 24-year-old Afghan immigrant, planned to unleash a terrorist attack on New York City on the Sept. 11 anniversary.

They said Mr. Zazi received explosives training from al Qaeda in Pakistan and returned to the United States bent on building a bomb. He was arrested in Denver a week ago.

Mr. Zazi’s lawyer denied the charges.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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