- The Washington Times - Monday, July 5, 2010


Top figures on witness list

ORLANDO | A criminal-defense attorney for ousted Florida GOP Chairman Jim Greer Monday promised to call to the stand some of the most powerful men in Florida politics - Gov. Charlie Crist, Attorney General Bill McCollum and state Republican chief John Thrasher.

J. Cheney Mason also said he’ll depose prospective Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon and soon-to-be Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos, both Republicans. Mr. Greer, his lawyer said, was the victim of right-wing conservatives who turned against Mr. Crist, the man who picked Mr. Greer to head the state party.

Mr. Greer, 48, was indicted in May by a statewide grand jury that charged him with theft, organized fraud and money laundering. Records released by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Office of Statewide Prosecution accuse Mr. Greer of funneling $125,000 from the state party into his personal bank accounts.

Mr. Mason denounced state GOP officials and their motives, especially Mr. McCollum, whose Office of Statewide Prosecution handled the grand jury investigation and is trying to convict Mr. Greer. Mr. McCollum is running for governor.


Gates tightens interview rules

The Pentagon’s small press office is about to get a lot busier. Even top military officials now have to get Pentagon clearance for interviews and other contact with reporters.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates issued the order over the holiday weekend in a brief memo sent to military and civilian personnel worldwide; it was effective immediately.

The order tells officials to make sure they are not going out of bounds or unintentionally releasing information that the Pentagon wants to hold back. It comes after President Obama fired the top general in Afghanistan for embarrassing comments in a magazine article.

The memo, first reported in the New York Times, does not spell out exactly how the new directive will work but appears to require hundreds of thousands of officers to funnel interview requests through a small central office at the Pentagon.


Obama confers with new leadership team

President Obama held a conference call Monday with new Afghanistan commander Gen. David H. Petraeus and Karl Eikenberry, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, as the general took over operational command of the troubled conflict.

The White House issued a brief statement saying Mr. Obama thanked the officials for their shared sacrifice and reiterated the importance of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.

Gen. Petraeus officially took over on Sunday in Kabul, replacing Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal. Mr. Obama fired Gen. McChrystal last month after the general stunned his bosses with stinging criticism in a Rolling Stone magazine article.

The Senate unanimously confirmed Gen. Petraeus last week.


Obama plans trip to boost Carnahan

President Obama will mix campaigning with a discussion on the economy during a trip to Missouri this week.

The White House said Monday that Mr. Obama will travel to Kansas City Thursday to discuss the economy with workers at Smith Electric Vehicles.

Later in the day, Mr. Obama will raise money for Senate candidate Robin Carnahan. Ms. Carnahan is the leading Democrat in the race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Christopher S. Bond. Rep. Roy Blunt is the Republican front-runner in what is expected to be one of the tightest races this fall.


Mystery nominee won’t get challenge

A Charleston businesswoman considering an independent run for the U.S. Senate in South Carolina after a surprise candidate won the Democratic nomination announced Monday she doesn’t have time to put together a strong campaign.

Linda Ketner posted a message to her website asking supporters to stop their petition drive to get her on the November ballot.

The drive started after 32-year-old unemployed Army veteran Alvin Greene won the Democratic primary - without campaigning against an opponent who had the full backing of the party. Ms. Ketner said three months isn’t enough time to successfully challenge Republican incumbent Sen. Jim DeMint as he seeks a second term.

As a Democrat, Ms. Ketner nearly unseated incumbent Rep. Henry E. Brown Jr. in the coastal 1st Congressional District in 2008.


Obama invites Polish leader to Washington

President Obama has invited Poland’s new president to visit him in Washington.

Mr. Obama on Monday telephoned his congratulations to Bronislaw Komorowski after he won an election held three months after President Lech Kaczynski died in a plane crash.

According to the White House, Mr. Obama told Mr. Komorowski that the “resilience and resolve” the Polish people demonstrated after the tragedy remains an inspiration to the world. Mr. Obama also thanked Poland for its contribution to the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan and offered condolences for Poland’s sacrifices on the battlefield there.

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