Capital Briefs: September 11-15

Secret IG Report:

Ken Tomlinson, head of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees U.S. broadcasts to the world’s critical areas, including the Middle East, was blindsided last week by the State Department inspector general.

After an investigation demanded by three highly partisan congressional Democrats: Sen. Chris Dodd (Conn.), Rep. Howard Berman (Calif.) and Rep. Tom Lantos (Calif.)—the IG is alleged to have accused Tomlinson of running a “horse-racing operation” from his government office. “Alleged” is the operative word because neither Tomlinson nor the reporters who wrote sensationalized stories for the New York Times, the Washington Post and Newsweek have seen the report. As the Times’ Stephen Labaton acknowledged in his page-one story: “In providing the report to the members of Congress, the State Department warned that making it public could violate federal law, people who have seen the report said. [On August 3], Mr. Berman released the summary.”

Tomlinson, who ran the Voice of America during the first Reagan term and was subsequently editor-in-chief of The Reader’s Digest, breeds and races thoroughbreds as a hobby. E-mail, telephone and personal records seized by the IG over the past year indicate that Tomlinson spent an average of one e-mail and two and half-minutes a day at his office on his sideline. That is a fraction of the time he spent on government business evenings and on weekends at his Virginia farm and Washington apartment. Tomlinson was in Berlin on BBG business when the IG report was given to Dodd, Berman and Lantos, and promptly leaked to the media. He has still not seen the report.

Tomlinson was accused of giving a “friend” a BBG consulting contract, with the implication that the pal was unqualified and used as a driver for his boss. The “friend,” unnamed in the material leaked to the media, is Les Daniel, a 30-year veteran of the Voice of America who was hired at the same pay rate he received before retiring.

Asked by the IG under oath about claims that he was a driver for Tomlinson, Daniel said, “I have never driven Mr. Tomlinson. But he has driven for me.”

Meanwhile, Dodd, Berman and Lantos have all called upon President Bush to sack conservative stalwart Tomlinson. All before the accused has even seen the report on which the media hysterics are allegedly based.

Mohammed’s Mouthpiece:

No sooner had President Bush announced he had transferred 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and 13 other leading al Qaeda terrorists out of secret CIA prisons and into the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, than Sen. Lindsey Graham (R.-S.C.) started complaining about the terms the President was proposing for trying the terrorists.

Because the Supreme Court ruled, incorrectly, in June that the military tribunals authorized by Bush after the 2001 terrorist attacks were unlawful, the President had to ask Congress for new legislation authorizing tribunals. Pointing out that the cases against some terrorists may rely on evidence that would expose the identity of a secret agent if made public, House Armed Services Chairman Duncan Hunter (R.-Calif.), supporting the President’s proposal, said: “While we need to provide basic fairness in our prosecutions, we must preserve the ability of our war fighters to operate effectively on the battlefield.” Graham, by contrast, argued: “I believe it would be a mistake to allow the jury to see classified evidence the accused never sees … [it] could establish a precedent that could be used against our own troops.”

He apparently hopes that al Qaeda will observe due process the next time it attacks us.

Secret IG Report:

Ken Tomlinson, head of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees U.S. broadcasts to the world’s critical areas, including the Middle East, was blindsided last week by the State Department inspector general.

After an investigation demanded by three highly partisan congressional Democrats: Sen. Chris Dodd (Conn.), Rep. Howard Berman (Calif.) and Rep. Tom Lantos (Calif.)—the IG is alleged to have accused Tomlinson of running a “horse-racing operation” from his government office. “Alleged” is the operative word because neither Tomlinson nor the reporters who wrote sensationalized stories for the New York Times, the Washington Post and Newsweek have seen the report. As the Times’ Stephen Labaton acknowledged in his page-one story: “In providing the report to the members of Congress, the State Department warned that making it public could violate federal law, people who have seen the report said. [On August 3], Mr. Berman released the summary.”

Tomlinson, who ran the Voice of America during the first Reagan term and was subsequently editor-in-chief of The Reader’s Digest, breeds and races thoroughbreds as a hobby. E-mail, telephone and personal records seized by the IG over the past year indicate that Tomlinson spent an average of one e-mail and two and half-minutes a day at his office on his sideline. That is a fraction of the time he spent on government business evenings and on weekends at his Virginia farm and Washington apartment. Tomlinson was in Berlin on BBG business when the IG report was given to Dodd, Berman and Lantos, and promptly leaked to the media. He has still not seen the report.

Tomlinson was accused of giving a “friend” a BBG consulting contract, with the implication that the pal was unqualified and used as a driver for his boss. The “friend,” unnamed in the material leaked to the media, is Les Daniel, a 30-year veteran of the Voice of America who was hired at the same pay rate he received before retiring.

Asked by the IG under oath about claims that he was a driver for Tomlinson, Daniel said, “I have never driven Mr. Tomlinson. But he has driven for me.”

Meanwhile, Dodd, Berman and Lantos have all called upon President Bush to sack conservative stalwart Tomlinson. All before the accused has even seen the report on which the media hysterics are allegedly based.

Porking Out:

Only 13 House districts won’t receive earmarks in this year’s Labor-HHS-Education appropriation, according to an analysis by The Hill. The bill contains a whopping 1,810 earmarks, costing taxpayers $496 million. The top five taking home the most pork: Rep. Ralph Regula (R.-Ohio), $10,025,000; Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.), $7,900,000; Rep. David Obey (D.-Wis.), $6,800,000; Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D.-Ohio) $4.950,000; and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.-D.C.), $4,500,000.

Amnesty Spin:

Missouri Democrats have been circulating a video that captures Sen. Jim Talent (R.-Mo.) talking to a voter about the word “amnesty.” “That’s the lesson we learned several years ago—not that amnesty doesn’t work, but that you don’t call it amnesty,” Talent tells the voter in the clip that has been posted on the Internet.

One Dares Call It Treason:

Adam Gadahn is the U.S.-born al Qaeda operative who has made four broadcasts in which he threatens the U.S. with further terrorist attacks. But no one in the Bush Administration will say whether “al Qaeda Adam” will be charged with treason if apprehended.

HUMAN EVENTS Political Editor John Gizzi asked White House Homeland Security Adviser Fran Townsend last week if Gadahn would be tried for treason in this country if caught. “I’m not going to do a hypothetical and try to commit my colleagues at the Justice Department as to whether or not they believe they’ve got sufficient evidence,” she said. Gizzi then put the question to FBI Spokesman Richard Kolko. “Any specific charge would have to be done in conjunction with the U.S. attorney’s office and the Department of Justice,” he said, evading a straight answer. Gizzi tried again, this time at the Department of Justice. “We really can’t speak to folks we have not now charged,” said Spokeswoman Jackie Lesch. House Homeland Security Chairman Peter King (R.-N.Y.), however, did not share the administration’s qualms. When asked whether Gadahn should be tried for treason, King replied: “Absolutely.”

Chafee Choked:

As he entered the final week of his primary campaign trailing Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey in at least one poll, liberal Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R.-R.I.) was the beneficiary of a television ad placed by a group thanking him for supporting the confirmation of John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the UN last year—a position Bolton has been filling on a recess appointment. But last Thursday, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Richard Lugar (R.-Ind.) was forced to delay a scheduled committee vote on final approval of Bolton’s nomination because Chafee wanted it postponed. “Sen. Chafee said he still had questions that were not answered,” his spokesman Stephen Hourahan told the Associated Press. After these Bolton gyrations, it is doubtful many Republican primary voters now have any questions remaining about Lincoln Chafee.


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