Buying Osama

John McCaslin
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Posted: Feb 12, 2004 12:00 AM

Osama bin Laden's days may be numbered if Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.) gets the loot he's after.

Hyde, chairman of the House International Relations Committee, and the committee's ranking Democrat, Rep. Tom Lantos of California, have introduced a bill that would give the secretary of state the option to offer a $50 million reward - double the current $25 million bounty - if it facilitates the terrorist's capture.

"Bin Laden deserves such a high price on his head," says Hyde, "and we would welcome the chance to pay this amount for the capture of this global terrorist."

The Counter-Terrorist and Narco-Terrorist Rewards Program Act would make other major changes to the long-established State Department Rewards Program, particularly as it relates to capturing the al Qaeda leader. The secretary of state, for instance, could grant rewards other than money, such as vehicles, appliances, commodities and other goods and services.

"In places like Afghanistan, a motorcycle or transport vehicle may be just as valuable as cash in gaining cooperation in the fight against terrorists," Hyde says.

LOUSY DATE?

John Kerry didn't get one vote in Tuesday's Virginia's Democratic primary: that of a woman who said she "used to go out with him."

Instead, the unidentified woman said she was going to pull the lever for Howard Dean or John Edwards - she wasn't quite sure. But, being a "die-hard Democrat" - and granted the Massachusetts senator eventually wins the nomination - she said she'd vote for Kerry this fall.

VICTIMS MEMORIAL

President Bush is the new honorary chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit educational organization authorized by Congress to erect a memorial in Washington to the 100 million people killed by communist regimes. Bush is expected to attend the groundbreaking for the memorial this spring.

WORD WAKE

Saluting a woman who has just completed a "stellar" tour as the U.S. ambassador to Finland, Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) said of CEO Bonnie McElveen-Hutne of Pace Communications, one of the top female-owned businesses in the country:

"When she was 9 years old, her mother had her write the word 'can't' on a piece of paper and bury it in a shoebox in the back yard of the home. She has not used the word since."

ONE-MAN BAND

"It was a small delegation. But it was quality." -- Vice President Dick Cheney, referring this week to the 10 years he served as a congressman from Wyoming. Wyoming to this day has only one seat in the House of Representatives, currently filled by five-term Republican Rep. Barbara Cubin.

TRADITIONAL LEADERS

Production by the nation's largest supplier of natural gas is being threatened by environmental groups, which are complaining that Uncle Sam did not consult with "various medicine men" of the Navajo Nation.

A lawsuit filed last week by the Western Resources Advocates and Natural Resources Defense Council against Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton says regulatory documentation for 10,000 wells in New Mexico, Colorado and Utah is insufficient.

The Interior Department consulted with Navajo Nation President Kelsey Begaye, but did not follow a recommendation by a community-services coordinator that "a more traditional-oriented person or persons should be contacted to obtain a true concern about the many negative affects Navajo People experience because of the method in which land is used."

That's reason No. 63, listed in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, to stop production on federal land that is not owned by the Navajos. That leaves one Republican congressional aide perplexed.

"The environmentalists have screamed for decades to use more natural gas, because it's the cleanest and greenest fuel," says the aide. "But when we try to produce natural gas, they object because medicine men haven't been consulted."

GET A DOG

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who as a Republican congressman was impeachment manager of former President Bill Clinton's trial, says, surprisingly enough, he's formed a "nontraditional" alliance with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).

"She has been great to work with," said Graham. "She's reached across the aisle. She has helped me write the bill about the Guard and reserves. She's looking for a way to change her image. She's looking for a way to show people throughout the country she can deal with somebody like Lindsey Graham.

"And my goal up here is to do some good," he added. "So we've formed some alliances that would be nontraditional but have been very beneficial."

Graham's comments came while a guest of "After Hours With Cal Thomas," on Fox. Thomas had observed that Harry Truman said, "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog," and asked the senator: "Is it possible to make real friends up here, even across party lines? Do you have many?" His response was "the most realistic and honest answer I've gotten from a politician in ages," says Thomas.

"I enjoy my colleagues. I respect them and I admire them," Graham commented. "But I understand the business I'm in. This is a business. This is a serious business. And if you mistake casual relationships for deep friendships, you've made a mistake. It's a little better than the dog analogy, but it's a serious business."

ALTERNATIVE CARNIVAL

When Reps. Walters B. Jones Jr. (R-N.C.) and Bob Ney (R-Ohio) announced last year that French fries in the House cafeteria would henceforth be "freedom fries" - and French toast "freedom toast" - patriotic restaurant owners across the land followed suit.

It was a small but symbolic measure to express displeasure at France for not supporting the U.S. position on Iraq.

Now Mardi Gras, or "Fat Tuesday," is around the corner, brought to this country with the French in 1699. And should anybody still be boycotting French food, Washington restaurateur Ingrid Aielli will be celebrating Mardi Gras "Italian style" Feb. 24 at her eatery, Teatro Goldoni. She's dubbed her celebration, "the Carnival of Venice."

ENOUGH SAID

"He started two wars, invaded two neighbors and tried to assassinate an American president." -- House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, saying former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein posed a grave and gathering threat to U.S. national security, "period," and critics who now undermine the legitimacy of Operation Iraqi Freedom with slanderous attacks against President Bush and the international intelligence community undermine security at the same time.