Just how deep into bureaucracy will the Iraqi prisoner abuse probe reach?
That's what a concerned higher-up at the Department of Interior wants to know. The official noted at a recent Interior meeting that the department's National Business Center (NBC) developed the contract for the Pentagon's hiring of interrogators in Iraq.
NBC, a branch within Interior's office of the secretary, provides various services for a fee to other federal agencies.
"The NBC was formed during the Clinton administration as a government business venture," says our source, among other services running a "lucrative" drug-testing program for several federal agencies.
Which presidential candidate are gamblers putting their money on in November?
Casino Fortune, the world's oldest Internet casino, has launched an online presidential poll among America's gamblers.
After 47,016 votes, John Kerry leads George W. Bush by a narrow margin of 51 percent to 49 percent.
According to industry analysts, 5 million Americans gamble online.
FIELD OF DREAMS
While a member of Princeton's class of 1954, Donald H. Rumsfeld was a star athlete who captured Ivy League and All-Eastern wrestling titles.
Later, when he wasn't piloting Navy fighter jets, Rumsfeld won the All-Navy wrestling championship, catching the attention of the U.S. Olympic team. That much we knew.
Now, we learn that while a young congressman on Capitol Hill during the 1960s, Rumsfeld was a first-rate catcher in a fast-pitch softball league.
"He was (a great) athlete," says Jim Martin, the 68-year-old president of the 60 Plus Association. "He was a crew-cut congressman then. I was the pitcher, he was the catcher. And we're talking fast-pitch." The team's sponsor was Capitol Hill's Roll Call newspaper.
For the benefit of the increasing number of Americans who've grown weary of war - who insist that withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq would not be surrendering to terrorism - permit us to revisit the public sentiments of Osama bin Laden since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks:
October 2001: "America has been hit by Allah at its most vulnerable point, destroying its most prestigious buildings. I swear by God that America and those who dream of America won't dream of having security."
December 2001: "We calculated in advance how many of the enemy would be killed based on the position of the (World Trade) tower."
January 2002: "The battle has moved inside America, we will continue this battle until victory or until we meet God."
February 2003: "All those who cooperate with the Americans against Iraq are hostile to Islam. We stress the importance of martyrdom operations against the enemy. These attacks have scared Americans and Israelis like never before."
May 2004: "We of the al Qaeda organization are committed to giving a prize of 10,000 grams of gold to whoever kills (U.S. envoy to Iraq L. Paul) Bremer or his deputy or the commander of the U.S. forces or his deputy in Iraq. ... There will be no sovereignty in Iraq as long as a single crusader soldier remains on its soil and so long as Iraq does not follow Islam in all of its affairs."
Freshman Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), one of President Clinton's top White House advisers from 1993 to 1999, isn't impressed with accomplishments of his first Congress.
In a 42-day period since April 1, Emanuel points out, the House has been in session 12 days.
"What has Congress done?" he asks. "We have named eight post offices, recognized the Garden Club of America, recognized the importance of music education, and authorized the use of the Capitol grounds for the Soap Box Derby.
"That is what Congress has done in the last 42 days, 12 days working."
Emanuel was chosen by his fellow Democratic freshmen as Democratic whip for their class. He also serves as a vice chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
The director of the Federal Air Marshal Service is opposing a bill to speed up the arming of commercial airline pilots to protect the cockpit from hijackers.
But one of the lead sponsors says Thomas Quinn's concerns, voiced in an internal memo, are "ridiculous."
Among Quinn's concerns: The "pilot receives no training in interview techniques."
Reacts Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.): "We are not proposing they interview the terrorists as they storm the cockpit, let's get serious."
Another of Quinn's concerns: The "pilot receives no training in the laws of search and seizure."
"There won't be a search and seizure until after the shooting has occurred," he says. "Then law enforcement can come in and search the hijacker who has been stopped from hijacking the plane."
It must be "Take Your Parrot to Work" week at the Department of the Interior.
A secretary in the executive secretariat's office, or so we learned from an insider, sat at her desk Monday (May 17) with a rather intelligent parrot seated on her shoulder. The woman placed a towel under the bird to prevent her outfit from being stained.
No word on whether the parrot was a government contractor.
FEAR THE SNAKEHEAD
Former Sen. Malcolm Wallop, a Wyoming Republican who retired in 1994 after 18 years in the Senate, hopes he never sees, let alone reels in, a northern snakehead while fishing the Potomac River.
The avid angler, along with Sen. John B. Breaux (D-La.) established the Aquatic Resources Trust Fund, better known to fishermen as the Wallop-Breaux Trust Fund. Since its passage in 1984, the legislation has generated $400 million annually for sports fish restoration and wetlands projects - just what the dreaded snakehead now threatens.
"I haven't seen any snakeheads," Wallop says of the exotic Asian species, which slithers across land on its fins.
But earlier this month, a 12-inch snakehead was caught by a fisherman in Little Hunting Creek, a tributary of the Potomac near Mount Vernon in Virginia. Last month in Maryland, a 19-inch female snakehead was caught by a fisherman in a Wheaton pond; and two years ago, several snakeheads were pulled from a pond in Crofton. Both ponds had to be completely drained.
The sharp-toothed fish, which are native to China and Korea, threaten to alter the local ecological system by consuming other fish, frogs, even ducks. Americans can legally own snakeheads, so long as they're kept in aquariums. Release one outdoors, as one or more persons obviously have done, and you risk going to prison.
Unfortunately, John Odenkirk, a Virginia state fisheries biologist, doubts that the snakehead pulled from the Potomac is the only such creature that just happened to get caught. And you can't drain the Potomac.