John McCaslin

A high-ranking U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent, assigned to the Gulf Coast to assist in recovery from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, says he and his fellow agents were forced to remove their uniforms with "ICE" branded on the back (similar to "FBI" and "POLICE") because storm victims were chasing them down in hopes of receiving bags of ice.

To end the confusion, several ICE agents changed into legacy uniforms - gear that reads "U.S. Customs" and "INS" (the old Immigration and Naturalization Service) - they had worn before the two agencies merged under the fledgling Department of Homeland Security.

TOUGH NUT TO CRACK

A difficult year for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay got even tougher when the Texas Republican was indicted on conspiracy charges. Knowing DeLay, he will take these latest charges in stride.

Take last February, when the embattled leader went ahead with plans to be keynote speaker before the Washington Press Club Foundation's Congressional Dinner, even though the House ethics committee had just approved a "public admonishment" of him for influencing a fellow lawmaker to support Medicare prescription-drug legislation.

He caused further uproar when trying to change the ethics rules so they wouldn't apply to him.

All eyes were on DeLay when he stood before the large crowd of press types and said it was an honor to appear before "so many friends" - adding upon second glance, "or so many people."

LES ENEMIES

Writing thrillers has gotten tougher since the Cold War ended, putting the handy Soviet villains out of business. So, what's a novelist to do?

Capt. David E. Meadows, an active-duty Navy officer and author of the acclaimed "Sixth Fleet" series of military novels, seems to have identified a new threat for fictional heroes.

"Over the waters of the Ivory Coast, a routine training exercise turns into a mysterious disaster, when a fleet of F-16 fighters simply vanishes," warns the back cover of Capt. Meadows' latest paperback. "Someone had gotten hold of an experimental weapon being developed by the American Missile Defense Office - and all signs point to the French."

The new novel is "Joint Task Force: France."

CUSHING IS CAPABLE

One congressman fed up with paying more than $50 for a tank of gas is Republican Rep. Ernest Istook, who is co-sponsoring legislation to ease restrictions that block construction of new oil refineries, including in his home state of Oklahoma.


John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on Townhall.com and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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