McCaslin's Beltway Beat

Posted: Oct 04, 2001 12:00 AM
OUTSMARTING OSAMA The Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, Defense Department and FBI should all get a much-needed financial boost this week as Congress moves forward on its national security agenda. The Intelligence Authorization Act will authorize funding well into next year for intelligence-related activities at the various federal agencies, all of which claim to have been caught off-guard by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. "In the war against terrorism, intelligence is the secret weapon," says House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, vowing that the House this week will "arm" the nation with "cutting-edge intelligence capability to outsmart the enemy and stay one step ahead of terrorists." SCARED TO TRAVEL? The Tourist Office of Spain says it's "shocked" to learn that the American Society of Travel Agents has canceled its plans to hold its 2001 Congress in Seville, apparently due to the recent acts of terrorism. "We are dismayed, as should the entire travel industry be, that an organization which was once considered a pacesetter for international travel has chosen to give the message that international travel is no longer safe," says Alvaro Renedo, director of the Tourist Office of Spain in New York. A report in Travel Agent Magazine says ASTA has decided to hold its convention in New York instead. "Nonetheless," says Renedo, "Spain continues to support President George Bush in the United States' commitment to show its strength by returning to normalcy, and that includes the freedom to travel." AMERICA'S BACKBONE Linda McMahon, president and CEO of the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), has been named to the board of the National Foundation for Women Legislators. "I think the message I'm bringing here is that we all have to be strong at what we're doing," McMahon tells this column. "Women in America are part of the backbone of this country. It starts at home with our children and family, what we do in our communities, in business, in politics, being good citizens - everything really begins with the local aspects and spreads." McMahon says she'll continue to oversee the WWF's efforts to register young Americans to vote. In a recent two-month effort, the WWF registered more than 150,000 new voters, many from its audience. WHITE HOUSE GAS Talk about feeling insecure, here's Monday's lead-off question posed by a member of the White House press corps to spokesman Ari Fleischer: "Has the president updated his smallpox vaccination? Has he had an anthrax inoculation? And have gas masks been issued in the White House?" FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE Terrorists don't give up their weapons when they cross jurisdictional boundaries, so why should police officers? That's what Steve Young, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, pointed out to White House officials in urging passage of legislation enabling active and retired law enforcement officers to carry firearms when traveling outside their jurisdictions. "For too long, this has been considered to be a 'firearms' issue," Young says. "If it ever was, it certainly is that no longer. On Sept. 11, 2001, it became a critical public-safety issue." Congress obviously agrees. The legislation has 193 co-sponsors, 25 shy of a House majority. "We are blessed with the knowledge that, at any moment, no matter what happens, a police officer - maybe in uniform, maybe not - will be ready to come to the aid of his or her fellow citizens, honoring the oath to protect and serve," Young says. WOMEN FACING WAR The Independent Women's Forum (IWF) has added to its annual advisory board agenda of Oct. 17 a National Press Club discussion on "what the home front of the 21st century will look like." Nothing like the 20th century, that's apparent. Given the recent terrorist attacks, the nation's "home front" is permanently altered and women, in particular, no longer feel secure in their homes. Among the IWF's speakers: Margot Hill, a Boston police commander and expert on "personal safety." Meanwhile, the IWF continues to mourn the loss of one of its founders, GOP activist and television commentator Barbara Olson, who perished on Sept. 11 aboard the hijacked flight that crashed into the Pentagon. "She was one of IWF's great heroes," says IWF board Chairman Ricky Silberman. "Even to the end she showed the kind of courage she brought to all the challenges she faced." Mrs. Olson's husband, U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson, has established a memorial scholarship in his late wife's name at her alma mater: The Barbara Olson Memorial Scholarship Fund, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, c/o Office of Development, 55 Fifth Ave., New York, N.Y. 10003. THE TOWERS On misty night, when tolls the bell, The twins, their mournful story tell, Of evil plan and sore intent To murder young, and innocent Who not their scheduled time had spent, And render thus a Nation rent. But waked a sleeping Giant, they In arrogance, who chose their prey, And foolishly considered naught The consequence of what they wrought. The Giant awoke, as well he may And rose to fight another day. And then with fury full unleashed The Stealthy hid like hunted beast No haven do they find to hide For All the World their deeds deride. - Reader Margaret Emanuelson, Howardsville, Va.