McCaslin's Beltway Beat

Posted: Oct 05, 2001 12:00 AM
AND ON YOUR LEFT Tourists have not been flocking to Washington in the wake of the last month's terrorist attacks, which is providing local residents a wonderful opportunity to rediscover their roots. "I spent $18 on the tour-mobile originating at Union Station for a nice tour of the Washington-area landmarks this weekend, and I got more than I bargained for," reveals Holly Anderson of Maryland. "Our tour narrator promptly gave us the lowdown on how all the poor Washington residents have to pay taxes but have no representation. She went on for a good five minutes as we passed the U.S. Senate building." Federal city that it is, the District of Columbia - to the chagrin of some Democrats - has no voting representation in Congress. President Clinton, prior to leaving office this year, tweaked his successor by installing license plates on the presidential limo bearing the slogan, "Taxation Without Representation." President Bush promptly removed the tags, saying he was "surprised" Clinton would have done such a thing. HERE WE COME "And when you see it up close, smell it, and realize the loss of life and the devastation, it is first incomprehensible, but it gives you even further resolve to try to do your best, your dead-level best, to do the right things." -- House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, D-Mo., emerging from a meeting with President Bush Tuesday after visiting the former site of the World Trade Center ELF AND ALF Domestic terrorists who destroy property in the name of saving the environment are waging a very active campaign on American soil, says the National Center for Public Policy Research, a Capitol Hill and Chicago-based public-policy institute. "Even after the devastating attacks in New York City and Washington, these groups are still promoting their terrorist agenda," says the center, drawing attention to the main Web page of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), where one may download "Setting Fires With Electrical Timers," instructions on making and planting effective firebombs. The manual "If an Agent Knocks" also advises what to do "if a federal agent tries to question you, the scoop on agencies that gather political intelligence, how the feds infiltrate political organizations and much more." "ELF and the Animal Liberation Front's (ALF) most recent suspected attack came on September 8, just three days before terrorists slammed planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon," the center observes. "ELF's Web site boasts over 30 acts of ecoterrorism directed at agencies of federal and state governments, universities, corporations and private individuals that they and ALF have committed since 1996." -- On May 21 of this year, 13 trucks and research offices were burned at the University of Washington and Jefferson Poplar Farms in Clatskanie, Ore. -- On Dec. 29, 2000, four new homes on New York's Long Island were burned, while ELF also takes credit for a Dec. 19 torching of a nearby condominium project. -- ELF took credit for a 1999 fire at Michigan State University that destroyed years of crop-nutrition research. -- ELF took credit for burning a lumber company office in Monmouth, Ore., a ski resort near Vail, Colo., which caused $12 million in damages, and homes in Colorado and Indiana. "While ELF and ALF are small-time compared to the terrorists who struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, they appear to be intent on expanding their violence and putting American lives at risk," says Tom Randall, director of the center's John P. McGovern Center for Environmental and Regulatory Affairs. Rep. George Nethercutt, R-Wash., has reintroduced a bill to stiffen what are considered weak penalties for acts of domestic terrorism (the current maximum penalty is a $10,000 fine). The Nethercutt bill carries a minimum five-year jail term and provides for the death penalty if life is lost as a result of such acts. ANY MORE QUESTIONS? For those who remain confused about the parameters of the war the U.S. is about to begin against terrorism, we've heard no better explanation than that provided Wednesday by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell: "Our campaign objective is to go after the al Qaeda organization and its leader, Osama bin Laden. The headquarters of this organization and Osama bin Laden are located in Afghanistan. He has elements of his network around the world. We are using all the tools available - financial tools, law enforcement, intelligence, and the prospect of military operations as well - to go after this network. We are focusing in on al Qaeda and focusing in Afghanistan, and that is the first phase of this operation. And I obviously cannot comment on what might happen in the future." HOT SEAT Former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, a North Carolina investment banker, Wednesday declared he would seek the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Jesse Helms. Bowles will likely face Elizabeth Dole, the former Reagan Cabinet member who failed in her 2000 bid for the White House. Dole, a native of Salisbury, N.C., was expected to declare herself a candidate for the seat on Sept. 11 but postponed her announcement until an unspecified date amid news of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Dole's interest in the seat, and the candidacy of Bowles - two well-known Washington veterans with North Carolina roots - would spell "troubling news for (former Charlotte mayor and unsuccessful Republican gubernatorial candidate) Richard Vinroot, who also hails from Charlotte, as does Bowles," one political observer in Raleigh told Inside the Beltway, "Charlotte is a big money pot, but not when two from the home front are running." There are several other potential and declared candidates, both Republican and Democrat, interested in the crucial North Carolina seat. Bowles, a former head of the Small Business Administration, served two years as President Clinton's chief of staff. During his short White House tenure, he found himself a target of both the Whitewater probe and the Monica Lewinsky investigation. MOLINARI BECOMES LOBBYIST We've learned that former New York Republican Rep. Susan Molinari has been named president and chief executive officer of the Washington Group, a Ketchum Co. government relations and lobbying firm. Once the highest-ranking woman in Congress, Molinari has since worked in television, chaired her own government communications firm, and written extensively about politics. KEEP OFF THE GRASS A weed once cultivated by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson for fiber materials continues to be grown - albeit illegally now, and for illicit purposes - on hundreds of thousands of acres in all 50 U.S. states, with or without the landowner's permission. The Justice Department's just-issued Final Supplement to Environmental Impact Statements on Cannabis Eradication in the Contiguous United States and Hawaii, refers to an increasing concern among law enforcement authorities about potentially "lethal" measures growers will take to protect their marijuana plots, including the widespread use of booby-trap devices.