This Week

Issue: "Stealth Bible," March 29, 1997

The Papworth principle

"Jesus said love your neighbor. He didn't say love Marks & Spencers." Thus saith John Papworth, a 75-year-old minister in the Church of England, and with that the wrong reverend pronounced for his parishioners a theology of thievery. It's OK, the Rev. Papworth said, to shoplift from large chain stores such as Britain's Marks & Spencers, because they allegedly put small stores out of business, create unemployment, and encourage greed and consumerism. "When you talk about stealing, you can only steal from a person," he explained. "You can only have a moral relationship with a person; you don't have a moral relationship with things. That is a power relationship." Leaving aside that the "neighbor" Jesus spoke of would indeed include the owners and employees of Marks & Spencers--since the assets of that business and the wages it pays belong to persons--Mr. Papworth makes a helpful admission concerning his admonition: "I don't regard it as stealing. I regard it as a badly needed reallocation of economic resources." In other words, what most people regard as common theft, this Christian socialist regards as forcible income redistribution. And because he asserts that Marks & Spencers is exempt from the command to "love your neighbor," Mr. Papworth thus concedes that carrying out this "badly needed reallocation of economic resources" is unloving. It's no more loving to demand the government do it. For those of us on this side of the pond, Mr. Papworth has unwittingly illustrated what's at stake as Congress and the president negotiate the FY 1998 budget.

CIA: Caught In the Act?

The nation's top spy agency revealed a new wrinkle in the White House-Democratic National Committee cash-for-access scandal: CIA Inspector General Frederick Hitz announced March 18 he was looking into reports that someone at the DNC--possibly then-DNC chief Don Fowler himself--prevailed on the agency to vouch for a big-dollar donor with a shady record. White House national-security aides in the summer of 1995 recommended the donor, oil financier Roger Tamraz, be barred from White House meetings where he could press for support for his business venture to build an oil pipeline in Russia. The NSC aides had seen a May 1995 CIA report that contained derogatory information on Mr. Tamraz's international business dealings. But in December, another CIA report to the NSC on Mr. Tamraz did not contain the negative references. A Washington Post story March 20 disclosed that the CIA officer who produced both Tamraz reports left the agency to become a consultant and now performs consulting work for Mr. Tamraz. The Post also reported that, according to White House sources, a caller identified as the DNC's Mr. Fowler called the CIA twice, in October and December 1995, to discuss Mr. Tamraz, who had contributed $76,000 to the party. Mr. Fowler denies calling the CIA or ordering anyone to do so; he does not deny discussing with one of the NSC staffers her objections to Mr. Tamraz. Mr. Fowler denies he exerted "pressure" and maintains he did nothing improper. Mr. Tamraz subsequently attended four White House events. Tamraz story, not "political circus" killed Lake nomination. Despite Clinton CIA nominee Anthony Lake's bitter March 17 withdrawal letter complaining that Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee had treated him unfairly, The Wall Street Journal's Tamraz story sealed Mr. Lake's fate, according to committee vice chairman Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.). Mr. Lake headed the NSC at the time Mr. Fowler was discussing Mr. Tamraz with NSC aides. On the morning Mr. Lake withdrew his nomination, he maintained he knew nothing of the Tamraz matter, which raised fresh questions about his ability to handle intelligence information. When he learned the story was about to break, Sen. Kerry met with White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles and said Mr. Lake's lack of knowledge was "potentially a disqualifying action." By the time he met with Mr. Lake, Mr. Kerry said, Mr. Lake had decided to withdraw.

Pakistan PAC?

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One day before the House was slated to vote on a funding request for a probe of President Clinton's fundraising practices, the head of the investigating committee suffered an embarrassing disclosure. A former lobbyist for the government of Pakistan complained that he had been "shaken down" by Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) to do campaign fundraising among Pakistani-Americans in 1995. When he failed to deliver, the lobbyist said, Mr. Burton complained to the Pakistani ambassador, who then prevailed upon a top aide to the prime minister to fire off a fax expressing that the episode was "most upsetting." Rep. Burton did not deny the basic facts that he was angry with the lobbyist and that he expressed his anger to the ambassador, but he protested the characterization of a shakedown and suggestions that he backed Pakistani causes in exchange for money. The congressman also noted that the lobbyist, Mark Siegel, is a longtime Democratic activist and that Mr. Siegel's correspondence on the matter was conveniently leaked to The Washington Post by a Democrat on Capitol Hill. On March 20, Mr. Burton's committee's funding suffered a procedural setback, but that had little to do with the Pakistan controversy; a vote against increased funding for all House committees attracted Democrats angry over the Burton probe and conservative Republicans eager to punish Speaker Newt Gingrich for shelving tax cuts. Funding for the Burton probe will be broken out and voted on separately, according to GOP leaders.

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