Dispatches > The Buzz


Issue: "California's total recall," Aug. 2, 2003

thrown to the wolves "Spun to Death" is how the London Daily Mirror headlined the suicide of British defense expert David Kelly. No truer words were written in the Isles as tabloids and tattlers tried to pin the death of Mr. Kelly, a defense ministry analyst and former UN weapons inspector in Iraq, on Prime Minister Tony Blair. The PM left the United States a hero-after a speech to a joint session of Congress that drew 17 separate standing ovations-and arrived in Asia supposedly an accomplice to murder. "Do you have blood on your hands?" one Brit journalist asked Mr. Blair only hours after Mr. Kelly's body was found in an Oxfordshire wood near his home, wrists slit. But British scribes could well be asking themselves that one. Mr. Kelly is the now-named unnamed source of BBC reports charging the Blair government with concocting a "sexed-up" intelligence brief to convince members of Parliament to go to war. The BBC charges turned up empty under parliamentary scrutiny. But Mr. Kelly's cover was blown. He admitted in televised parliamentary proceedings that he spoke to BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan. At the same time he told a friend, former BBC correspondent Tom Mangold, he was "appalled" by the BBC story. Meanwhile, the government was appalled by his loose tongue. Mr. Kelly, apparently, felt he had nowhere to turn. Instead of taking a clue in scandal management from The New York Times, BBC reports post-suicide are shamelessly suggesting that Defense Minister Geoffrey Hoon shares some responsibility. Mr. Hoon, they charge, pitched Mr. Kelly to the London press wolves. So who's still a wolf? c 'great to be home' Army Private Jessica Lynch wheeled across the West Virginia grass three months after U.S. special forces carted her from a Baghdad hospital. An ordeal that included combat injuries, capture, rescue, and now rehabilitation ended with five words: "It's great to be home." Eleven soldiers were killed in a March 23 ambush in the Iraqi city of Nasiriyah. Pfc. Lynch and five others were captured. She was hurt when enemy fire hit the Humvee she was riding in, causing it to crash into a stalled vehicle. Another woman (Pfc. Lynch's best friend), Specialist Lori Piestewa, was driving the Humvee and died of injuries suffered in the wreck. Special forces stormed the hospital where Pfc. Lynch was taken after a tip from an Iraqi. The man, now with his family under U.S. protection, approached her cot and she told him, "I'm an American soldier too." Concluding her July 22 remarks to thousands of well-wishers who greeted her in tiny Elizabeth, W.Va., she said, "Those were my words. I am an American soldier too." c pryor restraint After President Bush won election in 2000, Alabama Attorney General William Pryor appeared before the conservative legal group The Federalist Society and offered a "prayer for the new administration: Please, God, no more Souters." He referred to the liberal Supreme Court Justice David Souter, named to the high court by Mr. Bush's father. Democrats in the Senate-now that Mr. Pryor is a George W. Bush nominee to a federal appeals court-may not invoke the deity, but they are appealing to their colleagues: "No more Pryors." Mr. Pryor won approval of the Senate Judiciary Committee last week on a strictly party-line vote, after Republicans on the panel suggested Democrats' opposition to the pro-life nominee was based at least in part on anti-Catholic bigotry. Mr. Pryor, echoing church teaching, has called the Supreme Court's 1973 abortion decision Roe vs. Wade "the worst abomination of constitutional law in our history." Pro-Roe senators on the committee were appalled when he reaffirmed the statement with an unambiguous "Oh, yes" followed by this reason: "It has led to the slaughter of millions of innocent unborn children." Democrats plan to filibuster the Pryor nomination and make him the third federal appellate nominee to fall victim to a procedural delay that blocks an up-or-down Senate vote. "And are we not saying then good Catholics need not apply?" asked Judiciary Committee member Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). c security breach New York City Council Speaker Gifford Miller set down his eyeglass case, keys, and a wallet on the conveyer belt, took off his council lapel pin, and walked through the metal detector for the first time last week. So did Mayor Michael Bloomberg, after he reversed a policy that allowed public officials and their guests to avoid security checks. His decision followed the fatal shooting of councilman James Davis in council chambers. Mr. Davis escorted his killer, Othneil Boaz Askew, around metal detectors-as a courtesy to the man who had filed papers as a candidate to oppose Mr. Davis. (A filing error prevented his being placed on the ballot.) A New York City TV station reported Mr. Davis whispered to a colleague moments before the attack that Mr. Askew "was once against me and now he's with me." Both men were armed: Mr. Davis, an ex-police officer, had a 9 mm handgun and Mr. Askew carried a .40 caliber Smith and Wesson, the weapon he used in the attack. Mr. Davis had no time to draw his weapon, but a police officer tasked to provide security in the chambers fired six shots at Mr. Askew, killing him. c 1,000 children Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly last week shed new light on how widespread clergy sexual abuse has been in the Boston Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church. Mr. Reilly's 16-month investigation found that since 1940 at least 250 priests and other church workers likely abused more than 1,000 children. "The mistreatment of children was so massive and so prolonged that it borders on the unbelievable," said Mr. Reilly. His report names names, in particular criticizing the church hierarchy for keeping the abuse secret. It concluded that the "primary objectives" of former Archbishop Bernard Law and his aides (including some who are currently bishops around the country) were "safeguarding the well-being of priests and the institution." The attorney general said, however, that he cannot prosecute the former archbishop and his aides because the law at the time did not require them to report the sexual abuse to civil authorities. "We are really working to clean up our house," said archdiocesan spokesman Christopher Coyne. "Bad things were done to children, and we mishandled it in so many ways." A new archbishop, Sean P. O'Malley, was scheduled to be installed this week.

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