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In the Loop

That '62 Sedan Was a Real Bomb

By Al Kamen
Friday, March 11, 2005; Page A21

Sudan's foreign minister told Al Jazeera television Wednesday that his government wanted to know more about a U.S. nuclear test in Sudan in 1962 that was disclosed last week at a House Armed Services subcommittee hearing.

The Sudanese summoned the U.S. chargé d'affaires to explain what this stunning revelation was all about. Turns out it was a false alarm.

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Friday's Question:
It was not until the early 20th century that the Senate enacted rules allowing members to end filibusters and unlimited debate. How many votes were required to invoke cloture when the Senate first adopted the rule in 1917?
51
60
64
67


The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) checked the subcommittee transcript and, sure enough, there is Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) talking about a previously undisclosed 1962 "Sudan" nuclear test, which "displaced 12 million tons of earth and dug a crater 320 feet deep" with more than a 1,000-foot diameter.

But the FAS said the context makes it clear Tauscher was talking about the 1962 explosion in Nevada code-named "Sedan." "The remarkable crater it left behind can be visited today by tourists."

Both the Federal News Service and FDCH Political Transcripts mistranscribed Sudan for Sedan, and it "has been so recorded in the Nexis news database, where it continues to cause mischief," FAS reported.

Sudan's agriculture minister was reported to have suggested Wednesday that the test may have caused cancers in Sudan.

After talking to embassy officials, the foreign minister said the confusion was cleared up. "They want to confirm the tests did not take place in Sudan but in Sedan, part of the United States in Nevada," he added, according to Reuters.

Oh, never mind.

So True It Sounds Like Fiction

There was news earlier this week that the Department of Homeland Security had hired Bobbie Faye Ferguson, a "onetime actress" and more recently NASA's liaison with Hollywood for seven years, to be a Hollywood liaison for DHS.

The job, similar to ones at several other agencies, pays more than $100,000 a year, according to USA Today. Such liaisons work with moviemakers and television to help on accuracy and such -- and of course to make sure agencies don't look bad.

But wait a minute. Bobbie Faye Ferguson? The one who had a guest role as Monette, a hooker with a heart of gold on the TV series "Designing Women"? The Bobbie Faye Ferguson from Eudora, Ark., who was a former president Bill Clinton pal and buddies with Harry and Linda Bloodworth Thomason? The one deposed in 1996 by a House committee looking into Travelgate, who later worked on the second Clinton inaugural committee as "director of talent," screening acts for the events?

Seems that after that inauguration, Ferguson went to work as a political appointee at NASA, doing Hollywood liaison work for the space folks. Then she burrowed in as a civil servant there.

So let's see. She's now working for DHS chief Michael Chertoff, who was former New York Republican senator Alfonse D'Amato's right-hand man during the Whitewater hearings trying to do in Ferguson's old pal.

A truly great country.


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