Scooter Finds Fellowship at the Hudson Institute

By Al Kamen
Friday, January 6, 2006

I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby , chief of staff and national security adviser to Vice President Cheney until that indictment unpleasantness a few months ago, has found a new perch as he awaits trial.

Libby is joining the Hudson Institute -- a conservative think tank focusing on foreign policy and national security -- as a senior fellow, focusing on issues related to terrorism and Asia. He's also to advise Hudson on strategic planning and help other scholars.

The move gives Libby -- who had a long career in the State Department, the Pentagon and international law before he got unwanted fame after his Oct. 28 indictment on perjury and obstruction charges in the Valerie Plame affair -- a place to hang his hat. He will join a team of conservative thinkers that includes Robert H. Bork , Michael Horowitz and former National Security Agency director William E. Odom .

We're told that his salary is on par with the going rate for the deep thinkers -- presumably at least as much as his $160,000 White House gig -- and that, if he wants, he'll probably still have time to do some consulting or work on a second novel.

The Hudson Institute, founded in 1961 by futurist Herman Kahn and long based in Indianapolis, moved its headquarters here in 2004.

Charmed, I'm Sure

Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. seems to be getting all manner of advice these days about how to dress, talk, walk, nod, smile and generally behave himself as he gets ready for his appearance next week before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

He's got the requisite legal abilities, observers say, but he's just too geeky, too stiff, not comfortable with the small talk and the banter needed to charm the senators.

So who should he try his very best to emulate? Legal wags have dubbed him "Scalito," saying his legal reasoning most approximates that of Justice Antonin Scalia, confirmed in 1986 on a 98 to 0 vote.

Scalia, the first Italian American on the Supreme Court -- Alito would be the second -- is consummately charming. Alito might want to catch C-SPAN's recent re-airings of Scalia's confirmation hearings. Might want to buy the DVD and try to lighten up, tell a joke or two, balance the seriousness.

Scalia, at ease with humorous repartee, also offered the committee his reflective, professorial side. The side that wears reading glasses and -- puffs earnestly on his pipe listening to committee questions. (That's not possible these days, of course, with smoking banned in Senate hearing rooms.)

The Abramoff Factor, Cooling Things in Hawaii

Jack who? Kick the year off the right way! There's still time to get to the annual American Association of Airport Executives conference Sunday at the spectacular Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, rated the "number one beach in America" by Conde Nast Traveler. Everyone in the biz shows at this five-day Hawaiian meeting, which is sponsored by the major airlines, aerospace industry firms, lobbyists and so on.

The golf course has "spectacular views of the Kohala Coast and the Pacific," plus the "snow-capped Mauna Kea volcano as a backdrop," according to the hotel's blurb.

But that's not what's always given this first-of-the-new-year jaunt a Loop Five-Star rating. It's because the "working" sessions traditionally end before lunch, most at 11:30 a.m., especially Wednesdays, so there's time to change for the golf tournament from 12:30 to 6 p.m.

There's some talk on the Hill that prior attendees -- lawmakers, aides and executive-branch folks -- are getting uneasy this time. Some who've gone before on the taxpayer dime have opted to pay their way this time.

Transportation Department Inspector General Kenneth M. Mead , for example, who has attended in prior years on the department's dime, is using miles and his own dollars. Not that Mead doesn't think it would be legit to go via taxpayer funds, but we hear he wanted to go the extra mile in light of "circumstances." Mead, who doesn't play golf or tennis and actually finds policy chatter interesting, is also staying on in Hawaii to check in with old friends.

Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the subcommittee on aviation, has attended before at Transportation and Infrastructure Committee expense and doesn't go on privately sponsored trips. This time he is picking up the tab himself.

March to the Penguins

Perhaps the best Codel, however, has already departed. This one was led by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), with Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and John E. Sununu (R-N.H.) going along.

The hardy travelers -- no spouses, just a few lucky aides -- are on a 10-day trip to the Antarctic region "to observe research regarding climate and atmosphere in Antarctica and New Zealand," according to a news release.

This observation will require them to visit the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, take a "helicopter tour of the Dry Valleys and Lake Hoare, and . . . fly along the Antarctic ice edge."

In New Zealand, they'll "observe Canterbury Plains, Rakaia Gorge, and numerous glaciers from the air," we're told, and talk with lots of experts.

Wait a minute! No penguins? Ah, yes, the release was not meant to be comprehensive. Of course there'll be a stop at the penguin research area.

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