Catch the Holiday Spirit -- and a Terrorist

By Al Kamen
Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Flying out for the holidays for a little relaxation and family time? Fine. But Uncle Sam hopes you'll remain vigilant, on the lookout for terrorists who also might be heading home to see their families in such places as Myrtle Beach, S.C., or Londonderry, N.H.

To help, the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security are distributing hundreds of "wanted terrorist" posters to major airports around the country, a news release announces.

Get those visions of dancing sugarplums out of your head and focus on the "Faces of Global Terrorism" posters. Each poster shows mug shots of "26 known terrorists with reward offers of up to $25 million" for some of them.

So as you put on your seat belt, take a look at that guy in shorts across the aisle. Sure, he's got blond hair now, and he's cleanshaven, but doesn't he look just a little like Abderraouf Ben Habib Jdey, a.k.a. Faruq al-Tunisi? Look for a scar on his forehead. Get the jump on him and it could be worth $5 million.

And that short guy sitting next to him with those big ears? Okay, the picture's maybe five years old, but isn't that Faker Ben Abdelaziz Boussora, a.k.a. Abu Yusif al-Tunisi, sitting in 15B? He's worth another $5 million from the Rewards for Justice program.

Who knows, but Osama-- worth a cool $25 million -- just might be that guy in the dark glasses and cane on your right.

And remember: "You and your family may be eligible for relocation," the program Web site says, and "strict confidentiality is assured."

Close Call in Venezuela -- or Not

The Great Venezuela Polling Wars are over, for now. Incumbent President Hugo Chávez crushed his opponent 63 percent to 37 percent to win another six-year term. So which pollsters predicted a 26-point victory? Two Venezuelan firms predicted 27-point spreads, Zogby weighed in at 29, and the Associated Press at 32. Evans McDonough came in a bit low at 22.

And Penn, Schoen & Berland, which is Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's pollster? It recently had Chávez ahead by about six points with his opponent, Manuel Rosales, closing. "This is a very close race, with what appears to be an evenly divided electorate," Douglas Schoen told the Washington Times just before Sunday's election.

So how to explain the much-anticipated Chávez landslide? "In the closing days," Schoen partner Mark Penn said, "it appears that Chávez consolidated the undecided voters."

Ah, yes. That must be it.

Let's Do Launch

Cold weather already getting to you? Are you a congressional staffer? Then hurry. A flight's leaving Dulles tonight for Miami, where a charter jet will take you Thursday to South America -- specifically, French Guiana.

Don't worry about the cost. This is a "fact-finding mission" to Europe's Guiana Space Center, said Clayton Mowry, president of Arianespace, a launch services company. You'll find those elusive facts as you "witness the December 8th launch of two American-built and operated [telecommunications] satellites," Mowry said in an invitation floating around the Hill.

"Both Senate and House Ethics have cleared the trip," he noted, and he's got letters from the committees for you if you're squeamish. There is "limited space," we're told, but there have been cancellations because of Senate and House schedules, so you might get lucky. Returning on Saturday.

(Loop Travel Advisory: Watch out for that moth they have down there with the toxic wing dust. Also check dates on your shots for yellow fever, typhoid, hepatitis A and tetanus.)

Fame-Is-Fleeting Dept.

It hasn't leaked yet, but we're certain the long-awaited Iraq Study Group report will recommend that a picture of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al- Maliki-- "the right guy for Iraq" -- be hung quickly in the Bush Diplomatic Hall of Glory at the State Department, replacing the one of former prime minister Ibrahim al-Jafari.

Defenders of the Faith

Just as the Hill is staffing up with Democrats to investigate administration officials, former Republican aides are rushing to offer their services in defense. Hill veteran Mark Corallo-- formerly with the House Government Reform Committee, later Justice Department chief spokesman and most recently Karl Rove's spokesman during the Valerie Plame investigation -- is teaming up with the redoubtable Barbara Comstock, who boasts similarly top credentials, save that she worked for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby during Plame. Firm name is Corallo Comstock.

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