Hello, Sailor!

By Al Kamen
Friday, September 7, 2007

Late last year, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), a former member of the Capital Yacht Club in Southwest Washington and an excellent boater, was buying a fine, used 38-foot Chris Craft motorboat and looking to rejoin the most exclusive club and moor the boat there.

But even though the powerful Stevens had been a club member -- and this was long before the FBI raided his home and wine cellar in Alaska as part of a corruption investigation -- he still needed to go through the regular admissions process.

Part of that process required him to be sponsored by two members in good standing. But who? Ah, of course, his good buddy and Senate colleague, Larry E. Craig (R-Idaho), who keeps a 42-foot Bertram yacht there, and Elizabeth M. Conway, Craig's former aide who's now an energy lobbyist in the D.C. office of Boston-based law firm Sullivan & Worcester.

"I have known Ted Stevens for almost ten years," Conway wrote on the sponsoring form, "and know him to be an avid and enthusiastic boater. He will be an excellent addition to the club."

Craig, according to documents obtained by our colleague Alice Crites, wrote that Stevens was a "former member of YC, experienced boater, great guy and long time friend."

No word from Stevens's office as to whether the sponsorship got him into the club.

And when FBI agents, with TV cameras in tow, raided Stevens's home in late July, Craig was his most forceful defender, blasting the bureau for using "Gestapo-like tactics." Craig said Stevens had offered the FBI a key, but the agency got a locksmith in a bit of "gamesmanship" for the cameras.

"That is very intimidating," he told the Politico on Aug. 1, the day he signed off on his own plea agreement to disorderly conduct in that airport bathroom.

But when news of the incident leaked last week, Stevens could not return the favor, telling the Associated Press that he had asked his lawyers about it, "and they advise that I make no comments about any investigations right now."

Probably a good idea.

Taking It Out on the Airport

But it's not that Craig is friendless. The American Land Rights Association has launched a boycott of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and Northwest Airlines, which has its main hub there, because the police there "ambushed" Craig, a "stand up guy" and a staunch ally of the private property advocacy group.

Craig was the victim of possibly illegal "profiling," ALRA Executive Director Chuck Cushman said in an e-mail to supporters, "and they must apologize" to him.

By their actions, the airport police "are primarily responsible for greatly weakening private property rights . . . advocates on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee," Cushman said. So "we are urging you to make all your flight arrangements avoiding the [airport] for at least the next year and probably longer," and to urge everyone you know "to try to avoid any flights" through there.

Airline travel hasn't been tough enough lately.

The Rohrabacher Revolt

Nary a day goes by that President Bush doesn't find himself in hot water over something. This time, it's some GOP conservatives who are most upset that he seemed soft on Chicom President Hu Jintao.

The two leaders got together in Australia this week during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. Bush told reporters that Hu invited him to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and said he was "anxious" to accept the invite. "He's an easy man to talk to," Bush said.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), in his usual understated way, fired off a statement yesterday asking: "If this were 1936, would President Bush be anxious to sit next to Adolf?" Rohrabacher said Bush's "presence in the Communist Party's sky box is certainly contradictory to his so-called commitment to democracy in the Middle East."

"One bit of advice, Mr. President," Rohrabacher said, "I wouldn't be so anxious to use the toothpaste in your hotel room."

Still, the Olympic Games are always exciting, though Bush might want to take a surgical mask if Hu fails in his effort to clean up the city's horrific air pollution in time for the games. And don't miss the Li Family Restaurant in the Hutong area. Excellent food. Cheap.

Someone Else Write This

Everyone always awaits the quarterly reports to Congress by the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, Stuart W. Bowen Jr. The reports are keenly read, though they are often real downers, revealing tremendous waste and fraud and not very much progress on the reconstruction front.

They also must be quite taxing to produce, since it appears Bowen is outsourcing the effort. The Army Contracting Agency announced the other day that it is asking for private companies -- small businesses only -- "to procure all personnel, equipment, tools, materials, supervision, and other items and non-personal services necessary to perform data collection, analysis, design, formation and other project management support to ensure publication of the quarterly report."

Well, at least he's not outsourcing himself.

On the Move

Getting kinda lonely at the Justice Department these days. All three of the top slots -- attorney general, deputy and associate -- will be filled by "acting" officials when Alberto Gonzales leaves in 10 days.

Yesterday, Peter D. Keisler, head of the civil division, announced that he is leaving in two weeks, though the former Supreme Court clerk remains a nominee to the federal appeals court here.

His departure will leave only two of the department's six key litigation divisions headed by Senate-confirmed officials: Alice Fisher in the criminal division and Tom Barnett in antitrust.

Acting folks already are running the environmental, civil rights and tax divisions.

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