Leahy Not About to Throw a Flag on the Patriots

By Mary Ann Akers And Paul Kane
Thursday, February 7, 2008

Sen. Arlen Specter's one-senator war against the New England Patriots has a big problem: The three-time Super Bowl-winning team has its own Senate patron in Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy.

Leahy is, after all, from New England and, as chairman, can thwart just about any hearing under his committee's auspices. And he's not giving much credence to Specter's probe into "Spygate," the Patriots' surreptitious videotaping of opponents' signals on the field.

In fact, Leahy (D-Vt.) wryly told On the Hill that Specter (Pa.) -- the ranking Republican on Judiciary and a die-hard fan of his hometown Philadelphia Eagles, who lost to the Patriots in the Super Bowl three years ago -- is playing to Philly fans with his latest actions.

"He hasn't said anything to me about it. I would assume that if he really wanted to [hold hearings], he would say something to me, not the press," Leahy said.

The committee chairman watched the Patriots' 17-14 Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants with his family Sunday. The defeat ruined the team's perfect season, but Leahy called it "one of the greatest" games ever.

For now, Specter is hauling NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to Capitol Hill next week to talk about the league's investigation into the Patriots. The Goodell investigation ended with fines for the Patriots and Coach Bill Belichick, and the commissioner saying he destroyed the tapes the team turned over to the NFL.

Specter said he expects to meet with Goodell next week and is trying to set up a meeting with a former Patriots staffer, Matthew Walsh, who told the news media last week he may have evidence of other inappropriate actions by the team earlier this decade.

These are just meetings. No one's answering questions under oath, no official transcripts, Specter said. But he predicted hearings would be held if there are signs of wrongdoing.

"I'm sure that Senator Leahy would do whatever is correct regardless of any other matter," he said.

We'll see about that.

Reid's Big Brother

Officially he may be the Senate majority leader, but Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) feels like a powerless rebel trapped in Big Brother's totalitarian world. At least that's the way he portrays himself this week. And in Reid's dark world, Big Brother, the supreme ruler in George Orwell's novel "1984," is President Bush.

"The Bush administration is Orwellian. Orwellian," Reid railed on the Senate floor Tuesday as he accused the Bush administration of saying one thing and doing another.

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