Move quickly and you might be able to catch the conclusion of what looks to be a spectacular conference on how to legally cheat the government on your taxes. It's the Offshore Wealth Summit '99, organized by tax expert Jerome Schneider and featuring radio talk show host and former Senate candidate Oliver L. North--who had that little run-in a while back with the IRS over deducting a security fence at his home--and Rep. W.J. "Billy" Tauzin (R-La.). Tauzin's pitching for a national sales tax to replace the IRS, which would reduce the allure of these scams.
The "summit" is not offshore, but it is conveniently located in Vancouver, Canada. Our favorite discussion in the three-day program is on Saturday right after Tauzin's. It's entitled, "How to hide your assets and 'disappear.' Beat the system. Acquire a new identity with all new IDs. Enjoy a calm life of shielded anonymity."
Why pay your fair share? "If you love profits, resent taxes, despise lawsuits and value privacy, you can't afford to miss this seminar," the ad says.
Ah, the patriotic spirit that made America No. 1.
Espionage's Atomic Fallout
The warfare between Department of Energy intelligence analyst Notra Trulock, heralded for having blown the whistle on Chinese espionage of nuclear secrets, and former senator Warren B. Rudman (R-N.H.), chairman of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, is going nuclear.
Trulock, in a three-page letter June 21, blasted Rudman's panel's report for recommending abolition of the Energy Department intelligence office, which he said "led efforts to enhance . . . counterintelligence" and to move the analysts to the CIA. That agency, Trulock wrote, was "dismal," if not worse, on this issue and it was Trulock's shop that led the way on China and other intelligence matters.
The abolition of the office "will be warmly welcomed by those who have sought to deny, cover up or minimize the evidence of Chinese espionage," he said.
Rudman returned fire the next day at what he called Trulock's "wildly inaccurate assertions and reckless accusations," and his "misread[ing of] professional disagreements as personal affronts. . . . [Y]our comments approach a fevered pitch of hysteria and confusion," Rudman wrote, and "intentionally or unintentionally, you have repeatedly marketed fiction as fact" in inflating the Energy Department intelligence office's past efforts.
Stay low. The fallout will last a while.
Moles in the Bureaucracy
Meanwhile, Rudman raised eyebrows Tuesday when he told a congressional panel that a new agency was needed to safeguard the nation's nuclear secrets.
The problem, he said, is that the bureaucracy at the Energy Department was such that anything short of a new, semiautonomous operation quickly would become co-opted, no matter how good the political appointees at the top might be.
"It reminds me of what a current, fairly high-ranking DOE official told our panel just a few weeks ago," Rudman said. "He said that the attitudes of the people deep inside the bureaucracy is, 'We be.' And I said, 'We be. What does that mean?' And he said, 'Their attitude towards the leadership is, "We be here when you came and we be here when you're gone. So we don't have to take you very seriously," ' " Rudman said.
But some folks wanted to know: What's with the "We be"? Some riff on African American dialect?
No, Rudman said. "I certainly had no intention" to do that, he said. "I had never heard it before."
And, as it turns out, former energy secretary Hazel R. O'Leary, an African American, has been heard to use that expression when complaining of the agency's entrenched 'crats.
Maybe Rudman heard it from her?
Johnson's Crystal Ball Turning Green
Former Green Bay television anchor and representative Jay Johnson (D-Wis.), who's been working at the Agriculture Department since his failed reelection bid last year, is being talked about to replace Philip N. Diehl as director of the Mint.
Diehl, whose tour in the five-year assignment is up today, had been a top Senate aide and then chief of staff for former treasury secretary Lloyd Bentsen (D-Tex.).
Speaking of the Treasury Department, top aides Robert Boorstin, outgoing Secretary Robert E. Rubin's senior adviser and a longtime Clintonite, and assistant secretary for public affairs Howard M. Schloss, are, as is oft-said of the nearly departed, "mulling opportunities in the private sector."
And speaking of agriculture, David Lambert, senior vice president of the New York Stock Exchange since 1988, looks to be getting one of those exceptionally fine appointments in Rome, as the U.S. agricultural representative to the various food programs of the United Nations. Lambert is a graduate of the University of Arkansas. Naturally.
Justice Department inspector general Michael R. Bromwich is going private after five years on the job. Bromwich may be most remembered for his investigations revealing misconduct and shoddy work at the FBI labs, knocking down allegations of CIA involvement in dealing crack cocaine and the Immigration and Naturalization Service's deception of a congressional task force.
Not Blue but New
Correction: Wednesday's column moved Rep. Calvin M. Dooley (D-Calif.) too far to the right. He's not a Blue Dog Democrat, only a centrist New Democrat.