Enemy of the Week

Pressed for Time

Marshall Wittmann finally goes too far. Coleen Rowley doesn't go far enough. Plus more suspicious activity.

6.7.02

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This time he's gone too far. For two years Marshall Wittmann has been fronting for John McCain, leaking against conservatives to the Washington Post -- often, most treacherously, on the record -- and sniping at Bush the man and Bush the president at every opportunity and press availability. Now he's joined forces with Ralph Nader to unleash a vendetta against the beshorted Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association. Florida-style, Nader wants an investigation of Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals which it's argued the Lakers stole with the connivance of NBA referees and executives at NBC sports. Wittmann has similarly denounced this "triangle of treachery" and bluntly noted that "NBA officiating is rigged in favor or Shaq," whom Wittmann really should be calling Mr. O'Neal. What alarmed Marsh most, though, was that the Lakers won Game 7 of the contested series after their coach, a Montana Buddhist, involved his team in "a deep meditation session" hours before pregame warmups. So it would seem, on top of everything else, that Wittmann has emerged as an opponent of free expression and religious freedom. If he had had his way, we would not have heard Lakers' starter and leading looker Rick Fox credit his coach afterward for the "meditation into relaxation" that brought them victory. If Wittmann still has his way, the Lakers will be subjected to corporal punishment. "Beat LA," he writes.

It can now be divulged that this week's enemy reorganization was conceived in secrecy solely for the purpose of turning attention from one Coleen Rowley's devastating testimony before the grandstanders of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Fortunately, an FBI surveillance camera caught Ms. Rowley consorting beforehand with the grandstandingest granddaddy of them all, Sen. Patrick Leahy, and the implicating photo is published in Friday's New York Times, the paper's biggest scoop since Daniel Ellsberg dumped some Pentagon Papers in its lap that the shredding department had no use for.

Rowley's achievement is heroic. It only took her eight months to write her little letter, all this without the benefit of a speedwriting course. Even so, her get-to-it-iveness represents a major threat to workers both above and below her pay grade who prefer to proceed at a more deliberate pace, lest mistakes be made and evil-doers go unapprehended and no one know who knew what before, on, and after 9/11, here, there, or everywhere. Luckily Ms. Rowley's slowness with the pen is more than made up for by a prolific, filibustering tongue. "I have not had a chance to really fully read the modifications. I have heard what the three -- you know, the main topics that have been brought up, about going into public meetings and surfing the net. And there is one additional thing, I think, in those A.G. guidelines which delegates down to the SACs the ability and the authority to open up a case, a preliminary inquiry." It's not known if such a tongue can be remedied.

A bigger question is why she turned herself in -- and the FBI wasn't around to arrest her. Here she admits to habitual substance abuse: "The things that come to mind are FBI/DEA, because we share drugs." Then she 'fesses to complicity in terrorism: "Sometimes FBI and ATF, where there was bombings that we kind of both got involved in..." Admitting she had a co-conspirator won't save her now.

The FBI has also been slow to pick up on other manifestations of the suspicious behavior in our society. A favorite practice on the left is to mask one's identity. We saw it during alleged anti-war riots during the sixties; we've seen it abroad among genuine terrorists. Various left-wing websites from Media Whores Online on down thrive on the guerrilla mystique derived from no one knowing who the people writing and putting them out are. It's now become a game, and anyone can play it.

Even at the Washington Post. A few days ago, in the midst of a supposed labor dispute, reporters at the paper decided to remove their bylines from their stories. So suddenly devoted readers were reading reports they had no idea by whom. Bob Woodward or Sally Quinn, if they filed, were as anonymous and lowly as the fact checker responsible for the front page weather forecast. Best of all, the name withholders thought they were hurting their product -- when the effect was just the opposite, a return to the good old days when reporters had no identity or celebrity. So unlike most weeks this time we're torn between whether to declare these Post reporters enemies or friends of the week. Lucky for them, since we don't know who they are, they all get to extend their anonymity. And we promise we won't report their suspicious activity to the FBI. Anyway, our friends there have enough to do these days, developing photos of Senator Leahy and his friendly witnesses.

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