Jet Sets and Crusaders - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Jet Sets and Crusaders

Apparently Israel is planning on having to spend a long time defending itself. As reported by The Prowler a month ago, shortly before Colin Powell’s recent trip to the Middle East, Israel in early April ordered more than forty F-16s from Lockheed/Martin. Now comes word that the Israelis have doubled the order, at a price tag of about $12 million per jet. No delivery date has been set for the first jets, but the order is a big boost for Lockheed/Martin, whose lobbyist in Washington cleared the logistics of the sale with both the Pentagon and the White House.

“Everyone is on board this one,” says a White House source. “Israel has to defend itself and this upgrades their air force considerably.”

Yesterday we saw Cincinnati’s Democratic mayor exhibit disdain for Bill Clinton. Now a top Democrat who would like to have Clinton’s old job isn’t showing him much respect either.

Democratic House leader Dick Gephardt has gone public about his unhappiness that New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen allowed Clinton to host a private $1,000-per-person dinner for her in New York City last Monday night while he was in New Hampshire helping out with her Senate campaign. Shaheen, who is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination in the September primary, will face the winner of the GOP primary between U.S. Sen. Bob Smith and U.S. Rep. John Sununu.

Although Gephardt said Shaheen had every right to have a former president host a fundraiser for her, he was quick to add, “I was the first one to say that what he did in the White House in 1996 or whatever was reprehensible.”

“Gephardt has been raising money for Shaheen for months, traveling up to New Hampshire, and for her to have Clinton host an event at the same time that the leader was in Concord, helping her staff, was just outrageous,” explains a Gephardt staffer. “Clinton should be in the past. I mean, why else would Shaheen not announce where the party was being held? Who was there? She’s willing to have Clinton make her the money, but won’t embarrass anyone who attended by divulging they were there with him. You could proudly say you were with Gephardt if he had hosted the event.”

Sure, but you wouldn’t be able to charge $1,000 a head, either. Maybe $100 a head?

Word out of the Pentagon is that embattled Army Secretary Thomas White will be shown the door before the end of the month, now that senior Pentagon officials believe White went behind their backs with supporters of a weapons system Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld killed on Wednesday, the Crusader artillery system.

Crusader is a 40-ton, self-propelled, rapid-fire cannon designed to replace the 40-year-old Paladin artillery system. After a Pentagon review, Rumsfeld killed the $11 billion project, deeming the overbloated pop gun to be overly cumbersome and already technologically obsolete. White on the other hand, loved it, as did a number of senators, particularly Sens. Don Nickles and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, where the bulk of the weapon was to be built. Word is that these two senators may ask Congress to pay for the weapon regardless.

White in the past defended the Crusader, saying it would protect infantry in a ground battle. Perhaps coincidentally, the same argument surfaced in talking points faxed among Crusader supporters several days ago, after it became clear that Rumsfeld was leaning toward cutting off funding. “The memo we saw said that killing the Crusader would cost American lives,” says a Republican staffer for a senator who backed the project. “But that is a common argument for any weapons system. You can’t peg that just to White. Any of us could have written that.”

White has denied to his superiors and to others that he was the source of the talking points. But Rumsfeld and others apparently have their doubts. The Crusader skirmish comes on the heels of ongoing ethics problems for White, who continues to be attacked for his former Enron ties, most recently, in connection with newly released Enron memos on California energy.

“I can’t see him holding out much longer,” says a Senate staffer on the Armed Services Committee. “But we were told he’d be gone a month ago and he’s still going to work everyday. Maybe he will hang on.”

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