For Congress: a Few Good Spook
The CIA's class of '85 must have been a doozy. Three alumni of that year's fall career training class are much in the news these days. There's Valerie Plame, the now retired spy whose outing is being investigated by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. Among Plame's classmates was the outspoken Larry Johnson, a terrorism expert who has turned into a leading Bush critic, trashing the president through media appearances and his blog "No Quarter." Now add to that list Jim Marcinkowski, who's running for the House in Michigan's Eighth District. First-time candidate Marcinkowski is unopposed in the Democratic primary and has Dems buzzing about his chances against the GOP's Mike Rogers.
The three former spooks all know each other, and Marcinkowski even drew on Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, to appear at his campaign kickoff. Marcinkowski is one of a dozen or so candidates boosters are calling "macho Democrats." The list includes some eight military veterans from Iraq and at least one other former CIA officer, John Pavich of Illinois. But the GOP is responding in kind, with ex-CIA incumbents Rob Simmons of Connecticut and Joe Schwarz of Michigan and newcomer Jeff Beatty of Massachusetts. "It certainly shows that the talent goes in many different directions," says an intelligence insider.
GOP Fears in a Bellwether Race
Staffers from the National Republican Congressional Committee are quietly telling GOP House members to prepare for a possible loss in the June 6 special election to fill the seat of Randy "Duke" Cunningham, now in prison for taking bribes. The Southern California district is heavily Republican, but some GOP insiders believe that Democrat Francine Busby will defeat former GOP Rep. Brian Bilbray and go on to win a full term in November. More alarming some worry that a Bilbray defeat could signal the GOP's loss of control of the House. The NRCC has already pumped $3.1 million into the race. "It is becoming more and more likely," says one GOP strategist, "that Bilbray will squeak out a victory." But another longtime Republican operative isn't so sure. "This is a district we should never lose," he says. "It's the stink of Cunningham, and the Bush problem."
An Unpopular Plug in a Data Pipeline
Talk about your bad timing. Just when everyone's watching the price of oil, the federal government has decided to scale back the information it gathers on how those prices get set. State governments, at least one federal agency, a host of oil analysts, and 46 members of Congress have asked the Energy Information Administration to reconsider its decision to eliminate two of its closely watched statistical reports. Other federal agencies, it seems, look to the EIA for information to develop their own reports on the economy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, for one, says the data are "vital." But the plan looks as if it's going forward. Guy Caruso, the EIA's administrator, has said it was "a reluctant but tough budgetary decision."
The Calm (the Tan?) Before the Storm