Gore to the Fore
With the lame-duck president ready to be stuffed into the dustbin of history, Democratic operatives are contemplating how to keep Al Gore out of the clutches of Ken Starr.
While Starr probably wouldn't prosecute a sitting president, he could still indict Clinton underlings and name the president an unindicted coconspirator. That would keep Clinton on the hot seat for years. Starr's three most likely targets are Vernon Jordan, Sidney Blumenthal, and Betty Currie.
Also possible is some sort of legal action against Maryland developer and longtime Democratic fundraiser Nathan Landow, who was called before a Starr grand jury for allegedly pressuring Kathleen Willey the volunteer who claimed Clinton touched her breast in a White House corridor. Landow, who has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, took the fifth when called before a grand jury. ABC recently reported that Landau's lawyer hired a private detective to investigate Willey.
An indictment of Landow could seriously jeopardize Gore because Landow is not just another Democratic moneybags. He is Gore's moneybags the man who, after watching Walter Mondale's trouncing at the hands of Ronald Reagan in 1984, put together a group to promote the then little known Tennessee politician as a fresh face for the Democratic center.
The Clinton legal team kept Willey and Landow from figuring in the Senate show trial. However, the prospect of court testimony on the Willey matter has to be one of the reasons Janet Reno is now investigating Starr with the possibility of perhaps shutting him down for good.
Hill of Beans
First Lady Would Be Fat Target in N.Y. Race
The Hillary boomlet for a Senate seat in New York can't last. The First Lady's got too much baggage and could be a serious drag on Al Gore if she carpetbags her way into the Big Apple to run for Pat Moynihan's slot.
In addition to the fact that Giuliani would likely pull votes in numbers that few Republicans could in New York City, Hillary would become target #1 for the national GOP.
Beyond that, Hillary's remark last year that Palestine should be an independent state would be certain to hurt her among New York's large bloc of Jewish voters. Giuliani won't miss a beat playing hardball with the issue, and solid feminist support won't be enough to stop it.
Then there is the continuing Starr prosecution of Webb Hubbell, close Clinton friend and former number three in the Justice Department. One of two cases Starr is pursuing against Hubbell involves tax fraud; the other, alleged lying to Congress and federal regulators about legal work Hubbell and Hillary did for Jim McDougal's Madison s&l in the '80s. Starr is investigating Hubbell for allegedly covering up involvement by the Rose Law Firm in a phony land deal, which led to the failure of Madison. As The Washington Post reported last week, Hillary's legal work for Madison is certain to be an issue in a Hubbell trial.
Even on the environment, one issue Gore can rightfully claim as his own, there is possible trouble for Hillary. The Clintons already have embarrassed Gore on this score, with the president dragging him into a flip-flop on incineration. During the 1992 campaign, Clinton/Gore promised to halt the incineration of hazardous wastes which can lead to potentially toxic pollution. Following the election, however, nothing was done.
Some observers noted that it had been revealed during the campaign that Hillary was one of five American directors of the huge French Lafarge cement company, which burns hazardous waste in the U.S. as part of its manufacture of construction materials. Hillary who resigned during the campaign claimed that "burning hazardous waste under the strict controls used by Lafarge converts the hazardous wastes to nonhazardous materials."
In Clinton's first term, there was, of course, the First Lady's bungled handling of health insurance reform. At the time, health-care activists were taken aback by her arrogance coupled with an utter lack of knowledge of the subject.
Finally, Hillary was involved in widely publicized commodity trading during the late 1970s in which she scored a $100,000 profit over a period of about two years.
Any mix of the above could be fine-tuned into a vicious attack campaign by a master of the genre, Rudy Giuliani.
Suing for Status in Washington, D.C.
With the nation's capital still reeling from 12 years of Marion Barry's rule and tightly constrained by a fiscal control board, the future of this colony seems to be more than ever in the hands of its harsh proconsuls in Congress and the business elite, who have always run it.
However, out of nowhere comes a well-placed legal bullet that might succeed where decades of squabbling over home rule have failed. It is a little-noticed lawsuit, Twenty Citizens v. Clinton, filed in federal district court under the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. The plaintiffs range from a longtime activist, to a journalist, to a man living in a homeless shelter, to a PR woman. They challenge their voteless status on grounds that District citizens have a right, in the Constitution's words, to a "republican form of government." The suit likens their status to people living in so-called "federal enclaves."
Hundreds of thousands of of U.S. residents live in areas administered by the federal government in fiefdoms such as military bases, federal hospitals, national parks, research institutions, even the famed "Area 54." According to the suit, the District is similar to these enclaves.
In response to demands for self-government by residents of such areas, Congress has solved the problem by unifying them with surrounding states. Thus, people in the U.S. military fort at the Presidio in San Francisco can vote in California and residents on the Montana side of Yellowstone National Park can cast ballots as Montanans. Workers at the National Institutes of Health just outside Washington, D.C., in the Maryland suburbs have been given the vote in that state.
The suit, now before a three-judge panel drawn from federal district and appellate courts, seeks the same treatment for citizens of Washington, D.C. If granted, it could lead to self- government as a part of Maryland or Virginia, or perhaps set in motion the creation of a 51st state.
The Swiss Go Nuclear
Leaked Document Details Russian Deal
Clinton's increased defense budget is based on self-fulfilling fears that a "rogue state" like Iraq or North Korea might loft a nuclear missile at the American heartland. And of course, if the U.S. pursues its current policies of spewing nuclear technology around the globe, something like that just could happen.
But while the West fears what could happen if a country like Iraq gets the bomb, the real promoters of the new nuclear arms race are not in Baghdad but in tiny, neutral Switzerland.
An internal industry document leaked to Greenpeace in Switzerland demonstrates how U.S. nuclear technology will be passed through Switzerland to the Russian military nuclear complex. The document, released last month, describes negotiations held in Zurich on September 17, 1998, between representatives of Swiss nuclear utilities and officials of the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy and their commercial agents. The deal would entail sending over 2000 tons of radioactive spent fuel from Swiss reactors which utilize U.S. technology to Russia from 2000 through 2030.
The Swiss want the Russians either to keep the waste or extract weapons-grade plutonium, which would be returned to Switzerland. Whatever happens, they want to be able to purchase weapons-grade plutonium from the Russians.
As part of the deal, Switzerland would export high-level nuclear waste returned to it from Britain and France to Russian dump sites. Russia and Switzerland reportedly have agreed upon everything but the price.
European spent fuel transferred to Russia most likely would end up either at Mayak the world's largest nuclear complex, located in the Urals or at Krasnojarsk-26, the huge Siberian underground operation, which houses a partially completed reprocessing plant. This is the region of Russia governed by the hardline General Alexander Lebed, who has been currying favor in the U.S. as a possible Yeltsin successor.
Ironically, the former Soviet Union is being turned into the world's largest nuclear waste dump. Europe's biggest nuclear dump site is scheduled to open next year in southern Ukraine. Financed by an American loan, it will take waste from Ukraine's four nuclear plants.
A 1995 Russian decree bans importation of spent nuclear fuel. Recently, members of the Russian parliament have sought to modify the decree.
Burton Eyes TV Doc In Hearing
House Government Reform and Oversight Committee chair Dan Burton who called Clinton a "scumbag" only to be exposed as having fathered a child out of wedlock has announced that his committee's "first hearing into expanding medical choices" will feature Jane Seymour, star of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and "an activist in the area of alternative medicine since her father was stricken with cancer."
Fondly remembered for her role in Live and Let Die, Seymour's Dr. Quinn inspired millions of children. The daughter of a Polish obstetrician who grew up in England, she worked as a teenager as an auxiliary nurse and moonlighted with the British Red Cross. "I used to go to the rugby fields and patch up gorgeous-looking young men," Seymour told People magazine. She's currently working on a a TV film of Dr. Quinn, in which the no-nonsense doc "tells little boys that women aren't just to marry and have babies with."
Additional reporting: Ioanna Veleanu
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.