And now the most engaging two minutes in television, the latest footnotes to the American war on terrorism.
Susan Rice, who was President Clinton's assistant Secretary of State for Africa, is strongly denying the accusation that the Clinton administration repeatedly turned down offers from the Sudan to turn over Usama bin Laden and to provide extensive intelligence on him and his al Qaeda network. The allegations have been made by Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz, a onetime Clinton fundraiser, who says he tried to act as an intermediary between the United States and the Sudan between 1996 and 1998 when the Sudan was trying to get itself of the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism by helping with bin Laden.
Rice says the Sudan never offered anything of substance, but the U.S. ambassador at the time, Tim Carney, disagrees:" The fact is," he told Vanity Fair, "they were opening the doors and we weren't taking them up on it."
The Swiss are famous for the zeal of their security forces, but imagine the surprise of the world-famous conductor Pierre Boulez as he slept in his five-star hotel in Basel. The 75-year-old Boulez was there to conduct a music festival. Police dragged him out of bed and told him was on their list of suspected terrorists. They took his passport for three hours, before he was free to go. It turns out that back in the 1960s, the young Boulez said opera houses should be blown up.
Out in Wisconsin, there's some curiosity about how the new prison chaplain at Waupun Correctional Facility ended up being Wiccan, which means she practices witchcraft. Indeed, the woman's name is Jamyi Witch. The maximum security prison is said to house 1,200 inmates, of whom 400 are said to be Christian, and 30 are Wiccan. The reverend Witch, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, has been voluntarily ministering for at least two years. The warden described her as "an outstandingly approachable person." He added that she has extensive knowledge of alternative religions.
Finally, how did the New York Times characterize the effort of Mary Frances Berry, the militant chairwoman of the U.S. civil rights commission, to keep on the commission a member appointed to serve out a term that has now expired? The White House is trying to get her to relent on her refusal to seat a new member, so the Times reported "White House set up a confrontation with the United States Civil Rights Commission today."