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Sunday, May 04, 2003  

Late night snack

•GOP threatens moderate senators

It must be harder to be a centrist conservative in Congress than it is to be a transsexual in prison. With all due respect to compassionate conservatism, there is nothing compassionate about the current administration. Vermont Sen. Jim Jeffords, who abandoned the Republicans for independent status in 2001, learned that the hard way and is sounding a warning to his former colleagues.

Now, Jeffords said in delivering the Democrats' response to Bush's weekly radio address, Republicans who disagree with Bush on fiscal priorities -- an apparent reference to Sens. Olympia J. Snowe (Maine) and George V. Voinovich (Ohio) -- are being pressured to toe the party line. Bush recently chose Ohio as the backdrop for a sales pitch on his tax-cut bill, and the Club for Growth, a conservative advocacy group, has run ads showing Voinovich and Snowe flanked by the French flag, which was not meant as a compliment.

Once again, "those who are expressing their reservations are being vilified for taking stands of conscience," Jeffords said. "This happened in 2001 when I made my decision to leave the Republican Party, and it is sad for me to watch it happen again. When did standing on principle, speaking your conscience and representing your constituents become unacceptable in certain Republican circles?

When, indeed.

•Rumsfeld to 'help' Lynch

It appears the Pentagon may provide former prisoner of war Pfc. Jessica Lynch with something she allegedly lacks -- memories. Lynch is said not to recall what happened after the firefight between American troops and Iraqi irregulars in which she was captured. She was released from an Iraqi hospital three weeks later.

"This is a very sad thing about Jessica but it's not unexpected," Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld told Fox News Sunday.

Rosenfeld said Lynch is likely suffering from something called total global amnesia, which often occurs after someone endures a traumatic emotional and/or physical stress.

"These things usually take months -- sometimes years - but usually months to eventually clear up," and the patient recovers, Rosenfeld said.

The Pentagon wants Pfc. Lynch to 'remember' details of her captivity that will fit its plans to use her as a witness in war crimes trials against Iraqis, possibly including the medical personnel who saved her life.

. . .U.S. government sources told Fox News that they are concerned about Lynch's mental and physical state, saying she can't remember anything after the moment the 507th was ambushed nor can she remember anything about her days in captivity and the brutality U.S. military officials believe she endured.

I am cynical. The situation strikes me as strange in two ways. First, I don't believe a low-ranking nineteen-year-old is likely to have information that would support war crimes convictions even if she is not an amnesiac. Second, there are higher ranking and more experienced POWs available. However, they are not amnesiacs and have spoken of their captivity to reporters. It would be difficult for them to recast their stories to support the Pentagon now. But, with the proper coaching, Lynch could be literally programmed to say whatever the Pentagon wants. I hope there are safeguards in war crimes trials that prevent such 'evidence' from being offered. Civilian courts treat 'recovered memories' very skeptically, and so should war crimes tribunals.

•What goes up. . . .

People who were nervous about today's Soyuz landing got to chew their nails for a few hours. The capsule did not land in the prepared location, but was eventually found.

Soyuz space crew found after search

ASTANA, Kazakhstan, May 4 —  Two American astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut returned to Earth, off-target but OK, from the international space station Sunday in a cramped Russian capsule - coming home the only way they could after the Columbia shuttle disaster.

RUSSIAN SPOTTERS found the capsule north of the Aral Sea after a more than two-hour search. In mission control, just outside Moscow, the room erupted in applause at the news.

The unplanned landing increased the amount of gravity the passengers were exposed to, but they seem not to have been injured.

9:38 PM