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Pelosi's Plane / No Fear

Friday, Feb. 09, 2007 1:38 AM

The non-issue of the day in our nation's capital is what kind of plane Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi gets to commute on.

Both Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) and Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Florida) agree that Speaker Pelosi is entitled to the use of a military jet for security reasons (such has been the case since 9/11), but claim Pelosi is asking for a bigger jet because she wants to ferry family, other lawmakers, and lobbyists to and fro.

Putnam argues that Pelosi should settle for a smaller plane, even if it means having to stop to refuel between Washington, D.C. and California.

"Our members are not persuaded by the argument that stopping to refuel on the way home will be too big a challenge," Blunt noted.

Right. The Speaker flies on a military jet for security reasons, but you want her to make a routine and predictable stop on her cross-country flights.

Pelosi points out that even President Bush has told her that because the Speaker of the House is second in the line of presidential succession, he is concerned about her security ��and that concern includes the desire that Pelosi's plane need not land for refueling halfway through her journey.

Rep. John Murtha is also under fire for this, having spoken to Pentagon officials about providing Pelosi with a bigger plane that can fly passengers coast-to-coast in comfort. As Murtha chairs the House military appropriations subcommittee, that makes perfect sense, as does asking for a plane that carries passengers in comfort. After all, we don't want her hanging out in the cargo bay of a Hercules, right?

A Pentagon spokesman has stated that Speaker Pelosi will be offered 'shuttle service' for 'no more than 10 passengers' between Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, 'based on aircraft availability' � and that there are no guarantees of nonstop transport.

Of the military aircraft which Pelosi could use, which include a modest 16-seat business jet with the necessary range, the GOP is accusing Pelosi of wanting the largest: a reconfigured Boeing 757.

It should be noted that prior to becoming House Speaker, Pelosi has flown commercial flights. Also, the House Sergeant-at-Arms has issued a statement that says he inquired about the larger plane ��not Mrs. Pelosi.

White House Spokesman Tony Snow called the fuss, "... a silly story, and I think it's been unfair to the Speaker."

Three pipe bombs were found near a valve in a segment of the California Aqueduct when it was partially drained in a routine check for submerged items.

The search also yielded 25 vehicles and several weapons, according to the California Highway Patrol. It is not clear if the bombs had been placed intentionally, though their detonation would likely have damaged the valve and released water.

A bomb unit was called in to retrieve and detonate the bombs in a safe area.

Missing from this little incident was the ohmygodbombsbombsbombs panic-fest that paralyzed Boston and caused state officials to solemnly opine about security in a 'post 9/11' world.

That's right. The California Highway Patrol calmly went in, called the bomb squad, disposed of the devices, end of story. And one can't really argue that it's not the same as the middle of downtown Boston ��a breach in the Aqueduct could easily flood farmland and cause extensive damage, not to mention affect the state's water supply.

A lesson to be lived and learned in Boston, I think.

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