Wednesday, July 7, 1999

A.G. selection brings
more controversy

Bullet The issue: Governor Cayetano has picked former Budget Director Earl Anzai, who lost his job in a controversial Senate vote, to be interim attorney general.
Bullet Our view: Senators should ignore the audacity of the governor's in-your-face nomination and evaluate the candidate on his merits or risk losing even more credibility with the public.

NOBODY'S got more chutzpah than Ben Cayetano. Less than three months after losing both his attorney general, Margery Bronster, and his budget director, Earl Anzai, in separate Senate confirmation votes, the governor has enacted revenge in a most bodacious manner.

The state's lame-duck leader has selected Anzai -- his intense, blunt-talking confidante -- to serve as interim A.G. By doing so, Cayetano brazenly thumbs his nose at senators, while ensuring a lively and possibly messy reconfirmation process either this year or next.

Politically speaking, it's cunning. Practically speaking, it's the kind of shenanigans that could renew public disgust with government.

Anzai's reappointment to a cabinet post thrusts the 15 senators who voted against him as budget director (and 14 senators who rejected Bronster) back into the spotlight, which they were hoping to avoid. The people of Hawaii came down hard on the naysayers in late April, correctly recognizing that the rebuffs were based more on politics than on merit.

After his Democratic colleagues delivered the stunning no-confidence votes in his administration, Cayetano vetoed a large number of bills passed in the 1999 session. But his designation of Anzai as the state's top law-enforcement officer, and sending the name back to the Senate, is akin to Cayetano paraphrasing famous tough-guy Clint Eastwood and daring: "Go ahead, Senator, make my day."

Now the politicos are faced with the choice of two discomfitures. Do they respond in kind to the contemptuous message from the governor -- who with baby-face innocence proclaims that the appointee is a dedicated public servant and good lawyer -- and object to Anzai once again? Or do they retreat as the 2000 election nears, realizing that their political necks are vulnerable as folks remember the Bronster/Anzai debacle?

If the senators have learned anything from their fall from grace, they'll swallow their pride.

They will seriously and without animosity consider Anzai's qualifications to be attorney general, remembering that the governor should have a wide berth in deciding whom he wants to serve at his side and realizing that Anzai's tenacity, honesty and experience in government could only be an asset in such a key role. The momentum of the Office of the Attorney General, especially with respect to the investigation of the Bishop Estate trustees, must not be derailed.

Ironically, in this latest ploy, Cayetano (who has announced that he will retire from politics in 2002) is the only clear winner. If the senators oust Anzai one more time, they'll be seen as vindictive bullies. But if they reluctantly approve him, chutzpah will prevail.

Taliban sanctions

Bullet The issue: The Clinton administration has imposed sanctions against the terrorist Taliban religious militia that controls Afghanistan.
Bullet Our view: The United States should use all means available to retaliate against terrorists and countries that harbor them.

BOTH military force and economic pressure are appropriate in retaliation for acts of terrorism abroad, and both were needed to send as strong a signal as possible to the Taliban religious militia in Afghanistan. Financial pressure is best employed on governments that support terrorists, and it has become clear that Afghanistan has harbored an international terrorist.

Osama bin Laden is believed to have masterminded the August 1988 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 200 people and injuring thousands. The FBI has placed bin Laden on its "Ten Most Wanted List" and offered a $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest.

Afghanistan's Taliban regime has refused to extradite bin Laden, who is reported to have moved to a new base in eastern Afghanistan.

Bin Laden's move apparently came after U.S. forces launched attacks in late April on his suspected training camps in Afghanistan and a chemical plant in Sudan. The attacks were based on what President Clinton said was "compelling information" that the sites were being used in planning additional terrorist attacks against American targets.

Clinton now has signed an executive order imposing sanctions against Afghanistan to "deepen the international isolation of the Taliban, limit its ability to support terrorist networks and demonstrate the need to conform to the accepted norms of international behavior." The order freezes Taliban assets in the United States and prohibits trade or transactions with any territory controlled by the Taliban.

The measures are not likely to discourage further terrorist attacks emanating from Taliban territory. U.S. trade with Afghanistan last year totaled only $24 million. While the order merely adds Afghanistan to a list of two dozen countries that survive despite U.S. trade sanctions, Clinton would have been derelict for allowing it to remain free of such restraints.

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John M. Flanagan, Editor & Publisher

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