Wednesday, August 04, 2004
Leaker? Liar? Loony? Why not all three? The mascot of the 2000 Florida voter debacle is unfit for public office on soooooo many levels:
Officials in Indiana and Washington say they're dumbfounded by a statement U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris of Sarasota made about a terrorist plot to blow up a power grid in Indiana.Chastened by the torrent of unflattering press coverage, Ms. Harris later apologized for divulging "classified" facts that were neither classifed nor, apparently, factual:
During a speech to 600 people Monday in Venice, Harris either shared a closely held secret or passed along second-hand information as fact.
A staff member of the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which oversees the nation's intelligence operations, said he had heard of no such plot.
And Indiana officials in the county where the power grid is located were at a loss to explain where the information originated.
In an interview Tuesday, Harris would not reveal the name of the mayor who told her about the threat or provide further details.
She said in the speech that a man of Middle Eastern heritage had been arrested in the plot and that explosives were found in his home in Carmel, a suburb north of Indianapolis.
Carmel Mayor James Brainard and a spokesman for Indiana Gov. Joe Kernan said they had no knowledge of such a plot. Brainard said he had never spoken to Harris.
Republican Rep. Katherine Harris said Wednesday she regrets concerns caused by her claim that a plot existed to blow up the power grid in Carmel, Ind. City officials disputed the claims of a plot.Innocent mistake, we're sure. It's entirely possible that Ms. Harris misunderstood some comments Mr. Ashcroft made during a phone conversation; the acoustics under the desk are notoriously poor.
"I was told in an open, group setting that a recent situation threatened a Midwestern community and that it had been diffused," Harris said Wednesday. "I regret that I had no knowledge of the sensitive nature of this situation and any undue concern this may have caused."
But the Florida lawmaker stands by her statement that the United States has thwarted more than 100 potential terrorist attacks . . . .
"Actually, it's been more than 100," she told the newspaper. "It's classified ... obviously not classified to me ... but things I can't go into details about."
Jessica Furst, a spokeswoman for Harris, said that quote was incorrect and the congresswoman never said the information about the 100 thwarted attacks was classified. The information came from statements by Attorney General John Ashcroft, she said.