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At jet speed, Pentagon averts comment on Pelosi plane pranks

March 12, 2009 | 12:34 am
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco

It will come as an immense shock to Ticket readers that some people elected to Washington -- and also the people these people surround themselves with -- assign themselves a good deal more import than perhaps seems warranted to those of us OTB (Outside the Beltway).

On Wednesday, the Defense Department's spokesman, Geoff Morrell, sought to play down any questions about newly released documents showing an appalling arrogance by staffers of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in dealing with the Air Force over public planes provided for her travel back home to California.

Under questioning, Morrell said "no one has rendered judgment" that Pelosi's use of free Air Force transportation is "excessive."

1) And they better not, at least publicly, since Pelosi's Democratic Party also controls the White House and both houses of Congress, which control the defense budget, and 2) "excessive" use is not really the question.

Background:  After 9/11, then-popular President Bush ordered that the speaker of the House, who is first in line to the presidency after the vice president, get secure government transportation. (BTW, did you know that West Virginia's doddering Robert Byrd is next in line after Pelosi, followed by the secretary of State, none other than Hillary Clinton?)

When Democrat Pelosi took over as speaker from Illinois' Republican Dennis Hastert, this meant a refueling stop en route to San Francisco, which was deemed unacceptable. Pelosi has maintained she's not demanding anything not afforded her male predecessor. And an ABC posting finds that although Pelosi's domestic trips on government planes are longer, Hastert's were more frequent.

But as part of its ongoing investigation of various politicians, the good-government group Judicial Watch obtained Pelosi staff e-mails under a Freedom of Information request.  "This is not good news," Kay King, one staffer, replied to the Air Force when told a certain plane was unavailable. "And we will have some very disappointed folks, as well as a very upset speaker."

The report, which the diligent Glenn Thrush details at Politico.com, also describes times that Pelosi changed plans or canceled on short notice, costing the military (taxpayers) unspecified sums.

Over at Newsbusters, they're wondering why the mainstream media is all over congressional members mocking automotive company leaders for taking private jets to testify in Washington, while largely ignoring high-handed attitudes over private jet flights by members of Congress.  Probably just an oversight.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Associated Press

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