Faint Hope Gone

I don’t think there was ever any chance that alleged “whistle blower” Coleen Rowley was going to beat my Congressman, Col. John Kline, in November. The district is too Republican, and Kline is too good a representative. But, as Scott noted here, the portion of the report by the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General dealing with Zacarias Moussaoui has now been declassified. That report should end whatever long-shot hopes Rowley had. Yesterday, Brendan Miniter wrote in the Wall Street Journal’s Political Diary:

The Justice Department issued a report this week that may put the final coup de grâce on Minnesota Democrat Colleen Rowley’s congressional hopes.

A lawyer and FBI agent, Ms. Rowley gained national fame after the Sept. 11 because she had sought permission to search Zacarias Moussaoui’s laptop before the deadly attacks were carried out. Had FBI headquarters allowed the search, the plot might have been stopped.

Her loud criticisms of FBI headquarters led Time Magazine to name her Woman of the Year in 2002. But now it turns out that Ms. Rowley deserves some of the blame along with Washington bureaucrats. Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine, in a report two years ago that now has been declassified, concludes that she made a critical mistake by rushing to open an “intelligence” investigation and seeking a warrant under the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act. Ms. Rowley could have sought a criminal warrant but unwisely chose to pursue an espionage warrant “without fully understanding the requirements of FISA and the difficulty of connecting Moussaoui to a recognized foreign power,” the report said. Had she been more savvy, it’s likely Moussaoui’s hard drive would have been searched in time to stop the attacks.

Ms. Rowley has been staking her campaign to unseat Republican Rep. John Kline (a career Marine turned politician) on her credentials to more effectively prosecute the war on terror. She’s come out strongly against the Iraq war…

But Ms. Rowley has proved to be an unimpressive political force. She’s run an unpolished campaign that resorted to showing Mr. Kline as Col. Klink, a Nazi character from the TV show “Hogan’s Heroes,” on her Web site. She’s had trouble raising money. At the end of the first quarter of this year, she had pulled in only $98,000 while Mr. Kline had raised nearly $200,000 and has some $550,000 on hand. Now her vaunted status as whistleblower may be in jeopardy. Ms. Rowley is rapidly becoming just another antiwar candidate, and not one very adept at the business of politics.

What Miniter doesn’t say is that the Justice Department’s report also casts doubt on Rowley’s credibility. In any event, I don’t think we’ll be seeing her in Washington.

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