By Betsy Rothstein - 01/24/08 12:01 AM EST
Reps. Tim Walz (D-Minn.), Harry Mitchell (D-Ariz.) and Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) were recently on a nine-day trip to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Germany to investigate military healthcare. What they did not tell their constituents about after they came home was the scary ride they encountered while flying in a Black Hawk helicopter in Iraq.
During the flight, the helicopter automatically triggered anti-missile flares. The passengers knew it was not a routine flare firing, explained an aide who was present, but a reaction triggered by a honing radar lock somewhere on the ground. One aide on the trip remarked that he knew what the flares meant and was still frightened. “My butt puckered,” he said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Another source close to the situation explained: “The flares go off in response to electromagnetic radiation. That radiation could have come from a weapon on the ground, but it more likely came from another piece of equipment on the ground that posed no threat. That equipment very possibly could have been our own.”
Seth Scott, a spokesman for Mitchell, said that the passengers “were warned in advance that flares would be fired from the helicopter ride,” and that “it was a practice procedure.” He added that at no time did his boss feel that he was in any danger.
Star sighting: Richard Gere on Senate side
Actor Richard Gere was spotted on the Senate side of the Capitol last week. An aide spotted him in a men’s bathroom, and later began making the obligatory jokes.
The ITK spy’s main reaction to seeing the star: “He had lots of gray hair.”
The informant added: “He didn’t tap his foot in the bathroom — all I cared about was that he was in my way at the sink.”
Romney’s son: One degree of separation from P. Diddy
ITK spoke with Josh Romney — one of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s five sons — on the phone while he was campaigning in Las Vegas last week. The Salt Lake City resident chatted about being away from Utah during one of the state’s most widely known annual events: the Sundance Film Festival. Although he did not mention any desire to rub elbows with the celebrities in attendance, he probably could have.
“My college buddy is driving P. Diddy and Bono around,” Josh Romney said. “It’s pretty funny. He’s pretty stoked.”
U2’s Bono, meanwhile, was spotted on Capitol Hill Tuesday afternoon meeting with Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and chatting in a hallway with aides to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).
Sen. Snowe suffers wrist injury
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) injured her wrist last week when she slipped on ice. John Gentzel, Snowe’s communications director, explains what transpired.
“During the storm last week in Maine, she was walking outside her house, hit a patch of ice in her driveway, fell and broke her wrist,” he said. “I can attest, however, that the cast is not slowing her down at all.”