Members of Congress: No formal military burial for the 'BTK' killer

Under current law, Dennis Rader, the “BTK” serial killer, could be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, a situation that doesn’t sit well with an increasing number of lawmakers.

Under current law, Dennis Rader, the “BTK” serial killer, could be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, a situation that doesn’t sit well with an increasing number of lawmakers.

Yesterday, Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Larry Craig (R-Idaho) introduced the third bill that would close a “loophole” allowing some violent felons to receive the military honor.

Earlier this year, Rader was convicted of 10 counts of murder for killings dating back to 1974 and sentenced to 175 years in prison. The state lists a parole eligibility date of Feb. 26, 2180.

Current law, enacted in 1997 to keep Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh out of national cemeteries, only prohibits murderers from being interred in those plots if they were sentenced to death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

That “loophole,” coupled with Rader’s honorable discharge from the Air Force after serving from 1965 to 1969, makes him eligible for the honor.

Last week, Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), who represents Rader’s home of Wichita, introduced legislation that would prevent U.S. military veterans who are convicted of capital murder from being buried in military cemeteries.

“Our nation’s military cemeteries are filled with national heroes,” Tiahrt said. “Someone like convicted serial killer Dennis Rader does not deserve to be buried in such a sacred place.”

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) introduced similar legislation in the Senate the same day she testified at a hearing by Craig’s committee. That hearing highlighted the case of

Russell Wayne Wagner, who was interred at Arlington on July 27, despite having murdered an elderly Hagerstown, Md., couple on Valentine’s Day 1994.

Craig also introduced a bill to have Wagner’s remains removed from Arlington. A Craig aide said the two bills would likely be combined.


Congress: The world’s oldest profession

Is Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-Fla.) cynical or just honest? Either way, she sure has an interesting job description for herself.

Speaking at the Women Impacting Public Policy conference last week, the second-term lawmaker elicited a roar of laughter from the crowd by recalling an exchange she had with a man on an airplane shortly after she entered politics.

After he asked her what she did for a living, she replied, ever so matter of factly, “I’m a hooker.”

“Excuse me?” came his reply.

“That’s right, I said I’m a hooker,” she explained. “I have to go up to total strangers, ask them for money and get them to expect me to be there when they need me. What does that sound like to you?”

When asked about the remark, Brown-Waite’s press secretary, Charlie Keller, said that although he wrote the speech, “that was ad-libbed.”

“That is perfectly her sense of humor,” he said.


Oberstar still ironman at 71

Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.) hails from Chisholm, Minn., the home of the character Dr. Archie “Moonlight” Graham in “Field of Dreams.”

No wonder, then, that he’d celebrate his 71st birthday by “going the distance.”

Oberstar late last month pedaled 104 miles as part of the Waves to Wine Bike Tour to benefit the Northern California Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Oberstar, ranking member of the House Transportation Committee and co-founder of the Congressional Bike Caucus, finished in seven hours and 27 minutes, according to his longtime chief of staff, Bill Richard.

“As an avid bicyclist, I was pleased to be asked to participate in the Waves to Wine bike tour. I rode 104 miles through the beautiful California countryside and by the Pacific Ocean,” Oberstar said. “It was wonderful to see so many people participate in this worthwhile event.”


Yom Kippur in a beer hall? Not quite

A tipster alerted us to a small snafu involving the National Association of Beer Wholesalers’ annual Oktoberfest event in the Cannon Caucus Room. It seems that the event was accidentally, and temporarily, scheduled for next Wednesday, Oct. 12, which also happens to be sundown of Yom Kippur.

This would seem to pose a problem not only because observant Jews on the invite list wouldn’t be able to attend but because of the small indignity of celebrating a German tradition on a Jewish high holy day.

A Wholesalers spokeswoman explained that it was originally scheduled for Oct. 5, until the Speaker’s office informed the group the room had been double-booked that night and briefly moved it to the 12th.

The event now has a happy home on the 20th.

No harm, no foul, said a spokesman for another Washington organization, who was invited to the event and is Jewish himself.

“You don’t have to be a good Jew or a bad Jew to make that mistake,” he said, noting that he had to cancel an event of his own after checking the calendar.

“The timing of the holiday is really different this year.”


Catholic magazine lauds Mark Shields

You can call him the Honorable Mark Shields now.

Shields, the syndicated political columnist, former moderator of CNN’s “Capital Gang” panel and regular on the

“NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,” is the first recipient of the American Catholic in the Public Square Award.

The honor was bestowed by the independent liberal Catholic magazine Commonweal at a gala 80th anniversary dinner in New York late last month.

Shields was lauded by a bevy of political and religious leaders, including former Georgetown University President Leo O’Donovan S.J. and Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sibelius (D), who noted that Shields once managed the campaign of her father, former Ohio Gov. John Gilligan (D).

Sibelius praised Shields for his “ultimate optimism and Irish humor” and said he “envisions a much more Christian and just society than we have.”

Speaking to an audience of several hundred guests, including Tim Shriver, chairman of the Special Olympics, Shields stressed the importance of religious and moral values in the formation of public policy.

“Politics is nothing more and nothing less than the peaceable resolution of conflict among legitimate competing interests,” he said.

More in Politics

Are politicians' family members 'off limits'?

Read more »