OFF LIMITS

Melting down: Rocky Flats' contamination isn't limited to the Jefferson County facility. Washington lawyer Jonathan Turley is plenty hot over the Denver Post's "Perspective" section, particularly its editor, Al Knight. Last month Turley was invited to speak about environmental crimes and, not incidentally, his most controversial clients--the Rocky Flats grand jurors--at a lunchtime conclave at the Denver office of Holland & Hart. Knight was in the audience and proceeded to write not one, but two columns essentially telling the grand jurors to go away and Turley to shut up. Instead Turley sent a five-page (single-spaced) rebuttal to the Post, of which the paper printed a relative smidge. In the same package, Turley enclosed another five-page (again, single-spaced) letter to Post editor Neil Westergaard, requesting that the newspaper's ombudsman (which the Post doesn't have) "look into this matter for breaches of journalistic ethics and standards," including "personal attacks on my character." Turley copied that letter to Post managing editor Isabel Spencer.

Although Turley has yet to receive a response from Westergaard, on Sunday one Gil Spencer, former editor of the Denver Post and husband of Isabel, weighed in with his own column about the Rocky Flats flap. The Knight/Turley debate wasn't much of a contest, Spencer says; Knight's "opinion piece did to Jonathan Turley what a seal does to a sardine." Still, he concludes, the "gut questions remain: Who's right: Justice or jury?" To get the answer, Spencer suggests that yet another grand jury be empaneled.

And here's why that fish won't swim: The $18.5 million settlement the Department of Justice cut with Rockwell International back in March 1992 basically granted Rockwell--and its employees--immunity from any additional crimes that may have happened on the company's watch at Rocky Flats. As far as Rockwell was concerned, that guarantee was a crucial part of the deal.

Turley, still smarting over that "sardine" crack, notes that a second investigation would "simply repeat the same limitations" that stymied the last grand jury--whose members are still very eager to talk to Congress, specifically the investigations and oversight subcommittee, of which Congressman Dan Schaefer is the ranking Republican. In the meantime, watch for the jurors to turn up on ABC's 20/20 in the next week or two.

Author! Author! Representative Pat Schroeder looked around the group assembled for an annual Denver-area Democrats dinner and noted that Oregon Senator Bob Packwood wasn't there--which surprised her, she said, "since he's heard my seat is up for grabs." Staffers aren't taking credit for the quip, though; several versions had already made their way along the Washington gropevine. But Schroeder's on her own with her earlier remark regarding Western males' lack of "testosterone," says chief aide (and wag) Dan Buck. He's still disappointed that reporters didn't quote his response: "Isn't that a Ben & Jerry's flavor?

 
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