- The Washington Times - Friday, January 28, 2000

Poet general

Chinese Lt. Gen. Xiong Guankai, deputy chief of staff for intelligence, waxed poetic during his three-day visit to Washington. The general resorted to symbolism to signal a thaw in U.S.-Chinese military relations since the ties went into the deep freeze over NATO's bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in May.
Gen. Xiong recited verse at two banquets and led fellow "friends of China" in a round of singing "Auld Lang Syne" at a third, held at the Chinese Embassy Wednesday.
On Monday night at the Nixon center, the general quoted English poet Percy Shelley: "If winter is here, can spring be far behind?" as a way of saying ties would warm.
Then at a Pentagon-sponsored banquet Tuesday, Gen. Xiong recited a poem by Mao Tse-tung, Communist China's founder. Mao's poem was about a flower blooming in winter a reference to the current harsh state of U.S.-Chinese relations.
Defense officials said the general's symbolic remarks carried more weight than his statements during closed talks at the Pentagon. In those meetings, Gen. Xiong criticized plans for U.S. advanced arms sales to Taiwan and continued to insist the embassy bombing was not accidental. He repeated Chinese government demands for punishment of the U.S. officials responsible.
Gen. Xiong's friendly face is in sharp contrast to the remarks he made in 1995 to former defense official Charles Freeman. The general suggested then that China would use nuclear weapons against Los Angeles if the United States defended Taiwan in a conflict with the mainland.

Kosovo conniption

Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, Ohio Democrat, has withdrawn his sponsorship of a General Accounting Office study of the air war over Yugoslavia. The reason: He wanted the same tough-minded auditors who savaged Air Force claims about the 1991 Persian Gulf war. Instead, the GAO has assigned a completely new team.
"In spite of that commendable record," Mr. Kucinich said in a letter to Comptroller-General David M. Walker, who heads the GAO, "GAO chose to award …. my study to a different team without the same track record of independence. In light of the fiscal and military significance of a study on Operation Allied Force, I have lost confidence in the commitment of GAO to produce a study that is independent of the [Pentagon].
"I herewith withdraw my Sept. 28 request for a GAO study on Operation Allied Force and further ask that my name be removed from an publication issued pursuant to that request," said Mr. Kucinich. The congressman was one of only a handful of House Democrats who opposed the U.S.-led NATO bombing of Kosovo to force out Serbian forces.
For the record, it should be noted that the GAO's Gulf war study was contested not only by the Air Force but by independent analysts who did a separate study. The 1993 Gulf War Air Power Survey credited Air Force and Navy aircraft with far more bull's-eyes than did the GAO.
GAO defenders say the auditors did more than just accept the military claims. They dug through mission chronologies and bomb damage assessments to conclude the Air Force made some bogus claims.
Anyway, Comptroller Walker is not backing down as his team verifies whether, as claimed, NATO "smart" bombs and missiles chalked up an astounding 99.6 accuracy rate.
"I was surprised and saddened by your letter," he said in a note to Mr. Kucinich.
"We assigned the lead for this work to our national security preparedness issue area because it is responsible for conducting the majority of our work related to military operations and readiness," he added. "Staff in that group has extensive experience and an excellent reputation in conducting thorough and objective evaluations in these areas, including work related to U.S. participation in the Gulf War, contingency operations in the Balkans and the defense of South Korea."
"GAO prides itself in its reputation for conducting all of its evaluations in an objective and unbiased manner irrespective of who requests or conducts the work."
While Mr. Kucinich bowed out, the other congressman requesting the study, Rep. John P. Murtha, Pennsylvania Democrat, remains a sponsor.

Grozny lessons

A report circulated recently in the Pentagon highlighting the savagery of the 1994-95 war in Chechnya the last time Russian troops got bogged down against Muslim separatists. Military sources tell us it is applicable to current operations.
"Russian Army Lessons Learned from the Battle of Grozny" presents 16 points about fighting inside the Chechen capital.
Here are some highlights:
"Chechens were brutish, especially with prisoners. (Some reports say the Russians were no better, but most say the Chechens were the worst of the two sides.) Whoever was at fault, the battle degenerated quickly to one of 'no quarter asked, none given.' Russian wounded and dead were hung upside down in windows of defended Chechen positions. Russians had to shoot at the bodies to engage the Chechens. Russian prisoners were decapitated and at night their heads were placed on stakes beside roads leading into the city, over which Russian replacements and reinforcements had to travel. Both Russian and Chechen dead were routinely booby-trapped.
"The Russians were not surprised by the ferocity and brutality of the Chechens, they expected them to be 'criminals and animal brutes.' But they were surprised by the sophistication of the Chechen use of booby-traps and mines. Chechens mined and booby-trapped everything, showing excellent insight into the actions and reactions of the average Russian soldier. Mine and booby-trap awareness was hard to maintain."

Gay spooks

Some veterans of the supersecret National Security Agency, at Fort Meade, Md., were shocked upon receiving the agency's December newsletter. It revealed that NSA now has its own homosexual employees group. Not only that, the Alan Turing chapter of the Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual Employees (GLOBE) group, named after the English mathematician and World War II code breaker, held its December general meeting at the Country 7 complex building 9914.
The building was a motel purchased by NSA for its cryptological museum and is located along the Baltimore-Washington Parkway near NSA's sprawling headquarters building. GLOBE also uses the NSA's e-mail system to contact its members.
"A couple of years ago if you had anything like that you would be thrown out," said one retired NSA official.
Rigorous security standards at the spy agency until recently regarded employee homosexuality as a security risk. Security officials feared homosexual officials involved in secret code and communications intercept work could be blackmailed by foreign intelligence services and recruited as spies.

China threat

Expect a harsher than usual assessment of the rise of China when CIA Director George J. Tenet presents his annual world threat briefing to the Senate Intelligence Committee, CIA sources tell us. The briefing had been set for this week but was postponed because of the snowstorm.

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