- The Washington Times - Friday, November 17, 2000

Russian violations

U.S. intelligence agencies uncovered new evidence of arms-control-treaty cheating by Russia. Spy services recently learned about new warhead capabilities of Russia's road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), known in the Pentagon as the SS-27.

A classified report sent to senior policy-makers revealed the SS-27, Moscow's top-of-the-line missile and also known as the Topol-M, can be quickly outfitted with multiple warheads. The warhead "uploading" capability violates the START II arms treaty, which bans multiple warheads on land-based ICBMs. The treaty also specifically bans adding multiple warheads to single-warhead land-based missiles.

Disclosure of the Russian treaty violation comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin is proposing still deeper cuts in U.S. and Russian strategic arsenals. Critics in the Pentagon point out that Moscow has never met a treaty it didn't like and violate.

One official said arms-control talks with Russia are pointless and that the best deal for the United States is no arms talks at all. This is because Russia's arsenal is rapidly wearing out by itself and will end up rusting to pieces in silos and on launchers without an agreement. It's a sort of natural disarmament.

The START II treaty calls for U.S. and Russian strategic arsenals to reduce to the level of 3,000 to 3,500 warheads by 2007. The de-MIRVing (MIRV stands for multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle) was touted by arms-control advocates as a key benefit of the START II treaty.

Moscow has tried to backtrack on the single-warhead treaty requirement by suggesting it would add warheads to its mobile missiles to counter U.S. deployment of a national missile defense.

Navy quarterback

Insiders say the George W. Bush team is considering naming Roger Staubach, a Naval Academy graduate and loyal backer of the Texas governor, as the next Navy secretary.

If Mr. Bush wins the presidency, they say, the ex-Dallas Cowboys quarterback would present a wholesome image and strong conservative values to prospective recruits. The Navy is encountering problems attracting sufficient quantities of recruits.

"If you pick Staubach, you have to have someone under him that has the ability to work inside the Pentagon," said one insider. "Roger will be out selling the Navy."

Also on the short list is Rep. Tillie Fowler, Florida Republican, who honored her term-limit pledge and did not seek re-election. Mrs. Fowler is strong on national defense, and is well respected on Capitol Hill and within the Navy.

In the race for the next secretary of defense, sources say Navy Secretary Richard Danzig wants the job and is making himself more available to the media to show off his bureaucratic skills.

"He is self-promoting himself to be secretary of defense," said one Pentagon insider. "I've had several people here tell me that."

Mr. Danzig, a loyal Democrat, would be a strong fighter if Mr. Gore follows through on his campaign promise to push the military to open its ranks to avowed homosexuals. Mr. Gore said during the primary season he would have a litmus test for the Joint Chiefs of Staff: They must accept openly homosexual personnel or they won't get appointed.

He subsequently backpedaled some in face of criticism, but still said he plans to allow open homosexuals in the military.

"Danzig is one of the smartest guys you ever want to see," said a retired officer who worked with the secretary. "He wants to hear all points of view."

Democrats have mentioned former Sen. Sam Nunn, Georgia Democrat, as a possible Gore "SecDef." But Mr. Nunn led the fight to prevent President Clinton in 1993 from removing the homosexual ban. A Gore appointment would force Mr. Nunn to change his stance.

If Mr. Bush wins, people close to the campaign say, he likely will turn to former Sen. Dan Coats, Indiana Republican. Mr. Coats served on the Senate Armed Services Committee and would be expected to back Mr. Bush's campaign pledge to "respect the military culture."

A wild card in the speculation: Either Mr. Gore or Mr. Bush will need to put Democrats in the Cabinet to engender a spirit of bipartisanship in a divided capital. The job could end up going to a member of the opposite party, just as President Clinton reached out to the GOP by naming William S. Cohen, a former Republican senator, as defense secretary.

Cole inquest

There are four separate executive branch investigations into terrorists' attack on the destroyer USS Cole. But for the moment, the Senate Armed Services Committee is being kept out of the mix.

Sen. John W. Warner, Virginia Republican, has wanted to hold a follow-up hearing to further explore whether the Cole's commander and its crew exercised the proper security precautions before a boat carrying a bomb killed 17 sailors.

But the Pentagon has trickled out information. One Senate aide said the Navy is not anxious to discuss force-protection measures, with the chance that what they say may help terrorists plan their next attack.

"They're not furnishing the committee with a lot of information," the aide said.

Pope case deal?

The Clinton administration's failure to win the release of retired Navy man Edmond Pope, who is in a Russian jail on trumped-up espionage charges, has some U.S. intelligence officials angry.

U.S. intelligence believes Moscow will convict Mr. Pope of charges that he sought secrets about a high-speed underwater rocket-torpedo, and then pardon him and send him home to his wife and family.

Mr. Pope, a businessmen who insisted he was gathering publicly available information before he was arrested by counterspies, is in poor health and some U.S. officials fear he may not survive the trial. If convicted, he could receive 20 years in the gulag.

Moscow's questionable spy case suffered a setback last week when a key Russian witness retracted a crucial statement. The witness said the statement was made under pressure during questioning by Russian counterspies.

A U.S. intelligence official offered us a hardball solution to the Pope case: Order the Federal Bureau of Investigation to arrest one of the numerous Russian military intelligence spooks currently spying in Washington and arrange a swap for Mr. Pope.

However, given the Clinton administration's see-no-evil approach to foreign spying, that prospect is highly unlikely, we are told. As demonstrated by the recent leak legislation that would have criminalized press disclosures, the CIA and intelligence community appear more interested in catching American officials who talk to the press than spies who steal secrets for foreign governments.

Officials point to this fact: Beijing suffered no penalty for stealing U.S. warhead and missile secrets.

President Clinton vetoed the leak bill and the provision was stripped from the fiscal 2001 intelligence-authorization bill earlier this week.

Carlson's military

Time magazine's and CNN's Margaret Carlson, a staunch liberal and promoter of Vice President Al Gore, was probably not too popular with the military's officer corps even before she called them tax dodgers.

Her comment on the nationally syndicated Don Imus radio show has stirred up lots of e-mail from incensed active and retired service members.

"Ms. Carlson called the military … [who live in Florida] 'tax evading scum,' " said a retired Navy officer. "If [conservative columnist] Bob Novak used similar language, what would the networks do? I believe they would terminate him immediately. Ms. Carlson should be fired."

Miss Carlson made the remark amid speculation that military absentee ballots might tip the scale for Texas Gov. George W. Bush. Oversees personnel residing in Florida do not have to pay state taxes. Final mail-in absentee ballots are due by midnight today in Florida.

Miss Carlson has since apologized for her remarks on CNN's "The Capital Gang" during the Saturday night program's "Outrage of the Week" segment.

• Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough are syndicated columnists. Mr. Gertz can be reached at 202/636-3274 or by e-mail at gertz@twtmail.com. Mr. Scarborough can be reached at 202/636-3208 or by e-mail at scarbo@twtmail.com.

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