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The group’s moderator, Michael Swaine of the Carnegie Endowment, could not be reached for comment.

Among the chat group’s participants is Dennis Wilder, a CIA analyst who is currently the senior National Security Council staff director for Asia. Mr. Wilder in April posted an insider’s account of President Bush’s summit meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao. Acting National Intelligence Officer for East Asia Lonnie Henley also is a participant.

Another frequent contributor is Chris Clarke, currently the head of China affairs at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Mr. Clarke has posted reports on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and critical comments of U.S. government reporting from Beijing during the 1989 Tiananmen massacre.

Other group postings have sought to play down the significance of the Jan. 11 anti-satellite weapons test by China, and some were critical of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her tough views of China.

One participant, Evan Rand Corp., recently was cautioned by other group members for posting a sensitive e-mail that appeared to be based on a CIA file.

Several former CIA China specialists have been known to post to the group from their contractor offices, often surrounded by classified documents on their desks.

According to one U.S. official, Mr. Swaine recently rejected a U.S. government request to provide information on former group member Ron Montaperto, who pleaded guilty to espionage-related charges in June.

Montaperto had made hundreds of postings over the 12-year history of the group. Some members now advocate that all e-mail posting files be destroyed rather than maintained at the Carnegie Endowment.

Al Qaeda in Pakistan

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said this week that terrorists linked to al Qaeda and the ousted Taliban are regrouping and working inside Pakistan.

“The Taliban and al Qaeda have been able to use the areas around particularly North Waziristan to regroup, and it is a problem,” Mr. Gates told reporters. “We are working together with Pakistan to address that problem.”

It was the first official confirmation that U.S. and allied forces are stepping up operations in the remote region of Pakistan, which is well known for being a hide-out for al Qaeda and Taliban forces that are using the rugged area for training.

Petraeus on the enemy

Army Gen. David Petraeus, the new commander of Multinational Force-Iraq (MNF-I), said recently in a message to troops that the fight to stabilize Iraq is difficult.

“The enemies of Iraq will shrink at no act, however barbaric,” he said. “They will do all that they can to shake the confidence of the people and to convince the world that this effort is doomed. We must not underestimate them.”

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