Inside the Beltway: Congressional gold for clandestine heroes of OSS

They had legendary good spirit and the inner mettle to grapple with grim reality as well. That would be the Office of Strategic Services — the OSS — a clandestine agency created during World War II by Army Maj. Gen. William J. Donovan that was the predecessor of the CIA. The inventive determination of those 13,000 uncommon warriors who fought against Nazis and other American enemies seven decades ago has not been forgotten, however.

Bipartisan legislation has been introduced this week by Sen. Mark Kirk, Illinois Republican, and Rep. Robert E. Latta, Ohio Republican, that would award the Congressional Gold Medal to the members of the OSS, which included personnel from all military branches during its time.

“The heroic actions and innovative inventions by members of the OSS played a crucial role in the allied victory in WW II. It is time for these ladies and gentlemen of the Greatest Generation to be collectively recognized and honored for their efforts,” Mr. Latta says.

Four CIA directors were once OSS members; women — including Julia Child — made up a third of the organization’s population.

“When President Reagan received the William J. Donovan Award in 1986, he said: ‘Tonight I join you to honor the memory of Bill Donovan and all the veterans of the Office of Strategic Services, those who heard no bugles and received no medals, but who struggled and sacrificed so that freedom might endure.’” Charles Pinck, president of the OSS Society, tells Inside the Beltway.

“With their numbers dwindling, it is urgent that we honor the surviving OSS veterans with the Congressional Gold Medal,” he adds.

CHALLENGING WHITE HOUSE ‘MONOPOLISTIC PROPAGANDA’

Oh, the acrimony. Close to 40 major new organizations are protesting an increasingly insular White House which exercises control over its brand and image with the finesse of a Madison Avenue PR shop.

“We write to protest the limits on access currently barring photographers who cover the White House. We hope this letter will serve as the first step in removing these restrictions,” says The Associated Press, Fox News and the White House Correspondent Association — among many — in a letter hand-delivered to White House press secretary Jay Carney.

Naturally, Mr. Carney and company rejected the premise, and the journalists covered their own story. The hubbub, in fact, prompted some 200 assorted accounts within a few hours.

The journalists and photographers cite seven major events in 2013 when photography was prohibited and an official image was supplied. The restrictions, they say, mar transparency. “Imposing limits on press access, as your office has done, represents a troubling precedent with a direct and adverse impact on the public’s ability to independently monitor and see what its government is doing. We consider this a most serious matter,” the group notes.

Veteran National Journal reporter Ron Fournier, meanwhile, has this observation, directed to the public: “Obama’s image machine: monopolistic propaganda funded by you.”

FOWL PLAY

Happy holidays at the White House? Not really. After all, Obamacare has proved to be a political turkey. Animal activists, meanwhile, are claiming that the annual White House ritual of pardoning the Thanksgiving turkey is a turkey as well.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is asking President Obama to, uh, stop “pimping for poultry producers,” among other things.

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