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Inside the Beltway: Congressional gold for clandestine heroes of OSS

- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 21, 2013

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.

"As president, you don't endorse soft drinks or shoes, so please stop promoting an industry that wreaks havoc on the health of the American people, contributes to environmental devastation, and abuses millions of animals every year," writes Ingrid Newkirk, president of the group, in a letter to Mr. Obama.

She also mourns the plight of intentionally fattened gobblers who are under duress and often have heart attacks, noting that both turkeys from the 2012 ceremony have already died. The president, though, can't get a break.

"Please discontinue this pathetic, outdated promotion of a violent, environmentally irresponsible, and unhealthy industry," Ms. Newkirk continues. "Wouldn't it be wonderful if you were remembered for advocating a new Thanksgiving tradition — a healthy, humane, eco-friendly vegan Thanksgiving?"

BUMPER PATROL

"If all else fails, use a bigger hammer"

"If at first you don't succeed, blame marketing"

— Two bumper stickers spotted on the same vehicle near Warrenton, Va.

IRONIC FACTOID OF NOTE

"Compared with the electorate overall, Americans who came of age during the presidencies of John Kennedy or Lyndon Johnson offered more support for Mitt Romney in 2012, and more support for John McCain in 2008," says Seth Motel, a Pew Research Center analyst who went through many numbers to reach that conclusion.

"Those who turned 18 in the Gerald Ford-Jimmy Carter or Ronald Reagan-George H.W. Bush years also have voted consistently more Republican in the last several elections," Mr. Motel continues. But there is a great divide lurking on the cusp of administrations.

"It's the Nixon-era's 18-year-olds, who were born in the middle of the Baby Boom and were ages 56-61 last election, who are more Democratic-leaning. In 2012, their margin of support for President Obama exceeded the national average by 5 points," he notes.

CRUZ CONTROL

Was it Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker who recently suggested that Sen. Ted Cruz should not run for president because he's a Washington insider? Apparently so. The wily Mr. Cruz replies:

"I'll tell you this; I agree with Gov. Walker that Hillary Clinton would make a very poor president. So on that, we are on the same page. And beyond that, you know what, there's going to be plenty of time to worry about politics going forward," the Texas Republican tells Bloomberg TV anchor Al Hunt in an interview airing Friday.

"I like Scott Walker. I think he's done a good job standing up to unions in his state. What I think the next president should be is someone who is leading the fight for free market principals and the Constitution, someone who's listening to the American people, not listening to the established politicians," Mr. Cruz says.

"What I think matters is, are they fighting to bring back economic growth, to restore free market principals, to bring back jobs, to bring back the Constitution and are they listening to the American people? The greatest frustration people have in this country right now is that Washington politicians aren't listening," he adds.

POLL DU JOUR

56 percent of Americans disapprove of the way President Obama is handling his job; 92 percent of Republicans, 19 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of independents agree.

50 percent overall say Republicans in Congress will have more influence than Mr. Obama over the nation's direction in the next year; 71 percent of Republicans, 35 percent of Democrats and 49 percent of independents agree.

42 percent overall say Mr. Obama will have more influence; 26 percent of Republicans, 60 percent of Democrats and 38 percent of independents agree.

47 percent overall would prefer that Mr. Obama have more influence; 11 percent of Republicans, 91 percent of Democrats and 36 percent of independents agree.

45 percent overall would prefer the GOP have more influence; 87 percent of Republicans, 6 percent of Democrats and 50 percent of independents agree.

Source: A CNN/ORC poll of 843 U.S. adults conducted Nov. 18 to 20.

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