- The Washington Times - Friday, November 3, 2000

Target: Bin Laden

The Clinton administration is quietly building a case for retaliation against terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and his supporters for the bombing of the USS Cole.

According to a well-placed administration official, "All options are on the table," including cruise missile attacks on bin Laden hideouts in Afghanistan, covert action military operations and even a possible snatch operation aimed at eventually putting the Islamic militant on trial.

The big problem is the failure of the Yemeni government to cooperate with the FBI. Yemeni officials were apparently put off by the more than 100 FBI and other U.S. government agents who showed up in Aden to conduct the investigation.

Meanwhile, the Yemenis have arrested more than a dozen civilians and security people. They include officials in the Lahij province north of Aden who are involved in producing government identity papers.

Abyan province, about 40 miles east of Aden, is a suspected redoubt of bin Laden. According to intelligence officials, bin Laden has invested in farms in the towns of Zinjibar and Jaar and also owns some commercial agencies and fuel stations.

Pakistan's press has been filled in recent days with official government statements warning the United States not to allow its Tomahawk cruise missiles to overfly Pakistani territory in any retaliatory strike on neighboring Afghanistan. Asked about the remarks, one official told us: "What can they do about it? Nothing."

Officers exit

A confidential Army briefing shows troubling trends. Officers are quitting the service at faster rates than four years ago, say the documents obtained by Inside the Ring.

The most alarming is the fast pace of captains' exits. They were leaving at a rate of 6 percent in 1996, but quit at 13 percent this year. For colonels, it's 13.6 percent to 18.5 percent; for lieutenant colonels, it's 10 percent to 12.2 percent.

There is some good news. Lieutenants and majors are staying on at slightly higher rates. The bottom line: The Army is losing about 300 more captains per year than projected, meaning positions go unfilled and the talent pool shrinks.

The briefing was presented to Army major generals by Lt. Gen. Timothy J. Maude, deputy chief of staff for personnel. It also shows that lieutenant colonels and colonels are turning down scores of command posts thought to be plum assignments and a ticket to promotion.

What's going on? A decade of rapid-pace peacekeeping and declining combat readiness is discouraging officers, Army officials say privately.

"Chain of command struggling with forced distribution," the briefing states. "Officer corps still apprehensive."

Star power

The National Guard and reserves are finally getting some bureaucratic muscle to match an increased participation in overseas deployments.

Tucked inside the fiscal 2001 Defense Authorization Act is language ordering the Pentagon to increase the rank of each Guard and Reserve component chief from two stars to three. The components will now be led by lieutenant generals and vice admirals instead of major generals and rear admirals.

Ten years in the making, the promotions are a victory for the Reserve Officers Association of the United States. The group has pressed to get the Army and Air Guard components and the Army, Air Force, Marine and Navy reserves more clout inside the Pentagon. Combined, the five generals and one admiral oversee 1.3 million men and women, nearly equaling the active force.

"The reality is, in the Pentagon the more stars you have on your shoulders the more meetings you get into and higher up in the hierarchy you can participate in budget discussions," said Jay Spiegel, the Reserve association's executive director. "The Reserve chiefs have been in a lot more resource meetings, but they're still just two-stars."

The promotions were pushed by Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican, Sen. Max Cleland, Georgia Democrat, and Rep. Steve Buyer, Indiana Republican and an Army Reserve officer.

The service chiefs are expected next year to nominate Guard and Reserve heads to the higher rank.

Grace period

Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, Maryland Republican, has won his battle to make the Pentagon notify Congress in advance if it plans to open submarines to female crew members.

The just-completed fiscal 2001 Defense Authorization Bill contains language sponsored by Mr. Bartlett requiring a 30-day waiting period while both the House and Senate are in session. The pause would give Congress time to muster the votes to stop the sex integration of one of the Navy's only all-male career fields.

"Any policy change of this magnitude simply must undergo review by Congress and public debate," Mr. Bartlett said.

Mr. Bartlett proposed his amendment last spring after the Pentagon's Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services recommended that female officers be assigned to strategic missile submarines.

CIA politicization

The CIA was stung mightily by our item last week revealing postelection plans by Republican national security officials for a thorough purge of the CIA's China analysis branch for bending its reports.

The Republican critics point to the fact that Congress for the second year in a row has passed legislation aimed at fixing what they regard as biased analysis presenting an overly benign view of China.

The agency mounted a vigorous internal propaganda campaign aimed at reassuring all analysts, "from the newest recruit to our most senior office directors," as one internal memo put it, that there is no politicization on China.

Winston P. Wiley, the agency's top analyst, stated in the memo that our item's criticism was a threat to "not only our work on China, but all of the serious and high quality analysis" produced by the agency.

"In my 30 years as an intelligence officer I consider this the most blatant and undisguised effort to intimidate and politicize intelligence that I have witnessed," Mr. Wiley said.

The best "defense against politicization," he wrote, is to be "meticulous in your use of evidence, explicit in your reasoning, mindful of mind-sets and preconceptions, and determined to call the shots like you see them."

Another analyst, Michael J. Morell, head of the Asia, Pacific and Latin America division, said our item was unfair because it "personally attacks Assistant Deputy Director for Intelligence Marty Petersen, China Issue Manager Dennis Wilder, and … senior analyst John Culver," the senior analyst for the Chinese military.

"This article is a blatant attempt to intimidate us into seeing China a certain way," Mr. Morell stated. "It is ironic that the article is trying to do to us exactly what it accuses us of doing politicizing our analysis."

Neither CIA official addressed what our item exposed: Questionable telephone conversations between Mr. Wilder, the top China analyst, and Kenneth Lieberthal, the White House National Security Council staff China specialist, that raised concerns about political meddling in CIA analysis.

The calls have raised politicization concerns inside the agency because Mr. Lieberthal is a key architect of the administration's pro-China policies. He has advocated lifting economic sanctions directed at the Chinese military. The sanctions were imposed after the brutal 1989 attack on protesters in Tiananmen Square.

Soon, we plan to show in more detail how CIA China analysis under Mr. Wilder has been politicized. Two examples: FBI and CIA reports highlighting the threat posed by China have been suppressed, while those backing administration policy of China being a "strategic partner" are given wide dissemination.

Mr. Wilder also has overseen an unprecedented public relations campaign involving pro-China CIA analysts that is aimed at dispelling the tougher line on China presented by Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush and his national security advisers, Condoleezza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Armitage. That propaganda effort includes writings and conferences presentations by CIA analysts such as Mr. Culver, Richard Bitzinger and Paul Heer.

• Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough are syndicated columnists. Gertz can be reached at 202/636-3274 or by e-mail at [email protected] Scarborough can be reached at 202/636-3208 or by e-mail at [email protected]

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