- The Washington Times - Monday, January 13, 2003

Cloth is cool
In the summer, Inside the Beltway reported that the State Department "urgently required" several luxurious extras to be added to a new 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee Special Edition bound for Bogota and the U.S. war on drugs.
Those extras, as listed on the government's procurement sheet, included heated leather power seats, a 10-disc CD player with six Infinity speakers, and a leather-and-wood tilt steering wheel with remote stereo controls.
Moving with lightning speed hours after our story hit the streets, the State Department thought twice and canceled purchase of the luxurious vehicle by its Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL).
Now, a State Department insider has handed this column an unclassified report by his department's Office of the Inspector General, which Congress asked to review the unusual solicitation.
The inspector general confirmed in the report that the procurement was canceled by agency management July 31, 2002, the same day "The Washington Times published a portion of the solicitation, calling attention to the CD player."
The inspector general similarly found the solicitation "flawed," resulting from a "combination of miscommunications and procurement errors that went undetected because of a lack of supervisory review."
Rather, the inspector general said, INL officials desired a midsized, six-cylinder sport utility vehicles "without luxury features." (After all, who needs heated seats in the jungle?)
So, instead of a "2002 Grand Cherokee Special Edition Laredo," the inspector general noted, the department settled for a "2002 Ford Explorer with a six-cylinder engine and standard transmission, cloth seats and a radio with cassette."
Where the boys are
A father whose 17-year-old son, along with other high school senior boys, was reminded by the school's principal over the intercom that they must register for the Selective Service, is asking National Organization for Women President Kim Gandy to pitch in with the patriotic duty.
"He quoted the principal as stating, 'It's your duty as a man,'" David R. Burroughs writes to NOW's president. "The last time the Selective Service Act provision requiring only men to register was reviewed by the Supreme Court was in Rostker v. Goldberg (1981); nearly a quarter of a century ago and prior to the tremendous increase in the number of women in the military and broad expansion of the positions they hold both within and out of the military."
He reminded Ms. Gandy that women hold positions in every segment of the military, and bravely served in both Desert Storm and today in Afghanistan, flying combat jets, and operating warships and tanks.
"I believe, and assume you would agree, that women can never be considered full and equal citizens as long as their government expects and requires less of them as citizens than it does of their male counterparts," Mr. Burroughs says.
"It is my hope and request that NOW, being the advocate for gender equality for which it was founded, will use its considerable resources and political influence to seek a redress of this, the ultimate governmental discrimination, by bringing a federal lawsuit on behalf of me as parent to my son Zachary, whom I might add is in full support of such action."
Grab a camera
The West has certainly grown in the 200 years since Lewis & Clark risked their lives to explore a dream of Thomas Jefferson's.
In celebration of this anniversary, the National Archives, for two hours Wednesday, 10 a.m. to noon, will allow a one-time opportunity to photograph President Jefferson's Jan. 18, 1803 "Secret Message to Congress" regarding the Lewis & Clark Expedition.
In his secret dispatch, Jefferson asked for $2,500 to explore the West all the way to the Pacific Ocean. He dreamed of an "empire of liberty," a country that would stretch across the continent. The 8,000-mile expedition provided Uncle Sam with his first glimpse of the vast lands that lay west of the Mississippi River.
Skirting the system
After a short absence, a senior government official returned to his Washington desk last week only to find he could not log onto his computer.
Contacting his department's computer services, he was politely informed that, as a new bureaucrat, he would first have to take a computer security test lasting 45 minutes. The official pointed out he was not new to the agency, that work was piled up on his desk and that he needed access posthaste.
Access denied, he was told.
"What do I do?" he asked.
"Log onto your computer" to take the test, came the response.
The official doesn't mind saying that after he logged on he transferred the test to a colleague, who answered the questions on his computer.
"I did exceedingly well," the colleague reported back. "I learned that I can't sell things on EBay, I can't look at pornographic material, and I learned that computer viruses are bad."

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