- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Relocation mission

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely is as tough a soldier as the U.S. military will ever produce.

A U.S. Military Academy graduate, the highly decorated Gen. Vallely served two combat tours in Vietnam and headed myriad military missions around the globe. During the 1980s he commanded the 351st Civil Affairs Command, overseeing special forces, psychological warfare and civil military units. He retired in 1991 as the U.S. Army’s deputy commanding general and today is one of the foremost authorities on counterterrorism warfare.

No mission was ever too big, and now — after what transpired on Memorial Day — too small.

After observing a moment of silence for his fallen comrades, the general found himself undertaking a mission unlike any he’d ever encountered before: Herding seven Canadian goslings, rescued from the suction of a water fountain outside his Crystal City condominium, and walking them — with their parents in tow — an entire mile to the Potomac River and a safer home.

“Here’s two Canadian geese, with their seven new goslings trapped in the pool of water, and they can’t get out,” Gen. Vallely tells Inside the Beltway. “We called animal rescue, but they said there wasn’t anything they could do, so I went ahead and got them out.”

Which was all fine and dandy, except that the intuitive little geese — finding no other body of water to jump into — leaped right back into the fountain.

Once again, the Army general climbed in with them.

Except this time, he placed each gosling into a bird cage held by his lieutenant, er, wife, “Muffin.”

“If you can picture this, here we are in Crystal City, overlooking the runway of Reagan National Airport, and I told my wife that what we’ve got to do is move these geese,” says Gen. Vallely.

“So off we go, on foot — me carrying the goslings down the George Washington Memorial Parkway toward the Potomac River, the mother and father geese following six paces behind me. Geese mate for life, you know. The male always looks out for the female, who always looks out for the little ones. Everybody on the trail was stopping to let us through — they couldn’t believe what they were seeing.”

The general reports that the family of nine took to the water and is very happy in its new home.

For the record

Former Republican Congressman Jim Rogan, a onetime California judge who was appointed a House impeachment manager to prosecute Bill Clinton during his 1999 Senate trial — only to lose re-election in his largely Democratic district — telephoned Inside the Beltway yesterday after reading about Sydney Blumenthal’s new book “The Clinton Wars.”

We’d written yesterday that Washington public relations mogul Craig Shirley complained to Mr. Blumenthal, a former senior adviser to President Clinton, after being quoted erroneously on page 333 of his book.

“I have not read Sydney’s book, but I did let him interview me several times,” Mr. Rogan, who now heads the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, told us yesterday. “He apparently states in his book … and repeated in a speech at the National Press Club that when I deposed him — and here we are in the middle of the impeachment trial — he says I walked up to him, shook is hand, and said something along the lines of we, meaning the House managers, we’re on the wrong side of history in doing this.

“I suspect somebody probably said that to him somewhere along the line, but it certainly wasn’t me,” Mr. Rogan wanted to state for the record. “And it defies common sense to think that here I am in the middle of the impeachment trial, surrounded by members of the Senate who were proctoring the examination, who were our jurors, with fellow House impeachment manager Lindsey Graham, and the House impeachment staff, and here I was representing an extremely marginal congressional seat, knowing it was probably going to cost me my re-election, that I would say such a thing.

“I know memories are faulty, but when he interviewed me he never asked me or confronted me with that supposed statement,” Mr. Rogan said. “I never said it. It’s simply not correct.”

We were unable to reach Mr. Blumenthal for comment.

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]

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