- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Goss on terror

President Bush‘s choice for CIA director, Rep. Porter J. Goss, 65, told Inside the Beltway in an interview prior to yesterday’s announcement that the war on terror, from an intelligence standpoint, was going better than expected, if not extremely well.

“I’ve been here doing oversight … and we’re doing much better than we ever had reason to believe,” said the congressman, a former CIA operative and the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. “Particularly given we were ‘underinvested’ in the intelligence community for so long.”

On another front that still rings true today, the Florida Republican stressed that Americans are not privy to much of the war on terrorism because it is being waged “covertly,” through intelligence channels.

“But we are definitely out and about, and very active around the world and in dozens of countries, literally making strong and steady progress against the international terrorist network,” he said.

Touting America

When he’s not writing opinions from the nation’s highest bench, Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy circles the globe — a U.S. diplomat, if you will — paying visits of late to China, Russia and Slovenia.

“Face-to-face dialogue between Americans and citizens of other countries is one of the most effective means for public diplomacy to promote understanding of U.S. policies and, ultimately, to create a climate of acceptance,” explains the State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs, which recruits Americans such as Justice Kennedy to travel to one or more foreign countries “to engage skeptical publics through lectures, workshops, and seminars, and by serving as consultants.”

In 2003, 712 U.S. speakers and specialists were sent overseas to conduct more than 1,200 programs in every region of the world.

Laith Kubba, for example, who fled Iraq and became a senior officer at the National Endowment for Democracy, was tapped to develop support for the U.S. policy on Iraq. He provided audiences in Indonesia with personal examples of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s cruelty to his own people and his failure to comply with U.N. resolutions.

All young once

The moral of the following: “Hair today, gone tomorrow.”

On the 30th anniversary of his presidency, former President Gerald R. Ford was toasted this week in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall by two of his old comrades, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

To mark the occasion, Mr. Cheney, who is campaigning hard for re-election, dug out an old article from U.S. News & World Report that described Mr. Rumsfeld’s departure as Mr. Ford’s chief of staff to go to the Pentagon, and Mr. Cheney taking over as his successor.

“White House associates look on Mr. Cheney as a copy of Mr. Rumsfeld in work habits,” Mr. Cheney read from the magazine. “But they described Mr. Cheney as friendlier, easier to approach. Some aides believe older associates will test Mr. Cheney’s authority, largely on account of his youth and because of his reputation as being ‘softer’ than Mr. Rumsfeld.”

Today, says Mr. Cheney, people keep telling him that his Democratic opponent, the boyish North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, “got picked because he is charming; he’s good looking; and he has great hair.”

“I said, ‘How do you think I got the job?’”

Driving with Dubya

Campaigning just as earnestly as President Bush these months leading up to Election Day is first lady Laura Bush.

“Being on the campaign trail isn’t what it used to be,” Mrs. Bush concedes. “These days, we travel in a very nice airplane.”

Unlike 1978, when Mr. Bush first campaigned for Congress across the dusty prairies surrounding Midland, Texas.

“Newly married, we spent all of our time in our car, driving up and down the Panhandle of West Texas,” she recalls. “Believe me, you learn a lot about your husband when you spend that much time in a car with him.”

• Fans of this column will enjoy John McCaslin’s new book, “Inside the Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops and Shenanigans From Around the Nation’s Capital.”

You can purchase it through BarnesandNoble.com.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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