- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Clinton and Cheney

Inside the Beltway bumped into New York Times best-selling author Ronald Kessler (the CIA and FBI, Joseph P. Kennedy and George W. Bush among his subjects), who is the chief Washington correspondent for NewsMax.com.

This week, Mr. Kessler reveals that the long-awaited book by former CIA Director GeorgeJ. Tenet, which hits bookstores on Monday, “won’t be happy news for either Democrats or Republicans.”

“At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA” takes shots at key members of Mr. Bush’s inner circle, writes Mr. Kessler, with a particular target being Vice President Dick Cheney and how he “pushed too hard for intelligence that might tie Iraq to the attacks of 9/11.”

Mr. Tenet was CIA chief under both President Clinton and Mr. Bush, through the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Although Mr. Kessler says Mr. Tenet also “takes on Bill Clinton,” describing how his annual budgets slashed the CIA’s clandestine service at a time when it was trying to penetrate Osama bin Laden’s organization, “Republicans will be cheered that the book leaves Bush relatively unscathed.”

No plaque?

Washington resident John Lockwood was recently conducting history research at the National Archives when, for reasons that are obvious, former Clinton National Security Adviser Sandy Berger popped into his head.

“I thought I would find out which table Sandy Berger was using as he stuffed historical papers into the oddest places of his wardrobe,” Mr. Lockwood explained. “Several employees still remember him, though not fondly.

“At first, I thought Sandy must have done his research, or whatever, in Room 203, the common room for the common people. I had even brought my new digital camera, and hoped to photograph the very table or even chair that he used … with the suggestion that a modest brass plaque be placed there.

“Alas, Sandy apparently didn’t do his paper stuffing there. After several inquiries over two days, I was told he had been given a separate room in a faraway wing of the building. A few of the staff compared the place to a bank vault. And no, members of the public weren’t allowed anywhere near it.

“There went my fallback plan of at least photographing the Sandy Berger Memorial Door,” he said. “When you leave Room 203, by the way, and the building itself, the guards check the papers you have with you — each one. I didn’t notice if they scrutinized departing scholars, or whoever, for bulges in unaccustomed places.”

Rebellious minds

Spring’s long-awaited arrival in Washington didn’t keep fans of Albert Einstein from flocking indoors to the Ralls Collection in Georgetown on Sunday for a midafternoon book discussion with Walter Isaacson, author of the popular new biography, “Einstein: His Life and Universe.”

Mr. Isaacson, a Georgetown resident and president and chief executive officer of the Aspen Institute (he’s former chairman and CEO of CNN and was the managing editor of Time magazine), had further cause to celebrate on Sunday, as “Einstein: His Life and Universe” for this week reached No. 1 on the New York Times Best Sellers list.

Like his previous books “Benjamin Franklin: An American Life” and“Kissinger: A Biography,” the new book is described as comprehensive, yet comprehensible. For the Georgetown discussion, he talked about what makes a person truly smart, the importance of creativity, and the relationship among intelligence, wisdom and leadership.

“Walter left us hanging on every word,” says host Marsha Ralls, adding that she was intrigued to learn that “Einstein’s scientific imagination sprang from the rebellious nature of his personality.”

New candidate

So many politicians have been stumping for president so early in this 2008 presidential campaign that they haven’t gotten around to officially declare their candidacies.

Case in point: Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, who despite the fact he’s been crisscrossing the nation for several months seeking electoral support, is finally announcing his candidacy for president today in New Hampshire.

Life goes on

Illinois Republican Rep. J. Dennis Hastert’s workload has certainly decreased now that he and his party have relinquished the prized speaker’s gavel to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat.

Now, a big event for Mr. Hastert is a “spring reception” scheduled for this evening at the Capitol Hill Club, supporting Hastert for Congress. Admission: $500 per person, $1,000 per political action committee.

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

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