In the Loop: Kissinger’s pique performance

Al Kamen
Columnist October 16, 2012

The State Department historian’s office publishes the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series which, subject to security concerns, aims to give readers “a comprehensive record of the major foreign policy decisions of the United States.”

The oft-tedious books, usually perused by policy wonks and history buffs, are released about three decades after the fact, often long after the principals are gone from the scene.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. View Archive

But not always.

A volume published Monday — first flagged by Micah Zenko , the Douglas Dillon fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (and who actually reads these tomes) — includes notes of internal discussions on the energy crises of 1974-1980.

There’s a March 1976 meeting of top Ford administration officials: Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger , national security adviser Brent Scowcroft and others.

The CIA- installed shah of Iran was in power, and Ford was running against Ronald Reagan in the GOP primaries and soon to face Jimmy Carter in the general election.

Kissinger, who is now 89, complains about attacks by Reagan and a prominent Democratic senator and says: “They’ve been going around for weeks attacking American foreign policy and accusing us of weakness. And the first time I hit back, they call it unfair. But I’ve got news for them, I’m going to hit them again in Dallas on March 22.”

Scowcroft, 87, says: “Even Carter hit back. I understand he’s got [Zbigniew] Brzezinski working for him. That won’t help him very much.”

Kissinger: “Brzezinski is a total whore. He’s been on every side of every argument. He wrote a book on “Peaceful Engagement” [in 1965] and now that we are doing most of what he said in the book, he charges us with weakness.”

We’ve asked for comment from Kissinger and Brzezinski.

Brzezinski, now 84, e-mailed: “Henry is a friend of mine — he must have meant ‘bore.’ ”

Nothing yet from Kissinger.

At another meeting, on Dec. 9, 1974, we find Kissinger again displeased. “We have all of these eunuchs from David Rockefeller’s Trilateral Commission running around town saying that we are trying to confront the Arabs. . . . I don’t know whatever possessed me to give those idiots my blessing.”

Eunuchs? Idiots? We always thought of it as a shadowy, all-powerful, world-controlling organization, bigger even than the Bilderberg Group.

Take my tribunal — please

Humor broke out in the most unexpected of places on Monday — a military tribunal at the Guantanamo Bay naval base for accused Sept. 11 terrorists.

The judge was reminding each of the defendants that his trial would continue in his absence, for whatever reason. Even if a prisoner escaped custody — which, he repeatedly assured the defendants, would most definitely NOT happen (just a hypothetical, he kept reminding them) — the trial would go on.

The judge asked Pakistani national Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali whether he understood. “I am not saying this is going to happen, but, for example, if you were to somehow escape and go back to some other country . . . and again, I am not saying you are going to . . . this trial would go forward.”

To which Aziz Ali responded, “I will make sure to leave them notes.”

Ba-da-boom. Joking about escaping Gitmo? Brought down the house, we’re told, among some of those watching the delayed video feed of the hearing, which was much tamer than the raucous arraignment this spring.

What kind of notes might he leave, we wonder? Might they read, “Gone fishin’ ”? Or start with “Dear John”?

Is that how HUD rolls?

The White House has certainly done plenty to stimulate the auto industry. But subsidizing public housing officials’ trips to the salon for mani/pedis might be going the extra mile.

That kind of use of “take-home vehicles” prompted Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) to fire off a letter last week pressing Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan to justify his agency’s spending on fancy cars and trucks for employees. (The salon trip was documented by a TV station in Albuquerque, which busted a local housing director not only for driving to the salon in government wheels but also for having an improper license plate.)

A HUD spokeswoman didn’t return the Loop’s calls.

In the letter, Grassley also noted that the Philadelphia Public Housing Authority, for example, had 200 vehicles available “for PPHA employees to use as they pleased” and that HUD wheels were often flashy, bells-and-whistles models.

Grassley wants to know how many and what kinds of vehicles are available to HUD employees, as well as what restrictions come with their keys.

“I continue to be concerned about questionable spending for unnecessary vehicles draining precious resources from the core mission of providing safe and affordable housing for those in need,” he wrote.

Sounds like he’s more interested in trimming spending than cuticles.

With Emily Heil

The blog: washingtonpost.com/intheloop. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.

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