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In the Loop

Zoellick Keeps His Head

By Al Kamen
Wednesday, April 20, 2005; Page A23

Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick went to Khartoum last week to prod the Sudanese government to stop the genocide in Darfur. But a top Sudanese government official apparently had his own diplomatic message about westerners getting mixed up in Sudan's affairs.

So when Zoellick, a history buff, went to the presidential palace in Khartoum, the first vice president, Ali Uthman Muhammad Taha (the real power in the country), couldn't resist showing him the stairwell where "Gordon of Khartoum" was killed in 1885.

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General Charles George Gordon (played by Charlton Heston in the 1966 epic "Khartoum") was a British hero who was sent there with almost no troops (being, after all, such a military hero) to quell a revolt and to rescue isolated garrisons but became cut off in Khartoum. After a 10-month siege, the town fell, and he was killed -- and his head was paraded on a spike through the streets.

Nothing if not subtle.

Now That's Capital

For those who did not receive a memo last fall from Army Col. Edward W. Snead, secretary of the Joint Staff, here's a capital idea from the Joint Chiefs:

Subject: Capitalization

1. Effective immediately, the terms Soldier, Sailor, Airman and Marine will be capitalized in all correspondence. This change is in keeping with the Services' recently announced decisions to capitalize the terms denoting their importance and emphasis on the person, especially in light of the War on Terrorism. This change will create consistent use of these terms especially for correspondence going outside the department.

2. This change will be published in the next iteration of JS Guide 5711, "Editorial Guidance and Accepted Usage for Joint Staff Correspondence."

Roger that. Now maybe if they could do something about ending the Evil "Stop-Loss" program so Soldiers don't have to be in Iraq for so Long and could See their Families?

Rumsfeld's PR Problem

Speaking of military matters . . . A call yesterday to Pentagon public affairs finds outgoing acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Lawrence T. Di Rita still outgoing. Di Rita had said months ago that he was out of the running for the job, but either the process of finding a replacement has proved more difficult or they've been slow-walking it.

Word is some folks who had been asked if they were interested took a pass. Even former members of Congress have been on various lists. And several people who have sought the job tended to think more about getting their mugs on television. But Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld first wants someone able to manage the huge public relations apparatus.

Push, in the form of the critical Base Realignment and Closure Commission report coming out and increasing detainee concerns, is coming to shove in terms of filling the job, insiders say, and something should be happening soon.

One person being talked about for the job is Jeff Raleigh, a highly regarded PR type in San Francisco who used to be a global account manager for Hill & Knowlton, later ran its San Francisco office and now has his own firm. Raleigh, though an Army veteran, does not know the Pentagon all that well, but he's getting some useful field experience in Kabul these days, working there since July for the Afghan Reconstruction Project.

Another name that has popped up recently for the spot is Washington attorney Mario Mancuso, now special counsel to the Pentagon general counsel. Mancuso commanded a Special Ops team in Iraq and did military analysis commentary for CNN, Fox and MSNBC when he returned.

The selection process is ongoing.

Warming Up the Diplos

Some diplo eyebrows were raised yesterday and Monday when the State Department's internal television station switched themes. The station usually airs the department's daily news briefing, officials' testimony on C-SPAN, documentaries on foreign policy issues and such during the work day so employees can edify themselves.

But the last couple of days they've been showing " Karl Rove -- The Architect," the "Frontline"-Washington Post biographical piece on the White House deputy chief of staff. So when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice heads back to California for the U.S. Senate race, then Karl. . . ?

Raise Your Right Hand

Everyone has seen how the TV lawyers get in some outrageous cheap shot question at the hapless witness or defendant, and there's an objection and then the lawyer says, "I withdraw the question." The same happens all the time on the Imus in the Morning show.

Don Imus, interviewing Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) yesterday, asked about House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.).

"Tom's a very good leader. I don't think anyone can question that," Santorum said, adding he thought DeLay would prevail in the end.

"He's a weird little dude," Imus opined.

"He's not a weird dude," Santorum interjected. "He's a good guy. . . . "

"He just looks to me like a guy that has some kind of weird, kinky, sexual thing going on," Imus said. "I don't know why I think that."

"I don't think it's appropriate," Santorum scolded, "to talk about the majority leader of the House of Representatives that way." Hard to argue with that.

"I agree," Imus said. "I apologize. I'm just telling you what I think."

The jury will disregard the above exchange.

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