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Maybe They'd Like It at the White House

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By Al Kamen
Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Loop Fans may recall the Agency for International Development's shrine to former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton , a strong and well-traveled supporter of international aid efforts.

In August 1999, the agency put up a dozen or so large photographs of Clinton, now a Democratic senator from New York, on her trips -- some shots as large as 3 feet by 5 -- in the lobby of AID's headquarters in the Ronald Reagan Building.

But the centerpiece of this display was a massive bronze plaque, fully 6 feet wide by about 9 feet high, attached to a wall. Etched into the plaque is an excerpt of a speech by Clinton about "expanding the circle of human dignity to encompass all human beings. . . ."

Below that is this ringing call from former AID administrator J. Brian Atwood : "May all who pass through these portals recognize the invaluable contribution to worldwide development made by the First Lady of the United States, Hillary Rodham Clinton."

The new Bush administration took down the photos early on and shipped them off to her husband's presidential library in Little Rock. But the huge plaque, estimated cost $80,000, remained bolted to the wall. AID offered to ship it out there, but the library "respectfully declined," we were told.

So visitors who passed through the portals continued to see the plaque for three more years, until June 2003, when a 7-by-15-foot-high collage of photos of people from countries served by the agency, along with the AID seal, were mounted on Styrofoam board and placed in front of the plaque. The total for the makeover was about $100,000.

But now the plaque is gone, to be replaced by a marble-tiled plaque dedicated to AID employees who died while on duty. The names of about 60 of those people, along with the dates and places they died, will be on ceramic tiles affixed to a new 9-by-10-foot plaque.

AID officials said that although some employees who were foreign service officers killed in the line of duty were honored at a memorial at the State Department -- back when AID and State were in the same building -- the new memorial will include non-foreign service employees as well as citizens of other countries working for AID.

About 60 names will be on the new memorial when it is unveiled at a dedication ceremony May 17. They will include AID official Laurence Foley , gunned down in his driveway by al Qaeda-linked assassins in Amman, Jordan, as well as AID workers who died as a result of natural disasters, criminal attacks and medical conditions directly related to their service. More tiles can be added if need be.

And Clinton's plaque? It was removed late one night last month, we're told, with the help of a forklift. It now lies peacefully in a government warehouse in a nearby Maryland suburb, waiting, waiting . . .

Looming Loop Deadline

Don't forget! Midnight Friday is the deadline for entries to the In the Loop Name That Scandal contest. This is to find a moniker for the investigations into House Majority Leader Tom DeLay 's travels -- the golfing trip in Scotland allegedly paid for by a tribal casino, the travel to Russia -- or his ties to lobbyist Jack Abramoff , or to termites.

Send your entry -- and rationale -- via e-mail to intheloop@washpost.com or mail it to In the Loop, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. All entries, even on background, must include telephone numbers to be eligible.

Garbage In, Garbage Out?

The controversy over Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton 's nomination as U.N. ambassador has yielded insights into Iraq matters.

For example, Senate investigators questioned Larry Wilkerson , chief of staff to then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell , about any Bolton role in drafting Powell's controversial speech to the United Nations on the urgency of action against Iraq.

"I have no idea," Wilkerson told the investigators. "That text was presented to me by the secretary only days before the presentation, and the secretary's words were something to the effect of, 'This is what the White House has given us.' And that was the text I took to the CIA and within 16 hours had totally discarded because it was garbage."

Yeah? So who left in the "non-garbage" parts about those snappy aluminum tubes that could be used only for long-range missiles aimed at Youngstown? And those speedy, mobile bioweapons laboratories that turned out to be producing hydrogen for weather balloons?

Guess He Didn't Buy a Paper That Day

Despite the 24-7 television news cycles these days, some news travels slowly. Take, for example, this release from Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn 's Web site May 2: "Four U.S. senators on Tuesday asked U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft to continue to defend equal access for the United States military to the campuses of any college. . . . "

Isn't there a new guy, Alberto R. Gonzales , at the Justice Department?


© 2005 The Washington Post Company

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