Pencil In That End-of-War Date

By Al Kamen
Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Democrats and other cut-and-runners are in disarray over their next move on Iraq. And they keep jabbering that the administration has no plan for the war other than the same old, same old.

Nonsense. The Pentagon, in a series of recent memos, is making the fight against terrorism synonymous with Iraq (although it has been pretty much confirmed that Saddam Hussein wasn't involved in the Sept. 11 attacks) and has issued a clear call for getting the job done by the end of next year.

In a Dec. 6 memo to top civilian and military folks, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England outlined the Pentagon's eight priorities for this fiscal year, and No. 1 was "Win the Global War on Terror," or GWOT.

The No. 3 goal was "Meet the Challenge of Improvised Explosive Devices." No. 8 was "Improve Effectiveness and Efficiency Across the Board." England warned that meeting these goals "will inform our decisions on individual senior employee performance ratings." That means their paychecks.

In a Feb. 15 memo, England spotted a key fact that most everyone in this town has overlooked. "At noon on Jan. 20, 2009," he wrote, "many of the civilian Department of Defense (DOD) leadership positions will transition to a new Administration Team. This change, coupled with the normal rotation of military leadership, could disrupt many of the management process changes currently underway in the Department."

So "to ensure that warfighters and taxpayers receive maximum benefit from on-going initiatives," England suggested, "it would be highly desirable to complete current projects by the summer/fall of 2008."

There's a handy "notional" grid with the memos, with the eight priorities down the left side and quarterly milestones for 2007 and 2008 across the top. Little triangles denote the "expected milestone conclusion date."

Sure enough, the GWOT looks to be over around October 2008, a month before. . . .

A Labor of Love?

The White House is bringing in one of Washington's premier lobbyists to shore up the oft-criticized legislative affairs office. Dan Meyer of the Duberstein Group, who was the first chief of staff for incoming Speaker Newt Gingrich when the GOP won the House, is said to be coming on board to handle the House side for the administration.

Unclear why Meyer, who surely made a gajillion dollars a year at Duberstein, would want to jump on a ship that's taking water these days. Must be something about government service.

"He's not doing it for the money," said Pat Griffin, who as head of legislative affairs in the Clinton White House worked with -- or against -- Meyer. "One of the most remarkable men I've met in Washington," Griffin said.

No One Getting a Piece of the Pie

Several dozen D.C. lawyers are wandering about town today in search of a cheap lunch. Seems former attorney general and now D.C. consultant John Ashcroft's planned pizza party for his old staff, many of them still in government, has been canceled.

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