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World's Biggest U.S. Embassy May Not Be Quite Big Enough

The embassy compound in Baghdad will have more than 600 blast-resistant apartments  --  but could use a few more.
The embassy compound in Baghdad will have more than 600 blast-resistant apartments -- but could use a few more. (By Daniel Berehulak -- Getty Images)

All this for only $592 million. Well, that was the original price tag.

'Not a Campaign Document'

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. is running for president of the United States. So it seemed most peculiar when some colleagues here received a 90-page booklet of his speeches and editorials from the last year about Iraq -- paid for by Senate funds and mailed from the Senate.

A cover letter to "Dear Friends" reminds us that a year ago he "announced a detailed plan for a way forward in Iraq." The last page says, "For over three decades, Joe Biden has played a pivotal role in shaping U.S. foreign policy" and "has been a leading and consistent voice against the administration's failed policy in Iraq."

Looks like a campaign duck, sounds like, waddles like . . .? No. "It is not a campaign document," Biden press secretary Elizabeth Alexander said yesterday. "There's been a lot of misinformation about his plan for Iraq," she said, so "we wanted to make clear" what the details were. "There's nothing new here."

The fine booklet, which she said cost only $75 in all to produce, was sent to fewer than 140 media people, mostly columnists and foreign affairs and military writers, not political reporters. He's put out similar compilations before, Alexander said, about issues such as intellectual property and the Boys and Girls Clubs.

It's really not something they wanted to do. He's chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Alexander noted, and "it's part of our duty to educate reporters and the public about his Iraq plan."

Quack . . .

New Face at the NSC?

The Korean press reported last week that Katrin Fraser, a Fulbright fellow in Korea after her graduation from college in 2000 and more recently a special assistant to Kristin Silverberg, assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs, is expected to replace Victor Cha as National Security Council director for Korea and Japan.

Cha, a fluent Korean speaker whose father-in-law was a general and minister in the Roh Tae Woo government of South Korea, has gone back to his international relations professorship at Georgetown University.

Fraser, who's not expected to be directly involved in negotiations on North Korea's nukes, has been harshly critical of President Bush. In a 2002 article for the Korea Society Quarterly, she said South Korean reaction to his "axis of evil" statement was "swift and largely negative," and talked of his "insensitivity to Korean cultural conventions."


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