By Al Kamen
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
The administration is engaged in a never-ending struggle over acronyms. Loop Fans may recall that senior officials a couple of years ago wanted to stop talking about a Global War on Terrorism, the GWOT or the WOT, and come up with something that would comport with the realities of the fight against international terrorism.
One leading option was to change the name to GSAVE -- Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism. Clearly not as catchy as GWOT, but it had the singular virtue of more accurately describing the battle, some officials felt. Then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld even used the GSAVE abbreviation publicly.
But, in a White House meeting, President Bush ruled that it was still a war for him, and Rumsfeld went back to GWOT.
The newest front in the abbreviation conundrum is in Iraq. The administration is setting out to rename its closest Shiite ally, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), one of the most powerful Shiite parties, which changed its name a few months ago.
SCIRI, in what some observers saw as an effort to distance itself from its Iranian mentors, decided in May to drop the word "revolution" from its name and to become known as the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC).
But SIIC, or "sick," is not an appealing name for winners. It's even more unfortunate since its leader, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, is suffering from lung cancer.
No matter. Administration officials are mulling a more appropriate name, even though the organization and everyone else calls it the SIIC. One possibility under consideration is calling it the Supreme Council of Iraq -- SCI, or "ski." Some officials refer to it as the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq -- ISCI, or "iskey."
We were told that people just seem to be confused about what to call it. Well, the policy's a bit confused, so . . .Your Tax Dollars at Work for the Taxman
"SAVE THE DATE," said an e-mail we got the other day from IRS Chief Counsel Donald L. Korb. "We are pleased to announce that next summer for the first time in the history of the Office of Chief Counsel, we plan to hold an all attorney and all paralegal Continuing Legal Education (CLE) program," Korb said.
The 2008 program will be held Aug. 12-14 in Atlanta, but will last all week because Aug. 11 and 15 "will be travel days," Korb said. They don't have an agenda yet, but they'll be working something up for the 1,600 people expected to attend. The IRS employees union, in an e-mail, noted that the agency will be "picking up the entire tab" for the trip (hotel, travel, per diem). . . . "If you have ideas about specific training content," the e-mail said, please pass them on.
Apparently, there is grumbling that holding the training in Atlanta will be needlessly costly, since 40 percent of the agency's lawyers work in the Washington area. The anticipated cost for the event, the IRS says, will be $2.3 million, mostly for transportation and hotels.
IRS spokesman Terry Lemons said a majority of attendees live away from Washington, so they would be traveling anyway. And "bringing everyone together" for training "makes a lot of sense," he said, allowing "everyone to be on the same page" in dealing with many "cross-cutting issues." What's more, Lemons said, this in-house training is cheaper than using private instructors, who can charge as much as $1,500 per person.
For those perhaps disinclined to attend because they think the old Atlanta Marriott Marquis Hotel is a bit dumpy, " Check out the newly renovated hotel at this website!" Korb urged in bold-faced excitement in the e-mail.Finding Culture on the Fairway
If you can't make the IRS confab and you love golf, there's still time to sign up for the Smithsonian Institution's great trip in April to the final round of the 2008 Masters in Augusta, Ga.
Don't get the wrong idea. The Smithsonian does only educational tours to historic, scenic and cultural places, and this $6,000 weekend is no exception. "Study Leader" Mike Hurdzan, a golf course architect and historian, "presents a talk on golf history at Augusta as well as some little-known facts about the famous course design," the blurb says.
"See famous landmarks of the Augusta course like Amen Corner, Rae's Creek, Magnolia Lane, Nelson Bridge, and the Eisenhower Tree, where former President of the United States and club member Dwight D. Eisenhower hit this 125-year-old loblolly pine so many times that he campaigned (and lost) to have it removed!"
See? For golfers, this is like the Pyramids, Machu Picchu and the Great Wall all rolled into one! They advise you to book this month.The Past Is the Present
Former deputy national security adviser Meghan O'Sullivan, who was senior National Security Council director for Iraq and before that a top aide in Baghdad to then-Iraq czar L. Paul "Jerry" Bremer, is back in sunny Baghdad this summer for another tour before heading up to Harvard in the fall.
There was some thought, we're told, of rewarding O'Sullivan for her service by giving her an ambassadorship. The pivotal United Arab Emirates job was mentioned, and while Margaret Scoby, a top career diplomat and former ambassador to Syria, had been in line for the posting, the UAE is thought to have wanted a political appointee, since they see the Saudis with their political appointee.
But folks on the Hill apparently warned that any confirmation hearing for O'Sullivan would likely turn into a full-blown assault on Iraq policy, what with three Democratic presidential contenders -- Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.), Christopher J. Dodd (Conn.) and Barack Obama (Ill.) -- on the Foreign Relations Committee.We'll Miss You -- Not!
Speaking of Foreign Relations Committee members, Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) likes to boast of his service as President Ronald Reagan's Navy secretary. But now we learn that Reagan didn't have such a good impression of him. "Sec. Webb resigned over Navy budget cuts," the Gipper wrote on Feb. 22, 1988, according to "The Reagan Diaries," the just-out collection edited by Douglas Brinkley. "I don't think Navy was sorry to see him go." Ouch.