The New Neighbors Sure Like Black SUVs

Zalmay Khalilzad irked the State Department with his little show at the World Economic Forum.
Zalmay Khalilzad irked the State Department with his little show at the World Economic Forum. (By Chip Somodevilla -- Getty)
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By Al Kamen
Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Never too early to begin transition planning. So there were Vice President Cheney and spouse Lynne out in McLean on Sunday afternoon, strolling about the house they're building in that tony suburb.

A Loop Fan spotted the veep -- attracted by three black SUVs, a limo and a marked Secret Service car all parked discreetly along the road outside the property -- taking the tour of what he described as a "large home under construction."

The "in-town home" -- as opposed to the Chesapeake Bay house -- is on a small lot (just under an acre) that the Cheneys bought for $1.35 million on Jan. 12, 2000, months before his selection as George W. Bush's vice presidential candidate, according to property records.

Cheney tore down the previous house, we were told, but left the lot vacant -- much to the consternation of the exceptionally well-heeled neighbors -- when he moved into public housing at the Naval Observatory off Massachusetts Avenue NW.

The area is close enough to the CIA that Cheney could easily wander over from time to time to make sure they're getting the real intelligence on Iran, North Korea and various nuclear wannabes. (We agreed to a request from Cheney's office not to provide an exact location for the new manse.)

Unclear when the 12,765-square-foot bungalow will be finished, but it's not a Halliburton project, so it should be done by Inauguration Day '09. The estimated cost of construction is only $1.5 million.

The four-bedroom, nine-bath (including a couple of powders) house includes his and hers bathrooms off the master bedroom on the first floor and his and hers libraries, each with a fireplace, according to a review of the plans by our colleague Michael Laris.

Two more bedrooms are on the second floor, along with a sitting room, an exercise room and three baths. There's a playroom in the basement for the grandkids. A spot above the attached two-car garage has a bedroom, bathroom and bar. The house has the usual elevator that runs from the basement to the second floor.

There don't appear to be fine hunting opportunities in the vicinity, but neighbors should take appropriate precautions.

Zalmay Was Where?

Famous diplomatic freelancer Zalmay Khalilzad, now our man at the United Nations and a rumored Afghan presidential contender, is said to be in the administration doghouse once again these days. He showed up on a panel last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, with none other than Iran's foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, and Mojtaba Samareh Hashemi, a top adviser to Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"His appearance on the same stage was neither authorized, nor did he seek prior approval," a senior State Department official told our colleague Robin Wright. Washington is in the process of brokering a new U.N. resolution to impose punitive measures on Iran.

But Khalilzad spokesman Richard Grenell told our colleague Colum Lynch that "there was no separate meeting or separate conversation or handshake with the Iranian foreign minister, just a multilateral conversation with the moderator."

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