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And a Wildebeest in Every Pot

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) wanted to treat hungry refugees to wildebeest.
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) wanted to treat hungry refugees to wildebeest. (By Gerald Herbert -- Associated Press© The Walt Disney Company)
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· "The Government of Chad does not permit the hunting of large mammals."

Actually, there's not a whole lot of wild game roaming these days near the refugee camps in Chad. It's a desert, and it has been at war for the past few decades. (The wildebeest's annual migration between Kenya and Tanzania is under serious threat from poachers, CNN reported last week.)

Hunter's office called State on Thursday and said that he had decided not to go, and that he was looking instead at commercial hunting expeditions in Kenya, Tanzania and Southern Africa.

But Hunter's office said yesterday that his trip -- the idea was two separate trips, we were told -- was not intended to be an official CODEL. Hunter, his office said, had always intended them to be private trips. "At this point, neither trip has been settled," a spokesman said.

Well, happy hunting. Is wildebeest best when cooked medium-rare?

Speaking of Money

The chatter of late is that Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is indeed learning to the private sector -- to the great disappointment of his fans back home in Afghanistan, who were hoping he'd run for president next year. A couple weeks ago, according to the buzz at State, a senior Iraqi official told a State Department official he thinks it is "great" that Khalilzad is "going to be living in the Middle East and working for that Wall Street bank."

That "bank," we're hearing, apparently is Merrill Lynch, and Khalilzad is to have a major job in its Middle East operations. Other sources say he has been meeting and chatting with the Merrill Lynch folks, but no white smoke has been spotted.

Question is, if he's going private, when would he leave? He's headed for vacation in August, and the annual extravaganza known as the U.N. General Assembly is scheduled for the end of September. That is the diplomatic event of the season. Not to be missed. So best bet is a departure after that.

And if Kabul ever needs his services . . .

The CIA's Reasoning

The American Civil Liberties Union has been trying to get unedited transcripts of what the top terrorists (called High-Value Detainees) said to a review tribunal in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, about their treatment in the CIA's secret prisons. Given the agency's response to the ACLU's Freedom of Information lawsuit, it's not going to be easy.

The agency's associate information review officer, Wendy M. Hilton, wrote that she wanted "to acknowledge that certain allegations made by the HVDs . . . in this case may be false or exaggerated. Notwithstanding this, the HVDs are in a position to provide accurate and detailed information about the CIA's detention program. . . . [T]he disclosure of such details reasonably could be expected to result in exceptionally grave damage to national security."

Sounds about right. If they blabbed about what happened, you might want to cut it, especially if they were telling the truth.


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