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Secretary Clinton's Far East Departure

Jakarta, Indonesia, is among the scheduled stops for Hillary Clinton's first overseas trip as secretary of state.
Jakarta, Indonesia, is among the scheduled stops for Hillary Clinton's first overseas trip as secretary of state. (By Dimas Ardian -- Bloomberg News)
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As it stands, Holbrooke and Mitchell have places -- Kabul or Cairo, for example -- to go to. But Ross can't just fly off to Tehran and announce himself. And he sure doesn't want to be photographed wandering about the international lounge at the Frankfurt airport with nowhere to go.

So he may end up working the issue as counselor or a senior something-or-other. Meanwhile, former Richard B. Cheney aide John Hanna is supposed to get his office at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, but we're told Ross hasn't moved out.

And Then There's Pyongyang

Speaking of North Korea, names are floating for who might want to deal with the lunatic North Korean regime. Early floaters include former congressman Jim Leach, a moderate Republican who served on the international relations committee, has been heavily involved in the issues and has been to the Hermit Kingdom; Evans Revere, a former career diplomat who's now president of the Korea Society; and former career diplomat Stephen W. Bosworth, dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University and former ambassador to South Korea.

Apparently no one is much enthused about taking over the assignment these days, thinking the situation is a real mess.

The Customers You Have

"The Gamble," our colleague Thomas E. Ricks's excellent sequel to the extraordinary "Fiasco," will draw the usual plaudits for its insider account of Iraq as seen through the eyes of the top military officers who ran the war in the last three years. Reviewers will focus on strategy disagreements, policy fights and such.

But those who don't care about policy -- especially those living in this area -- will be dazzled by fascinating local color. For example, Ricks recounts former defense secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's visit shortly after he was booted out of the Pentagon, to Buck's Fishing and Camping, an upscale Washington eatery.

As an example of the "loathing Rumsfeld had generated" he writes that chef-owner Carole Greenwood told her co-owner, James Alefantis, to kick Rumsfeld out.

"I'm not serving a war criminal in my restaurant," she said.

Alefantis said that she's there to serve people and Rumsfeld was there with his family. Greenwood relented, Ricks writes, "but only on the condition that someone else cook Rumsfeld's meal."

Legally Speaking

To the list of high-profile lawyers stocking the Justice Department, add the following.

Supreme Court practitioner Donald B. Verrilli Jr. reports to the Justice Department today as an associate deputy attorney general. Verrilli will be working for David W. Ogden, who's been nominated to serve as the department's second in command.

No word yet on his exact portfolio, but given his background, Verrilli could be expected to work closely with the solicitor general and the Office of Legal Counsel, which issued controversial rulings on waterboarding and wiretapping during the Bush years. Verrilli came to Washington 26 years ago to work as a law clerk for U.S. Court of Appeals Judge J. Skelly Wright and Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan Jr. Verrilli told our colleague Carrie Johnson he always anticipated a stint in government service, but only now was it the right time to make a move. (This is one patient guy.)

Verrilli is the second heavy hitter from the law firm Jenner and Block to move to DOJ. Thomas J. Perrelli, the firm's managing partner in Washington, has been nominated to be associate attorney general, the third-ranking officer there. Perrelli operated as managing editor of the Harvard Law Review when Obama was its leader.

With Philip Rucker

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