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Reports of the Long War's Death Were Apparently Premature

By Al Kamen
Friday, March 27, 2009

Administration officials have been insisting that no decision has been made to stop using the term "global war on terror" -- or GWOT (GEE-wot) -- in official communications.

An Office of Management and Budget e-mail sent to the Pentagon a few days ago said: "This Administration prefers to avoid using the term 'Long War' or 'Global War on Terror' [GWOT]. Please use 'Overseas Contingency Operation.' "

OMB Director Peter Orszag, asked about this in a telephone news conference on the budget Wednesday, said he'd seen our blog post on this. "I sometimes am amused by things that I read in the press," he said. (Yeah, well, he should see some of the laugh-riot stuff written by administration officials.) "I am not aware of any communication that I've had on that topic," he said.

OMB spokesman Kenneth Baer dismissed the e-mail as "a communication by a mid-level career civil servant" and said, "There was no official memo or guidance given out by OMB." Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell told reporters he'd "never received such a directive" and would still use GWOT "if it's appropriate," and he noted that the OMB explained that one of its staff members "may have been a little overexuberant."

Morrell said he had no "preferred" word for describing "global operations to protect the homeland and the American people" and suggested that "perhaps a better -- another way to refer to it would be . . . a campaign against extremists who wish to do us harm" (CAEWWT-DUH?).

In any event, he said OCO was really just a "budget term" and "I don't think there's anything to the story."

Okay. So here's what let's do. For the rest of the year, anytime a senior administration official -- assistant secretary or above -- uses "GWOT" or "global war on terror," in the present tense, in written testimony sent to the Hill, we will contribute -- personal cash here -- one American dollar to the Committee to Protect Journalists. The CPJ is an organization that works to keep reporters from being gunned down or jailed in such places as Sierra Leone, Iraq, China, North Korea, Mexico, Georgia and Russia. Just send a copy of, or direct us to, the relevant page of testimony. Send e-mail to intheloop@washpost.com or mail to In the Loop, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.

PLAIN TALK FROM THE LAST FRONTIER

The Alaska congressional delegation -- Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R) and Mark Begich (D) and Rep. Don Young (R) -- has asked President Obama for a meeting about possible federal action that might dramatically curtail Alaska's oil and gas operations.

Their letter Tuesday came in response to one from nearly 70 House members urging Obama to move promptly to protect the environment and counter climate change by using "science-based precautionary management" of the region's oil and gas operations.

Might sound great, the delegation said. "Far too often, though, talk of implementing 'science-based precautionary management' in the Arctic is in reality simply code for ignoring the scientific evidence, shortchanging the process and trying to stop all commercial activity in the region," the Alaskans added.

The letter overall seemed a bit dry. It was left to Young to tell us what the Alaskans really thought was going on. "The powerful, radical environmentalist minority has once again led a group of well-meaning Congressmen to propose policies that can best be described as lunacy," he said in a news release.

There you go!

THE WRONG FILE PHOTO?

The FBI is interested in showing its commitment to diversity. So on its employment Web site, at http://www.fbijobs.gov/421.asp, it touts an "American Indian/Native Alaskan" initiative.

Alas, the bureau is using a picture on that page of a former special agent, Elizabeth Morris, who alleges that she was retaliated against, in part, for filing a complaint of workplace bias. Morris says she was fired in 2007 for filing a complaint against a supervisor for making racially insensitive remarks and for alleging that another agent sent subpoenas to dozens of businesses not under investigation with no intent of reviewing the records.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) has asked the Justice Department inspector general to look into that.

GITMO WORK

Unemployment numbers are rising, and even lawyers are not immune from layoffs in this economy. But not to worry. There are still jobs to be had. The Pentagon's Office of the Deputy General Counsel says it has "multiple positions" to represent the government in cases in federal court here being brought by Guantanamo Bay detainees. The jobs -- paying $30,000 to $130,000, "depending on experience and qualifications" -- start right now, though they last three years at most. Civil or criminal litigation experience is preferred, as well as "experience with intelligence matters and an active security clearance."

No? Apply anyway, we're told. The jobs are based here, "with potential for some travel to Guantanamo."

AS THE DOOR REVOLVES

Former homeland security secretary Michael Chertoff has formed a consulting firm, the Chertoff Group, to advise corporate and government clients on security and risk management. The new firm also has a partnership with communications giant Burson-Marsteller. Chertoff is also "senior of counsel," the announcement says, in the white-collar defense and investigations group at Covington & Burling. Maybe he gets Attorney General Eric Holder's old office?

With Alice Crites

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