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In the Loop: The On-Again, Off-Again Global War on Terror Is Off Again

Dayana Mendoza, Miss Universe 2008, has fond memories of her time at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Others' mileage may vary.
Dayana Mendoza, Miss Universe 2008, has fond memories of her time at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Others' mileage may vary. (By Bryan Bedder -- Getty Images For Img)
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By Al Kamen
Wednesday, April 1, 2009

We were most amused yesterday to read Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's statement that administration officials have stopped using "global war on terror," or GWOT, the phrase coined by the Bush administration to describe the fight against al-Qaeda.

Clinton, speaking to reporters on her way to a conference in The Hague, said, "The administration has stopped using the phrase, and I think that speaks for itself, obviously." She added that there had been no formal policy directive to do so. "It's just not being used," she said.

Some administration folks had dismissed a recent e-mail from the Office of Management and Budget -- telling the Pentagon of this policy change and advising them to stop using GWOT in testimony sent to the Hill -- as the work of some addled mid-level bureaucrat.

"There was no memo, no guidance," said Kenneth Baer, an OMB spokesman. "This [e-mail] is the opinion of a career civil servant." Baer said he had "no reason to believe that [GWOT] would be stricken from Hill testimony."

Well, one reason, obviously, might be that "the administration has stopped using the phrase," though there is no formal directive.

But in light of Clinton's statement, which "speaks for itself," we'll suspend our offer to give a buck to the Committee to Protect Journalists any time any testimony goes from the administration to the Hill using the phrase "global war on terror." There was little chance of that happening anyway.

Instead, we'll send a check for $100 to the CPJ, which works to keep journalists in nasty places from being imprisoned or killed. The Washington Post, as it does with employees' charitable contributions, will match. Maybe some people at the OMB or the Pentagon would like to chip in?

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

Or maybe of the year. It's the closing line in Miss Universe 2008 Dayana Mendoza's blog post Friday about her USO-sponsored trip last week to entertain troops at Guantanamo Bay.

"I didn't want to leave," she said, "it was such a relaxing place, so calm and beautiful."

Maybe that's why her entry on the pageant's Web site disappeared not long after a New York Times blog picked it up Monday.

Or maybe not. Maybe it was this observation: "We also met the Military dogs, and they did a very nice demonstration of their skills. All the guys from the Army were amazing with us."

And then, to show the trip wasn't all just fluff: "We visited the Detainees camps and we saw the jails, where they shower, how the[y] recreate themselves with movies, classes of art, books. It was very interesting."

Finally: "I bought a necklace" from a woman on the beach "that will remind me of Guantánamo Bay:)."

We're sure she can go back anytime.

A WORLD OF JUNKETS

Now this from Veja Radar, the online column for the Brazilian magazine Vega. "There, just like here," the headline says.

"Sending congressional groups for pleasant trips around the world is not exclusive to Brazil," the short item says.

"On April 9th, a group of 11 House Representatives arrive in Brasília with the excuse of discussing at the House [Brazil's lower house] environment politics and the use of alternative fuels."

They sure are cynical down there. Sounds as if the congressional delegation led by Rep. Ed Pastor (D-Ariz.) is making a stop in Brazil's capital. Brasilia, pretty much a pit, is not Loop-recommended, but we urge you to sign up for the trip anyway. Small price to pay for Rio, Iguazu Falls and the rest. Leaving Saturday.

ON STAFF

The White House made the following nominations: Maryland state official Thomas Perez to be assistant attorney general for civil rights; former Federal Communications Commission official Lawrence E. Strickling to be assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information; Hilary Chandler Tompkins, former chief counsel to New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, to be Interior Department solicitor; and Inés R. Triay, already at the Energy Department, to be assistant secretary of energy for environmental management. The White House also formally announced the withdrawal of the nomination of Jonathan Z. Cannon to be deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

ON DECK

The White House said last night that President Obama intends to nominate several people for top jobs, including Anne Castle, a Denver lawyer, to be assistant interior secretary for water and science; Mathy V. Stanislaus, an environmental lawyer and chemical engineer, to be assistant administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response at the Environmental Protection Agency; Jo-Ellen Darcy, who has been Senate Finance Committee senior environmental adviser, to be assistant secretary of the Army for civil works; and former Office of Personnel Management deputy director John U. Sepúlveda to be assistant secretary of veterans affairs for human resources.

MOVING ON

Fomer Bush national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley is heading to the U.S. Institute of Peace -- the congressionally created and funded outfit that focuses on international conflict management, as a senior adviser for global affairs. He'll co-chair -- with former Clinton national security adviser Samuel R. Berger -- a working group on the Middle East.

It's a non-paying gig, but it offers Hadley an office in the new headquarters on the Mall and a place to hang his hat while he pursues other opportunities.

Frances Fragos Townsend, former Bush homeland security adviser, today joins the Washington office of the law firm Baker Botts as a corporate partner heading a new practice group called Global Security and Corporate Risk Counseling.


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