Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Much of the talk at the party thrown at Fort Myer Wednesday by the American Legion for the Joint Chiefs of Staff was angry, particularly concerning President Carter's recent shooting down of the B-1 bomber, but the gala nature of the occasion prevailed.
The Legion spent $15,000 for the affair which featured Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. George Brown, Army Secretary Clifford Alexander and a host of heavily bemedaled brass from numerous foreign countries. Over 100 people attended the black-tie affair which offered a sumptuous buffet of crab, steak, shrimp, clams, crepes and escargot.
The food was colorful but no match for the blazing uniforms of the foreign attache. It was a virtual parade of braid and metallic pins, ribbons and tassels enough for the wildest rhinestone cowboy. These foreign military men can sure put on a good fashion show.
Most resplendent of all was Col. Hakam Kadra, the Jordanian military attache, whose flashy red lapels were almost as appealing to the women as his Omar Sharif-style good looks. Yet despite his glorious appearance, Kadra was in a grave mood.
Recent disclosures about CIA payments to Jordan are causing "a little shaky business between our nations," Kadra said, adding he couldn't understand how state secrets constantly find their way into the hands of American newspapermen.
Like his colleagues from other embassies, Kadra was also worried over the fate of the B-1 bomber. "The States need something like that," he said gravely. "We feel without it that the States may not be as strong to protect little countries like Jordan."
The B-1 was also a main topic of conversation among the Americans at the party. Many of the Legionaires were outspoken and angry over the bomber's elimination by the President. Being the Joint Chief's sponsor at the party didn't stop Legion National Commander, William J. Rodgers from lambasting the chief's commander-in-chief.
Rodgers said he "ulalterably" opposed the Carter move last week but the former Navy Air Corps Lieutenant from kennebunkport, Maine, was careful to keep the Joint Chiefs from getting into a discussion on the issue.
"We have our position but we're being careful in talking to these fellas," the National Commander said. "After what happened to Gen. John Singlaub, we don't want to put them on the spot."
The Singlaub affair (he recently lost his Korea post after being quoted in opposition to the administration position on a pull-out from the Asian country) haunted the generals at the party. But those who talked, strictly off the record, made it plain they opposed the President's action. More than one called it "the worst military decision in two decades."