A Year of Living Dangerously
Job alert! Great pay and benefits, foreign travel, interesting work. DynCorp Technical Services says the State Department "is seeking active and recently retired police officers of any rank who are eager to accept a challenging and rigorous assignment . . ."
And where might this be? In beautiful downtown Prizren, Pristina and other hot spots in Kosovo. The State Department is looking for up to 750 folks -- the numbers haven't been worked out -- to serve with the International Police Task Force in Kosovo as police monitors.
The pay for a one-year gig is $101,000, which includes per diem, a completion bonus and hazard pay, the notice says. They're looking for officers with a minimum of eight years' experience, including some patrol and training expertise, to help build up a Kosovar police force.
But State is not going to take just anyone. You must be a citizen, have a "valid U.S. driver's license and ability to drive a 4x4 vehicle with a manual transmission," have an "unblemished background," a U.S. passport, and be in "excellent health without temporary or permanent disabilities." You must also have the "ability to read, write and speak English. Fluency in other languages is a plus."
Spanish and Hebrew okay?
Going to Blazes
Montgomery County firefighters arrived quickly at the home of Sargent and Eunice Kennedy Shriver last month to put out a fire that caused hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage to the family spread in Potomac.
The firefighters "did an excellent job," says son Mark K. Shriver, reporting that they showed up promptly after getting the call. Not surprising. The home is just half a mile or so from the closest fire station. What's more, a predecessor house at that address burned down about 12 years ago -- and the fire department set that fire.
Seems the Shrivers originally purchased the property with a house not to their liking on it and decided to remove it. But rather than knock it down, they gave it to the fire department to use for firefighting practice. Officials say they didn't set the latest blaze. The cause is believed to be electrical. The homeless Shrivers are ensconced in a local -- and we trust comfortable -- hotel awaiting repairs.
Perils of The Internet
In late May, during the tense negotiations to end NATO's Kosovo bombing, Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari handed Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott a copy of an essay under the byline of former Joint Chiefs chairman Gen. John Shalikashvili that was sharply critical of the U.S.-led effort. Ahtisaari was concerned it would complicate matters with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.
Shalikashvili, apprised of the article, which had been circulating on the Internet, told Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon on May 26 that it was a forgery and the opposite of his own views of the situation.
But it was not clear who or why anyone would affix Shalikashvili's name to the piece. On June 8, a senior Joint Chiefs official telephoned George Friedman, a former political science professor who founded Stratfor Inc., a very hot .com private intelligence consulting operation based in Austin, Tex. It had been "alleged" that Friedman or one of his people actually authored the article, the official said.
"Alleged?" Friedman said. "Absolutely true," he recalls telling the official. The analysis was sent May 2 to 40,000 subscribers of Stratfor's daily e-mail newsletter, the Global Intelligence Update.
So how did Shalikashvili's name get on it and Stratfor's get taken off? Still unclear, says Friedman.
The Internet has been a godsend to Stratfor and other "open source" intelligence operations that sell their analyses mostly to business clients. But the incident also shows "how deadly" the Internet can be, Friedman says. The "downside is it's easy to perpetrate a hoax," by putting someone's name on an article. It can circulate for weeks before someone catches and corrects it. "The upside [of the Internet] is everyone reads it."
So just spell the name right.
Spotted lunching recently at lobbyist central, also known as the Palm restaurant in downtown Washington, were none other than former House Democratic Caucus chairman Vic Fazio (Calif.) and Rep. Bill Paxon (N.Y.), a member of the House Republican leadership until he got involved in a failed coup against then-Speaker Newt Gingrich. Both are now -- what else? is this Washington? -- lobbying. "We were getting together to talk about our new lives," says Fazio. Guess those high lobbying salaries take the sting out of partisan wounds.
Tips and comments for Al Kamen's column are welcomed at: In the Loop, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or by e-mail at Loop@washpost.com. Please include home and work phone numbers.