So what happened to that photo gallery of former Pentagon assistant secretaries for international security policy? Remember those lovely 8 x 10s that had graced a big board on the wall on the fourth-floor E ring for many years?
The formers included heavyweights such as D.C. lawyer Walt Slocombe, the iconic Richard Perle, Ron Lehman (now at the Lawrence Livermore lab), Stephen Hadley (now National Security Council number two), Ashton B. Carter (a Kerry adviser who's at the Kennedy School), Ted Warner (now at Booz Allen Hamilton) and Franklin Miller (head of the NSC's defense policy and arms control shop).
A couple of different explanations seem to be floating about. According to one, relations between the NSC and ISP have been, since Assistant Secretary J.D. Crouch left a few months ago for academia, somewhat cool.
Then in May, Acting Assistant Secretary for ISP Mira Ricardel, who replaced Crouch, told staff she was thinking it would be appropriate to take down Miller's picture, noting he was never confirmed for the ISP job but only served in an acting capacity. Others on the staff apparently argued that it would be bad form to single out Miller, a career senior executive service employee who ran the office for about 18 months.
So it was decided that all the pictures would be taken down.
A second, much less sinister, explanation is that there had been a running staff joke about Miller's picture, with folks tweaking Ricardel about whether she, too, despite being "acting," would want her picture up there. Under this explanation, the pictures were taken down to replace the "formers" board with a series of photos of the "Employee of the Quarter."
So far, though, no employee photos have gone up at the ISP office. We're talking here about a long Pentagon hallway, surely with space for two boards.
This reminds some old hands of the time in the mid-'80s when Lt. Gen. John Chain, head of the State Department's political-military affairs bureau, ordered a picture of former bureau chief Leslie Gelb removed from a similar display because Gelb, later working for the New York Times, wrote a controversial story that Chain felt damaged national security.
Surely these folks have other things to do?
Speaking of better things to do . . . Frances Fragos Townsend was appointed in April to be White House homeland security adviser. She also had the job of deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism.
This, judging from a couple of e-mails that recently floated by, seems to have caused no end of confusion and concern at the White House. The first e-mail went out June 15 from Elizabeth J. Farrell, associate director of the Homeland Security Council, to all homeland security folks. "Fran's official title is: [underlined] Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Combating Terrorism.
"On official memoranda, correspondence, documents etc. to, from or referencing Fran, please use her full name: Frances Fragos Townsend.
"Please note the spelling of her name, and the change of title.
"Call if you have any questions. Thanks!"
Duly noted. We think.
But two days later, Farrell sent another e-mail. "Please note this correction to the e-mail I sent previously on Fran's title.
"She actually has two titles. Her first title is 'Assistant to the President for Homeland Security.'
"In addition to this title, she retains, with respect to her NSC duties, the title of 'deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor for combating terrorism.' " For convenience, shorten it to dapdnsact?
So here's how this works. "She would use the first title for matters involving her HSC role; she would use the second title for matters involving her NSC role."
"Sorry for the confusion."
Glad that's straightened out. We're all a lot more secure now.
Somewhere South of the Border
Our Canadian cousins love to gig Americans about how little we know about their ways in contrast to how much they know about this country.
So it was comforting to get this e-mail from a Canadian government media office about Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin's speech last week. "Subject: Canada's PM speaks in Utah on trade/security."
But the speech was in Sun Valley, which usually is located in Idaho. An hour or so later, there was this e-mail: "CORRECTION: Canada's PM speaks in Iadho (not Utah) on trade/security."
Now, on to a special category of Americans: the wounded and unconfirmed. Last month, just after former Senate counsel Jon Leibowitz had a Senate committee hearing on his nomination to the Federal Trade Commission, he tore his right Achilles tendon playing basketball. He's still motoring with cast and crutches.
Then Washington attorney Deborah Majoras, who is up for FTC chair, broke her right foot while carrying a suitcase en route out of town to play golf. She, too, has a cast and crutches. They're awaiting a committee vote maybe next week.
Note to nominees: It's better to curry sympathy with confirmation committees before the hearings, not after.