Security for interim Iraqi President Ghazi Yawar, in town for a little shopping and diplomacy, was exceptionally heavy yesterday as he stopped by the fifth-floor conference room at The Washington Post for a chat with all the bigwigs.

The first contingent of Secret Service folks arrived about 8 a.m., two hours before Yawar was to show. They told reporters and editors to leave for 45 minutes so the agents and a dog could sweep the floor for explosives.

There was a burst of excitement when the dog "alerted" on a highly suspicious package under foreign news aide Emily Messner's desk. C-4 explosive, perhaps? No, just a bag of dog food Messner bought to give to a homeless woman to help her feed her pooch.

Security at the main entrance was impressive. In addition to The Post's security team, there were dozens of agents and police in and around the building.

Parking was prohibited in the underground garage. Everyone entering the main entrance was "wanded," bags were searched and a dog was sniffing about. The dog at one point lunged at a reporter's briefcase. (We told him not to bring that bologna sandwich.) Suspicious-looking people, which would be most everyone here, were carefully checked out. Agents were also posted around the main elevators on the fifth floor.

But some staffers, oblivious to the impending visit, entered as usual through the smaller L Street NW employees' entrance. And there was the usual Post security person, wishing everyone a good day. Some aides carried large parcels, including one with a very suspicious Bundt cake in a large bag.

No feds, no dogs, no wands, no bag checks. Hmmm. . . . Maybe that's why they call him the "interim" president?

Trying to Have the Last Word

Note to Karen Hughes: Please come back and stop this off-message behavior.

Outgoing Attorney General John D. Ashcroft said in his Nov. 2 resignation letter: "The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved."

But outgoing Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy G. Thompson said on Dec. 3: "I, for the life of me, cannot understand why the terrorists have not, you know, attacked our food supply, because it is so easy to do."

Not Paid in Advance

There are rumblings that, despite a recent discovery of $15 million in leftover campaign money, some of the Kerry campaign advance team are having trouble getting paid for the last several weeks of the campaign. Worse, many of them have not seen a per diem check since the end of August, we're told, and they do not know when they're going to get paid.

Phone calls apparently don't get returned and, if they do, the mantra is "next week" or "you're on my list."

We'll be checking into this.

Nickles, Plugged

Retiring Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla.) yesterday ended speculation on his future, saying he was opening his own lobbying business, joining some corporate boards and advising businesses on the ways of Washington.

"A lot of people don't understand how to get things done in Washington, D.C.," he told our colleague, Jeff Birnbaum. Presumably he does, even though the federal budget deficit zoomed while he chaired the Senate Budget Committee.

Nickles said he and also-retiring Sen. John Breaux (D-La.) had "flirted with the idea of joining forces," but in the end Nickles chose to start his own business. Breaux, he said, is "considering several very attractive offers" from law firms that were similar to offers Nickles received.

A call to one likely firm, Patton Boggs LLP, home to Louisianan Thomas Hale Boggs Jr., got a firm "no comment."

Park Police Officer Saves Stewart Udall

A hearty Loop congratulations to U.S. Park Police Sgt. John J. "Jack" Lynch, who received the USPP Lifesaving Award for saving the life of former interior secretary Stewart L. Udall after Udall choked and passed out at a Sept. 21 dinner at the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian.

Udall, 84, secretary under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, was sitting next to Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton, with Teresa Heinz Kerry, Robert Redford and former senator Tim Wirth (D-Colo.) nearby.

When Udall began choking, first Wirth and then Udall's son, Rep. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), unsuccessfully tried the Heimlich maneuver. Then Lynch, who is on Norton's protective detail, stepped in, did the Heimlich and then CPR on the unconscious Udall, finally clearing his airway.

Lynch came through, even though Udall had two months earlier trashed the Bush administration as "determined to ransack public lands for the last meager pockets of petroleum," for failing "to put forward a single positive new conservation concept."

Gives new meaning to bipartisanship.

Moving On

Hill veteran Stuart Roy, communications director for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) who also held top jobs on the Senate side and was a deputy assistant secretary of labor in the first year of the Bush administration, is moving to public affairs firm DCI Group in January.

Washington lawyer and former State Department official Kenneth I. Juster, now undersecretary of commerce, is joining as executive vice president of legal affairs and corporate development.