Former State Department counterterrorism official Larry C. Johnson reported on his blog yesterday that the Global War on Terrorism, or GWOT, or The WOT, "may still be alive."
A couple months ago, our colleague, Susan B. Glasser, reported that the Bush administration was undertaking a major review of its strategy on counterterrorism, and that officials wanted to change the name GWOT to something like GSAVE -- Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism. That would take into account the changed nature of the battle against international terrorism.
"GWOT is catchy," a senior administration official said then, "but there may be a better way to describe it."
In fact, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld 10 days ago spoke about a "global struggle against violent extremism [GSAVE]."
Apparently nobody told President Bush. At a White House meeting of senior officials Monday, Johnson wrote, "Bush reportedly said he was not in favor of the new term . . . In fact, he said, 'no one checked with me.' That comment brought an uncomfortable silence to the assembled group of pooh-bahs. The president insisted it was still a war as far as he is concerned."
By yesterday, Rumsfeld was back to GWOT in his prepared remarks to a Dallas business group.
"We do not discuss internal meetings at the White House," a spokesman there said, adding that a look at "the president's speeches over the last four years clearly demonstrates that our nation is at war."
You GWOT that?
Catch-22? No -- Catch-E3.1.8
Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon R. England recently circulated an official directive to Pentagon officials and contractors laying out the policy against leaks and catching the leakers.
Leaking of classified information "shall be reported promptly," England said, "and investigated to decide the nature and circumstances of the disclosure, the extent of damage to national securities and the corrective and disciplinary action to be taken."
"Preliminary inquiries or investigations," an attached guidance says, "should focus on addressing" a number of key questions. For example, you'll want to determine "when, where and how did the incident occur" and who was involved.
The "who" part is important. When Bush disclosed "Operation Desert Badger," apparently a classified prewar military effort against Saddam Hussein, for example, you wouldn't want to jump right onto that investigation.
"If classified information is alleged to have been lost," or left at a Starbucks or whatever, the directive says, find out "in what specific media article or program did the classified information appear?" You should also make sure that the leaked information was "properly classified" as secret or top secret or "eyes only" or such.
And, most important for your career prospects, you must answer question "E3.1.8. Was the information officially released?" Official leaks are different, of course.
Coming Soon to a Theater Near You
Former White House counselor Karen P. Hughes will soon be on the job of what everyone agrees is the absolutely urgent need to improve America's image around the world and specifically in the Muslim world.
Bush picked her in mid-March, but the Senate did not receive the State Department nomination until June 30. Then the Senate moved with what for that body was breakneck speed. Hughes had a committee hearing in three weeks, a committee vote a few days later on July 27, and Senate approval two days after that.
But she won't be able to start as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy for a few more weeks, we're told, what with the need to pack up the house in Texas, hire some movers, unpack and such. We had heard maybe she wouldn't be in place until the end of the month, but a State Department spokesman said she'd be at her desk Aug. 15.
Hadley Has Almost Had His Fill
National security adviser Stephen J. Hadley has filled all of his five new deputy posts but one: deputy adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan.
Chatter was that the job originally was to go to a two- or three-star general. Then it appeared Jim Jeffries, deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, was being talked about. But now he's going to take over Richard Jones's job as Iraq coordinator at the State Department. (Jones was just confirmed as U.S. ambassador to Israel.) The staff on board is "experienced and capable," National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones said, and "we will fill that position with a talented candidate in due course."
Major alarms went off Monday morning when an American Civil Liberties Union news release, "For Immediate Release," went up on the organization's Web site. "The American Civil Liberties Union today wished retiring Chief Justice [William H.] Rehnquist well in his battle with cancer," the release said, "but warned that the Bush administration is now in a position to reshape the Supreme Court for the next generation."
Retiring? Didn't he just say he was not leaving the bench? Why isn't this on the wires? reporters asked. "Though we disagreed with the chief justice on many issues," ACLU National Legal Director Steven R. Shapiro said, "we wish him the best." But with two vacancies on the high court, Shapiro added, "the stakes could not be higher."
Doubtless chagrined ACLU folks said the release had been prepared but never published after Justice Sandra Day O'Connor announced her retirement. Must have been a technical error. The release quickly disappeared from the Web site.