Google has fast become the Internet search engine everyone clicks on to find out nearly anything about anyone, including financial, political and other presumably private data.
But national security officials and others -- reportedly even Google CEO Eric E. Schmidt -- are getting a bit uncomfortable about Google's extraordinary reach.
Schmidt, according to a recent report, was most unhappy when an Internet news reporter, writing about Google and privacy, used the search engine and quickly found and revealed Schmidt's home address.
U.S. military officers in Iraq -- and national security officials in other countries -- are said to be especially concerned with Google Earth, which provides stunning satellite images of everywhere on the globe. The fear is that terrorists and Iraqi insurgents could use the images to help plot attacks.
Google, however, has noted that the images are easily found from commercial sources. Its Google Maps site has blurred images of high-value targets, such as the White House and the Capitol grounds.
But Google Earth still provides detailed images of the White House.
And senior administration officials privately have expressed increased alarm in recent days that bad guys can use Google Earth to get too close a look at the White House or at the Crawford, Tex., ranch where President Bush vacations. The image quality is so good viewers could even monitor the progress of Bush's War on Brush.
Grandpa's Golden Rule
And now, some sound advice from David H. Safavian, head of federal procurement at the White House Office of Management and Budget until his resignation Friday and arrest Monday on charges of false statements and obstruction of justice in connection with the investigation of his pal, GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
A few months ago, the Federal Times asked Safavian what was the "best career advancement advice you ever got."
"I think the best advice I've gotten," Safavian said, "was from my grandfather, and that advice is, you've got to have ethics and integrity in everything you do. Especially here in D.C. It's such a small town that if you gain a reputation as someone who does not play by the rules, that does not do things with integrity, your career is ended."
Not to mention maybe your liberty.
The Steppes of South Asia
Buzz in Foggy Bottom has career foreign service officer Richard A. Boucher, the longest-serving assistant secretary of state for public affairs and a former ambassador to Cyprus, moving over to be assistant secretary for South Asian affairs, an office that may be getting a much-enlarged portfolio.
Boucher, who has also been consul general in Hong Kong, has been the department's spokesman during parts of the Bush I, Clinton and Bush II administrations. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has proposed Boucher's nomination to the White House.
The South Asia bureau traditionally has encompassed a swath of countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. But there's a proposal to take a half-dozen Central Asian countries -- all part of the former Soviet Union -- from the European bureau and give them to South Asia. The countries would include Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
The thinking is that the 'stans have a bit more in common -- in terms of culture, religion, customs, language and drug smuggling -- with South Asia than they do with, say, Ireland.
Speaking of drug smuggling, career diplomat Anne W. Patterson, former ambassador to Colombia and more recently acting ambassador to the United Nations, is the pick to be assistant secretary for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs, popularly known as drugs 'n' thugs.
No Comment Has New Address
Back at work . . . former CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield, who's been on extended leave for health reasons, is back at work, still graciously explaining why he can't answer reporters' questions, this time as head of public affairs at the National Counterterrorism Center.
Into the Cold
Michael O'Grady, a longtime senior health economist who has worked for the Senate Finance Committee and the Joint Economic Committee and is now assistant secretary of health and human services for planning and evaluation, is leaving next month. He's thinking private sector, maybe starting his own consulting firm.