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March 12, 2004
Notes from the Pentagon

Green zone threat
The highly defended compound in downtown Baghdad known as the Green Zone, which is supposed to be the most secure area of the city, has been penetrated by terrorists.

U.S. military authorities in Baghdad recently discovered an improvised explosive device inside the U.S. military-controlled security perimeter. It was the first time one of the homemade bombs had been found in the zone. The bomb was defused before it could be detonated.

Two earlier Green Zone attacks involved a rocket attack last year on a hotel where Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was staying, and a mortar attack last week.

The penetration of the zone by Iraqi terrorist bombers has a lot of security officials very nervous about larger suicide bombings.

"It is only a matter of time," one official said, before terrorists set off a bomb inside the secure area.

The Green Zone is a heavily guarded section of central Baghdad where the U.S. military and civilian authorities live and work. It includes the main palaces of Saddam Hussein that are used by the occupation authorities.

Tenet's future
CIA Director George J. Tenet is under fire from Democrats over questions related to intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

We asked the CIA chief after he had just finished a somewhat heated session before the Senate Armed Services Committee this week whether he planned to step down after the November elections.

"And miss all this fun?" Mr. Tenet said, referring to sometimes heated exchanges with Democrats during the three-hour hearing.

According to a White House source, Mr. Tenet is said to be looking forward to leaving the agency after the November elections, after seven years as director of central intelligence, plus two years as deputy DCI.

Chinese interference
Niu Qingbao, an aggressive advocate of communist China at Bejing's embassy in Washington, has sent an e-mail to Senate aides urging them to warn their bosses against supporting Taiwan's upcoming referendum.

At issue, is a "Dear Colleague" letter circulating in the House that calls on lawmakers to go on record supporting the island's March 10 voter referendum. The referendum calls for peaceful means to settle the China-Taiwan issue.

"We believe that you, the people of Taiwan have consistently demonstrated your passion for human rights, transparency, and the democratic process," states the letter sponsored by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican, and Rep. Peter Deutsch, Florida Democrat. Addressed to the people of Taiwan, the letter adds, "Your 23 million citizens have earned the right to decide for yourselves the issues affecting your well-being and security."

The Senate Republican Policy Committee is circulating the House letter in hopes of starting a similar message in the Senate. An aide said that interference by Mr. Qingbao is helping to spark interest.

Mr. Qingbao's e-mail to Senate aides said, in part, "I have learnt with grave concern that Congressmen Peter Deutsch and Dana Rohrabacher have issued a public statement in support of the 'referendum' advocated by [President] Chen Shui-bian of Taiwan and are soliciting co-signature of other members. "As experts on foreign affairs, you know only too well that this 'referendum' has nothing to do with democracy and everything to do with abusing democracy as a cover for Chen's pursuit of 'Taiwan independence' and getting himself re-elected on the very day of March 20.

"I thank you for your attention and hope you will advise your senator against cosigning this open statement should it come to your attention."

Washington and Beijing adhere to the "one-China" policy, refusing to recognize Taiwan's independence. But President Bush has said the United States will come to the island's aid if China invades.

New deputy
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has quietly added another official to the Pentagon public affairs office. He is Eric Ruff, a former government and industry public relations specialist who was once a newspaper reporter.

Mr. Ruff, currently a public affairs specialist working for Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, is likely to become the principal deputy assistant defense secretary for public affairs, the key deputy to Assistant Defense Secretary-designee Larry Di Rita.

Many Pentagon news reporters, however, are unfamiliar with the new spokesman.

Mr. Ruff was transplanted to the Pentagon from the Interior Department, where he was director of communications.

He also worked on Capitol Hill, where he was an aide to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Texas Republican, and before that, he was an aide to Sen. John W. Warner, Virginia Republican.

Mr. Ruff also worked in the first Bush administration at public affairs jobs in the Agriculture and Commerce departments.

As a news reporter, Mr. Ruff covered the Hill for Congressional Quarterly and before that, he worked for the Donrey Media Group.

He cut his newspaper reporting teeth in the 1970s and was the first to report the influx of Vietnamese refugees to Fort Chafee, Ark., in 1975 for the Southwest Times Record.

Find bin Laden
It sounds like simple gumshoe detective work. But the latest rage in military intelligence is "link analysis," or in the case of finding Saddam Hussein, "Mongo Link."

The idea, used to perfection by the CIA and 4th Infantry Division in Iraq, is to build a database of names linked to the prey, or names linked to family or friends of the target.

In the case of Saddam, the penciled names came in by the hundreds. One by one, intelligence officers questioned the people cooks, third cousins, tribal elders until they found the man who told them where Saddam was hiding Dec. 13.

Now, the intelligence community is trying the same technique to locate Osama bin Laden along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The leads are promising, so much so, that one military officer predicted his capture by the year's end.

  • Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough are Pentagon reporters. Gertz can be reached at 202/636-3274 or by e-mail at bgertz@washingtontimes.com. Scarborough can be reached at 202/636-3208 or by e-mail at rscarborough@washingtontimes.com.


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