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April 8, 2005
Notes from the Pentagon

Scandal grows
A source close to the investigation into Abu Ghraib detainee abuse tells us to expect more disciplinary actions against Army soldiers beyond the guards already charged.

The source said there may be criminal charges filed once Army Criminal Investigative Command agents complete the probe. Some of those already disciplined are talking, our source said.

"They are in full investigation mode," the insider said.

Talented secretary
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld turns 73 this summer. But he continues to defy age, as seen on his recent trip to Latin America.

Besides his hectic schedule, he found time to put on a juggling display on the plane, skillfully tossing three balls borrowed from a staffer. He also belted out Cole Porter songs in Spanish befitting the trip's Latin theme.

Asked whether the secretary had sung and juggled before, spokesman Larry Di Rita answered, "Yes, although not at the same time." Some insiders think Mr. Rumsfeld would win a Cabinet secretary talent show, hands down.

Damage control
The Army is scurrying to defend its new Stryker personnel carrier against a series of bad press.

The articles are rooted in a leaked confidential "lessons learned" report that said, among other faults, the armored vehicle is vulnerable to some types of rocket-propelled grenades.

The report is based on a series of interviews with Stryker Brigade soldiers who completed a yearlong tour in northern Iraq. Their complaints, some serious, some minor, constitutes the way the Army fields and improves equipment, spokesmen say.

The Army is circulating a photo of a Stryker that was rammed by a suicide car bomber in December. The explosion damaged tires and ripped open the vehicle's anti-RPG cage. But all six soldiers inside survived, said Col. Joseph Curtin, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, and the vehicle was back in action two days later after repairs.

Secret stuff
Steven M. Kosiak, one of the sharp-eye analysts at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, is reporting that the Pentagon's "black" budget items are making a comeback.

Mr. Kosiak says items for secret projects and weapons reached $28 billion in the Bush administration's proposed fiscal 2006 budget. He says this is the highest it has been since the 1988 budget toward the Cold War's end.

"Restrictions placed on access to classified funding have meant that DoD and Congress typically exercise less oversight over classified programs than unclassified ones," Mr. Kosiak writes.

His analysis breaks down the 2006 spending into $14.2 billion to procure secret items and $13.7 billion for research and development.

Jacoby leaving
Pentagon officials tell us Vice Adm. Lowell Jacoby, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, is expected to leave this year after three years on the job.

The officials also say the three-star admiral is not going easily. Adm. Jacoby had sought to stay on the job until the summer of 2006, but the request was denied.

After we reported in this space in November that Adm. Jacoby was likely to be replaced, he sent an e-mail to all DIA employees stating that he enjoyed the full support of senior Pentagon officials.

Other officials, however, tell us the failure to gain the extension to 2006 is a sign Adm. Jacoby's tour is over this year.

Asked about the admiral's plans, DIA spokesman Donald L. Black said he is "unaware of any decision on Admiral Jacoby."

"Many past directors of DIA have served for three years, but there is no real norm," Mr. Black said. "He serves at the pleasure of the [secretary of defense] and president, whether that is as director of DIA or some other capacity."

Adm. Jacoby also has been leaving a Navy legacy at the agency, which was sharply criticized in the report of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction. The report said the DIA was fooled by a bogus informant code-named Curveball.

Under Adm. Jacoby's watch, a large number of retired Navy captains have been getting lucrative Senior Intelligence Service jobs in the DIA.

General and the pope
Retired Army Gen. Ed Rowny tells us how he was dispatched by President Reagan in 1986 to go behind the Iron Curtain to brief Warsaw Pact leaders on U.S. arms control.

"I followed these meetings with a visit to the Vatican, where I briefed the papal staff and had a private meeting with Pope John Paul II," he said. "I repeated the same pattern in 1987, 1988 and 1990."

Although the papal staff was interested in arms issues, "the pope was more interested in talking about President Reagan, his philosophy of peace through strength, his emphasis on human rights and interest in Poland," Gen. Rowny said.

The pope liked Mr. Reagan and was happy to hear that he backed the Solidarity movement in Poland.

Little has been written about the pope's sense of humor, he tells us.

"At my first meeting with Pope John Paul II in 1986, I was walking briskly down a long marble corridor to meet him, and did not notice that there was a step down," Gen. Rowny said.

"My fall was broken by a cleric in a red cap. As the pope ran to help me up, he said, 'Nice catch, for a cardinal.'

"The pope knew that I had fought with the Catholic bishops over their disagreement with President Reagan's approach to arms control," he said. "With a twinkle in his eye, he asked me, 'Tell me, my good general, how are you getting along with your bishops in the United States?'

" 'Holy Father,' I said, 'I didn't know they were my bishops. I thought they were your bishops.' He smiled and said, 'Bardzo dobrze' (very good)."

During another visit, Gen. Rowny said, he foolishly tried to talk to the pope in Polish, but then unconsciously slipped into Russian.

"I had spoken Polish as a child, but had since become more fluent in Russian," he said. "The pope stood up, poked his finger into my chest, and said, 'Et maintenant, mon General, nous parlerons en Anglais.' (In French: 'And now, general, we will speak English.')"

New editor
Proceedings, the semiofficial magazine that lets Navy personnel vent about ships and operations, has hired a new editor in chief. He's Robert Timberg, author and former Baltimore Sun reporter. Mr. Timberg is best known for his well-received book, "The Nightingale's Song," which chronicled the lives of Naval Academy graduates John McCain, James Webb, Robert McFarlane, John Poindexter and Oliver North.

Mr. Timberg himself is a Naval Academy graduate. Commissioned a Marine second lieutenant, he served with the 2nd Marine Division in Vietnam. He was medically retired as a captain because of war wounds.

Proceedings is the flagship publication of the U.S. Naval Institute.

  • 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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