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May 10, 2002
Notes from the Pentagon

Iran defends nukes
Iranian military forces recently moved additional air defense missiles to a key nuclear facility in what U.S. intelligence officials view as a sign Tehran is preparing for an attack.

Several batteries of Iran's U.S.-made improved Hawk missiles, known as I-Hawks, were added to defenses ringing Iran's Bushehr nuclear facility and were photographed late last month by a U.S. spy satellite. Iran has about 150 I-Hawks.

The Bushehr nuclear power plant is located 10 miles south of the city of Bushehr and has been under construction since the 1970s. Russia has been the main supplier of the equipment for the two reactors.

CIA nonproliferation officials have told Congress that Iran is actively pursuing the acquisition of fissile material and the expertise and technology necessary to form the material into nuclear weapons. The weapons are based on both plutonium and highly enriched uranium nuclear arms, according to the agency.

Staff director candidate
Retired Adm. David E. Jeremiah has emerged as a leading candidate to become the new staff director of the joint congressional committee examining the intelligence failures of September 11. Adm. Jeremiah, a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who retired in 1994, would replace L. Britt Snider, a former CIA inspector general who quit the staff director post abruptly on April 26.

Congressional sources said Mr. Snider's departure was caused by one of his subordinates mishandling classified information, considered a cardinal sin for the leak-averse intelligence oversight committees. Mr. Snider was considered too close to CIA Director George J. Tenet — both worked in Congress and the CIA together — to conduct a fair and effective hearing on why U.S. intelligence agencies failed to detect the al Qaeda conspiracy to hijack airliners and crash them into the Pentagon and World Trade Center.

Adm. Jeremiah's intelligence experience is said to be limited. He headed a blue-ribbon panel that examined the CIA's 1998 failure to detect the Indian nuclear weapons tests, which led to matching Pakistani nuclear tests.

Sen. Bob Graham, Florida Democrat and chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, complained earlier in the week that both the CIA and FBI were not cooperating with Congress' efforts to examine the September 11 failures.

New home
Brig. Gen. Simon P. "Pete" Worden has returned to his old job at U.S. Space Command in Colorado, after the Washington press beat him up over the Office of Strategic Information.

Pentagon policy-makers recruited Gen. Worden to design an information campaign to counter the fundamentalist Islamic propaganda that teaches young Muslims to hate the United States.

But OSI had its enemies within the public affairs offices in the Pentagon. Soon, the media were accusing Gen. Worden of planning to plant false news stories. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld denied this was planned, but shut down the office over all the media fuss.

Gen. Worden is a favorite among conservatives for his work on designing a national missile defense system. Several Pentagon higher-ups vowed to make sure Gen. Worden landed in a good job.

But one friend lamented, "Forming OSI did not do a lot of good for his career."

Gen. Worden is Space Command's vice director of operations.

Sy Hersh
The word buzzing in Army corridors at the Pentagon is that New Yorker writer Seymour Hersh is researching an article criticizing U.S. commanders for not sending artillery to the battle in Afghanistan.

Mr. Hersh, Army sources claim, will compare the no-artillery decision with the Clinton administration's refusal to send armor to Somalia in 1993.

Said one Army officer. "I don't think this will fly. Somalia was a political decision by Les Aspin. Afghan was a tactical one."

Marine lecture
During a recent private speech, a Marine Corps general gave his views on the 7-month-old war in Afghanistan.

His points:

  • •Marine helicopters landed in high-altitude remote areas where Army helos could not.

  • •Seabees, the Navy's engineering and construction corps, performed flawlessly, building air strips at Bagram in the north and near Kandahar in the south.

  • •There is so much intelligence flow the risk is commanders do not have time to process it.

  • •The United States lacks a quick way to clear minefields. The Norwegians have a better system.

    Slow learners
    The buzz on Capitol Hill this week is how little the Pentagon's congressional liaison office has learned about how to deal with Congress.

    Its first major misstep came last year. The Bush administration decided to end bombing practice on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, undercutting a deal struck by pro-defense Republicans. They learned of the turnaround not from the Pentagon but from press reports.

    Later, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld decided to cut the number of B-1B bombers in operation, meaning a loss of jobs in two states. Again, members learned the news from reporters before Bush administration officials confirmed the bad news.

    This month's fiasco is the Pentagon's decision to kill the Army's Crusader self-propelled howitzer.

    Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz decided to cancel the Crusader just as the House Armed Services Committee was acting on a new defense budget that contained a request from President Bush to continue funding the system.

    "It comes at an awkward time, we know that," Mr. Wolfowitz said this week. "But we felt, given where we were with our judgments, it would not have been responsible to let Congress proceed."

    If that disconnect was not enough, few committee members were officially informed of the decision. Again, most of their knowledge came from reporters.

    The Army was also left out in the cold. Mr. Wolfowitz did not inform Army Secretary Thomas White until Tuesday evening, leaving no time to create a legislative strategy for the committee's bill writing.

    "They made this decision independent of the Army," said a Pentagon source. "They did not even have a legislative affairs strategy."

    Said a congressional source, "This is the gang that cannot shoot straight. That's not how you do business. If I was White I'd be furious."

    Mr. Rumsfeld this week defended his decision to put the Crusader in the budget, then take it out. "It's a quite appropriate time to make a decision like this," he said.

    The flap has reignited unhappiness with Mr. Rumsfeld on Capitol Hill. Some lawmakers particularly do not like the way he seemed to dismiss Congress' role in defense matters during his press conference announcing the cancellation.

    "The bayonets are coming out already," said a defense official. "I think they are going to come after him with a vengeance."

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

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