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June 10, 2005
Notes from the Pentagon

Spies and studies
The FBI and other U.S. security agencies are approaching top colleges and universities to better deal with foreign spies stealing technology secrets, we are told.

The FBI recently carried a subtle if unmistakable message to 15 university leaders: If you want to continue receiving millions of dollars in government defense contracts for research, tighten up security against foreign spies.

For example, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore gets some $300 million a year in government contracts for overt research. Additional millions are spent at the university for covert research that is not openly connected to the government but hidden through front companies or research centers.

The appeal is based on a counterintelligence effort to stem the flow of technology to foreign governments through visiting students, primarily from China. The FBI estimates that China has 150,000 students in the United States. While most are legitimate learners, a percentage are working for Chinese intelligence and other government agencies, FBI officials say.

The FBI has a list of all colleges and universities that are on the government research payroll. One official put it this way: "So when all those professors start yelling, 'We don't want the FBI on campus,' we say, 'OK, [the Defense Department] is going to take away your billions of dollars.' They respond, 'Oh, well, we love you now.' "

On top
The left is going after the U.S. military about purported abuses at terrorist prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Cuba.

But the American public continues to judge the all-volunteer force for what it really does and represents.

Gallup's yearly poll of U.S. institutions again found that the armed forces rank No. 1 in the eyes of Americans, beating out such entities as the press, Congress, the presidency and, yes, even lawyers.

Donnelly's support
Elaine Donnelly is sticking by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter, California Republican, even though he was forced to backtrack on his women-in-combat position.

More than anyone else, Mrs. Donnelly, who heads the Center for Military Readiness (CMR), exposed the Army's apparent disregard for a Pentagon policy that says women cannot serve in support units that collocate, or embed, with ground combat units.

Mrs. Donnelly found an ally in Mr. Hunter, who investigated the matter and then supported an amendment to the 2006 defense bill that would freeze new missions for women.

But he was forced to retreat when it appeared his amendment would be killed on the House floor. He won approval of a substitute bill that requires Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to personally look into how the Army is assigning women and report back to Congress. Mr. Hunter also sought to lengthen, to 60 days, the amount of lead time the Army must give Congress if it plans to change women-in-combat rules.

"CMR is pleased to commend California Republican Duncan Hunter ... and members of that committee who paid a high compliment to military women by considering and debating the issue of women in land combat for the first time in more than a decade," Mrs. Donnelly said in an e-mail to supporters.

Air mail
The Air Force has become so dependent on e-mail that it has begun assigning addresses to airmen for life.

"E-mail is the most critical communication tool to implement force development and transform our personnel process," states a message from Air Force headquarters at the Pentagon. "Industry-standard e-business solutions require static e-mail addresses, and that's the direction the Air Force is headed."

Skeleton staff
Charles Duelfer, the studious leader of the Iraq Survey Group, has relinquished command after writing a final report and a final addendum.

Mr. Duelfer, like his predecessor, David Kay, never found the stocks of chemical weapons that Saddam Hussein owned before and after the 1991 Gulf War. But he did find weapons programs that could quickly be ramped up once the United States lost interest in containing Saddam's Iraq.

The ISG staff of more than 1,000 has dwindled to a contingent of military personnel who are conducting periodic searches and scrutinizing hundreds of thousands of pages of seized documents. "There is always the possibility that there will be new leads they will stumble upon during that examination," a U.S. intelligence official said.

Mr. Duelfer's final addendum said there was some evidence that banned weapons were moved to Syria before the 2003 invasion.

Sure shots
Soldiers say one of the best ways to kill al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in the mountains of Afghanistan is to find them at long range and let a sniper do the rest. That's why the Army rushed hundreds of Barrett M82A1M .50-caliber rifles to the war, with night scopes and a range of more than a mile.

We were sent a video of an Army sniper in action. He locates and kills four enemies who thought they were hidden in Afghanistan's jagged rocky hills.

Rep. Curt Weldon, Pennsylvania Republican and House Armed Services Committee vice chairman, has made a career of warning about nukes in the hands of dangerous people, such as al Qaeda terrorists.

On Monday, the high-energy Mr. Weldon is coming out with a book: "Countdown to Terror: The Top-Secret Information That Could Prevent the Next Terrorist Attack on America ... and How the CIA Has Ignored It."

Mr. Weldon said he laid out what he has learned because the intelligence community has ignored the dire predictions of his source, an Iranian exile he identifies only as "Ali."

Regnery Publishing says "Countdown to Terror" reveals "how foreign nationals are undercutting American efforts to create a peaceful, stable Iran [and] how a major planned terror strike was called off in the fall of 2004 because the terrorists thought it would help Bush's re-election."

  • 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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