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July 8, 2005
Notes from the Pentagon

'Lap time'
Then-Maj. Gen. Thomas J. Fiscus was a busy man in 2002. He served as the Air Force's chief lawyer, dishing out legal opinions at the Pentagon to its most senior leaders. He flew around the world briefing judge advocates general. And the married two-star officer maintained improper relationships with at least 13 women.

We've obtained a confidential report on his shenanigans. It shows Col. Fiscus, whom the Air Force reprimanded, demoted to colonel and retired, juggled women like he did appointments. At one point, he rendezvoused with a junior officer at her apartment, met up with a civilian Air Force worker in a hotel room and in the end went home to his wife.

Col. Fiscus and the junior officer referred to their meetings as "attitude checks." Each called each other "homey," the report says.

Said the report, "She further testified that on Sunday, 23 June 2002, [Col. Fiscus] came to her apartment early in the morning and the two slept together for the first time. The same thing occurred on Tuesday, 25 June 2002. Her version of 'sleeping together' did not include sexual intercourse, however, and she added it was what the two referred to as 'spooning,' or fitting their underwear-clad bodies together in her bed, like two spoons together in a drawer. She also testified that they also engaged in 'face time' and 'lap time,' which meant that she sat on his lap while they kissed and his hands roamed all over her body. Sexual gratification stopped at fondling through their clothes and did not involve sexual intercourse according to [the woman officer]."

Col. Fiscus later sent her an e-mail: "I've been noticing something missing in my arms and these hands are in a major state of depression."

It is against military law for a married senior officer to have sexual relationships outside marriage, or to have relationships with junior officers.

Col. Fiscus' sexually charged lifestyle fell apart at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport. An Air Force officer who knew him spotted him passionately kissing the junior officer and reported it to an inspector general hot line.

Col. Fiscus tried to destroy some of his incriminating e-mails once he learned of the investigation, the Air Force report says.

We provided a report copy to Lt. Col. David Robertson, Col. Fiscus' attorney. Col. Robertson later told us, "Col. Fiscus does not have any comment at this time."

China report battle
Pentagon officials say an internal political battle has been under way in the Bush administration over the forthcoming annual report on China's military power.

The report was due for release several weeks ago, but was then held up and portions have been removed and modified, said officials familiar with the internal debate.

It is now set for release in the next week or two.

The draft report had included tough assessments of China's arms buildup and a stark conclusion that the military balance of power across the Taiwan Strait was shifting in Beijing's favor. The shift is because of a sharp increase in China's arms purchases and deployments, that include new missiles, warships, aircraft and communications gear.

Pentagon spokesman Larry Di Rita gave no clue to the behind-the-scenes wrangling over the report when asked about it this week. He acknowledged that other agencies are reviewing the report before its release.

Mr. Di Rita said the Pentagon report "is going to build on the knowledge of other agencies and departments" and that "we are trying to make sure that everybody has the opportunity to weigh in on it, to understand it."

The interagency battle over the report reflects the internal debate within the administration between those who do not view China as a near-term threat and those who are alarmed over China's recent weapons deployments and statements.

For example, in the early draft of the Pentagon's four-year defense review, China was not even included in the "terms of reference" for the review. The exclusion of China was later rejected by senior Pentagon and military officials as unrealistic.

Among those who do not regard China as a near-term threat are Thomas Fingar, the former State Department intelligence analyst who is now the U.S. intelligence community's top analyst under Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte. Mr. Fingar recently hired former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analyst Lonnie Henley, who during his career at DIA developed a reputation as someone who played down China's military developments.

SEALs consolidate
The Navy has disbanded its elite SEAL commando unit in Spain and sent the troops to Germany as part of a cost-cutting effort.

The Navy Special Warfare Unit-10 based in Rota, Spain, will be disbanded July 25 and its SEALs are relocating with NSW-2 based at Stuttgart, Germany. The elite SEALs are used in special operations warfare and have played a key and mostly secret role in the war on terrorism. Several were casualties recently in landlocked Afghanistan.

The Rota-based SEALs' area of responsibility includes Algeria, Morocco and other North African states where militants are active.

The consolidation is part of the Navy's "ongoing transformation of forces in Europe and represents a major effort to match force structure with current and projected operations in this theater while organizing to accomplish missions effectively and meet emerging threats," said Lt. Jon Spiers, a Navy spokesman. "The shift will not diminish special operations capabilities in the European theater."

Recon lessons
Pentagon officials are of course saddened about the loss of life in Afghanistan during a special operations mission against Taliban and al Qaeda. But they are also concerned about the fact a four-man SEAL reconnaissance team got in trouble in the first place. Such recon teams are supposed to see and remain unseen.

A source close to the special operations community says there will be lessons learned to study to see what mistakes, if any, the team made when it got into a firefight.

Of the team, two are known dead; one was rescued and one remained missing.

Beans and bread
Retired Army Lt. Col. Robert Maginnis was among a group of "talking heads" that traveled to the al Qaeda prison at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, recently.

The military provided Mr. Maginnis a lunch just like the inmates get. On this day, it was pita bread, potatoes, corn, beans, juice and water. Mr. Maginnis said each meal cost about one-third more than a typical service member's chow because it has to be blessed and certified by Muslim clergy, and flown in from the U.S.

  • 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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