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July 15, 2005
Notes from the Pentagon

Luti moves
William J. Luti, a Pentagon architect of the Bush administration's counterterrorism policies in Afghanistan and Iraq, has moved to the White House as a National Security Council staffer. His new title: special assistant to the president and senior director for defense policy strategy.

Mr. Luti ran the Office of Special Plans under Douglas Feith, the undersecretary of defense for policy. The office came under a barrage of criticism from author Seymour Hersh and other leftists, who claimed it was conducting its own intelligence collection.

Republicans say inquiries by objective congressional investigators showed the office was analyzing intelligence from the CIA, not collecting its own.

Mr. Luti's departure coincides with the resignation of Mr. Feith, one of the closest advisers to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

Mr. Feith's chosen successor, Eric S. Edelman, a former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, will have a chance to pick his own top Persian Gulf adviser.

When Mr. Edelman will take the post is not known. Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, is demanding more documents from the Feith policy shop on its intelligence work. A Levin spokeswoman said the committee has not scheduled Mr. Edelman for a confirmation vote.

China report flak
After we reported last week that the Pentagon held up its long-overdue report to Congress on Chinese military power, the official newspaper of the Chinese military wrote that the delay was because Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld had softened his position on China.

The Chinese propaganda organ PLA Daily stated Tuesday that Mr. Rumsfeld has "changed his tune" and "moderated" his views on what Beijing is now calling the "concocted ... China military threat theory."

"It has long been known that Rumsfeld has the 'problem' of not being politically sensitive in his words and deeds," the report said, noting his dig at "old Europe."

The military paper noted that Mr. Rumsfeld is opposed in the administration by a "pragmatic faction" of pro-China U.S. government officials who supposedly include President Bush.

A senior Pentagon official joked that the Chinese propagandists behind the article are "at least entertaining" if inaccurate.

Pentagon sources tell us the forthcoming China military report will be tougher than previous assessments. For the first time, it will include a section outlining five worrying scenarios in which China poses a major challenge to the United States in the coming years.

The annual assessment of China's future is mandated by Congress. But pro-China advocates in the administration, specifically staff members on the White House National Security Council, worked through think tanks and other indirect policy channels to block the Pentagon from saying anything bad about China, officials said.

Others details will be new data on Chinese military exercises, and quotes from Gen. Xiong Guangkai, the Chinese military leader who in the late 1990s implicitly threatened to incinerate Los Angeles in a nuclear strike if the United States were to defend Taiwan from mainland attack.

Additionally, the report will contain color graphics and maps showing the ranges of Chinese missiles and weapons, despite objections from the pro-China officials that the graphics provided too many details on China's growing arsenal.

So far, no major changes sought by the pro-China officials outside the Pentagon were made to the report, we are told.

Some in the Pentagon think those in the pro-China faction are out to demonize Mr. Rumsfeld, a theme now being played back in the state-run Chinese press, which has carried several articles criticizing the defense secretary.

One recent front page article in the People's Daily carried the headline "Don Quixote at the Pentagon."

Because of his aversion to the press, Mr. Rumsfeld will not let Pentagon public affairs or other officials fight back against the two-pronged anti-Rumsfeld campaign.

Some officials say Mr. Rumsfeld instead may return fire by canceling plans for a visit to China later this year. The Chinese have been pressing for the trip, which initially was set for August or September but has been moved back to October at the earliest.

Negroponte's home
Bolling Air Force Base, home to the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency, will be getting a new tenant. John D. Negroponte, the nation's first director of national intelligence, will move his headquarters to Bolling once the two top floors in the Defense Intelligence Analysis Center are readied.

The move to Bolling in Southeast Washington on the Anacostia River is viewed as semi-permanent. The DNI likely will stay there three to five years while a permanent facility is built, we are told.

Mr. Negroponte now works at the New Executive Office Building near the White House.

Two views this week from Senate Armed Services Committee members on interrogation practices at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat: "I think that we made serious errors in authorizing and permitting a number of these techniques because they were not effective. And in a free society, which we still are, it is very difficult to keep such behavior totally private."

Sen. Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican: "They're not detainees. They're terrorists. And they're very bad people. Never, never before in history has any country, faced with a barbaric terrorism, implemented a policy of terrorist detention so unique, so unprecedented and so humane, in my personal view. The detainees are getting a choice of 113 Muslim dishes. Our troops are not getting that kind of choice. ... I'd like to remind my colleagues we are in a war on a global scale. It's against a vicious and determined enemy. They reside in Gitmo and they're interested in one thing and that's killing."

  • 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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