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November 10, 2006
Notes from the Pentagon

One clue
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld summoned more than a dozen assistant secretaries to his office late last month. Thinking back, the attendees should have seen a clue that his days were numbered.

During a discussion of the state of the Pentagon and four military branches, Mr. Rumsfeld suddenly pulled out a 10-page list of what he thought the Pentagon has accomplished during his nearly six-year term.

There were more than 100 items, the things a legacy is made of.

"I should have known then the guy was leaving," said a defense source.

Little did anyone know that Mr. Rumsfeld and President Bush had held a series of one-on-one discussions on the deteriorating conditions in Iraq and that a bottom line had been reached: The defense secretary would resign.

Among the accomplishments:

  • The global war on terrorism and degrading the al Qaeda network.

  • A deployed missile-defense system.

  • Empowered special operations, with their budget increased by 107 percent and personnel by 11 percent.

    There were not a lot of entries on Iraq, the war that cost Mr. Rumsfeld his job.

    Pentagon takeover
    Defense conservatives in and out of government are lamenting the ouster of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and the nomination of former CIA Director Robert M. Gates as a takeover attempt by anti-conservative Republicans.

    Specifically, conservatives say Mr. Gates is an agent of former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, who are from the "realist" school of national security advocates and who oppose the Bush administration's aggressive war on terrorism.

    Mr. Baker currently leads the special task force on Iraq, also being headed by former Rep. Lee H. Hamilton, that is expected to recommend changing the course of the war on terrorism.

    "This is a victory for defeatism," said a former high-ranking defense official, opposed to the Baker-Scowcroft team, of Mr. Gates' nomination.

    The nomination of a career CIA officer also is seen by defense conservatives as marking the beginning of a power grab of the Defense Department by the CIA, which had been kept at bay by Mr. Rumsfeld's policy of improving the military's own intelligence capabilities, independent of the CIA.

    Mr. Gates is expected to appoint key aides who share his pro-CIA views, we are told.

    Among the first officials likely to be replaced, officials tell us, is Stephen Cambone, a close Rumsfeld adviser and undersecretary of defense for intelligence. Mr. Cambone is known to want to stay on in the plum post, but the betting among officials is that Mr. Gates will appoint one of his key aides to the intelligence undersecretary position and someone likely to have a CIA, as opposed to Pentagon, background.

    Peter W. Rodman, assistant defense secretary for international security affairs, part of the policy shop, told his staff yesterday that he plans to step down.

    Ideological war
    The U.S. government needs to develop a counterideology to Islamic extremism as part of its multifaceted global war on terrorism, according to a former U.S. counterintelligence official.

    An aggressive ideological war on Islamic extremism should complement military, diplomatic and economic measures, but ideology has been neglected by the U.S. government, writes William Gawthrop in the current issue of the Vanguard, the journal of the Military Intelligence Corps Association.

    Specifically, Mr. Gawthrop, whose views in the article are his own and not those of any U.S. government agency, said the U.S. military needs first to study the warfighting methods of Islam's central figure, something it has not done to date.

    "Mohammad, both in his capacity as a military and religious leader, established a strategic objective of political (as well as religious) imperium and he left behind a rudimentary warfighting doctrine articulated in the Koran, elaborated on in the Haddiths, codified in Islamic Law and reinforced by current interpretations in the modern era," Mr. Gawthrop said.

    "As late as early 2006, the senior service colleges of the Department of Defense had not incorporated into their curriculum a systematic study of Mohammad as a military or political leader. As a consequence, we still do not have an in-depth understanding of the war fighting doctrine laid down by Mohammed, how it might be applied today by an increasing number of Islamic groups, or how it might be countered."

    Mr. Gawthrop calls for developing an ideological counter to Islamic extremism and for the United States, moderate Muslim governments and the non-Muslim world to wage ideological war on the extremists.

    "Presently the adversary has the upper hand in using a global network of information outlets capable of delivering Islamic themes penetrating otherwise inaccessible recesses of the Islamic community," he said.

    Chinese spying
    A federal grand jury in Los Angeles last week added new charges against a family suspected of passing U.S. Navy weapons technology to China.

    Five family members who had been charged previously with acting as agents of a foreign power were charged Oct. 25 with conspiring to export defense technology to Beijing.

    U.S. counterintelligence officials said the spy case was extremely damaging to the Navy and other services.

    The superseding indictment states that Chi Mak, 66; his wife, Rebecca Laiwah Chiu, 63; Mr. Mak's brother, Tai Mak, 57; Tai Mak's wife, Fuk Heung Li, 49, and Tai Mak's son Billy Yui Mak, 26, conspired to send Navy sound-dampening technology, which officials say makes U.S. warships sound like a Lexus at idle.

    The 15-count superseding indictment also charged the five with attempted and actual export of defense articles to China, possession of property in aid of a foreign government and making false statements to investigators.

    Court papers identified the Chinese intelligence officer suspected of directing the purported spy ring's activity as Pu Pei-liang, a researcher at the Chinese Center for Asia-Pacific Studies at Zhongshan University, known to U.S. intelligence officials as CAPS.

    According to the court, the Chinese agent gave the purported spy ring the task of seeking sensitive U.S. Navy research on nuclear submarines and other defense systems under development. The papers say most of the data was obtained by Chi Mak, an engineer with Navy contractor Power Paragon.

    If convicted, the Maks face maximum sentences of 10 years to 30 years in prison. Trial for Chi Mak is scheduled for March, and the other family members are set for trial in May. The investigation of the case was conducted by the FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

  • 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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