Return to

December 10, 2004
Notes from the Pentagon

Honored guests
The Pentagon has begun honoring the wounded from the war on terrorism by inviting service members hospitalized at Walter Reed Army Medical Center to spend a few hours at the Pentagon.

Last week, one such entourage arrived for a tour and lunch. This is how one witness described the scene.

"At 1030 several wounded soldiers, sailors and Marines arrived from Walter Reed. They limped, were wheeled, and made their way through several corridors on a little tour of the building on their way to the Executive Dining Room.

"The halls were two deep on each side with Pentagon workers paying tribute. This allowed only a few feet of passageway. The line of wounded took several minutes to make their way past. The whole time the crowd applauded and reached out to shake hands (bandages) or pat the backs of the injured. The sound of the clapping would peal down the halls and cheers could be heard.

"Needless to say it was emotional and several Pentagonites' BDU [battle dress uniform] sleeves were damp from wiping tears away. God bless those that have sacrificed for us."

Fallujah brief
The U.S. command in Iraq is circulating a 60-page briefing on what troops found in Fallujah, the capital of the insurgency in Iraq.

Several pages detail articles inside the headquarters of Abu Musab Zarqawi. The inventory included:

•Beheading videos of four victims.

•Training videos on how to operate small arms, read maps and fire mortars using range finders.

•Videos of "martyrs" being buried and of attacks on coalition forces.

•Jihadist documents, letters and correspondence.

"The Anti-Iraqi Forces took hostages of the city of Fallujah and projected terrorism across all of Iraq," the briefing states.

Insurgents dug "spider holes" from which they would pop up and fire on troops.

Security threat
The U.S. government often takes great pains to avoid offending communist China: by either not mentioning activities of China's intelligence services or playing down Chinese military developments.

To understand U.S. policy toward a foreign power, however, one need only look closely at how security clearances are granted to understand who is a friend or foe.

We obtained an opinion from Administrative Judge James A. Young at the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals, located in Clarendon. It's an appeal from a Chinese-born defense contractor who was denied a security clearance because of his close ties to relatives in China.

An attorney for the clearance applicant, who was not identified by name, had argued that China is not a hostile country and thus the clearance should be granted.

Judge Young disagreed and said in the opinion that the nature of communist China is a legitimate factor in denying someone access to secrets.

"Countries such as Canada, Great Britain, and Italy, for example, are representative democracies that pride themselves on the protection of civil liberties," he stated.

"An applicant's foreign associates in those countries would face considerably less risk of exploitation than those in the [People's Republic of China], which is known as a repressive regime in which individual rights of citizens are not honored."

He stated that China is "hostile, and has interests inimical, to those of the U.S." It is also "a totalitarian state that depends on the suppression of its people."

"The PRC has been involved in espionage against the U.S., both military and economic," he stated.

Judge Young noted that the clearance applicant's relatives in China are not foreign agents. But their presence in China means they are "subject to the pressures of the communist regime" and makes the applicant vulnerable to compromising U.S. secrets.

Despite increased U.S.-Chinese cooperation since September 11, China "is still a totalitarian state with a human rights record of abuses that 'have been among the most visible and constant points of contention in Sino-U.S. relations since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown,' " he said.

Also, China remains one of the most aggressive collectors of U.S. defense information and technology, he said.

More bureaucracy
In addition to the creation of a new intelligence "czar" who will wear the hat of the NID, or national intelligence director, the reform legislation passed by Congress this week will create another government bureaucracy.

The legislation will establish a Joint Intelligence Community Council to be headed by the NID and made up of the secretaries of state, defense, Treasury, energy and homeland security, along with the attorney general and other government officials designated by the president.

The council appears to be a parallel National Security Council and is supposed to help the NID develop and implement a joint, unified national intelligence effort "to protect national security," according to the new legislation.

It will deal with intelligence requirements, budgets, financial management and monitoring the performance of 15 U.S. intelligence agencies.

Army tight spot
Pentagon insiders tell us the Army is getting itself into a bind over its new reorganization of combat divisions.

Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the chief of staff, has broken up divisions into brigade units of action. They will be more self-contained than existing brigades. Their replenishment teams, called forward support companies (FSC), will virtually embed with the brigade.

Therein lies the problem.

Pentagon policy bars mixed-sex units, such as the FSC, from "collocating" with combat units.

Here's the bind: If the Army notifies Congress it plans to appeal the collocation rule, it may be overruled by lawmakers. If it creates all-male FSC so as not to violate the ban, it won't have enough soldiers, internal Army documents show.

The answer for the Army is to attach the FSC to a support brigade. But even the Army's own documents say this "could be perceived as subterfuge to avoid reporting requirements" to Congress.

Elaine Donnelly, who heads the Center for Military Readiness, says the Army's chart making is just a dance to placate Congress. In actuality, the FSC will have to embed with a combat brigade to do its job.

"That unit is going to be with the maneuver battalion 100 percent of the time," says Mrs. Donnelly. She has written to congressional leaders, telling them the Army is violating the rules. She is hoping the office of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld gets involved.

To our readers
You used to find us every Friday morning in the Pentagon's "supplemental" news digest. The press office canceled that version last month. Inside the Ring is not being carried in the remaining online news digest, the venerable "Early Bird."

We suggest if you still need your Inside the Ring fix to simply move to the Web address. The link is on the home page.

  • 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

  • Inside the Ring Archives
    1999 Columns
    2000 Columns
    2001 Columns

    2002 Columns
    2003 Columns
    2004 Columns
    Return to