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Washington Calling

Grim Iraq assessment ... AG's charm offensive ... More
Scripps Howard News Service


June 16, 2007
Saturday AM

WASHINGTON - In remarkably blunt terms, a little-known but highly influential adviser to the top U.S. commander in Iraq is predicting that July and August could be among the deadliest months ever for American forces and Iraqi civilians.

That's the assessment of David Kilcullen, an Australian army veteran who is considered one of the world's top authorities on counterinsurgencies. Kilcullen is a personal adviser to Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. and allied troops in Iraq.

A colorful character who stays out of the limelight, Kilcullen has been meeting with unit commanders to prepare them for what could be a savage offensive by insurgents in advance of the pivotal assessment Petraeus will make in September on the progress of the "surge" and prospects for the future.

Almost as striking as Kilcullen's blunt talk is where it was reported: buried deep in an in-house Army News Service article, which apparently escaped the attention of most in the non-military press.


Was it a farewell lap that embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales took last week? Maybe a charm offensive? Or a bid to boost morale among the ranks of lowly Justice Department bureaucrats buffeted by the controversy over politically motivated firings of some U.S. attorneys around the country?

On Wednesday, the same day that congressional Democrats subpoenaed former White House officials for its probe, Gonzales made his way up and down the hallways of the department, popping unannounced into office after office, according to a tax attorney visited by his department's top boss. The AG shook hands, made small talk and offered to pose for a photo with the bureaucrat, who said it was the first such meet-'n'-greet he'd seen Gonzales make.

Lo, the next day, word came via Senate Democrats that internal Justice watchdogs are now investigating allegations that Gonzales engaged in an "inappropriate" discussion with one of his aides about the firings.


The House has now passed a measure that would make it illegal to falsify the names and phone numbers appearing on Caller IDs in order to scam or "spoof" a person into thinking he or she is getting a legitimate call or fax. Such ID tampering is on the rise, being used by bad guys to trick people into divulging personal information.

Wonder if the fact that some lawmakers have themselves been victims of this ruse -- constituents have flooded some Hill offices with outrage at nasty phone calls they've gotten that identified the caller as their congressman -- helped the "Truth in Caller ID Act" whiz at warp speed through the House.


This time next year, you may be seeing a lot more American flags flying on Fathers Day. That's the quest of Rep. David Scott, D-Ga., who is leading the charge on the important matter of amending the U.S. flag code to encourage the display of Old Glory on that important day.

Seems the code now suggests we hoist the flag on Veterans Day, Presidents Day, Columbus Day, Martin Luther King's Birthday and Mother's Day. Said Scott in pressing House colleagues to back HR 2356: "It is time this body officially recognizes the importance of American fathers by passing this important legislation."


Speaking of important summertime moments to mark: Nude Recreation Week this year will be held from July 9-15, say the American Association for Nude Recreation and The Naturist Society. They also note that a national study found that 15 percent of Americans are "looking for a nude recreation experience." One suggestion from the groups: go "canuding."


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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska