John McCaslin

Former first lady Nancy Reagan hasn't made any major public appearances since the June 5 death of her husband, former President Ronald Reagan.

Now, The Beltway Beat has learned that Reagan, 83, will come to the District on May 11 for a national salute in her honor.

"A Nation Honors Nancy Reagan" is title of the tribute, said Fred Ryan, longtime chairman of the board of trustees of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Library.

"There is much interest in Washington and across the country for a tribute to Mrs. Reagan," he explains. "There will be 1,000 people on hand, although the invitations have not gone out yet."

Ryan says about 50 well-known names make up the tribute committee, including Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, all of whom are honorary chairs of the black-tie dinner gala.

"It's says a lot to see this bipartisan interest," Ryan says. "It's really going to be a great tribute."

CAMP UDAY

As Rep. Jim McDermott, Washington Democrat, did on the House side yesterday afternoon, Sen. John Kerry today will welcome filmmaker Michael Tucker to Capitol Hill for a Senate screening of Palm Pictures' "Gunner Place."

McDermott's staff says the documentary film chronicles the day-to-day experiences of the U.S. Army's 2-3 Field Artillery unit that operates out of the former "pleasure palace" of Uday Hussein, the son of Saddam Hussein who died in a firefight with U.S. troops.

ENDLESS BORDER

If you think America's borders are difficult to secure, imagine keeping terrorists, saboteurs and armaments from crossing the border into and out of Iraq.

And don't think it's just the U.S. military and Iraqi soldiers manning the dangerous border crossings.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), part of the Department of Homeland Security, recently deployed a second team of agents to Iraq and the surrounding region to help secure Iraq's borders.

"Border security is critical to defeating terrorists, whether at U.S. borders or the borders of Iraq," says CBP Commissioner Robert C. Bonner, noting that his officers "volunteered their expertise and sacrificed the comforts of home" to take up their positions in and around Iraq.

One CBP team began training Iraqis at the Jordanian International Police Training Center in the capital, Amman, in August 2004. Since then, more than 2,100 Iraqi border control officers have been trained. Another team of U.S. agents arrived and began training Iraqis Feb. 7.

We're told that more than 1,000 CBP officers are working outside the United States.


John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on Townhall.com and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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