John McCaslin

On Friday morning, the public affairs shop at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) distributed to everybody on its e-mail list an article from The Washington Post from that same day that was critical of the office's most recent National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran.

Several conservatives quoted in the story challenged the veracity of the NIE, including Norman Podhoretz, who has advocated air strikes on Iranian sites. The commentator said he does not think the new NIE is "very credible because it is a 180-degree turn in two years" since a previous estimate concluded that Iran was close to building a nuclear weapon.

The Post story even suggested that career government officials who had battled with conservatives earlier in the administration have now migrated to the DNI office.

Not surprisingly, a short time after the article was disseminated, another e-mail was sent out by the DNI's public affairs office: "A Washington Post article was mistakenly distributed this morning. We regret the error."

Markey in 3-D

We'd written recently about the irony surrounding several VIPs traveling aboard carbon-spewing private jets to "global warming" negotiations that are now under way in Bali, Indonesia.

But not Rep. Edward J. Markey, Massachusetts Democrat and chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, who has devised a way to participate in the negotiations even while he remains in Washington.

The congressman plans to harness the power of the Internet to deliver his address tomorrow to the U.N. Climate Change Conference via an online platform known as Second Life. He will use a 3-D animated version of himself (an "avatar") that will appear on a virtual Bali stage.

Mr. Markey says it demonstrates "an extremely low-carbon way" to encourage stronger support for climate action.

Hybrid sisters

The Catholic Sisters of Mercy, based in Silver Spring, want us to know that they have had a long-standing desire to protect the environment and are now driving hybrid cars and reducing the amount of bottled water they drink.

Sunday exercises

If anybody knows about budget woes, it's President Bush.

So that might have been a pledge card that the president removed from his coat pocket when he scribbled something and handed it to the Rev. Luis Leon on the steps of St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington yesterday after the 7:45 a.m. service.

John McCaslin

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

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