'Skirmish Line'

John McCaslin

5/21/2008 10:48:38 AM - John McCaslin

CIA Director Michael V. Hayden told a Business Executives for National Security gathering in downtown Washington that his agency's network of spies are often out in front of U.S. troops and sometimes are the first to "engage" the enemy.

"President Reagan called CIA 'the tripwire across which the forces of repression and tyranny must stumble.' The term I like to use is 'skirmish line.' We move ahead of the main body of troops; we keep our eyes both on the distant horizon and on the enemy before us; and, at times, we are the first to engage," Mr. Hayden said in remarks obtained by Inside the Beltway.

The press wasn't on hand to hear the Air Force general, who is closing in on his second anniversary (May 30) as CIA director, stress the importance of "integration" in the intelligence community, identifying as one example "the operation in the summer of 2006 that killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the former head of al Qaeda in Iraq. It was the merging of many sensitive data streams — from human sources, technical ops, intercepts and more — that culminated in two smart bombs gliding toward their target."

Mr. Hayden said while working "side by side with the troops in western Iraq, CIA analysts picked up insights they otherwise wouldn't have. That added dimension enabled our officers to play a key role in the engagement of Sunni tribal leaders, which was a real breakthrough in the conflict last year."

Cable 'vitriol'

The new report is titled "Fear and Loathing in Prime Time: Immigration Myths and Cable News," and today at noon in the basement level of the U.S. Capitol several members of Congress, immigration leaders and the Media Matters Action Network say they will expose "pervasive anti-immigration vitriol on cable news, as well as a series of myths that feed viewers' unfounded resentments and fears."

Attendees will include New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, California Rep. Joe Baca, and California Rep. Hilda L. Solis, all Democrats.

Vets vexed

The U.S. military veterans group Vets for Freedom is none too pleased with the "partisan gimmicks" of lawmakers who are spending the final hours before Memorial Day passing so-called "critical" legislation while U.S. soldiers and Marines require funding to continue "undeniable progress" on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Among the legislation cited: Congratulating the Northern Kentucky University Norse women's basketball team; honoring Arnold Palmer for his distinguished golfing career; honoring the 60th anniversary of the carving of the Crazy Horse Memorial; and expressing support for the designation of a "Frank Sinatra Day."

Third choice

While presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain awaits a Democratic challenger — either Sen. Barack Obama or Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton — the Libertarian Party tomorrow kicks off its national convention in Denver, where it will select its presidential nominee for the 2008 election.

"This is going to be a watershed year for the Libertarian Party," says party spokesman Andrew Davis. "Voter dissatisfaction with the major two parties is at an all-time high, and people are looking to the Libertarian Party to provide a third choice on the ballot in 2008."

He explains that voters are tired of the "business-as-usual" politics from the current slate of candidates.

Desert bargain

"Reagan's Rancho Mirage House for Sale!"

So read the posting on the Web site of Michael Reagan, the eldest son of former President Ronald Reagan, who yesterday sold the California home of his late mother, actress Jane Wyman, at the Rancho Mirage Country Club.

Mr. Reagan inherited the three-bedroom, 2½-bath residence on Bob Hope Drive, one of the community's original model homes, upon his mother's death in September.

The single-level Montebello plan, which "boasts over 2,370 square feet of living space with soaring 20-foot ceilings and walls of glass that look out to the private pool and spa," sold for about the $699,000 asking price, we're told. Included in the purchase price was Mrs. Wyman's complete bedroom set.

Upon her death last year, Mr. Reagan said, "I have lost a loving mother, my children have lost a loving grandmother, my wife has lost a loving friend she called 'Mom,' and Hollywood has lost the classiest lady to ever grace the silver screen."