John McCaslin

On Wednesday morning, the eve of the seventh anniversary of the Sept.11 terrorist attacks, CIA Director Michael V. Hayden sent the following message to agency employees:

"Tomorrow, we mark the seventh anniversary of one of our nation's most difficult days. To see America under attack, as it was then, is something none of us can ever forget. In an office here at CIA headquarters, in a unit crucial to the fight against terrorism, a prominent sign still reads: 'Today's date is September 12th, 2001.'

"That stark, simple reminder speaks to the spirit of determination that defines our agency. There can be no finer way to honor the victims of 9/11 than to continue working with that full dedication to protect our country and uphold its values of freedom and decency in the world."


Veteran journalists Leonard Downie Jr., and Sally Quinn, were among Washington VIPs attending Tuesday night's opening reception at the Corcoran Gallery of Art of "Richard Avedon: Portraits of Power."

Considered the country's pre-eminent portraitist, the now-deceased Mr. Avedon spent his career photographing the faces of politics, several now exhibited for the first time: about 250 photographs, snapped by the artist from the 1950s until his death in 2004.

One of his last portraits, which especially wowed the Corcoran crowd, is of an obviously younger-looking Barack Obama following his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. The photographer seemed to possess a knack for pulling rising stars from the deep pools of ordinary politicians, including a handsome newcomer named Jimmy Carter.

And yes, that is former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld proudly sporting his large 1970s-era eyeglasses and frames, which literally encompass half of his youthful face.

Hats off to Paul Roth, the Corcoran's curator of photography and media arts, for organizing the unprecedented exhibit, which can best be described as a walk through American history. Portraits of Power runs through Jan. 25, 2009.


Remember the Reform Party?

Inside the Beltway learned Wednesday that Reform Party National Chairman Frank MacKay has met "on several occasions" with Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain and in the coming weeks will endorse either his candidacy or else that of Democratic Sen. Barack Obama.

Mr. MacKay has yet to meet with the latter; however, he stressed that his party is carefully evaluating both candidates. He believes his party's ultimate endorsement has the potential of driving "millions" of independent voters towards one of the two candidates.

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 .

Be the first to read John McCaslin's column. Sign up today and receive delivered each morning to your inbox.