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Ultimate Oxymoron

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Longtime CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield (he has served in one or another public affairs capacity for nine CIA directors) is moving to a new assignment at the spy agency.


"As is frequently the case when new CIA directors take the helm, Director [Leon E.] Panetta had indicated shortly after being confirmed that he wanted to bring in his own person to head up public affairs," Mr. Mansfield writes to his contacts in the Fourth Estate.

"It has been said that doing public affairs work at the CIA is the ultimate oxymoron. I'm not convinced that's the case. But hardly a day passed when I didn't see the humor in - and incongruity of doing this sort of work for an espionage organization that, by necessity and in order to be successful, must keep certain matters secret."

Mr. Mansfield didn't say what his new CIA assignment would be. If he did, he probably would have to kill us.


It's difficult to recall the 2004 Democratic presidential primary, given the personalities and duration of the 2008 battle in the party.

But who will ever forget the comic relief provided by the Rev. Al Sharpton during his 2004 bid for the White House?

Now, five years later, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) has reached a settlement with the outspoken black preacher and his campaign totaling $285,000 in civil penalties. Also named in the settlement were campaign treasurer Andrew Rivera and, among other enterprises, the National Action Network, a nonprofit Mr. Sharpton founded and has served as president.


The FEC-initiated case stated that during his campaign, Mr. Sharpton traveled extensively yet routinely paid for his political stumping through his various business interests, including Rev-Als Production and Sharpton Media, which violates rules against corporate contributions.

An FEC audit and investigation revealed that National Action Network and other entities paid $387,192 in campaign expenses," according to the FEC. "Sharpton's sole proprietorships, Rev-Als Production and Sharpton Media LLC, also paid $214,577 in campaign travel expenses and an additional $65,000 came from unknown sources. None of these in-kind contributions were disclosed in the committee's disclosure reports."

In addition, Mr. Sharpton and his campaign have agreed to refund $10,500 in unresolved excessive contributions, disgorge $9,000 in excessive contributions and refund $181,115 to National Action Network or disgorge the funds to the U.S. Treasury.


Wallet getting thin?

Forget all the media hype about the national economy. It's the family economy that is in a crisis - long predating the current recession (or depression, if you will). Get a load of these eye-opening figures:

In advance of a Wednesday forum in Washington, the Family Research Council reveals that between 1955 and 1969 U.S. gross domestic product grew by 70 percent, while the median family income all but kept pace at 63 percent growth.


The council continues: "Contrast that 63 percent growth in a decade and a half with what happened over the next three decades: Between 1969 and 2000, the GDP grew by 160 percent, but the median family income grew by only 13 percent - eleven times slower."


The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, sadly, still isn't completed.

On Tuesday, U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Enrique Valdez will have his name added to the Wall, as it's come to be known. He was wounded in Vietnam on Aug. 26, 1969, and died as a result 25 years later on Feb. 4, 1994. His name will be added during a 9 a.m. ceremony (weather permitting), attended by his four children.

Next week, the company that inscribes new names on the Wall will be changing the designations of five officers who already have their names inscribed. The symbols beside their names will go from the current cross (denoting missing in action) to a diamond (denoting killed in action).

The officers no longer listed as MIA are Air Force Sr. Master Sgt. James K. Caniford of Frederick, Md.; Navy Lt. Cmdr. Ralph C. Busz of Miami; Air Force Maj. John L. McElroy of Schenectady, N.Y.; Air Force Maj. Barclay B. Young of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and Air Force Col. David H. Zook Jr. of West Liberty, Ohio.


The Washington Times guest list for this Saturday's annual White House Correspondents' Dinner is best described as a mix of politics, diplomacy, military, sports and entertainment.


The newspaper's executive editor John Solomon will greet The Times' guests that include Sen. Roland W. Burris, Illinois Democrat; White House Staff Secretary Lisa Brown; White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Cecilia Munoz; the Honorable William J.Burns, under secretary of state for political affairs; His Excellency German Ambassador to the U.S. Klaus Scharioth; His Excellency Korean Ambassador to the U.S. Han Duk-soo; former Virginia Lt. Gov. Donald S. Beyer; Lanny J. Davis, former special counsel to President Clinton; and Vice Adm. Carl "Van" Mauney, deputy commander U.S. Strategic Command.

Washington Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder and Redskins head coach Jim Zorn are also guests of The Times as are, among others, Hootie & the Blowfish lead singer Darius Rucker; Five for Fighting lead singer John Ondrasik; Corporation for Public Broadcasting President and Chief Executive Officer Patricia de Stacy Harrison; and actor Orson Bean.

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