The Cable

Conservative newspaper owes the State Department thousands in back bills

The Washington Times owes the State Department more than $15,000 in long-overdue travel expenses, The Cable has learned.

The overdue bills are related to travel by Nicholas Kralev, the struggling paper's recently departed State Department correspondent, who traveled with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Israel, Japan, Korea, Egypt, Belgium, Turkey, China and Afghanistan on four separate trips dating from May 2008 to November 2009. The total outstanding debt is $15,927.32, according to State Department records obtained by The Cable.

Reached by The Cable, Kralev said he had submitted each bill up the chain of command in a timely fashion but had no luck in getting Times management to pay them. The State Department has been emailing and calling Kralev and the Times management demanding the bills be paid as recently as last week.

The Times management itself turned over in November 2009, when executive editor John Solomon was replaced with current editor, former U.S. News and World Report contributor Sam Dealey. Kralev said that after the switchover, all expenses-related questions were being handled by Dealey's chief assistant, Christine Reed, and that Reed was copied on several of the invoices from State. Reed told Kralev that the Times was having cash-flow problems and that the company simply couldn't pay the bills, he said.

"I'm guessing the new management doesn't have the money to pay the bills or doesn't want to pay the bills. State has every right to request those bills be paid," said Kralev.

A State Department official told The Cable that State sees a huge irony to the unpaid bills, given that the Times has been publishing a series of articles criticizing Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew for his actions regarding disclosure of a $1 million bonus he received from his former employer Citigroup shortly before joining the administration.

One article was devoted to a typographical error Lew made on an ethics form regarding his departure date from Citigroup.

"Maybe before getting sanctimonious about the finances of a public servant of the very highest caliber, they should pay their own substantial debt to the American taxpayer," a State Department official said of the Times.

Dealey, reached by The Cable, declined to comment on why the bills have not been paid but he denied that there was a direct connection to the paper's negative coverage of Lew.

"I'm the editor, not the accountant, and our story on Jack Lew's million-dollar taxpayer-funded bonus from Citibank speaks for itself," he said.

The financial problems at the Times have been well reported. Following the firing of top executives last November, the paper let go about 40 percent of the editorial staff over the succeeding two months.

When publisher Jonathan Slevin left in April, he sent out a blistering letter criticizing Dealey for leaking information to the press and accusing Nicholas Chiaia, one of two board members, of large-scale mismanagement related to the Times and its financial operations specifically.

The Unification Church, a well-heeled religious movement led by self-proclaimed Messiah Rev. Sun Myung Moon, which owns the Times, has slashed the financial subsidies that had been keeping the paper afloat and in May, Chiaia admitted that the paper is up for sale.

Reed and Solomon both declined to comment and attempts to reach the Times accounting staff were unsuccessful.

The Cable

Clinton confident on ratification of New START

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is confident the Senate will President Obama's strategic nuclear treaty with Russia shortly after the August congressional recess, she said Wednesday morning.

Following a meeting with Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry, D-MA, she said the administration had reassured skeptical senators about their concerns over what the treaty means for missile defense, investment in "nuclear modernization," and verification.

"This treaty in no way will constrain our ability to modernize our nuclear enterprise or develop and deploy the most effective missile defenses for the sake of our security and for our allies and friends," she said.

She also touted the administration's $80 billion proposal for modernizing the nuclear weapons complex, a huge increase in such funding but short of what some GOP senators are calling for.

Clinton took a page from the book of committee ranking Republican Richard Lugar, R-IN, who said last week that the quick ratification of the treaty, known as New START, is a national-security imperative because all monitoring of Russian nuclear activities stopped when the last treaty expired last December.

"There is an urgency to ratify this treaty because we currently lack verification measures with Russia, which only hurts our national security interests," she said. "Our ability to know and understand changes in Russia's nuclear arsenal will erode without the treaty. As time passes, uncertainty will only increase. Ratifying the New START treaty will prevent that outcome."

Although Clinton said all of the senators' questions were being answered, one sticking point is likely to remain even after the recess ends. Several GOP senators are demanding the administration give them the entire negotiating record for New START. The administration has provided a summary, but has indicated several times that it has no intention of handing over the full record.

The administration argues that even though negotiating records have been provided in the past in certain cases, doing so hurts their ability to hold private negotiations with foreign governments in the future.

"It is surprising to see so many former senators in an administration who believe the Senate is a rubber stamp," one senior GOP aide told The Cable. "Until the administration sends up the negotiating record, it is clear that we have not yet reached the end of the beginning of this process."

Kerry has promised a committee vote on the treaty will be held Sept. 15 or 16.

Clinton's full remarks after the jump:

SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON

STATEMENT ON START TREATY STATUS

WASHINGTON, DC

AUGUST 11, 2010

Good morning. I am pleased to be here with Assistant Secretary Rose Gottemoeller and Assistant Secretary Rich Verma to update you on the START ratification process.

Next month, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will bring the new START treaty one step closer to ratification. Last week I was pleased to meet with Senator Kerry to discuss the committee's schedule for consideration of the treaty on September 15th or 16th and in the full Senate soon after. The chairman and Senator Lugar have constructed a good plan, and I am confident about the prospects for ratification.

In the weeks and months since the treaty was submitted to the Senate, it has earned bipartisan support from senators on both sides of the aisle as well as statesmen in and out of government - from both parties. They understand that once the new START treaty is ratified and enters into force, it will advance our national security and provide stability and predictability between the world's two leading nuclear powers.

We have worked closely with the Senate throughout this process. We welcomed senators to Geneva to observe the negotiations. The Senate has held 18 hearings, along with three classified briefings on the treaty. In the wake of the hearings, we are providing them with answers to nearly 800 questions.

There is a lot of material for senators to review during this break, and we are working to resolve any outstanding questions they might have. We have already addressed several key issues, reassuring those who had had questions on such issues as missile defense, investment in the nuclear complex, and verification.

This treaty will verifiably limit the strategic nuclear forces of Russia and the United States and will establish equal limits on both countries' strategic warheads, delivery vehicles, and launchers.

This treaty will provide for inspections we would not otherwise be able to make. For 15 years, START provided us access to monitor and inspect Russia's nuclear arsenal. START, as you know, expired last December. It has been more than eight months since we have had inspectors on the ground in Russia. This is a critical point. Opposing ratification means opposing the inspections that provide a vital window into Russia's arsenal.

This treaty in no way will constrain our ability to modernize our nuclear enterprise or develop and deploy the most effective missile defenses for the sake of our security and for our allies and friends.

With respect to our nation's nuclear complex, Secretary of Energy Chu, the head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, Tom D'Agostino, and the directors of our nation's three national laboratories have all testified that nothing in the treaty will affect our ability to modernize our nuclear complex and maintain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent. 

In fact, the President's budget request for the next fiscal year represents a 13 percent increase for weapons activities and infrastructure. Over the next decade we are asking for an $80 billion investment in our nuclear security enterprise. Linton Brooks, the head of President Bush's national security complex, has applauded our budget and commitment to nuclear modernization.

And seven former commanders of U.S. nuclear strategic planning have endorsed the New START treaty and recommended early approval by the U.S. Senate.

President Bush began this process more than two years ago with broad, bipartisan agreement that a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty was imperative for the peace and security of our world. The Obama administration has followed through with painstaking negotiations to finalize an agreement that lives up to this high standard and makes concrete steps to reduce the threat of strategic arms. 

This treaty is another step in the process of bilateral nuclear reductions initiated by President Reagan and supported overwhelmingly by both Republican and Democratic Presidents alike. And in every instance, the Senate has ratified such treaties with overwhelming bipartisan support.

The chairman's decision to give members of both sides of the aisle additional time to review the underlying materials, but set a committee vote for the middle of September, is a gesture of good faith and underscores the tradition of bipartisan support. 

But when the Senate returns, they must act, because our national security is at risk. There is an urgency to ratify this treaty because we currently lack verification measures with Russia, which only hurts our national security interests. Our ability to know and understand changes in Russia's nuclear arsenal will erode without the treaty. As time passes, uncertainty will only increase. Ratifying the New START treaty will prevent that outcome.

So next month I look forward to working with members of the Senate, especially Senators Kerry and Lugar, to move the treaty out of committee and on to consideration by the full Senate.