One afternoon in October, a blue and white jumbo jet flew high above the Pacific Ocean, approaching the international dateline. On board was the secretary of defense, Robert Gates, who was on an around-the-world trip that would end with a summit of NATO defense ministers, where the topic of the day would be Afghanistan. Gates was flying on what is often called “the Doomsday Plane,” a specially outfitted 747 that looks like a bulkier Air Force One and was built to wage retaliatory nuclear war from the skies.
The seventh floor of the U.S. State Department is a generally dreary place. Its employees roam hallways so long and confusing that they are color-coded for guidance. Fluorescent lights throw down a harsh hospital glare. But, to most State employees, the "real" seventh floor is a secure area, protected by armed guards and doors that require electronic keys, where the department's top staffers, including the secretary herself, spend their days.
In October 2000, Hillary Clinton was entering the home stretch of one of the most unusual Senate campaigns in American history. Although her husband still occupied the Oval Office, she had decamped to a Dutch Colonial in Westchester County to run for the seat of retiring New York Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan. To compensate for the fact that she had never actually lived in the state she intended to represent, she immersed herself in Empire State minutiae. Off the top of her head, she would describe in detail the virtues of the Northeast dairy compact and the rate of upstate job growth.
Richard Holbrooke knows about foreign policy feuds. In the late '70s, he was assistant secretary of state for Asia in the Carter administration—a young bull in the China shop. One morning, he answered his phone at 6:30 and received a tooth-rattling attack from National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was bent on cutting Cyrus Vance's entire (as Brzezinski saw it, leak-prone) State Department out of his forthcoming trip to Beijing.
Any history of Washington journalism would surely mark June 1972 as the beginning of a new chapter. That was when Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein started investigating a peculiar burglary at Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate. Thus began the era of the Washington muckraker. Woodward and Bernstein became famous, journalism became glamorous, and “investigative units” proliferated at newspapers and television stations across the country. The same history might mark February 1985 as the start of the next era. ‘That was when Patrick J.