Directors of the State Department's bureau of politico-military affairs come and go, largely without anyone outside Washington's having noticed that they had been. The very word bureau has the sound of a place where clones of Inspector Clouseau keep bumping into one another.
The incumbent director has made the bureau famous, sort of, and may even have secured himself a place in the next edition of Trivial Pursuit, not in the category of history but of entertainment, as in stand-up comedian.
Question: "Who took down the picture of Leslie H. Gelb?"
Answer: "Lt. Gen. John T. Chain Jr., U.S. Air Force."
The other questions and answers actually are more interesting. Who Leslie H. Gelb is, for example. He is a former director of the bureau who returned to the staff of the New York Times in 1979 to resume his role as a writer on defense and foreign policy. In the tradition of the bureau, his picture was placed on the wall of the bureau's lobby, along with those of the other former directors. Presumably, a space has already been reserved for a picture of Lt. Gen. John T. Chain and he has already posed for it.
Why did the general take the picture down? Because Gelb did what reporters are supposed to do. He learned of and wrote about contingency plans to deploy nuclear weapons in a number of countries whose governments were not told of the plans. According to Gelb's boss, Editor A. M. Rosenthal, the report had already been published in newspapers in the other countries involved in the secret plan and the only readers who did not know about it were American readers.