ROLES & MISSIONS: A congressionally sponsored review of duplication among the nation's four armed services may be taken seriously at the Pentagon after all. Some analysts had predicted that the report of the Commission on Roles and Missions of the Armed Forces would go straight into the Pentagon's circular file. Previous studies have not gotten very far, and the prime mover behind the latest review--Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.)--was ousted as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee when Republicans took control of Congress. But now it seems the report, due out May 24, will have added weight. The reason: President Clinton has decided to appoint John P. White, chairman of the 11-member panel, to become deputy secretary of defense. As the No. 2 official in the department, White will be in charge of carrying out the panel's recommendations. Insiders say White's commission is not planning any big money-saving recommendations. But it will propose long-range changes that could have a major impact on the way the four services operate together.
PREEMPTIVE STRIKE: Is Nebraska's Democratic Gov. Ben Nelson ready to follow in the footsteps of former Arkansas Democratic Gov. Bill Clinton and incumbent Republican California Gov. Pete Wilson? That's what worries Nebraska Republicans. They fear that Nelson will decide--as Clinton did in 1991 and Wilson did earlier this year--not to let campaign pledges they made to serve out their full four-year terms as governors stand in the way of their Washington ambitions. For Nelson, it is not the presidency that looms as a potential prize but the Nebraska Senate seat being vacated by Democrat J. James Exon in 1996. Mindful that Nelson won reelection with nearly 75% of the vote in 1992, state Republicans decided to try to nip his prospective senatorial bid in the bud. They commissioned a poll, released this week, that showed Nebraskans, by a 4-1 margin, want Nelson to keep his word and stay in the governor's mansion.
MELTDOWN: Another congressional perk goes on the rocks this week when the House halts the longstanding practice of delivering buckets of ice daily to lawmakers' offices, committee meetings and elsewhere on the House side. Instead, staff members will fetch ice bags from ice storage lockers being installed at strategic points. The idea for the cutback came as the seven Republican members of the House Oversight Committee searched for ways to save money. Taxpayers spend an estimated $400,000 a year to deliver an average of 891 buckets of ice daily on the House side, said Bill Raines, a spokesman for the architect of the Capitol, whose office handles the deliveries. The task requires the equivalent of 14 or 15 full-time workers, and many of their jobs will be eliminated by the switch, Raines said. There is no word yet of a similar thaw-out on the Senate side, where Raines said a separate work crew distributes ice to the offices of some 50 senators daily.
ARAB PLEA: Fallout continues over the hasty assumption by some Americans that the Oklahoma City bombing was the work of Arab terrorists. Egyptian Ambassador Ahmed Sayed told a meeting of the National Arab American Assn. this week that Arabs "are deeply hurt by the fact that immediately after this horrendous crime, fingers were raised without any basis to accuse Arabs, Muslims and Middle Easterners of being responsible for this crime." Arab nations, too, "have suffered from such acts of terrorism," he said, " . . . and we deeply understand . . . all the feelings of the American people. I am talking to all the American friends who are here with us today. We can work together to better the image of the Arab and the Muslim in this country, to show that Arabs and Muslims are not all terrorists."