SHADOW GOVERNMENT IN WAITING. The Bush administration had the American Enterprise Institute as its ideological brain trust and frequent employment agency. The next White House will likely have the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a new, bi-partisan, national security-oriented think tank at 13th and Pennsylvania Avenue. CNAS launches a roll-out June 27, featuring a new Iraq report that has already generated some interest around town. The paper, Phased Transition: a Responsible Way Forward and Out of Iraq, is expected to argue for reducing the US troop presence in Iraq by 100,000 to 60,000 by the end of 2008, and a total withdrawal by 2012. In the short term, the report also urges reorienting the US military mission in Iraq toward an enhanced advisory and training role, and focusing on a "bottom up" approach of reinforcing local security forces over the current top-down approach of propping up the Iraqi central government. "We would like this administration not to hand off a catastrophe," says CNAS' director of external affairs Price Floyd, a 17-year veteran of the State Department.

Led by two defense experts and veterans from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Dr. Kurt Campbell, and Michele Flournoy, and with a board that includes Bush's former deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Clinton-era Defense Secretary Bill Perry and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, CNAS has attracted some of the rising stars -- both uniformed and civilian -- of the Pentagon intelligentsia. On the QT, we hear prez aspirant Hillary Clinton, former councilor to Secretary of State Rice Philip Zelikow, rumored future Dem administration national security advisor Jim Steinberg, and Senator Chuck Hagel are slated to address the CNAS kickoff at the Willard. But it will be the ability of the younger thinkers driving the enterprise to come up with new and transformative ideas for the next administration that is the real test of its clout.

--Laura Rozen