DEFENSE: Nickel Counter

Of all the civilians who ever came to work in the five-ring circus of the Pentagon, none was more roundly disliked as a matter of principle than handsome, brainy Wilfred James McNeil. The reason was understandable enough: McNeil, hand-picked in 1947 by Defense Secretary James Forrestal to be the new National Military Establishment's first comptroller, had the job of supervising the drawing up and spending of the defense budget. He was the man who had to slice the budgetary pie among the three services—each of which naturally wanted the biggest piece —and then explain and defend the budget before...

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