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Posted at 6:37 PM ET, 12/29/2010

James Cole appointed to deputy AG job; new ambassador dispatched to Syria

By Perry Bacon Jr. and Karen DeYoung

Updated 9:12 p.m.

President Obama appointed Wednesday the first U.S. ambassador to Syria since 2005, using a recess appointment to bypass opposition from Senate Republicans.

Because he was appointed while the Senate is in recess, Robert Ford, a career diplomat, will not need Senate confirmation. But he can serve only until the end of the next session of Congress, which will likely be in December 2011.

Ford's nomination was held up by a group of GOP senators who complained that the administration had failed to articulate a viable policy toward the Syrian government, which has been charged with supporting Hezbollah militants and other anti-Israel groups.

The Bush administration withdrew its ambassador from Syria in February 2005 to protest the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri. Syrian intelligence officials are suspected of being behind the killing, a claim that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has long rejected.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who will chair the House Foreign Affairs Committee in the next Congress, said she was "deeply disappointed that the president decided to make such a major concession to the Syrian regime." She added, "Making undeserved concessions to Syria tells the regime in Damascus that it can continue to pursue its dangerous agenda and not face any consequences from the U.S."

Ford was one of six long-stalled nominees Obama appointed Wednesday, including ambassadors to Turkey, the Czech Republic and Azerbaijan. The president also appointed James M. Cole as deputy attorney general.

Cole's nomination had stalled in the Senate because of Republican concerns about his comments about terrorism and his work as an independent contractor for the insurance giant AIG.

Outgoing Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) had placed a hold on Frank Ricciardone's confirmation as ambassador to Turkey because he and former officials in the George W. Bush administration found him insufficiently zealous in pursuing democratic reforms as Bush's ambassador to Egypt. A career diplomat who served three previous tours in Turkey, Ricciardone was most recently assigned as deputy ambassador in Afghanistan.

NATO member Turkey, where the U.S. ambassador's post has been empty since summer, is a key U.S. ally in the region and due to host international talks on Iran's nuclear program next month. It also plays a crucial role in Obama's Mideast peace efforts and efforts to promote stability in neighboring Iraq, where U.S. troops are scheduled to complete their withdrawal in 2011.

Norman L. Eisen, a Washington lawyer who served as ethics czar in the Obama White House, will go to the Czech Republic. He was opposed by Sen. Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), who charged that Eisen had misled lawmakers over the circumstances and his role in the June 2009 firing of Gerald Walpin as inspector general for the Corporation for National and Community Service, which oversees AmeriCorps and other similar programs.

Career diplomat Matthew Bryza, who will become ambassador to Azerbaijan, fell victim to domestic disputes between pro-Armenian and pro-Turkish forces and was opposed by the Armenian American lobbying group ANCA and Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer (Calif.) and Robert Menendez (N.J.), both representing states with large Armenian populations.

ANCA's executive director, Aram Hamparian, called Bryza "a deeply flawed diplomat" and said Obama's appointment "represents a disservice to American diplomacy that will,
sadly, undermine our nation's ability to advance our interests and
values in the Caucasus region."

Cole had waited nearly five months for a Senate vote on his nomination to the Justice Department post, by far the longest delay to fill that position in the past 30 years.

Republicans have focused in part on a 2002 column Cole wrote for Legal Times that criticized the Bush administration's battle against terrorism. "The attorney general is not a member of the military fighting a war -- he is a prosecutor fighting crime," Cole wrote. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) has said that embodied a failed law enforcement approach to battling terrorists.

Cole also wrote that the attorney general should be an "aggressive advocate" in fighting terror and said at his confirmation hearing in June that the Justice Department must aggressively fight the "scourge" of terrorism.

Staff writer Mary Beth Sheridan contributed to this report.

By Perry Bacon Jr. and Karen DeYoung  | December 29, 2010; 6:37 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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Comments

A recess appointment of a person who is obviously not qualified for the position is a cowardly political act. When Obama finally gets back from the latest vacation and begins to pay attention to the needs of America, he will be looking for cooperation from the new Congress. He won't get it and stunts like the recess appointment and the new death panel regulations will be to blame.

Posted by: Alex68 | January 1, 2011 11:28 PM | Report abuse

As an American citizen, I am continuing

to read the amount of "LOOP-HOLES" that

the American Government utilizes to

conduct business, and therefore I can

observe the reasons in Washington, why

nothing becomes accomplished on time.

Therefore, an unbiased committe should be

established to investigate all apparent

"BACK-DOOR-WHEELING-DEALING" charades that

are permitted to transpire to circumvent

the original intent of a law or rule.

It is no wonder that Washington is clothed

in its "Double-Dealing" reputation of

untrust. Two entities are apparent in

Washington, and have been manifest since

the birth of our nation: "Lawyers and

Congressmen, are not to be trusted."

How would the American people feel if

doctors and nurses maintained the same

reputation? In my view, Obama has been

the worst offender because of his offenses

against America, which have been carefully

and fully documented, not counting his

legality to be the POTUS and his apparent

catering toward our Muslim enemies.

"NOW IS THE TIME FOR EVERY GOOD

MAN TO COME TO THE AID OF THEIR

COUNTRY." It is quite comicable that

Obama used the words transparent and

hope as part of his campaign platform,

but of course, we all know that was a

lie, just to receive the nomination.

The rest is history. Obama follows his

own rules, but the military does not.

Therefore, I maintain that our next

president in 2012, should to be an

ex-military general is used to

following the established rules and

getting business accomplished on time.

Both Obama and JFK were too young to be

elected president of the United States,

if you follow.

Posted by: dennishabern1 | December 31, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

The Most Transparent POTUS (aka Mister Post-Racial) strikes again.

Posted by: wmpowellfan | December 31, 2010 7:54 AM | Report abuse

This just speaks to the blatant dishonesty on the part of Obama! Nothing new here.
But then what should we expect from a Kenyan Born, Anti-American, Anti-Constitution, Muslim?
Think I'm wrong? Prove it! Just show me the documents and I'll appologize.

Posted by: TexRancher | December 31, 2010 7:17 AM | Report abuse

The "Sneaker in Chief", Obama, is at it again. Here he makes recess appointments of individuals who would never pass muster in Congress. And he knows it. So he sneaks them in via the back door. Bush made 23 recess appointments at this point of his presidency, and Obama is already at 28 and counting. Luckily Obama's powers have been greatly curtailed so he won't get many of his liberal policies and people through - and he knows it.

Posted by: Tommypie | December 30, 2010 2:02 PM
??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Dude! Perhaps if the Republicans actually did something other than saying NO President Obama wouldn't have had to do that. George Bush made 171 recess appointments so once again you people are making out like President Obama, oh the horror of it all is doing something no other President has ever done.

I don't know how lucky we will be what with Republicans eagerly waiting to spend your tax dollars investigating, holding hearings and trying to undo everything this country has accomplished over the past two years. I wonder how much time Republicans will spend finding jobs, fixing the economy and lowering the deficit. I wonder how happy you will be when more and more of your state and city services are cut. But I'm sure you will be the first in line to volunteer to pick up trash and do the other thankless jobs that keep you city running after Republicans bankrupt states.

Posted by: catmomtx | December 30, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

It should not be possible for "holds" to be placed on any President's Executive Department appointments. This is true, regardless of party.

Debate, yes; block, no. The Senate has a responsibility to approve/deny in a timely fashion.

Posted by: OldUncleTom | December 30, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

The "Sneaker in Chief", Obama, is at it again. Here he makes recess appointments of individuals who would never pass muster in Congress. And he knows it. So he sneaks them in via the back door. Bush made 23 recess appointments at this point of his presidency, and Obama is already at 28 and counting. Luckily Obama's powers have been greatly curtailed so he won't get many of his liberal policies and people through - and he knows it.

Posted by: Tommypie | December 30, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Norman L. Eisen, a Washington lawyer who served as ethics czar in the Obama White House, will go to the Czech Republic. He was opposed by Sen. Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), who charged that Eisen had misled lawmakers over the circumstances and his role in the June 2009 firing of Gerald Walpin as inspector general for the Corporation for National and Community Service, which oversees AmeriCorps and other similar programs
=======================
Thanks for the knowledgeable article by the way. Nice to see a nice summarized article containing the facts to make judgments.

I remember the, what I consider illegal, firing of Walpin since he was looking into Obama's friend Kevin Johnson's embezzlement of government funds. I guess this is Norman's reward for covering the tracks of not answering congress on the firing.

Posted by: Cryos | December 30, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

I sense a feeling of frustration in the Congress but I also can understand what the President is trying to accomplish with this procedure. It gives his administration a chance to show what they can do when allowed the chance. Bush 2 used this procedure several times with success.

Posted by: npsilver | December 29, 2010 10:34 PM
===============
Even democrats were not complaining about the hold on James Cole.

- AIG lobbyist
- Represented a Saudi Prince against American 9/11 plaintiffs
- Treats terrorist attacks as merely civilian crimes

Republicans compromised to get lame duck legislation through and Obama stabbed them in the back.
Funny how in the whole "New and improved Obama 2.0" media narrative they suddenly go silent and don't include that obvious fact in analysis.

Posted by: Cryos | December 30, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

New York City’s emergency system was “overwhelmed” by the Dec. 26 blizzard that dumped 20 inches of snow, leaving vehicles marooned and ambulances unable to reach the sick, injured and dying, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

“You can give us any grade you want,” Bloomberg told media

Posted by: kstobbe1 | December 29, 2010 8:32 PM
=====================
Whistleblowers are showing this might have been on purpose by sanitation supervisors and workers as a protest to budget cuts.

Real mature. Fire them all.

Posted by: Cryos | December 30, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: sdasdhahfda | December 30, 2010 4:15 AM | Report abuse

I sense a feeling of frustration in the Congress but I also can understand what the President is trying to accomplish with this procedure. It gives his administration a chance to show what they can do when allowed the chance. Bush 2 used this procedure several times with success.

Posted by: npsilver | December 29, 2010 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Pres. Obama!
Republican senators have put holds on Obama's nominees for 2 years! - even though Republicans and Democrats APPROVED the nominees in Committee - unanimously!!

Posted by: angie12106 | December 29, 2010 9:12 PM | Report abuse

New York City’s emergency system was “overwhelmed” by the Dec. 26 blizzard that dumped 20 inches of snow, leaving vehicles marooned and ambulances unable to reach the sick, injured and dying, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

“You can give us any grade you want,” Bloomberg told media

Posted by: kstobbe1 | December 29, 2010 8:32 PM | Report abuse

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