Eye Opener: Jan. 6, 2009
Happy Tuesday! Does the ability to eat fire qualify CBS/CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta to serve in the Obama adminstration? (See the clip above.) It might. The Post's Al Kamen reports today that Gupta "is a serious contender to be the nation's next surgeon general. It doesn't look as though it's actually going to happen, but hey, he's a neurosurgeon, knows lots of stuff, was a Clinton White House fellow." Kamen also jokes that "the first pick, Hugh Laurie, also known as Dr. Gregory House, turned the job down."
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The Obama-Biden transition team has raised Eyebrows once again, with its pick of Leon Panetta as director of the Central Intelligence Agency. "The decision -- which was also met with wariness on Capitol Hill -- reflects a desire to change the intelligence power structure," reports The Post's Anne E. Kornblut and Joby Warrick.
"Obama had trouble filling the CIA slot in part because other candidates were perceived as tainted for having supported aspects of the Bush administration's interrogation and intelligence programs. Yet Panetta, who also served as director of President Bill Clinton's Office of Management and Budget, has no institutional memory of the intelligence agency and no hands-on experience with its thorniest challenges."
The Los Angeles Times reports that "Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who this week begins her tenure as the first female head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she was not consulted on the choice and indicated she might oppose it. 'I was not informed about the selection of Leon Panetta to be the CIA director,' Feinstein said. 'My position has consistently been that I believe the agency is best served by having an intelligence professional in charge at this time.'" Should be an interesting confirmation hearing! GovExec.com reports that Obama's pick as national intelligence director, retired admiral Dennis Blair, "will preside over an agency that may be downsized under the new administration."
The Bill Richardson situation won't go away, as The Post's Michael D. Shear and Carol D. Leonnig follow up with word that volunteer "vetters" for the Obama transition "underestimated a potential time bomb -- a grand jury investigation that had been focusing on Richardson's gubernatorial office." More: "Sources within the transition and the Justice Department said that Richardson had played down the importance of the probe and did not reveal that his office and staff could be at risk."
In other news...
• New TSA Uniforms Trigger Rashes of All Sorts: The snazzy new blue Transportation Security Administration uniforms "are causing rashes and other irritations among transportation security officers who screen passengers at airports, according to the union representing the workers," reports The Post's Steve Vogel.
• Justice Picks: The Wall Street Journal calls Obama's new Justice Department picks "a liberal lineup...that is likely to overhaul national-security policy." The lineup includes Dawn Johnsen, to head the office of legal counsel, David Ogden as deputy attorney general, Elena Kagan as solicitor general and Tom Perelli as associate attorney general. The Post reports that Johnsen, an Indiana University law school professor, "has been outspoken about what she called overly expansive views of executive power that the Justice Department has adopted in recent years. In congressional testimony last spring, Johnsen said legal interpretations were 'tainted by the administration's desired policy ends and overriding objective of expanding presidential power.'"
• Timber Firm Drops Road Request: The Seattle-based firm that considered building houses in Western mountain forests has dropped its plans amid public criticism, reports The Post's Karl Vick. The Bush administration's efforts to make the plan a reality caused Boston Globe columnist Derrick Z. Jackson to call the president's "assault on science and the environment" his "second-worst war."
• This Day in History: On this date in 1912, New Mexico became the 47th state, and in 1945 George and Barbara Bush were married. More here.
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