Eye Opener: Feb. 3, 2009
Happy Tuesday! The White House welcomed the heads of the nation's leading federal workers unions late last week, but the administration "would not provide the names of those who attended the meeting," reports The Federal Diarist Joe Davidson. "But that's a detail that probably bothers reporters more than the chosen ones invited to share space with the president."
No Joe, it should bother everyone. Especially since the Bush White House did similar things in the last eight years. The Obama administration's decision flies in the face of the president's first executive orders about transparency and open government. Let's hope this is a mistake, not the start of a trend.
Today Eric Holder shows up for his first day of work as attorney general at the Department of Justice. Expect an arrival around 9:30 a.m., with a swearing-in ceremony led by Vice President Joe Biden shortly after 10 a.m. The Senate approved his nomination 75 to 21 last evening, making Holder the first African-American to lead DOJ.
The Post's expert DOJ reporter Carrie Johnson notes that "From Day One, Holder will have a full plate of work. President Obama already has put the attorney general in charge of a task force deliberating where to send nearly 250 terrorism suspects detained at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba."
While Holder's nomination was shepherded in part by a vast network of colleagues and other legal veterans, Tom Daschle, President Obama's nominee to lead HHS, has tapped his own network of colleagues, former employees and friends to help explain his tax woes.
"If he weathers the tax controversy, Daschle is likely to be one of the best-connected Cabinet secretaries in the administration, if not history," reports The Post's Ceci Connolly. "At least a dozen Daschle alumni are stepping into the highest positions of the federal government."
But Daschle has few friends in today's newspapers:
"Tolerating such lapses could also diminish Obama's moral leadership," writes the Boston Globe's Peter S. Canellos. The New York Post editorial board writes that "The notion that an old Washington hand like Daschle didn't know that the free limo and chauffeur represented taxable income seems a bit fanciful," and dismisses Obama's campaign pledge of change. The Post's ed board calls Daschle's issues "troubling but not disqualifying," while the New York Times editorial board gets straight to the point: "Mr. Daschle ought to step aside and let the president choose a less-blemished successor."
In other news...
• America's New Man in Baghdad: "Assistant Secretary of State Christopher R. Hill, a career diplomat who since 2005 was chief negotiator in the often difficult effort to try to persuade North Korea to end its nuclear programs, will be nominated as ambassador to Iraq," reports The Post's Glenn Kessler. "He is an unexpected choice to succeed the highly regarded Ryan C. Crocker," Kessler writes, especially since "he does not speak Arabic, and his expertise lies in Europe and Northeast Asia."
• America's New Man in Dublin?: Could Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney serve as U.S. ambassador to Ireland? The Republican-turned-Obama supporter "tops the president's shortlist and that an appointment is expected to be announced on or near St. Patrick's Day," writes The Post's Al Kamen and Philip Rucker.
• FTC Sues in 'Pay-for-Delay' Pact: The suit is an attempt to block a deal in which a manufacturer of a brand-name testosterone-replacement drug paid three competitors to delay rolling out cheaper generic versions. "The FTC said the "pay-for-delay" agreement violates antitrust laws, robs consumers of less-expensive alternatives and allows the brand-name drugmaker an unfair monopoly," reports The Post's Lyndsey Layton.
• EEOC Struggles With Huge Workload, Diminished Staff: The Post's Steve Vogel reports on troubles at the storied civil rights agency. Gov Exec reports on more shakeups at the agency, but The Eye reports today that EEOC is not alone in its staffing and resources challenges.
• Obama Faults FDA on Food Safety: But has yet to name a new FDA commissioner, a decision expected within days, according to the White House.
• TSP Weathers a Bleak January: The most reliable fund in the Thrift Savings Plan posted minimal gains in January, while the rest lost ground, reports Gov Exec.
• Room for FOIA Improvement?: Yes, according to Federal News Radio.
• Marines' New Ride Rolls Out Late: The Corps' "jeeplike vehicle called the Growler" is out "10 years after conception and at twice the contract price," reports The Post's Walter Pincus.
• Immigration Detention Center Considered for L.A. Area: Contractors are sought as Immigration and Customs Enforcement explores the project's feasibility, reports the LA Times. A Homeland Security notice says the center would be privately owned and operated.
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