Eye Opener: April 23, 2009
Happy Thursday! It's Take Your Child to Work Day and First Lady Michelle Obama will mark the date with a special White House event. Congress authorized the use of "In God We Trust" on U.S. coins on this date in 1864.
• Today's Big Story: In an acknowledgment of the difficulties of staffing up quickly in a war zone, "Military reservists may be asked to volunteer to fill many of the hundreds of additional U.S. civilian positions in Afghanistan called for in the Obama administration's strategy for that nation and neighboring Pakistan," reports The Post's Karen DeYoung.
"Although the State Department is still recruiting agronomists, engineers, accountants and other experts for Afghanistan, 'pressure coming from the president for action is making us consider that some of the people might come from the reserves,' one senior administration official said."
Foggy Bottom "wants the reservists to dress in civilian clothes and to report up a civilian chain of command reaching to an overall civilian coordinator who would supervise all nonmilitary U.S. programs in Afghanistan. Clinton plans to name Foreign Service officer Earl Anthony Wayne, currently U.S. ambassador to Argentina, to the post. "
• Cabinet & Staff News: Secretary Clinton shares a blunt assessment of the situation in Pakistan and gives Cheney a verbal smackdown during her Congressional committee debut. LaHood reverses FAA decision that would keep secret data about where and when birds strike airplanes. Geithner joins Obama and Biden this afternoon for meetings with credit card company CEOs. Vilsack's plans for USDA's People's Garden explained. Sebelius faces opposition from 10 conservative leaders. EPA's Jackson sits for an interview with U.S. News & World Report while she and Energy Secretary Chu said yesterday that an energy and climate-change proposal sponsored by House Democrats could help create jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but they stopped short of endorsing it. The backstory on Ellen Moran's move to the Commerce Department.
In other news...
• Harsh Methods Approved as Early as Summer 2002: The Post's R. Jeffrey Smith and Peter Finn report that "Condoleezza Rice, John D. Ashcroft and other top Bush administration officials approved as early as the summer of 2002 the CIA's use of harsh interrogation methods on detainees at secret prisons, including waterboarding, that new Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has described as illegal torture, according to a chronology prepared by the Senate intelligence committee and declassified by Holder.
• Clinton: Cheney Not a Reliable Source: The secretary of state makes her Congressional committee debut, deftly handled questions about CIA interrogation efforts. When asked about former vice president Dick Cheney's calls to release other interrogation memos, Clinton said, "It won't surprise you that I don't consider him a particularly reliable source of information," .
• Pentagon to Create Command Focusing on Cyber Security: The DOD confirmed Wednesday that the Pentagon plans to reorganize itself to confront the "persistent and growing" problem of cyber attacks, creating a new command focused on protecting military computer networks and fielding new offensive cyber-warfare weapons, according to The Post's Spencer S. Hsu and Ann Scott Tyson.
• Obama's Cyber Czar Offers Few Details on Govt. Strategy: "Those who were hoping to hear details today about how the Obama administration plans to revamp the government's approach to cyber security threats may have to wait a little while longer," writes The Post's Brian Krebs in his Security Fix blog.
• Latino Clergy Say Census May Hurt Illegal Workers: "A national coalition of Latino pastors this week urged illegal immigrants to boycott the 2010 census until Congress passes comprehensive immigration reform, a move other groups criticized as detrimental to ensuring a full count of the nation's fastest-growing minority group," The Eye reports in today's Post.
• FEMA Nominee Says Debate Over Agency’s Fate is ‘Over': Craig Fugate Florida's director of emergency management said yesterday "he plans to focus on improving morale and training at the agency — and that he does not intend to push for removing FEMA from the Homeland Security Department," reports Gregg Carlstrom of the Federal Times. Fugate was joined by ICE nominee John Morton. "In questioning Morton, senators were especially concerned about recent reports that ICE is not coordinating operations on the country's southwest border with other federal agencies, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Drug Enforcement Administration," notes Katherine McIntire Peters of Gov Exec.
• DHS Decision Blows Up a Storm: "Call it NIMBY in reverse," writes Politico's Erica Lovley. "Lawmakers from Texas, Georgia and Kansas are fighting over the location of a Department of Homeland Security bioterrorism facility — even as some critics of DHS’s chosen site contend that it could expose people and animals to foot-and-mouth disease and other dreaded ailments."
• GSA Officials Say They're Off to Fast Start on Energy-Efficiency Projects: "Paul Prouty, acting GSA administrator, told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee the agency has begun implementing innovative upgrades to federal facilities, such as installing an energy-efficient, blast resistant double glass enclosure around the Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building in Portland, Ore," reports Gov Exec's Elizabeth Newell (who The Eye finally met this week). "GSA also is making smaller, more immediate improvements, Prouty testified. Changes such as installing intelligent lighting systems and replacing flat roofs with greener alternatives can be implemented quickly in hundreds of buildings, he said."
• 17-Year-Olds to Gain Access to Plan B Pill: "The Food and Drug Administration took the action to comply with a judge's ruling last month holding that the agency's 2006 decision to limit availability of the controversial contraceptive to women 18 and older was invalid and politically motivated," reports The Post's Rob Stein.
• Monumental Facelift Funded for $75 Million: The Interior Department will spend several million dollars fixing several D.C.-area landmarks, including the Lincoln Memorials' reflecting pool, the Jefferson Memorial's sea wall, Rock Creek Parkway and the D.C. World War I Memorial, reports The Post's Michael Ruane.
• As Housing Market Dips, More in U.S. Are Staying Put: "Stranded by the nationwide slump in housing and jobs, fewer Americans are moving, the Census Bureau said Wednesday," reports Sam Roberts of the NYT. "The bureau found that the number of people who changed residences declined to 35.2 million from March 2007 to March 2008, the lowest number since 1962, when the nation had 120 million fewer people."
• Upcoming Event: Young Government Leaders holds a discussion on work/life balance with the Office of Personnel Management and the laws, rules and regulations that govern the topics. Next Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the National Academy of Public Administration. RSVP to younggovernmentleader (at) gmail (dot) com.
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