Eye Opener: Gates: 'I Don't Enjoy My Job'
Happy Friday! Defense Secretary Robert Gates demonstrates refreshing candor in a rare television interview airing on Sunday's "60 Minutes." Katie Couric joined the secretary on his recent travels to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan for what's billed as the most access he's ever granted to a television reporter.
Asked by Couric if he enjoys his job, Gates said: "Truth of the matter is, being Secretary of War in a time of war is a very painful thing and it's not a job anybody should like. I mean, how can you like a job when you go to Walter Reed or Bethesda and you know you sent those men and women into harm's way? Every single person in combat today, I sent there. And I never forget that for a second. So no, I don't enjoy my job."
Our own Greg Jaffe (who had to endure what some might call an ambush interview by Couric during the overseas trips) writes today that Gates "has embarked on an ambitious effort to force the [Defense Department] to focus more of its energy on developing arms and equipment that can help troops on the ground as they battle insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq."
"Even Gates's detractors concede that he is a ruthlessly effective manager of the Pentagon bureaucracy. He demands that all briefing slides from his staff and military commanders reach his office the day before the meeting in which they will be discussed. With the slides in hand, he plots how he wants to drive the discussion. If slides arrive after the deadline, the meeting will be canceled or postponed, Pentagon officials said."
• Cabinet and Staff News: Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the New York City health commissioner, is Obama's pick to lead the CDC. Former astronaut and retired Marine Corps Gen. Charles Bolden has emerged as the president's likely choice to head NASA. Al Kamen has news on some of the administration's first top ambassadorships. Kathleen Sebelius and husband, Judge Gary Sebelius, constitute D.C.'s newest power couple. Has Obama been rolled by his generals twice? Gen. McKiernan could become the Eric Shinseki of Afghanistan. In recognition of Bike to Work Day, Energy Secretary Steven Chu will ride his bike from his home to a rally at Freedom Plaza in downtown Washington, D.C. between 8 and 9 a.m. Gary Locke speaks at the Port of Seattle today. Former director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation is under investigation. Former USDA Radio News Network reporter/producer Brenda Curtis-Heiken joins Falls Church, Va.-based PR/special events firm Brotman Winter Fried Communications.
In other news...
• Prosecutors to Question Rove on U.S. Attorney Firings: He'll be questioned today by a Connecticut prosecutor named last year to examine whether any former senior DOJ and White House officials lied or obstructed justice in connection with the dismissal of federal prosecutors in 2006.
• At Hearing, Assurance On Fate of Detainees: Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. assured Republican lawmakers yesterday that the Justice Department would not release any detainees whom he considered dangerous on U.S. soil.
• Ex-Gov't Worker Sues for Immunity in CIA Rendition Case: Sabrina De Sousa has sued the State Department, demanding that it invoke diplomatic immunity to quash any prosecution by Italian officials, who charge she was one of 26 U.S agents who grabbed an alleged terrorist in February 2003 and flew him to Egypt, where he says he was imprisoned and tortured.
• Ex-FBI Agent Gets Probation in Hollywood Spy Case: Mark T. Rossini, 47, told U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola that he was "so profoundly and deeply ashamed and remorseful" for his conduct.
• FEMA Rolls Out New Disaster Housing Options: Six new models of mobile homes rolled out yesterday as part of a $400 million program to replace the much-criticized travel trailers used in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
• Building a Better Census Bureau: The New York Times Editorial Board endorses House legislation making the Census bureau an independent agency.
• Astronauts Remove Camera From Hubble Telescope: In the first of five ambitious spacewalks to repair the famed telescope, astronauts managed to remove a 16-year-old camera that had taken many of the telescope's most famous images.
• Senate Committee Expanding Investigation of Airline Safety: The announcement comes on the final day of public hearings by the National Transportation Safety Board into the Feb 12. crash near Buffalo. The Senate's aviation subcommittee will handle the hearings.
• Administration Expands Housing Aid Plan: New features of the foreclosure prevention plan include new incentives for lenders that help borrowers even when the assistance does not keep them in their homes.
• DOD to Bulk Up Housing Assistance Program: Vice President Biden made the announcement Thursday aboard the USS Ronald Reagan in California.
• Debate Erupts Over Whistleblower Rights for Intelligence Workers: Discussion of the 2009 Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act centered on a provision that would provide intelligence community whistleblowers the same protections as those from other agencies.
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