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Eye Opener: June 15, 2009

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Monday! There are two interesting reads describing behind-the-scenes drama in different corners of government worth your time today.

1.) The Secret History: Leon Panetta and the CIA: Jane Mayer (whose husband Bill Hamilton served as a Post editor until Friday) scores a great scoop complete with a money quote from the new intelligence agency director:

Responding to former Vice President Richard B. Cheney's speech critical of the Obama administration's terror policies, Panetta said: “I think he smells some blood in the water on the national-security issue,” he told me. “It’s almost, a little bit, gallows politics. When you read behind it, it’s almost as if he’s wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point. I think that’s dangerous politics.”

"Since January, the C.I.A. has become the focus of almost daily struggle, as Obama attempts to restore the rule of law in America’s fight against terrorism without sacrificing safety or losing the support of conservative Democratic and independent voters. So far, he has insisted on trying to recalibrate the agency’s policies without investigating past mistakes or holding anyone responsible for them.

"Caught in the middle is Panetta, who is seventy years old and has virtually no experience in the intelligence field. Indeed, his credentials for running the world’s foremost spy agency are so unlikely that when John Podesta, the head of Obama’s transition team, asked him to take the job he responded, 'Are you sure?' Podesta assured Panetta that his outsider status was actually an advantage: 'He said, ‘You don’t carry the scars of the past eight years. Besides, the President wants somebody who will talk straight to him on these issues.'"

2.) Regulators Feud as Banking System Overhauled: This story has been told before, but Stephen Labaton and Edmund L. Andrews really get into it in Sunday's New York Times about how John C. Dugan, the comptroller of the currency and Sheila C. Bair, chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, really do not get along.

"The fighting between Mr. Dugan and Ms. Bair reflects the institutional interests of their respective agencies, as well as the differences between big banks and small banks.

"Ms. Bair and Mr. Dugan have fought over many other issues. In recent weeks, Ms. Bair has sought management changes at the large troubled banks, including Citigroup. Mr. Dugan, on the other hand, has advocated giving Citigroup managers more time to put their house in order.

"The résumés of the two regulators might make it seem as if they would get along. Both began their political careers as aides to Republican senators and both served as assistant Treasury secretaries under Republican presidents, at different times."

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Also Worth the Click: The Post's Howard Kurtz reminds us that Twitter guides its followers to the latest news, information, gossip, snark and a pulsating, real-time debate. The Eye Tweets this kind of stuff everyday and has a personal goal of topping at least 600 Twitter followers this week... help meet the goal!

Cabinet and Staff News: Kathleen Sebelius defends the administration's health care reform plans and still plays politics in Kansas. Timothy Geithner defends the stimulus plan at the G8 meeting in Italy. Larry Summers defends Obama at the Council on Foreign Relations. Geithner and Summers tout the president's financial regulatory plans in the pages of The Post. David Axelrod and his aide, Eric Lesser, profiled. New U.S. general takes command in Afghanistan. Several ambassadorships assigned and news of new NTSB nominees here. Ray LaHood gets the New York Times Magazine Q&A treatment. Melissa Hathaway says she's one of the candidates for the permanent cybersecurity post.

Post Office Looks to Scale Back: Continued automation, attrition and early retirements have helped pare the number of full-time employees to 636,000 from more than 800,000 in 2000.

GI Bill Causes Glitch In D.C.: For many veterans, the ambitious new GI Bill is a great deal, but in Washington, D.C.the sweeping program brings an unintended glitch -- and a higher cost.

CIA Fired Firms Aiding Questioning: Weeks after President Obama took office, the CIA extended its contract with a firm run by two psychologists who helped introduce waterboarding and other harsh methods to the agency's interrogation techniques, according to a news report. Two months later, the CIA fired those firms.

Administration Plans to Scale Back Real ID Law: The Obama administration is moving to scale back a federal law passed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that was designed to tighten security requirements for driver's licenses.

Changeover to Digital TV Off to a Smooth Start: For most viewers, the transition amounted to a minor hiccup at most.

U.S. to Spend Up to $350 Million For Uniform Tests in Reading, Math: The Obama administration is urging states to replace their standards for student achievement with a common set.

Justice Dept. Focusing On Indian Country Crime: Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli will appear at a conference in Niagara Falls, N.Y., today to address the issues and promise more grant money for youth mentoring, victim assistance and crime prevention.

Permanence Eludes Some Katrina Victims: Forty-five months after Hurricane Katrina, FEMA's temporary housing programs are expiring after a series of congressionally mandated extensions.

Pentagon Cyber Unit Prompts Questions: The command is fueling debate over the proper rules to govern a new kind of warfare in which unannounced adversaries using bits of computer code can launch transnational attacks.

Lawmaker Wants Expats Counted by Census: Utah lawmakers want to avoid a repeat of the 2000 Census, which excluded some 11,000 Utahans living abroad, mostly young Mormon missionaries.

OMB Releases Hiring Reform, Budget Guidelines: Peter Orszag tells agencies (pdf) to fast-track federal management reforms, including those related to hiring, and to use the budget process to target potential savings.

By Ed O'Keefe  | June 15, 2009; 6:05 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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Comments

Rich!! Leon was the WH CoS when Clinton approved renditions and Global Warming Al famously blurted, 'That's a no-brainer. Of course it's a violation of international law, that's why it's a covert action. The guy is a terrorist. Go grab his ass.'?

They approved other countries taking these guys and severely torturing them. Seems like the pot calling the kettle black? At least Bush had the courage to do his own laundry. Bring on the truth commission!!

Posted by: ItTakesAVillageIdiot | June 15, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

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