The Race to be Obama’s National Security Advisor

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steinberg twn 100.jpg
(UT Austin LBJ School Dean and potential Obama National Security Advisor candidate James Steinberg)
There are four horses out front — way ahead of everyone else who might be considered.
They are:
Brookings Senior Fellow and former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs SUSAN RICE, UT Austin LBJ School of Public Policy Dean and former Deputy National Security Advisor JAMES STEINBERG. Willams & Connolly trial lawyer and former special counsel to President Clinton GREGORY CRAIG, and lastly, Washington Institute for Near East Policy counselor and former Clinton Middle East envoy and negotiator DENNIS ROSS.


When I was appearing recently on a special Al Jazeera program on Obama’s Middle East trip with former Israel Ambassador to the US Dany Ayalon, I watched on various screen shots James Steinberg — who preceded Carlos Pascual as head of the foreign policy division at Brookings — ably run interference and “attend” to Barack Obama during key parts of Obama’s Israel trip. I guess I was surprised that he was there. Then not.
As it turns out, Obama’s recent trip to the West Bank, Israel, Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany was also a time for auditions by those who might be asked by a President Obama to serve as national security advisor.
From what I have learned, all four continue to impress Obama. Some rumors place Dennis Ross — who recently led a team developing this disconcerting report on US-Israel policy coordination — in the lead. Some say that the combination of his experience and his “presentation skills” are generating ‘an edge’ for him.
Most of my other sources place James Steinberg out in front. My own assessment of Steinberg is that he is a shrewd thinker. He spends as much time pondering what he doesn’t know as refining what he does — and that’s what an NSC Advisor should do.
The complexity of the job requires someone who can work through conflicting agendas, see past them to key priorities, listen and work through ‘all’ scenarios, have facility with nuances — and understand equally the challenges posed today by assymetric threats, rising peer threats, the avant-garde 21st century threats of climate change and transnational disease, classic WMD proliferation threats, and the threat represented by America’s own implosion of global power — at least in the perception of many other key global stakeholders.
I’m told by quite a number of Obama Team members that Steinberg currently is in the lead as best they can tell.
I wouldn’t count Susan Rice and Gregory Craig out yet — but just reporting what I have heard. There is a lot of time yet for this decision — and it could be best to wait for Ross or other frontrunners to trip up.
It is useful to look back at what I considered then was a pivotal article in the Iraq debate co-authored by James Steinberg and Michael O’Hanlon calling for withdrawal from Iraq in May 2004. While O’Hanlon’s views have significantly changed, I have been told by Steinberg that his views have not changed at all. That gives me great confidence in him.
– Steve Clemons

Comments

32 comments on “The Race to be Obama’s National Security Advisor

  1. Kathleen says:

    Kerry was tanking in the polls until Teddy took over his campaign and they packed the Iowa cuacuses…Teddy always has to have his loser from Massachusettes to make sure he stays the head of the party. Kerry’s speeches were all over the place, windy, rudderless, ramblings. He had no clear vision and was equivocal about his position on the war. It cost him the lead.
    Obama is another Teddy boy, not from Mass but at least Harvard, not Yale,. Dems always make the mistake of listening to Repugs and they always end up cowering in the corner of Rove’s choice, which is why Obama is shifting to the center/right. Dems make the mistake of buying the bull about the center moving to the right…. it is not…and it is this sliding to the right that loses the Dems that cutting margin in the end…it’s disgustingly predictable.
    I think I’d like Wesley Clark to have Michael Hayden’s job.

    Reply

  2. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Rich, I have always thought that Kerry was a shill, designed to lose. The inadequate campaigning, his weak mewling response to the swiftboating, his early concession, and his failure to challenge extremely suspicious ballot results all point to someone that purposely took a fall.

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  3. rich says:

    Two comments.
    Sunday on Meet the Press, Sen. Kerry placidly facilitated Sen. Lieberman’s ability to aggressively get McCain’s talking points out, repeatedly saying nothing as Joe walked all over him. Kerry got two decent points in, but not once did he challenge Lieberman’s iffy/dishonest claims.
    Joe really worked the refs, the time, as hard as he could, dominating the conversation—Kerry was there to make sure, it seemed fairly transparent, that Joe’s message took center stage, and his memes went out unchallenged. Spoke volumes about Kerry’s role in general.
    2.) POA, Obama isn’t speaking just to Dem die-hards right now. He can’t wear a big “C” for Change on his chest, because he’s already a target. I have deep reservations too: ROSS??! It’s nuts to think Dennis Ross has got the solution. Obama can redecorate his rhetoric and speak more bluntly once he’s in office. I don’t know where he’ll land substantively, but just don’t think he’s telegraphing his punches, either.

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  4. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Here is a perfect example of what I am talking about. In the following Chicago Tribune article, this author actually blatantly LIES, about this yellowcake being “discovered” in 2003, after our invasion. Point of fact, of course, is that we knew it was there, as the UN had inventoried and secured the material.
    Such nurturing of public ignorance, as underscored by this paper’s criminal misrepresentation of the facts, is a glaring example of how the Fourth Estate has not only failed us, it has, in fact, betrayed us. The author of this article should be publically exposed, and in fact, such misrepresentation of the facts should be indictable and punishable.
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/letters/chi-080710omission_briefs,0,6234364.story
    An unforgivable omission
    July 10, 2008
    On July 6th there was an AP exclusive that reported how the last major remnant of Saddam Hussein’s nuclear program – a huge stockpile of concentrated natural uranium – reached a Canadian port to complete a secret U.S. operation that included a two-week airlift from Baghdad and a ship voyage crossing two oceans. This removal of 550 metric tons of “yellowcake” from the Tuwaitha nuclear complex 12 miles south of Baghdad was seed material that could have been refined into nuclear weapons. It was first discovered back in 2003 when the U.S. invaded Iraq.
    This AP report should have been headline news in the Chicago Tribune. After all, much of the early opposition to the war in Iraq involved claims that President Bush had “lied” about weapons of mass destruction and that Saddam posed little if any nuclear threat to our nation. The news that 550 metric tons of yellowcake uranium was removed from Iraq more or less proves that Saddam back in 2003 had his nuclear program on hold for building WMD and that he planned to boot it up again.
    It is unforgivable that the mainstream media, including the Tribune, has virtually ignored the AP story about the recent uranium removal from Iraq. There is an obvious answer for this purposeful oversight: it doesn’t fit the media’s neat storyline that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq posed no nuclear threat when we invaded in 2003.
    –Nancy J. Thorner

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  5. Paul Norheim says:

    “Anyway, point being, this whole fiasco has been abbetted by
    the base ignorance of the American public, who, properly
    informed, would undoubtedly be screaming, en masse, left and
    right, for Bush’s head on a platter. The utter, complete, and
    purposeful failure of the Fourth Estate to perform this
    responsibility has seriously damaged this nation. Who now
    trusts the press?” (POA)
    Exactly.
    And despite the fact that some “ordinary” citizens saw “in real
    time”, as rich said, what was coming, perhaps some of those
    citizens should look at the increasing number of members from
    the Fourth Estate who are currently working to get a detailed
    picture of what happened, as ALLIES.
    And perhaps realize that one of the most important tasks is
    TELLING AND EXPLAINING THE OBVIOUS – less a question of
    being smart, and more a question of being sort of a patient
    school teacher trying to inform and explain boring ABC stuff to
    the American public. This is not a task for heroes. But without
    more ordinary people realizing what really happened, the
    people in charge will get away with it. Thirty years later, only a
    small group of intellectuals will have any idea of what really
    happened during those years.
    I think this is now less about rocket science, and more about
    being patient, clear and consistent, explaining banalities.
    Just my 5 cents.

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  6. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Why, if Obama represents “change”, is the outing of the truth being performed by a small cadre of journalists, dribbling out known facts about a conspiracy, at the highest levels of our government, to engage this nation in war based on forged intelligence, fearmongering, and the despicable use of 9/11 as a fulcrum through which to tip public opinion in their favor?
    Obama knows we were lied to. CALL THEM LIES. Obama knows Bush is a war criminal. CALL HIM A WAR CRIMINAL. Obama knows Bush has committed impeachable offenses. CALL THEM IMPEACHABLE OFFENSES. Obnama knows the 9/11 Commission was a white wash. CALL IT A WHITE WASH.
    No. There are no heroes riding to our rescue. Bush is going to get away with this. And who knows, with the dangerous precedent that has now been set, what Obama will get away with? If Obama is what I think he is, Ross fits right in, and it makes little difference if McCain gets in, or Obama. We’re fucked, either way.

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  7. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Suskind was on “American Journal” this morning on C-Span. The striking aspect of the show was the astounding ignorance of the callers, both right and left. Further, it was disheartening to see some of the weak and dissembling responses that Suskind offered to the Republican caller’s criticisms and assertions.
    For example, one particularly obnoxious and ill informed Republican caller brought up the issue of the 500 tons of yellowcake that was just exported from Iraq to a buyer in Canada. The premise was that if Saddam wasn’t pursuing WMDs, just what the hell was he doing with 5oo tons of yellowcake? I have heard this same premise blathered forth from some of the RW radio talk show assholes, aqnd it seems to be showing up quite a bit on the RW blogs as well.
    Suskind was quite remiss in his rebuttal, failed to make clear that this yellow cake was secured, inventoried, and monitored by the UN. He also was quite vague in his explanation of why the presence of yellowcake doesn’t signify the presence of a nuclear weapons program. And most regrettably, he completely failed to mention the fact that Rumsfeld made no military provision to protect the storage sites of this UN monitored yellowcake (google “Tuwaitha”), and quite a bit of it was looted. In his favor; he did point out that if there was 500 tons of yellowcake in Iraq, then what the hell was this cock and bull story about Saddam seeking to purchase some from Niger?
    Anyway, point being, this whole fiasco has been abbetted by the base ignorance of the American public, who, properly informed, would undoubtedly be screaming, en masse, left and right, for Bush’s head on a platter. The utter, complete, and purposeful failure of the Fourth Estate to perform this responsibility has seriously damaged this nation. Who now trusts the press? And the partisan nurturing, on both sides, of this widescale public ignorance gives one pause in believing that one party’s leaders are really that much different than the other’s.
    These pieces of shit on BOTH sides of the aisle are gaming us, and the partisan division is a tool through which they can inhibit our ability to arrive at any sort of en masse public concensus. Watching these two pathetic and inadequate personages posture and crow for our nation’s highest office is heartbreaking, and only serves to underscore what deep shit “we the people” find ourselves. The one redeeming aspect to the whole thing is how very interesting it is to observe these times, and to be able to watch what might very likely be the end of this grand experiment called a “representative government”.

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  8. Paul Norheim says:

    Rich said:
    “The issue at hand isn’t, at this point, who can best repair our
    disastrous economic circumstances or resolve the Occupation of
    Iraq and repair US relations abroad.
    It’s not even about whether the war and Occupation was a bright
    idea. It’s about the violation of the legal process for going to
    war, and the fact that nary a murmur was heard in all the very
    specific circles that absolutely should know better.
    Who is fit to lead for the next 8 years is not about tabbing the
    best bureaucrat. It’s about who is better able to colonize DC
    and restructure the set of relations that allowed the Constitution
    to be treated as an inconvenience and which remain an obstacle
    to impeachment.
    It’s about root causes. Which are hardly confined to the Bush
    Administration.”
    This is a very precise diagnosis, rich. You also mention those
    who”could not or would not say or report or observe, in real
    time, what average folks knew, in real time.” This is true. A lot
    of “average folks” in America, in Europe and other places saw
    through the lies, exaggerations, the silence and the
    propaganda.
    And David, I also regard these books – Suskind now, Jane Mayer
    a few weeks ago, several others before that and several new
    books to come – as important contributions towards reaching
    “critical mass”, as well as a necessary effort to create a
    coherent, detailed picture of what happened.
    Some people, among them some commentators here, may say
    that we have known this for years. But the detailed work of
    journalists, historians, witnesses, opponents and former
    participants may be necessary to reach critical mass, and may
    make it more difficult for key figures (like Nancy Pelosi) to
    ignore it.
    However: if Obama or McCain only represent modifications and
    variations on the big theme – “The Global War on Terror” – and
    show no willingness to bury that absurd and dangerous project,
    and if the economy gets worse (it probably will), the “critical
    mass” will compete with other big concerns, and those vital
    issues that rich mentioned may be delayed until it becomes a
    matter for historians.
    Personally, I seriously doubt that George Bush will spend his last
    years in jail. Perhaps Addington, Yoo or Feith, if they become
    very very old.
    But certainly not Cheney or Rumsfeld.

    Reply

  9. David says:

    As Robert Byrd said regarding Iraq, the truth has a way of rising to the surface, and Suskind’s book is one more contribution to that process. I’m not sure when we will reach critical mass, nor what the opening of the floodgates will finally comprise, but it is coming – late, very, very late – but coming.
    We will never really recover our former place in the world. The past 7 1/2 years assure that. But if the floodgates can open, and essential truths about the Bush administration become common knowledge, we can at least have a basis for the civil body politic choosing to stand behind those who would stop the downward spiral and then lead us as far back along the road to recovery as is now possible.
    Frankly, I am not sure our loss of superpower prerogatives is bad, since we proved ourselves such abominable stewards of that status. Let us reengage with the world as an honest partner, not arrogant arbiters, a neoconservative self-imagined privilege that really is gone with the wind. And may the ill winds that emanate from the likes of Bill Kristol simply go away.

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  10. Paul Norheim says:

    Further quotes from politico.com on Suskins new book:
    –Suskind contends Cheney established “deniability” for Bush as
    part of the vice president’s “complex strategies, developed over
    decades, for how to protect a president.”
    “After the searing experience of being in the Nixon White
    House, Cheney developed a view that the failure of Watergate
    was not the break-in, or even the cover-up, but the way the
    president had, in essence, been over-briefed. There were certain
    things a president shouldn’t know – things that could be illegal,
    disruptive to key foreign relationships, or humiliating to the
    executive.
    “They key was a signaling system, where the president made his
    wishes broadly known to a sufficiently powerful deputy who
    could take it from there. If an investigation ensued, or a foreign
    leader cried foul, the president could shrug. This was never
    something he’d authorized. The whole point of Cheney’s model
    is to make a president less accountable for his action. Cheney’s
    view is that accountability – a bedrock feature of representative
    democracy – is not, in every case, a virtue.”

    Reply

  11. rich says:

    Still, need more substantive info on Steinberg.
    Not OT, Ron Suskind has a new book out—one detailing how the White House forged more documents to fake an Iraq link to al Qaeda.
    From Suskind to Politico to DailyKos (link below):
    >>
    “Covering the book in the Politico, reliably Republican reporter Mike Allen writes:
    >
    ‘A new book by the author Ron Suskind claims that the White House ordered the CIA to forge a back-dated, handwritten letter from the head of Iraqi intelligence to Saddam Hussein.
    ‘Suskind writes in “The Way of the World,” to be published Tuesday, that the alleged forgery – adamantly denied by the White House – was designed to portray a false link between Hussein’s regime and al Qaeda as a justification for the Iraq war.
    ‘The author also claims that the Bush administration had information from a top Iraqi intelligence official “that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq – intelligence they received in plenty of time to stop an invasion….
    ….”The White House had concocted a fake letter from Habbush to Saddam, backdated to July 1, 2001,” Suskind writes. “It said that 9/11 ringleader Mohammad Atta had actually trained for his mission in Iraq – thus showing, finally, that there was an operational link between Saddam and al Qaeda, something the Vice President’s Office had been pressing CIA to prove since 9/11 as a justification to invade Iraq. There is no link.”"
    [/Politico excerpt]
    (DKos continues)
    ‘In the interest of fair use, I won’t quote any more of Allen’s article except to point out that, predictably, Mike Allen takes a little stenography by repeating a fat, juicy quote from the White House trashing Suskind and questioning his credibility.
    ‘Perhaps most interestingly, Suskind apparently argues that it’s an impeachable offense and goes into detail about how it’s illegal (not to mention immoral) for the President to use the CIA like this.’
    <<</quote
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/8/5/0656/29537/764/562672
    This is not news. It’s added verification.
    Let’s keep front-&-center the fact that this election is not about which veteran advisor is best positioned to serve as remora to Obama’s shark.
    It’s about who, as Steve so aptly put it, is colonizing whom.
    Anyone reading a newspaper in ’01-’03 knew, in real time, that Bush’s assertions were not supported by the facts in hand. Admin claims were discredited and no proof nor ANY display of good faith was offered— And so laughable was Powell’s final UN speech that veteran State Dept. ‘jaws dropped’ in that very room (Greg Theilmann & Houghton Woods) while many across the country saw immediately the US offered no reliable evidence and eagerly violated US law & procedure. We spotted a fraud with an acuity equal to Thielmann & Woods.
    This election is inextricably tied to one fact—a skilled media (& anonymous sources), veteran civil servants (Ross, Steinberg), and a cadre of senior fellows (good guys and fine friends all—could not or would not say or report or observe, in real time, what average folks knew, in real time.
    That matters nearly as much as who the candidates are. The issue at hand isn’t, at this point, who can best repair our disastrous economic circumstances or resolve the Occupation of Iraq and repair US relations abroad.
    It’s not even about whether the war and Occupation was a bright idea. It’s about the violation of the legal process for going to war, and the fact that nary a murmur was heard in all the very specific circles that absolutely should know better.
    Who is fit to lead for the next 8 years is not about tabbing the best bureaucrat. It’s about who is better able to colonize DC and restructure the set of relations that allowed the Constitution to be treated as an inconvenience and which remain an obstacle to impeachment.
    It’s about root causes. Which are hardly confined to the Bush Administration.
    I just watched the blind mouths that pass for TV anchors assert that Obama had ‘flip-flopped’ on offshore drilling–when he’d simply observed that it takes open mind to resolve knotty problems, so why would he be rigidly opposed to something if it works? Meantime, Sen. Kerry facilitated Joe Lieberman’s hogging of 90% of the airtime on Meet the Press, placidly smiling while Lieberman made point after point. That’s Kerry’s function, isn’t it. To facilitate the other side and let aggressive lies go unchallenged.
    Same as it ever was. So, anyone, explain
    Dennis Ross?
    Wasn’t Ross just the fig-leaf-of-the-day for Bush & Friends?
    It’s be great if anyone could define precisely what value Dennis Ross brings to Obama. What went down while Ross was fronting should be cautionary, not a feather in his cap.

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  12. Dan Kervick says:

    It’s easy to find out what these four individuals have on their resumes. But the resumes only tell us what jobs they have had. They don’t tell us much about successes and failures.
    What has James Steinberg done to *enhance* the national security of the United States – or the rest of the world for that matter? How do I know he is not just another career bureaucrat failing upward? As I mentioned earlier, he doesn’t appear to have been willing to stand up and be counted when the lives and livelihoods of thousands of American troops and millions of Iraqis were on the line lack in 2002 and early 2003. What reason do we have for thinking he’ll be a stand-up guy in the next four years? Or that when he does stand up, he will get things right rather than wrong?
    And as far as I can tell, Dennis Ross has spent his whole career on the Middle East and US-Israeli affairs. National security adviser? What does Ross know about China? or Russia? Or Latin America? There is a whole world outside of WINEP.
    In October, 2002, he participated in a panel discussion on Iraq at UCLA’s Burkle Center, and was reported to be “the firmest among the panelists in insisting that Saddam Hussein constitutes a real menace in the region and that this is not an invention of Washington politicians.” He argued there:
    “He has chemical and biological weapons now. He wants nuclear weapons, as a shield to protect him in a new war,” Ross said. “His policy has been incredibly aggressive for more than twenty years. In 1980 he invaded Iran. In 1990 he invaded Kuwait. There is no reasonable basis to expect that he will refrain from new aggression against his neighbors if he acquires nuclear weapons. After eight and a half years of war with Iran most analysts said he would be crazy to start a new war in Kuwait–but he did just that.”
    “Ross said that Saddam is on the verge of a nuclear capability and that in the current post-9-11 climate of terrorist attacks on the United States and its citizens abroad that these would be used if Saddam is not disarmed quickly. “Saddam Hussein has been singularly immune from the effects of deterrence by the threat of U.S. force. On the contrary, Saddam sees nuclear weapons as his deterrence against the United States to permit him to renew attacks on his targets in the region.”
    Is there no accountability in Washington? While are all these characters still around to make bad policy for us? Shouldn’t they be off in Siberia by now?

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  13. Paul Norheim says:

    Yeah, Tahoe. So does one of my neighbors. Really thought
    provoking, isn`t it?

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  14. Tahoe Editor says:

    Susan Rice sux.

    Reply

  15. PissedOffAmerican says:

    BTW, I was mistaken about this opening it up to our nation’s full highway system. It limits them to a 25 mile “commercial zone”. How long do you think that will last? And as another aside, the teamstwers is citing law in decrying this move, and are claimning Bush violated the law by extending this so called “pilot program”. Gads, is that supposed to be a suprize? You think after eight years of these mewling cowardly bastards refusing to hold Bush accountable to the law, he’s gonna pay attention to it now? Well, Congress has crawled under their rocks to count their money and benefits for a few weeks, so if I was you, I’d load up on vaseline, because this piece of crap Bush is horny as hell, and he’ll shove it to as many of us as he can in these ensuing five weeks.

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  16. Mr.Murder says:

    Harry Reid didn’t keep things going in session. Another fumble. Of course someone else is really running the party right now with his cotiere and they’re too busy campaigning to govern….

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  17. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Security,eh?
    Well I have a good idea! Lets spend a few hundred billion on “security”, then let uninspected Mexican trucks pour acrost our Southern borders, and have access to every square inch of our nation’s highway infrastructure.
    Hmmm, logical, ain’t it? And ya gotta marvel at this piece of shit Bush’s creativity. Knowing that more than a few Democrats in Congress oppose this, he waited until they were in recess.
    But actually and anyway screw congress. They ain’t exactly stellar representatives of the people either, are they?
    So, hey, anyone know anyone, in the ranks of “we the people”, that want these trucks to come in, and undercut the American trucking industry? Yeah man, cool, lets give the middle and lower classes yet one more good ass reaming.
    I am seriously thinking of becoming an expatriot, before these slimey bastards break me. They have completely fucked up and ruined this country.

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  18. Joe M. says:

    Dennis Ross!?!?!?! Are you serious?
    There are only a handful of people as disingenuous as this idiot. He spent 12 years accomplishing nothing in negotiations between Israel/Palestine. Obama honestly can’t be that stupid. it’s impossible.
    Unbelievable! DENNIS ROSS. no way. there is just no way. Dennis Ross wasn’t even on Obama’s team until last month. If Obama thinks he can deal honestly with the Arabs, he would never do it.
    If Ross has a significant position in his administration, I will dedicate my life to destroying the democrats.

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  19. ... says:

    dan kervick – thanks for your enlightening comments.. that is what politicians and those who surround them typically do – they slip slide and never make any commitment where their ass is on the line.. i agree with you the distinctions that might have existed between obama and mccain are fast disappearing and in their place is just another political opportunist looking to score some political points… obama is a let down, but just how big of a let down remains to be seen.. i hold out even less hope with a presidency under mccain..

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  20. Carroll says:

    Posted by pauline Aug 04, 10:42AM
    >>>>>>>>>
    It gets more amazing every day, the half stories the public is asked to buy about everything from 911 to the anthrax mailings. And everyone who doesn’t buy them of course, is a conspiracy theorist.
    “Bloggers Larisa Alexandrovna (Raw Story.com) and Glenn Greenwald (Salon.com) beat the major press on Jean Duley’s background. Seems she has an extensive police record including two arrests for DUI since 2006 and a remote drug paraphernalia charge. I suspected as much, having read that she was involved in treating addicts with Suboxone. Many substance abuse counselors are themselves recovered abusers. In this case, her recovery seems to be in question. And she just graduated college!
    This inexperienced lady with a questionable background is the only person to come forward claiming Ivins was a homicidal maniac. And to read the media coverage, you see that this tactic might have succeeded. Why didn’t the AP, NY Times, and the other outlets that posted audio of her court testimony and went overboard covering her claims do the simplest background check?
    Posted by Meryl Nass, M.D. at 10:31 AM ”
    Glen Greenwald has more coverage and updates on the questionable Ms. Duely. As well as the questionable FBI and the questionable press and the questionable “closing” of this investigation..if you can call it an investigation.
    http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/08/04/anthrax/

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  21. Carroll says:

    Before rushing to consider any of these people as being acceptable or even Obama being acceptable here’s a bit from Jim Lobe:
    “Washington Post columnist David Ignatius Ignatius is particularly close to both the Pentagon brass and the intelligence community and he’s writing a book to be published in September with Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft.
    The book mentions the study by the Washington Institute for Near Policy (WINEP)(why is Ross even under consideration?) — which clearly tries to downplay the international consequences of a U.S. and/or Israeli preventive attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities — is particularly interesting in that respect.
    The study, which its authors have strenuously denied is aimed at making such an attack much more “thinkable,” is nonetheless quite concerning, even more so because Tony Lake and Susan Rice (among Obama’s closest foreign-policy advisers) effectively endorsed it. It’s clearly on the minds of some people who count.”
    >>>>>>>>>
    “CHANGE” didn’t last long did it? I want my money back.

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  22. pt says:

    Jim is likely because he is an effective bureaucrat as well as an established thinker. He knows how to work the system, push back against indvidual depts, etc. This was a key element lacking in Condi’s tenure and there would have to be some doubt about whether Craig and S Rice would have this skill set. Although, Ross may also have this capacity.

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  23. erichwwk says:

    pauline wrote:
    ” [what would] Whoever’s national security advisor (would) say what about this story –”
    While the limits of force {see,eg the recent RAND report] are slowly being acknowledged,the fact that power and force are mutually exclusive is not although that an increase in force implies a corresponding decrease in power was clear to John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Stuart Mills, and Thomas Paine.
    Even the Brit’s Edmund Burke got it when he wrote that w/o winning hearts and mind “the army would be a base rabble and your navy nothing but rotten timber”.
    Re Jean Duley try Glen Greenwald @
    http://tinyurl.com/5tq6pv
    Shades of the Frank Olson case, initially handled by none other than Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney.

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  24. alan says:

    Apologies for mistake. I meant NSC. I should have clarified that some of the problems come from the tensions between the NSC and State: cf Haig/Kissinger and since.

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  25. Dan Kervick says:

    Based on the various pieces posted at Brookings, Steinberg appears to be one of those classic beltway foreign policy practitioners who is willing to pen all sorts of non-committal analyses, where he ranges vaguely, academically and abstractly over the “risks” and “opportunities” of various policy options and direction, but is not willing to put himself on the line to argue clearly in favor of, or in opposition to, national decisions of the highest possible moment. Thus, no matter which way Iraq went, he wouldn’t have damaged his chances of landing a spot in the next administration.
    And now here he is. A classic Washingtonian fit: a careerist in a suit, without a side and without qualities. Perfect.

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  26. alan says:

    Sorry to disagree, Steve. these four are a tired looking lot; and Steinburg doesn’t have the cutting edge to lead State. It would help if the insiders are given a pass. Some of them have been around a long time and haven’t done that well. For example, for all the talk about Ross’ efforts on Israeli-Palestine issues in the end he was viewed in some quarters as tilting towards Israel.

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  27. Dan Kervick says:

    All I can say is that Obama needs some new and less conventional voices on his foreign policy advisory team, pronto. He’s allowed himself to drift into an Iraq and Middle East policy position that grows less and less distant from McCain’s by the day. He is throwing away the boost he could be getting from the widespread popular discontent, and even anger, with the Iraq War and the policies which gave rise to it, and is thoroughly squandering the advantage he could be claiming by being on what the right side of the Iraq debate in 2002. Now he is taking advice from a stable of the same middle of the road and interventionist Democratic establishment jackasses who got us into this mess.
    Can the public even tell anymore WHY Obama thinks the war was a mistake? Think of all the people you know who think the Iraq war was a bad idea. What percentage of these people, from outside the beltway at least, think the war was only a bad idea because it diverted resources from Afghanistan?
    James Steinberg?

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  28. Lurker says:

    If Steve Clemons wants James Steinberg, which I think he does given the tenor of this post, then I want Steinberg too but it would be helpful to hear and learn more about him as you have time Steve.

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  29. rich says:

    Steve,
    How closely aligned is James Steinberg’s thinking, method, perspective, and purpose with that of Michael O’Hanlon?
    Co-authoring a paper or Op-Ed hardly implies symmetric viewpoints. Nonetheless, some concrete sense of how to draw a valid distinction between Steinberg & O’Hanlon would be very useful.
    It’d allow for more insightful parsing of relationships, when reacting based on perceived associations is a too-prevalent, if often valid, fallback.
    It can’t be news O’Hanlon’s come under serious scrutiny due to a string of statements and reversals and water-carrying on Iraq, and hasn’t come away from it exactly . . intact. Just sayin’.
    Recall your post on the reception Norman Ornstein (whom I respect) felt for being a fellow at AEI. Which brings up the question of what responsiblity think tankers have to be aware of and voice objections to colleagues when the propaganda machine goes so badly awry. I don’t know the answer to that question. I do know that I can’t muster much sympathy for Ornstein, despite his excellent work—which, again, I admire—and strongly feel that Brookings’ reputation has suffered by fostering O’Hanlon’s shenanigans.
    As much as think tanks need to house thinkers or operatives or scholars of every stripe, the same shared ground held by every American is a requirement, on some level, of playing the game, of the respect of colleagues—and receiving the benefit of the doubt from the wider public. Without that . ..

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  30. pauline says:

    Whoever’s national security advisor would say what about this story –
    “Colleagues divided over guilt of anthrax murders suspect”
    Over lunch in the bacteriology division, nervous scientists would share stories about their latest unpleasant encounters with the FBI and ponder whether they should hire lawyers, according to one of Ivins’ former supervisors.
    In tactics that the researchers considered heavy-handed and often threatening, they were interviewed and polygraphed as early as 2002, and reinterviewed numerous times. Their labs were searched and their computers and equipment carted away.
    The FBI eventually focused on Ivins, whom federal prosecutors were planning to indict when he committed suicide last week. Officials asserted that Ivins had the skills and access to equipment needed to turn anthrax bacteria into an ultra-fine powder that could be used as a lethal weapon.
    Court documents and tapes also reveal a therapist’s deep concern that Ivins (62) was homicidal and obsessed with revenge during his final months when, friends say, he fell into depression under the strain of constant FBI scrutiny. A social worker, Jean Duley, passed on her concerns to the FBI after receiving death threats from Ivins.
    Duley became so worried that she petitioned a local judge for a protective order against Ivins. According to an audio recording of the hearing, she said she had seen Ivins as a therapist for six months, and thought he had tried to kill people in the past.
    “As far back as the year 2000, [Ivins] has actually attempted to murder several other people, [including] through poisoning,” she said. “He is a revenge killer, when he feels that he’s been slighted … especially towards women. He plots and actually tries to carry out revenge killings,” she told a judge.
    She described a July 9th group therapy session in which Ivins allegedly talked of mass murder.
    “He was extremely agitated, out of control,” she said. Ivins told the group he had bought a gun, and proceeded to lay out a “long and detailed homicidal plan”, she said.
    “Because he was about to be indicted on capital murder charges, he was going to go out in a blaze of glory; that he was going to take everybody out with him,” she said.
    Yet, colleagues and friends remained convinced that Ivins was innocent. They contended that he had neither the motive nor the means to create the lethal powder that was sent by mail to news outlets and congressional offices in the summer and autumn of 2001.
    Mindful of FBI mistakes in fingering others in the case, many are very sceptical that the bureau has gotten it right this time.
    “I really don’t think he’s the guy. I say to the FBI: ‘Show me your evidence,’” said Jeffrey Adamovicz, former director of the bacteriology division at US Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases, or USAMRIID.
    “A lot of the tactics they used were designed to isolate him from his support. The FBI just continued to push his buttons.”
    Investigators are so confident of Ivins’ involvement that they have been debating since Friday whether to close the seven-year-old anthrax investigation. A government source said that the probe could be shut down as early as today. No charges are likely against others, that source added.
    Once the case is closed, the FBI and justice department will face questions – and possibly public hearings – from congressional oversight committees, which have been largely shut out of the case for the past five years.
    One bioweapons expert familiar with the FBI investigation said that Ivins indeed possessed the skills needed to create the dust-fine powder used in the attacks. At the Army lab where he worked, Ivins specialised in making sophisticated preparations of anthrax bacteria spores for use in animal tests, said the expert, who requested anonymity because the investigation remains active.
    Ivins’ daily routine included the use of processes and equipment the anthrax terrorist likely used in making his weapons. He also is known to have had ready access to the specific strain of Bacillus anthracis used in the attack – a strain found to match samples found in Ivins’ lab, he said.
    But others, including former colleagues and scientists with backgrounds in biological weapons defence, disagreed that Ivins could have created the anthrax powder even if motivated to do so.
    “USAMRIID doesn’t deal with powdered anthrax,” said Richard Spertzel, who worked with Ivins at the Army lab. “I don’t think there’s anyone there who would have the foggiest idea how to do it. You would need to have the opportunity, the capability and the motivation, and he didn’t possess any of those.”
    Authorities cast doubt on Saturday on reports that Ivins had acted for financial gain based on patents and scientific advances he had made. They say the government restricts income from inventions produced in its laboratories to no more than $150,000 per year, but the amount is often considerably less.
    Jaye Holly, who lived next door to the Ivinses until a month ago, said she couldn’t believe that her former neighbour, who was obsessed with grass recycling and drove a 20-year-old van, would endanger others for financial gain.
    “I can’t imagine him being involved in a scheme to make money or to make a profit, especially one that would put people at risk or even die,” Holly said. “That’s not the Bruce we knew. He was sweet, friendly. I mean, he was into grass recycling.”
    - (LA Times-Washington Post service)
    from –
    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2008/0804/1217628485411.html

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  31. Ben Rosengart says:

    Polls don’t mean much this far out. That’s true whether Obama’s
    in the lead, or McCain.

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  32. WigWag says:

    While Obama is still in the lead, there is now a confluence of polls showing Obama slipping and McCain gaining. Rasmussen and USA Today now show McCain ahead (popular vote only). In light of the fact that McCain looks more and more like a viable candidate who could actually win, maybe Steve should be sharing his insight about who might be in the running to be McCain’s National Security Advisor.

    Reply

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