Thursday, November 29, 2012

Who’s on First?

New administration postings are to be coming soon.  Petraeus is already gone, Panetta wanting to retire to gather walnuts, Clinton to go and do who knows what, Eric Holder too maybe.  Who is to replace them?  Here are some strawmen nominations for you to throw monkey poop at:

For the CIA from my armchair perspective we do not need another general or admiral.  DOD already controls the lion share of the intelligence budget through NSA, NGA, NRO, DIA, and the various Armed Services activities - ONI, AFIS, INSCOM, etc.  We need to stop militarizing the CIA as we have done in the past.  Besides why appoint a high profile person to be DCIA, the head of CIA, whoever gets that title is no longer the DCI that leads and manages the entire intelligence community.  That job belongs to retired 3-star James Clapper the DNI.  So I am thinking why not Mike Morrell who is now acting-DCIA.  He is a thirty year man, mostly in analysis.  He does have three years overseas 2003 to 2006 that I would like to know more about where and what he was doing before I bless him unconditionally.  Is he on Armando Spataro’s list of 23 for example?  But Panetta depends on him so he can’t be all bad.  There has been too much turnover in the CIA directorship – let’s get some stability by vetting and appointing an insider.  No more tourists I say!

For ISAF, Obama has already made a good choice with Fighting Joe Dunford.  He will be OK and will even be blessed by the whackos in the Senate.  I hope he does as good a job of retrograde out of Afghanistan as he did with RCT-5 in the march to Baghdad.  His forward command post during that time was a single HMMWV with which he stayed with the leading unit on the way up.  May he be the last man out of Kabul in 2014.

CentCOM?  I don’t know if General Mattis is ready to leave but he has been there for over two years which seems to be more than other commanders there except for Abizaid who had the job for four.  Promote the Deputy, Admiral Harwood.  He is a former SEAL and he has a MA in International Relations and is also a graduate of an MIT Foreign Policy program.  CentCOM needs a more diplomatic command face.  Harwood was reportedly a Bush favorite so I have to ask if he has a clean slate with interrogation policy?  And hopefully he only did zero or a minimum number of emails to CentCOMs unofficial social secretary, Ms Kelley?  I don’t know the answers but at least put him thru the vetting process.

I am not smart on the State Department, but Rice is too much of an interventionist for my taste, a leftie neocon if you will.  The smart money seems to be on Kerry and he will probably face no oppo in the senate.  But back in Mass the Republican Playgirl model is waiting in the wings for another shot at the Senate.  I favor a woman, they have done a good job at State.   Are they more subtle? - or maybe less threatening? – or am I being sexist?  Jean Shaheen would be my first choice.  Second choice is my own soon-to-be ex-Governor Christine Gregoire who although she has little or no FP experience is one heck of a negotiator and deal maker.  They are both about five years younger than Kerry and that is not a job for an old guy like Kerry who is my age.  Or if Obama wants to play the Team of Rivals thing then go with Olympia Snowe or John Huntsman.

For DOD my choice would be a non-politician, someone from the business world.  Someone respected by both sides of the aisle that could make the cuts needed.  Alan Mulally, president and CEO of Ford comes to mind.  He has BS and MS in two engineering fields and an MS in Management from MIT.  And he was called somewhat of a financial miracle worker at bailing Ford out of ruin without taking government aid.   He used to work for Boeing years ago, but to my knowledge mainly worked in the Commercial Aircraft Division and not in selling military a/c to the pentagon.  Even so could he recuse himself for any acquisitions in which Boeing is bidding?

DOJ – I understand Napolitano wants the job (I am fine with Janet) which would leave DHS open.  I am fresh out of ideas.  I kind of favor breaking it up into its components, but we all know that will not happen soon.  So maybe give it to Admiral Papp the Coast Guard Commandant???  They are the largest component of DHS and the most important imho.

Feel free to put forward your own best bets.   And don’t feel bad about throwing that monkey stuff at my choices.  I hope to get a score of at least one correct when Obama makes his choices.  Or two, since Dunford has already been nominated.


  1. I think Kerry would be a mistake for State. Too useful where he is, too little experience in executive leadership positions. But don't believe me; Bob Kaplan says it better here:

    Dunno who else, but Rice seems like Obama's choice, why not?

    And business CEOs have a long record of doing terribly in government. Government is about doing things that nobody can or wants to do because there's no profit in them. Businesses are all ABOUT profit. I also don't know who would work as SecDef, but I'm betting that the MICC would eat your man Mulally as an aperitif.

  2. AEL: shortstop???

    FDChief: Agree on Kerry. That is why I like Shaheen, six years as a guv'nr and 4 years on the Senate Committees on Foreign Policy, and also Energy. Rice will never make it thru Senate 'consent'.

    McNamara and Rumsfeld were disasters as SecDef. But then Rummy was more of a politician than a businessman, four terms in Congress and many other government jobs serving more time in Washington than Main Street. Engine Charlie Wilson wasn't that bad of a SecDef. And there are a ton of SecDef's and SecWar's with no business background at all that were also disasters - Louis Johnson comes to mind.

    MICC?? Military Industrial Complex Cxxxxx????

    1. MICC - Military Industrial Congressional Complex (Eisenhower's supposed original name).

      I also apologize for the shortstop comment, but it was low hanging fruit.

    2. Your comment on Rice pretty much defines the ridiculous state of the U.S. federal government and, in particular, the GOP at the present time.

      As I read it the "advise and consent" provision was intended as a way to facilitate some sort of Congressional check on presidential dictatorship; it was supposed to prevent a President from packing the executive with his idiot cronies, or stuffing federal agencies with party hacks. And it was written at a time when a filibuster WAS a filibuster and meant that the minority party had a genuine hill to die on.

      Rice is "guilty" of, if anything, being an Obama partisan. That in itself should be a given - she's his appointee. That fact that the GOP is going to filibuster this appointment, or put a hold on it, or what have you, shines a damning light on the monkey house they've created out of the past two Congresses.

      Sweet fucking Jesus. Ceterum censeo GOP delendam esse.

  3. Mike,
    Why not choose Al Gore as Sec State?
    He has the depth, but if chosen then what would we use as an EEO slot?
    Would W. Clark make a credible Secdef?

  4. jim -

    Wes or Al, or even old what's-his-name - Hillary's husband - are all reasonable choices for State. But as I said above I favor a woman for the job for reasons other than the eeo thing. Or if you are thinking of eeo and votes in the next election then maybe a SecState with Hispanic roots. Are there any candidates in your great state of FLA? The Republicans are doing a better job of recruiting Hispanic governors in TX, NM and NV.

    I am worrying about the Obama/Romney private luncheon at the WH Thursday last. Since Obama is reportedly a fan of Lincoln’s ‘team of rivals’ meme perhaps he is thinking of offering State to Mitt? What a disaster! Or worse maybe giving him Defense – double ouch!! The Mittster would probably try to outsource the remaining build of Virginia Class SSNs to the Bohai shipyard. If Obama is thinking that ‘team of rivals’ thing then offer Brian Sandoval or Marco Rubio an administration job. Rubio would turn it down, but Sandoval might do well in an Obama posting.

    If Holter does retire and Napolitano gets his job, then instead of Admiral Papp, perhaps Henry Cuellar (D TX 23rd) could take over DHS. He has the requisite assignment on the House Committee on Homeland Security. Even better would be Loretta Sanchez (D CA 47th) for a double eeo whammy. She also is a member of the Homeland Security committee plus also sits on the Armed Services Committee.

  5. Ael -

    Of course. I should have realized the shortstop thing. I loved those guys and even saw their gold record in Cooperstown. But I was feeling to full of myself so missed your ref to it completely.

  6. Mike,

    For DCIA, I wouldn't use the current Deputy (acting director). He is too valuable as the Deputy. The Deputy is the guy who actually runs the CIA day to day ops. The DCIA is the political guy (aka Petraeus) that keeps congressional oversight happy, plays nice with the rest of the IC to give maintain the illusion of integration and is the one who runs to the White House for emergency meetings.

    Whoever it is, he or she needs to know how to work the beltway, and sometimes a career CIA guy isn't the best person for that. Thus, you get military senior leaders who know how to run big organizations (CIA is small in regards to manpower compared to most Flag Officer commands).

    I get your point that DoD already has their finger in the majority of the IC money, but the only one militarizing the CIA is the CIA. If the military had their way, you would put ADM McRaven in charge, and with ADM Blair's blessing (former DNI), strip all covert actions from CIA and hand them over to SOCOM, making CIA a strategic HUMINT organization and intelligence analysis. SOCOM has the resources and authorities to do everything CIA does in the covert action arena. Hell, most of the time if CIA wants to do anything like that, they have to rely on DoD for support (this has been true since 9/11).

    I have a feeling this one is going to come from left field, someone that no one saw coming.

  7. BG:

    You make some valid arguments. I think you are right in many such situations.

    This one I think is different. Morrell knows his way around the beltway. He has been before Congress and is well respected there. He used to be the primary briefer for the President. He has worked closely with National Security Advisors and their staff, and with the other organizations in the intelligence community. He was Bush 41’s personal briefer and it is said he was instrumental in formulating the 6 August 2001 PDB titled ”bin Laden Determined to Strike in the US”. He coordinated CIAs review of the false Niger Yellow Cake story and was a key player in deleting it from Colin Powell’s UN briefing. He also made sure a disavowal of that story was made to Condaleeza Rice and her deputy Stephen Hadley, and also to Gerson (Bush’s speechwriter) but somehow it kept popping back up and made it into Bush’s state of the union address (I always felt that was Cheney and his moles in DIA). Morrell knows the halls of power in DC and most of the pitfalls.

    McRaven might well make a good choice for DCIA but I am not convinced that he or any other flag rank will demilitarize the CIA at this time. They all made their rank because of OPS not INTEL. They would continue that line at CIA. And all of them are tourists who will move on after a short time to bigger and better things. The CIA needs stability in leadership. Too many senior managers, agents and analysts know that if they do not like a present Director’s policies they just have to wait a short while for that Director to be gone and another come in with new policies.

    DCIA will also need to fight for budgets in the halls of Congress. But budgets are going to shrink in these times no matter what kind of political heavyweight you put in charge of CIA. BTW Morrell’s degree is in economics. And what politician would you put in as DCIA? A Senator on the Select Committee on Intelligence? They are too badly needed in the Senate except for maybe Conrad from North Dakota who is retiring. But he has stated his heart is set on curing the nation’s total tax and spend problem so probably would not take the job. Most Senators rotate in and out of the Intel Committee anyway so do not have a lot of depth. Jim Webb from Virginia is retiring but wants to go into private business. And as much as I personally admire Senator Webb I have the feeling he would monkey around with the internal workings of CIA. That is his M.O., he would never be happy as a figurehead and political pitchman.

    Who is left? Maybe Tom Donilon the current National Security Adviser is a possibility. Or Dutch Ruppersberger the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. being from Baltimore I assume he has a safe seat for a Dem to replace him if he takes the job. I have no major problem with either but do not think either would be as good a choice as Morrell. Ruppersberger may well run into public outcry over some privacy concerns with his co-sponsorship of CISPA.

    But I am assuming you are correct in your statement that ”I have a feeling this one is going to come from left field, someone that no one saw coming. “ I agree with that 100%.

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  9. Chuck Hagel for either CIA or Defense or State.

  10. Mike, you clearly know more about Morrell than I do, I just know the position and IC structure. So I defer to you on that one.

    I also agree, we won't see any big changes in the CIA or in the rest of the IC until we have another strategic surprise.

  11. bg - I do not know the man. I only know what I have read of him, and I am assuming it is true. But you know what they sat about assumptions. Here is a link to his official bio:


    Most news accounts I have seen are in line with that. The only blank spot seems to be 2003 - 2006 where he was at an unspecified overseas location.

  12. Ned - welcome aboard.

    Hagel I think would be a good fit at CIA. I love the way he criticized his fellow Republicans: Cheney, Rove, and even Bush41 himself.

    A short excerpt from wikipedia: "Current Positions - Hagel currently teaches at Georgetown University in the Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS), as a Distinguished Professor in the Practice of National Governance. He is Chairman of the Atlantic Council, Co-Chairman of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board; a member of the Secretary of Defense’s Policy Board and Secretary of Energy’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future; and is a member of Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) board of directors."

    Not bad for a former buck sergeant in the infantry. You are right, he would fit in any of the three jobs you mentioned. I would even vote for him for President, but would have to forgive him for rooting for the Cornhuskers.

  13. I vote we put Milpub'ers in these positions. I'll start by nominating FDChief for SECSTATE. I think his salty language would be a nice change from the carefully manufactured pablum we typically get, and the confirmation hearing would be must-see-TV.