A multitude of topics are sucking up a lot of attention today, beginning with Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court, along with the continuing BP oil disaster, the manic market reaction to the EU’s overnight agreement to halt an economic meltdown, the evolution of the UK’s government, and Twitter’s flap-doodle over followers. Meanwhile the White House quietly worked on meetings related to intelligence and to Afghanistan.
At 12:30 pm ET, President Obama was scheduled for a closed-to-press meeting with the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board; members of the board include Roel Campos, Lee Hamilton, Rita Hauser, Paul Kaminski, Ellen Laipson, Les Lyles, Jami Miscik, as well as co-chairs former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel and former Oklahoma Sen. David Boren.
There has been speculation since third quarter last year that Obama might name a new Secretary of Defense, since current SecDef Robert Gates was a hold-over from the previous administration, kept on in order to assure continuity at the DOD and in active military action overseas. Chatter ramped up again today because the PIAB meeting offered a chance for Obama to talk with Hagel.
A refresh at the top of DOD might be warranted, due to a lack of real progress in Afghanistan, along with continued challenges with the numbers of contractors and subcontractors currently working for DOD, along with a need to implement the phase out of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. There’s nothing quite like a shake-up in management to encourage different thinking throughout an organization, even one as massive as DOD.
But will this rather brief meeting actually result in change at DOD? Probably not – and the meeting will probably hew pretty closely to the PIAB’s purview, which is:
In reviewing the legality and propriety of intelligence activities, the Board advises the President on intelligence activities that the Board believes:
May be unlawful or contrary to Executive Order or presidential directive;
Are not being adequately addressed by the Attorney General, the Director of National Intelligence, or the head of the department or agency concerned; or
Should be immediately brought to his attention.
One might wonder what activities have been addressed today?
At 1:30 pm ET, there was a briefing by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, General Stanley McChrystal and Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry, in sync with meetings this week with Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai. There were expressions of confidence in progress along with other happy talk – hardly a surprise given Karzai’s past volatility in response to criticisms related to the real status in Afghanistan.
And one might wonder if the PIAB meeting and the briefing were completely unrelated, unconnected events.