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POTUS Watch:

Weekly Survey of the Advisors to the President Of The United States


Paris, 12 January 2009

Since the election on November 4, 2008, the Obama transition team has been piecing together
the President-elect’s eventual administration, pulling from a wide variety of experts, including,
among others, many of the people that have served as Obama’s closest, most reliable advisors.

I present you with a weekly briefing that aims to provide an analytical overview of the members
of, and networks of influence present in, President-elect Obama’s entourage. Each week until
the inauguration on January 20, 2009, I will identify those close advisors to the President-elect –
the would-be appointees – those who have already been offered a position in the White House,
and the few institutions that have played a particularly important role.

By focusing on those people and institutions that are closest to the next President of the United
States, these analyses will provide a look into the political orientations, expertises, and
worldviews surrounding the President-elect as means to better undrestand the foreign policy
decisions-making mechanisms of the next administration as quickyl, accurately, and clear as

Depuis l’élection de 4 novembre 2008, l’équipe de transition de Barack Obama constitue son
administration avec des experts des communautés politique et académique. Naturellement, le
Président élu cherche également à nommer dans son administration certains de ses plus proches

Je vous présente un briefing hebdomadaire qui offre une vue d’ensemble des membres et des
réseaux d’influence autour du 44e Président américain. Chaque semaine jusqu'à l’investiture de
20 janvier 2009, j’identifierai les proches conseillers de B. Obama, les nommes éventuels, et les
quelques organisations qui jouent un rôle particulier.

Portant sur les individus et les institutions situes au premier rand de la future administration
Obama, ces analyses examineront les orientations politiques, les expertises, et les visions du
monde de l’équipe présidentielle afin de mieux faire comprendre et le plus vite possible, de
manière fiable et claire, la politique étrangère de la prochaine administration.

Amy Greene

Amy Greene,

POTUS Watch:

As Obama rounds out his Cabinet and moves on to other important advisors, including some
surprise picks – notably, Leon Panetta for CIA Director – the overarching theme of an Obama
Administration has emerged: the selection of the best and the brightest. This means big
expertise, but also big personalities, big turf wars, and big competition for limited resources.

Many questions emerge: Who will actually have the necessary relationship with Obama to move
an agenda or to demonstrate immediate authority over their department’s bureaucracy? Which
advisors will be left out in the cold? How well will the president manage his diverse and driven
team? How will he mitigate conflict as scores of advisors are called to work across agencies in
unprecedented ways? And will the addition of new advisory posts (like Carol Browner as energy
czarina) help streamline decision-making or just mire the White House in yet another layer of

Director, National Intelligence

Unlike CIA Director-delegate Panetta, retired Admiral Dennis Blair is the expected pick as
Obama’s director of national intelligence, the highest intelligence post in the country to which
the Director of the CIA reports. Blair is reputed to be an effective manager of and a proponent
of engaging adversaries over military action.

The former head of the U.S. Pacific Command, Blair served 34 years in the Navy (until 2002); is
an expert on China; and was Associate Director for Military Support at the CIA for one year
charged with increasing CIA cooperation with the Pentagon. He also speaks Russian.

In 2006, Blair was forced to step down as president of the Institute for Defense Analysis (IDA)
because his presence on several corporate boards was judged in violation of conflict of interest
standards. He criticized for his 1999 involvement during the conflict between Indonesia and
East Timor, during which time he was head of the Pacific Command. Asked by Clinton
administration officials to meet with an Indonesian General to end pro-Indonesian militia, Blair
instead invited the General to be his personal guest in Hawaii. Later, he was forced to cut off
U.S. military aid to Indonesia, but not after the killing of pro-independence opposition militants.

Assistant to the President, Energy and Climate Change

The longest-serving administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (for almost all
of Clinton’s eight years in office) and confidante of Al Gore, Browner was previously the top
environmental administrator in Florida before becoming a principal at the Albright Group after
leaving the EPA.

Known as forceful, relentless, and effective, Browner is hailed for her expertise and tenacious
commitment to regulating industry. She believes that business leaders are not opposed to
strong environmental regulations, but rather to the indecision and inefficiency of government.
Nonetheless, some of these leaders criticize her strict, to-the-letter enforcement of protections.

Amy Greene,

POTUS Watch:

Having derided the Bush administration as the "worst environmental administration ever,"
Browner is expected to move quickly to restore the power of the environmental agenda,
work with businesses to create a consensus to change U.S. environmental policy, and to
support measures restoring the prestige of the Environmental Protection Agency. However, her
role will involve coordinating and cajoling many agencies – Interior, Energy and Defense among
them – and it remains unclear how much success she will have in driving the politics and
agendas of these other bureaucracies.

Secretary, Department of Energy

With a demonstrated professional commitment to the development of alternative energies,

the reduction of greenhouse emissions and the push to expand the use of biofuels and solar
energy, Steven Chu seems well positioned to pursue the energy priorities that Obama espouses.
A Nobel-prize winning scientist, Chu is an experienced manager, currently overseeing 4,000
employees and a $650 million annual budget as Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National
Laboratory (a facility underwritten by the U.S. Department of Energy).

Despite an illustrious and impeccable scientific background, Chu has no experience in

government service, which may be mitigated by his extensive managerial background. But Chu
has little familiarity with the manufacturing and maintenance of the United States’
nuclear arsenal, the main task of the Secretary of Energy. He has spoken out against an
initiative popular among lawmakers to build a nuclear waste site at Yucca Mountain. Despite the
potential problems caused by his lack of focus on nuclear, it is clear that Chu will be an avid
partisan pushing for Obama’s vision for America’s energy program.

With Obama likely to invest massively in green jobs as a measure to renew the U.S.
infrastructure and revitalize the U.S. economy (and with a Congress that is generally supportive),
Chu may find himself the steward of a new and unprecedented American energy policy.

Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

As Administrator of the EPA, Jackson will bring a combination of celebrity and experience,
expertise and managerial skills, needed to pass necessary, forward-looking environmental
reforms. A chemical engineer by trade, she worked as an enforcement official at the federal
EPA for 15 years before taking on the role of director of the New Jersey EPA. Criticized by
some environmentalists for ceding to business interests by relaxing certain proposed regulation
standards, Jackson is more largely praised for striking a centrist balance and understanding the
importance of bipartisan political leadership and support to make any reform possible.
Throughout her career, Jackson has played an integral role in passing legislation to implement
mandatory cuts in greenhouse emissions and to institute a cap-and-trade program to reduce
global warming in the northeast United States.

Overall, Jackson is a knowledgeable manager of large organizations who understands how

to get things done within the EPA and possesses the political savvy to make reforms happen.

Amy Greene,

POTUS Watch:

Director, Central Intelligence Agency

In a shocking and surprising move, Leon Panetta will be named Director of the CIA.
Though unconfirmed by Transition Team officials, Obama and Biden have both acted to douse
any lingering skepticism among Congressional leaders and defend this pick.

Though known to be an effective manager, Panetta has no previous intelligence experience. He

can, however, claim his record of consistent opposition to Bush-era policies, namely torture
– a characteristic missing from other possible nominees. Panetta would not be the first outsider
to take on the job; but many, citing the intelligence community’s reticence for outsiders,
argue Panetta has little chance for success in a security climate that seems to demand immediate
mastery of the dossiers. Still, others laud his bipartisanship and balance, as well as his deep
political experience while also mentioning that Panetta will ultimately report to Admiral Blair.

A member of the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group, this former Chief of Staff under
President Clinton did amass some intelligence experience, helping to set the CIA budget,
participating in daily intelligence briefings, and aiding in the management of major foreign policy
crises. Panetta’s selection represents a commitment to better management and a clean break
from the controversial Bush years. But still, questions remain: Will Panetta overcome his
outsider status to implement real changes within the CIA? Will his close relationship with
Obama be enough to grant him the immediate internal authority needed to act right away?

Commissioner, Securities and Exchange Committee (SEC)

Currently head of Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Schapiro has made it her
career ambition to reach the summit of financial regulation. FINRA considers itself “the
largest nongovernmental regulator for all securities firms doing business with the U.S. public.”
Prior to FINRA, she was chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)
from 1994-96, a post to which she was named by President Clinton. The CFTC is “an
independent agency created by Congress to regulate trading in the commodity futures and option

Nobody questions Schapiro's successful professional track, but detractors insist that under
Schapiro's stewardship, FINRA missed the Madoff Ponzi scheme and the credit
swapping that plunged the globe into financial crisis. Still others argue that her career has been
based solely in industry-related organizations and that she thus lacks a basic instinct to protect
investors. Detractors fear she will not possess the authority to strong-arm neither entrenched
neither financial interests nor tenacious Congressional committees. Beyond this, and given the
dovetailing financial climate, there is a question about the ongoing relevance of the SEC and
whether or not it will be swallowed into a larger regulatory oversight body that reflects the sea
change of regulation going forward.

Amy Greene,