October 18, 2008

Barack Obama's team is briefed by Bush staff on after warnings about a terrorist attack

I smell a false flag operation.
Original Story at Telegraph.co.uk

Senior aides to Barack Obama have been meeting George W.Bush's staff to begin planning a smooth transfer of power.

By Tim Shipman in Washington
Last Updated: 9:26PM BST 18 Oct 2008

Officials from both campaigns have been asked to briefings after warnings from US intelligence that terrorists and rogue states will seek to exploit the power vacuum following November's presidential election.

For the first time in American history the FBI has begun vetting likely officials of the next administration before the election, to ensure they have security clearance to deal with crises on day one.

Intelligence chiefs expect an attempt to emulate the terrorist strikes on Britain when Gordon Brown took power and are concerned that Russia or Iran could use the 77 days of paralysis between the election and the inauguration on January 20 for acts of international brinkmanship, like the invasion of Georgia.

An official involved in the transition discussions told The Sunday Telegraph: "There has been no specific threat but the assessment is that someone will try something.

"It could be a terrorist attack on US assets overseas. It could be the leader of a rogue state chancing his arm. Putin and Ahmadinejad have form."

The transition of power in the US is a chaotic process. More than 1,100 political appointees in senior posts have to be approved by the Senate, a process that can take months.

On Wednesday the current White House chief of staff, Josh Bolten, chaired a meeting of senior White House staff and representatives of both Mr Obama and his Republican rival John McCain.

President Bush's creation of this Presidential Transition Coordinating Council, the earliest ever, is designed to avoid a repeat of the situation on September 11 2001, when only one third of his national security appointees had been approved by the Senate, nine months into his presidency.

Martha Kumar, director of the White House Transition Project, an independent group that advises the transition teams of both campaigns, told The Sunday Telegraph: "The times of changing of power are soft times, times of vulnerability. Just look at what has happened around the world, including in Great Britain.

"You had the failed bombings in London and then the attack at Glasgow airport three days after Gordon Brown took office. In Spain the Madrid bombings were three days before the presidential election."

There have been particularly intensive efforts to make sure Mr Obama has his national security team in place, not just because he is widely expected to win the election on November 4, but because intelligence analysts believe America's enemies are more likely to try to take advantage of Mr Obama's international inexperience than they would of Mr McCain.

A senior official in the Obama camp, whose name has been submitted for FBI vetting, said: "We will be ready and we will be seen to be ready."

He said that Mr Obama is close to finalising plans for his first 100 days in power - which will include major moves on the economy, healthcare and Iraq in his first week, designed to make his priorities clear to Americans.

He is planning a series of early interventions to stamp his authority on the economic crisis. This will include legislation proposing a $300bn stimulus package which would be published before President Bush has even left the White House, so that it can be passed as soon as he takes power.

Mr Obama is also planning executive orders that do not require legislation on his first day in office, which could include plans to promote renewable energy resources and create jobs.

His transition team, which is reportedly much more extensive and active than Mr McCain's, features 10 working groups in different policy areas to convert campaign promises into concrete legislation. It is chaired by John Podesta, Bill Clinton's former White House chief of staff who runs the Centre for American Progress, a think tank long seen as a Democratic administration in exile.

Mr Podesta is working closely with Michael Signer, a former foreign policy aide to John Edwards in charge of homeland security affairs. Mr Podesta and Jason Furman, one of Mr Obama's two most influential economic advisers, have already held talks with sceptical conservative Democrats to line up the votes to pass a stimulus package.

Mr Obama has also worked to cultivate a close relationship with the Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson, and personally asked him to help out during the transition, sparking speculation that he might keep Mr Paulson in post for the first year of his presidency.

Ms Kumar said: "There are things that a president can do immediately that establish his brand of leadership and help establish with the public what the priorities are.

"Reagan issued executive orders at the luncheon following the inauguration. He didn't even wait to get to the White House. He wanted to show how seriously he took the issue of the economy."

FBI vetting is also under way on 100 people from both campaigns, including Susan Rice, expected to be made the second successive black woman national security adviser after Condoleezza Rice; Greg Craig, a Washington lawyer tipped to become Mr Obama's chief White House counsel and his likely White House chief of staff; and the former senator and campaign chairman Tom Daschle. If Daschle prefers to become Health Secretary, Obama's current chief of staff Pete Rouse, nicknamed the 101st Senator for his connections on Capitol Hill, would take the job.

Other key national security officials will include Denis McDonough, chief foreign affairs adviser to the campaign and Richard Danzig, a secretary of the Navy under Clinton.

John Kerry, the Democratic candidate four years ago, and his fellow senator Chris Dodd, a failed candidate this year, are vying to become Secretary of State.

Mr Kerry, an Army veteran, is also a contender to take control of the Pentagon, but many expect that post to go to a Republican, perhaps the maverick senator Chuck Hagel. Colin Powell, a former secretary of state and chairman of the joint chiefs could return to government if he endorses Obama, as many expect. The veteran Democratic Senator Sam Nunn's name is also in the frame.

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