Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Clay Johnson keynote speech

1:30 question from National Journal reporter:
With all of the secret natl security memos in the Bush admin, how can we be sure the next intelligence officials will be knowledgeable about everything they need to know?
Johnson: Confident that the director of National Intelligence (Mike McConnell) will prepare the incoming team to the best of his ability.

Thurber follow up: Are the pres candidates being briefed now on intelligence matters?
Johnson: Not sure if they are specifically on this, but he agrees that this should be part of their preparation.

Question on budget:

1:25 Josh Bolton (WH CoS) asked Johnson to organize the preparation of agencies for transition. On July 18, Johnson send a list of "to-dos" to the agencies, such as appointing an agency coordinator for all transition activities. Many of the things he asked them to do are supposed to be completed by Nov. 1. Others: have a senior career person in charge of every part of the agency until a political appointee is assigned; prepare senior career people for the event of a national security incident (if one occurs before a political apointee is in place).

1:20 Johnson: The next president needs to be ready to take over right away - there is no time once he gets into office to say he is "preparing to govern". The outgoing administration is taking its responsibility very seriously to make sure the incoming administration is prepared.

1:15 pm Clay Johnson is well known in Washington for being a longtime close friend and confidante of President Bush. He has been invited to speak to many groups working on the transition, including the House admin subcommittee hearing last month. He speaks passionately about his role in Bush's transition, and he seems genuinely committed to working hard to make the next transition smooth.

(sorry for the formatting problems below... no time to fix now)
Prof. Thurber reminds us in his intro that Clay Johnson led what was perhaps the most difficult WH transition – George W. Bush’s, a transition that couldn’t really start until after the Supreme Court decision in Bush v. Gore made Bush the winner.

Balancing act between rewarding your loyal friends and people who helped get you elected, and the people who are really best for the job.

Getting the leadership team in place (cabinet secretaries). This needs to be done quickly – but they need to go through Senate confirmation. In 2001, it took 90 days on average for a cabinet official to be confirmed. Clay says this time needs to be cut in half (45 days from the time the president names the official to the time they take office).

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