GOP Appointees Staying On At The Pentagon, Until They Leave
Bill Gertz has kind of a breathless piece in today’s Washington Times about how Defense Secretary Bob Gates is asking many of the Pentagon’s political appointees to remain in their posts. Until such time, that is, as Barack Obama’s Pentagon transition team and defense aides replace them. See why that story is important? Me neither.
The unusual request by Mr. Gates, whom President-elect Barack Obama has asked to continue in his Cabinet post, ensures that key policy positions will not be left to “acting” subordinates as typically occurs when political appointees are directed to resign during a presidential transition.
“I have received authorization from the president-elect’s transition team to extend a number of Department of Defense political appointees an invitation to voluntarily remain in their current positions until replaced,” Mr. Gates said in a Friday e-mail.
There’s nothing “unusual” about this. (Except, of course, that a Pentagon leader is carrying over during a transition of power between political parties.) Ned Walker, president of the Middle East Institute and as forceful a critic of neoconservatism as you’ll find, was assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs for the first eight months of the Bush administration. Ideological heresy? No, he was just assistant secretary for the final years of the Clinton administration, and replacing people takes time. So it goes. You have to read pretty far down into the story before you come to this choice part of Gates’ email:
“To the extent you are willing and in a position to continue to serve, I am deeply appreciative,” Mr. Gates said in the e-mail. “However, I encourage you to continue to prudently plan for the transition from DOD employment, as the pace of personnel decisions by the incoming administration is likely to accelerate.”
I’m actually going to have some fun on this subject in a piece tomorrow morning, but for now, let’s simply note that this isn’t really out of the ordinary. Jim Clapper, the undersecretary for intelligence — actually a really important job — is singled out by Gertz as someone “expected to stay.” Until he leaves. Sometime next year. When the Obama people name his replacement.