Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Incestuous Politics

The reasons given for not marrying one's first or second cousin is that the potential to pass on bad genetic information is too great. The same would seem to be true in politics, not that anyone seems to be paying attention.

Chiefs Demoted in Pentagon Succession Line - Los Angeles Times
A little-noticed holiday week executive order from President Bush moved the Pentagon's intelligence chief to the No. 3 spot in the succession hierarchy behind Rumsfeld. The second spot would be the deputy secretary of defense, but that position currently is vacant. The Army chief, which long held the No. 3 spot, was dropped to sixth.

The changes, announced last week, are the second in six months and mirror the administration's new emphasis on intelligence gathering versus combat in 21st century warfighting.

Technically, the line of succession is assigned to specific positions, rather than the current individuals holding those jobs. But in its current incarnation, the doomsday plan moves to near the top three undersecretaries who are Rumsfeld loyalists and who previously worked for Vice President Dick Cheney when he was defense secretary. The changes were recommended, said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman, because the three undersecretaries have "a broad knowledge and perspective of overall Defense Department operations." The service leaders are more focused on training, equipping and leading a particular military service, said Whitman.

Thomas Donnelly, a defense expert with the American Enterprise Institute, said the changes make it easier for the administration to assert political control and could lead to more narrow-minded decisions. "It continues to devalue the services as institutions," said Donnelly, saying it will centralize power, and shift it away from the services, where there is generally more military expertise and interest.

Under the new plan, Rumsfeld ally Stephen Cambone, the undersecretary for intelligence, moved up to the third spot while former Ambassador Eric Edelman, the policy undersecretary; and Kenneth Krieg, the undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, hold the fourth and fifth positions.

The first to succeed Rumsfeld remains the job of the deputy secretary, a position currently vacant because the Senate has not confirmed Bush's nominee -- Navy Secretary Gordon England.

Senators have already approved Donald Winter to be England's replacement as Navy chief, and it is expected that Bush will eventually move England into the No. 2 Pentagon job without congressional approval through what is known as a recess appointment.

Recess appointment, warrantless spying. What's the dif? Or as Mel Brooks puts it best "It's good to be the king".

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