Tidbits for Political Junkies with Short Attention Spans & Hearty Appetites


Friday, May 14, 2004


Clarke Successor Watch

At last, the revolving door seems to be getting some attention.

Back in March, I had posted a rundown on the string of successors to Richard Clarke's anti-terrorism post. This was followed up with a couple more posts on General Wayne Downing (here and here), and then most recently with this one, from May 3rd, on the promotion (or kicking upstairs, we may never know) of Fran Townsend. I concluded that most recent post with these questions:
Now what I’d love to know – and here’s where I could use some help – is what exactly is going on here? For starters, what is the current status of John Gordon, who last we heard also held the title of “Homeland Security Advisor.” Is he moving on to something else, or will there be several "Homeland Security Advisors"? Are there any candidates for Ms. Towsend's replacement? If not, why not? And what does it say about the priorities of the Bush adminstration that the nation's most senior counter-terrorism post is now apparently a part-time job?

And more to the point, why isn’t anyone in the press even asking the question?

Well, now it looks like Ryan Lizza, over at TNR's Campaign Journal, is on the case (though I can't help noticing a certain resemblance between his post, and some of my own earlier stuff). Ryan ads the news, without indicating why he believes this, that John Gordon is "apparently resigning" -- and then neatly summarizes the core problem:
It seems an odd time for the country to be without a fulltime terrorism adviser at the NSC. Bush will be attending three international summits over the next two months, and the summer will bring both political parties' conventions as well as the Olympics. In short, we are approaching the peak season for splashy terrorist opportunities, and the White House can't seem to stabilize its anti-terror team.

This, in turn, has garnered some attention elsewhere on the Internet, including this post, by Kevin Drum, and this one, by Barry Ritholtz at BOP News.

Here's Kevin:
There doesn't seem to be a single person who knows anything about counterterrorism who can stand to be in Bush's White House for more than a few months. What does this tell you about both their competence and their dedication to building a counterterrorism program that actually works?

Good question -- especially since, two weeks after the announcement of Ms. Townsend's "promotion" -- there's still not a word on possible successors.

[Minor update: This item from The Hill confirms that John Gordon is "retiring." You don't suppose there could be a book deal in the works?]

[Update: Ryan Lizza has updated his original post and e-mailed me since this morning. Apparently, he hadn't seen my earlier posts -- but is still nice enough to plug 'em anyway.]


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