Many in the Obama transition team had experience in the Clinton Administration that ended almost eight years ago. Those people are finding many surprises in the post 9-11 complexity of the White House,Pentagon and elsewhere in government…..
By David E. Sanger
The New York Times
None of these newly arrived archaeologists would allow their names to be used when discussing their findings; to preserve cooperation with the Bush White House in a handover-of-power that still has 49 days to go, President-elect Barack Obama’s top aides have imposed a gag rule. But few can contain their amazement, chiefly at the sheer increase in the size of the defense and national-security apparatus.
“For a bunch of small-government Republicans,” one former denizen of the White House who has now stepped back inside for the first time in eight years, “these guys built a hell of an empire.”
Eight years ago, there were two deputy national security advisers; today there are a half-dozen, each with staff. In the downstairs suites of the West Wing and across the street in the Old Executive Office Building, the returnees tripped into the Homeland Security Council, created to keep order in the new, vast, often dysfunctional Homeland Security Department. In the Pentagon’s deepest crevices, the Joint Special Operations Command has mushroomed in size and influence because of the demands of operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The list goes on.
But several say that their biggest surprise came when they learned more about how President Bush spends his day, and how he gets his information.
It’s not clear what they expected; perhaps after all those jokes on Letterman and Leno, they thought Mr. Bush spent the heart of his day on the stationary bicycle. Instead, they have been surprised to see the degree of tactical detail about two wars and a handful of insurgencies — from the tribal areas of Pakistan to Sudan and the Congo — that surrounds him. Partly this is because the high-tech makeover of the Situation Room, completed about two years ago, makes instantaneous conversation with field commanders easier than ever.