- - Monday, June 25, 2012

NATIONAL SECURITY

The director of national intelligence is announcing two steps to avert leaks of classified information after recent disclosures about national security.

James R. Clapper said Monday that a question related to unauthorized disclosure of classified information would be added to the polygraph test used by intelligence agencies.

Mr. Clapper also said the inspector general for the intelligence community would lead any independent investigations that the Justice Department declines.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has asked two U.S. attorneys to lead a Justice inquiry into the leaks.

LITIGATION

Kochs, Cato Institute ready to end lawsuits

TOPEKA, Kan. — The Cato Institute and billionaire shareholders Charles and David Koch announced Monday that they are close to settling two lawsuits brought by the prominent political donor brothers in their native Kansas over the ownership of the libertarian-leaning think tank based in Washington.

The parties announced they have an “agreement in principle” that would restructure the institute, a research organization that promotes free-market, small-government policies. The Cato Institute would get a new CEO within six months; it would be governed by member directors; and it would no longer have shareholders. Charles Koch would no longer be a director, but David Koch would remain one.

The Koch brothers, known nationally for supporting conservative causes and candidates, are longtime shareholders in the institute.

The agreement would mean the departure of Ed Crane, who has been CEO for more than three decades. John Allison, the former chief executive officer of BB&T Corp., the banking and financial holding company based in Winston-Salem, N.C., will replace him.

CAMPAIGN

Obama ad pushes back at ‘doing fine’ criticism

Showing concern over President Obama’s recent gaffe that the private sector was “doing fine,” the Obama campaign released a new ad Monday in nine battleground states reinforcing the president’s belief that more needs to be done to improve the economy.

The television ad begins with a narrator telling viewers about the president, “He’s fought to pull us out of economic crisis for three years — and he still is.”

The spot criticizes presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney and his “attack ads,” saying, “Mitt Romney and his allies can spend millions to distort the president’s words, but they’re not interested in rebuilding the middle class — he is.”

On screen appears an image of Mr. Obama at a podium, and his now-notorious quote that “the private sector is doing fine.”

Republicans seized on the president’s comment, accusing him of being out of touch, in their own campaign ads.

HOUSE

Jesse Jackson Jr. takes medical leave of absence

CHICAGO — U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who defeated a primary challenge this year despite being the target of a House ethics investigation, has been on a medical leave for two weeks and is being treated for exhaustion, his office announced Monday.

In a three-sentence news release, Mr. Jackson’s office disclosed that the Democrat went on leave June 10 but did not provide further details, including how long he would be away. In the release, he asked that his family’s privacy be respected.

“I don’t know how long he’ll be out of action,” said Frank Watkins, Mr. Jackson’s spokesman, adding that he could not offer additional details.

Earlier this year, Mr. Jackson, 47, faced a primary challenge from former U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama congratulates Greek prime minister

President Obama has called new Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and urged him to work closely with European and international institutions as his government seeks to renegotiate terms of tough austerity measures under its international debt-bailout agreement.

The White House says Mr. Obama spoke with Mr. Samaras on Monday and congratulated him on his recent election. Mr. Obama voiced strong support for Greece and wished Mr. Samaras a speedy recovery from eye surgery as well.

ECONOMY

Election winner won’t affect economy much, survey says

When it comes to the economy, half of Americans in a new poll say it won’t matter much whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney wins, even though the presidential candidates have staked their chances on which would be better at fixing the economic mess.

People are especially pessimistic about the future president’s influence over jobs, according to the Associated Press-GfK poll. Asked how much impact the November winner will have on unemployment, 6 in 10 gave answers ranging from slim to none.

CAMPAIGN

Former top Obama aide joining re-election team

The Obama campaign says a former senior White House official is joining President Obama’s re-election team.

Jennifer Psaki will start work as Mr. Obama’s traveling press secretary in July. Ms. Psaki started working for Mr. Obama during his 2008 campaign and served in the White House, rising to the post of deputy communications director.

Ms. Psaki left the White House in September to work for a public relations firm in Washington. A campaign official says she will take leave from the firm while working for the campaign.

DIPLOMACY

U.N.’s Annan wants Iran at Syria meeting

United Nations envoy Kofi Annan has proposed inviting Iran to a multinational meeting to discuss a political transition in Syria this week, but is leaving it up to the U.S. and Russia to decide whether Iran can participate, U.S. officials said Monday.

Mr. Annan wants an “understanding” between Washington and Moscow on Iran, other potential guests and the agenda, officials said, before he issues formal invitations to the meeting of an “Action Group on Syria” that he wants to convene in Geneva on Saturday.

The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity owing to the sensitive nature of the diplomacy.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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