- The Washington Times - Friday, November 13, 2009

INTELLIGENCE

Panetta wins fight with Blair

The CIA has won a turf battle over which government agency controls U.S. intelligence operations around the world.

CIA Director Leon E. Panetta and National Intelligence Director Dennis C. Blair squared off in May over Mr. Blair’s effort to choose a personal representative at U.S. embassies to be his eyes and ears abroad, instead of relying on CIA station chiefs. Mr. Blair issued a directive in May declaring his intention to select his own representatives overseas. Mr. Panetta followed up shortly thereafter with a note telling agency employees that station chiefs were still in charge.

The dispute made it all the way to national security adviser Gen. James L. Jones, and then to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

An official in Mr. Blair’s organization said the White House decided the matter this week in the CIA’s favor. U.S. intelligence officials described the dispute on the condition of anonymity, noting the political sensitivities involved. For the national intelligence director’s office, it was a high-profile loss to a subordinate agency that raised fresh questions about the strength of the 5-year-old parent office.

TRANSPORTATION

LaHood plans panel on airlines

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Thursday that he will create a special panel to come up with a plan to restore health to the ailing airline industry, which has lost billions of dollars, shed jobs and been blamed for using a business model that critics say undermines safety.

Mr. LaHood, who made his announcement at the end of a daylong forum on the state of the industry, promised that within a year, the panel will produce “a road map for the future of the aviation industry.”

Mr. LaHood organized the closed-door forum at the behest of airline unions who say the industry has become dysfunctional, with the companies, their investors, their employees and their passengers all suffering.

Airlines were quick to tell the Obama administration what it can do to help - they want the government to pick up the entire tab for a new air traffic control system based on Global Positioning System technology instead of World War II-era radar technology.

PENTAGON

Gates denounces leaks to media

OSHKOSH, Wis. | Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Thursday angrily denounced leaks of sensitive details to the media about Afghan war deliberations and the probe into last week’s army base shooting.

“I have been appalled by the amount of leaking that has been going on,” Mr. Gates told reporters on route to Oshkosh, where he was to tour an armored vehicle factory.

Responding to a flurry of media reports about troop numbers in Afghanistan and the killing of 13 people at a Texas military base, the normally reserved Mr. Gates said in an unusually feisty tone that it “doesn’t serve the country” and was not in the military’s interest.

He said the leaks were coming from different government sources, but some were coming from his own department, adding that if someone was found leaking from the Pentagon “that would probably be a career-ender.”

PENNSYLVANIA

10 Republicans face charges

HARRISBURG, Pa. | A former Pennsylvania House speaker is among 10 people connected to the House Republican caucus who are being charged in a new phase of a legislative corruption probe.

Attorney General Tom Corbett says John Perzel, a Philadelphia Republican, his former chief of staff and former House Republican counsel are among those charged with misuse of public resources and employees for campaign purposes.

They’re accused of illegally siphoning millions of taxpayer dollars to underwrite political campaigns.

Mr. Corbett announced the latest charges in the ongoing grand jury investigation at a Thursday news conference at his Harrisburg office.

The latest charges come 16 months after Mr. Corbett’s office charged a dozen people connected to the House Democratic caucus, including former Democratic Whip Michael Veon, with similar offenses.

PRESIDENCY

Obama makes stop in Alaska

ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska | President Obama is in Alaska for his first visit to the state, albeit a very short one.

Mr. Obama landed Thursday at Elmendorf Air Force Base so Air Force One could refuel before the president continues on to Tokyo. During the layover, Mr. Obama was to address thousands of troops stationed there.

More than 1,000 troops and their families filled a hangar hours before the president arrived. A military band played, and personnel prepared the stage where he would speak with an American flag, a jet fighter and an armored vehicle.

Mr. Obama departed the White House on Thursday morning for his first major trip through Asia, a nine-day swing that will take him to Japan, China, Singapore and South Korea.

HEALTH

Mumps outbreak hits two states

U.S. health officials say the largest U.S. outbreak of mumps in three years is occurring in New York and New Jersey.

About 180 cases were identified in those two states from the time an investigation began in August through the end of October. In addition, 15 cases tied to the same outbreak have been reported in Canada. Three people have been hospitalized, but no deaths were reported.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the outbreak was first reported at a boys camp in Sullivan County, N.Y. It may have been triggered by an 11-year-old boy from the United Kingdom, where an ongoing mumps outbreak has sickened about 4,000.

Mumps is spread by coughing and sneezing with the most common symptoms being fever, headache and swollen salivary glands under the jaw. It sometimes lead to serious problems such as hearing loss, meningitis and fertility-diminishing swollen testicles.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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