The Night Beat: Don't Ask Anymore

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National Security Strategy release pushed 'till Thursday
CBS, ABC devote half of newscasts to administration's response to BP
GOP hopes that Nikki Haley didn't have sex with Will Folks

The U.S. military and the South Korean military will hold joint naval exercises aimed at ratcheting up the pressure on the DPRK -- North Korea.

A Don't Ask, Don't Tell compromise is emerging. It is a REPEAL with a TRIGGER mechanism. The repeal will be on the books, but policy won't change until certain thresholds are crossed. Those thresholds happen to be the same conditions that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen (C/CJS) had already set -- no impact on readiness, recruitment, effectiveness, retention, and unit cohesiveness. However, repeal will become official policy; not if, but when becomes set in stone. Gates, initially hesitant to upend his timetable, which saw his work being finished in December and repeal early next year, agreed to compromise language. That's because Gates gets to make the final call as to when. There appears to be enough votes in the Senate to add this provision to the defense appropriations markup. The House might add language THIS WEEK. A victory for gay rights groups who had been pushing Congress and the White House to act more quickly; key players include Sens. Lieberman, Levin, Rep. Murphy, Speaker Pelosi and deputy chief of staff Jim Messina, in whose hands the president delegated the task.

President Obama speaks to Senate Republicans tomorrow. Expect him to talk about his new rescission proposal, his deficit commission, and financial regulatory reform. Expect Republicans to ask questions. The White House asked to come. The Republicans are happy to host him. It's closed press.

The release of the National Security Strategy is now Thursday. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will unveil it formally at the Brookings Institute. On Wednesday, counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan previews the N.S.S. at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

If you watched the first block of the evening news programs, especially CBS Evening News and ABC's World News, you can plainly see that the White House's effort to pre-emptively choke off the assignment of blame for the continuing existentially-threatening oil spill has failed. The perceived problem: they're not doing enough. They deferred too much to BP. The real problem: nothing like this has ever happened before. There is no script. Sadly, BP does seem to be the only entity remotely capable of doing anything. And (c.f. the dispersant problem) there are bound to be missteps and confusion. ("The effort to stanch the vast oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was mired by setbacks on Monday as state and federal officials feuded with BP over its failure to meet deadlines and its refusal to stop spraying a chemical dispersant.") ... Why won't the White House consider imploding the hole? If it fails, it risks creating more holes and a bigger leak. The scariest thought: this is a problem that cannot be solved until a new well can be built.

The Tax Policy Center concluded today of the Wyden-Gregg tax reform proposal that it would be "roughly revenue neutral" over a decade and would make the tax system more progressive. ... Ford says it's going to add green jobs in Michigan.

" ....

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announced today that the President has nominated Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, for reappointment to the rank of general and assignment as commander, U. S Joint Forces Command, Norfolk, Va. Odierno is currently serving as commander, U.S. Forces-Iraq, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Iraq.
 ...."

The administration does not view the language in the House Armed Services Committee approps mark-up that blocks any money from being used to purchase Thomson prison in Illinois as unfair. They had assumed that Congress would require a pre-purchase review, and they are willing to follow through with one. Still, with prodding from Attorney General Holder, the White House has NOT foreclosed upon the possibility that the Justice Department might just reprogram some of its own money to get Article III trials started, daring Congress to overrule them.

Despite the fanciful scenarios of a massive reorganization of the intelligence community, none is in the offing. But the President's Intelligence Advisory Board, led by David Boren and Chuck Hagel, is examining whether the President needs to ask Congress to give the DNI more direct authority over covert action, various defense intelligence budgeting activities, and the power to task. White House officials won't say when Obama will announce his choice. Soon, though. Very soon. The chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, sent this warning:

No one agency, particularly the Department of Defense, should control the flow of intelligence to the President. The majority of the intelligence budget is already executed by the Department of Defense, and it will always have a strong influence over the Intelligence Community's operation. That should be balanced, however, by the need for the community to provide strategic intelligence beyond what is necessary for the warfighter. It will be important that any nominee is not beholden to the Pentagon's interests and can, as needed, provide balance to civilian and military interests in carrying out the nation's intelligence missions."

Re: the South Carolina sex scandal: RT @fmanjoo: Sarah Palin chastises the media for relying on "some blog entry." She says this on her Facebook page. ... There are a lot of conservatives who hope that blogger Will Folks did not have "inappropriate" relations with gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley. Haley is seen as a future standard-bearer for the GOP. She's leading in the polls. She's been married since 1996. She's a pro-life social conservative, but she's not a cultural bomb-thrower. Note: rival campaigns have been peddling this rumor for a while, and no one took it seriously, or was even predisposed to care.

Newt Gingrich will speak at an Iowa Republican Party fundraiser in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Wednesday.

Finally: for six decades, the laws governing communication policy in this country have stayed roughly the same, save for a bit of tinkering. Today, this press release heralds a new comprehensive effort to revise the 1934 law, and is bound to set off a lobbying frenzy one hasn't seen since ... ever.

Today, Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, Rep. Henry A. Waxman, the Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Senator John F. Kerry, the Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, and Rep. Rick Boucher, the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet announced they will start a process to develop proposals to update the Communications Act.  As the first step, they will invite stakeholders to participate in a series of bipartisan, issue-focused meetings beginning in June.  A list of topics for discussion and details about this process will be forthcoming.

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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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