Archive for February, 2011
Feb 25

American Bar Association hosts Homeland Security Law Institute

The American Bar Association has been sponsoring the Homeland Security Law Institute for the past five years. John Pistole, TSA Administrator and former asst FBI Counterterrorism Director, will give the final keynote address of the conference.

After tenure as the first General Counsel at the Department of Homeland Security, Joe Whitley, now of Greenberg Trauig, was approached by the American Bar Association (ABA) about developing a conference for homeland security law practitioners. The first Institute was held in 2005 and has been an annual event for the past six years. Each year the Institute has grown in attendance. Last year there were over 350 attendees. Of the attendees, approximately 40% were government lawyers (i.e., Federal, State and Local), 30% were from private corporations and 30% were in private practice. Previous speakers at the Institute have included Secretary Tom Ridge, Secretary Michael Chertoff, Attorney General John Ashcroft, Governor Frank Keating, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, Deputy Secretary David Martin, and other senior officials from the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice and the Department of Defense.

This year’s Institute will mark the 10th Anniversary of 9/11. The program will consist of a number of interesting and timely panels and breakout sessions that will focus on areas of concern, to include: Cybersecurity, Homeland Security Law Compliance, SAFETY Act issues, Transportation Security, Regulatory Developments, Immigration Issues, State & Local Government Preparedness and Responsibilities, Homeland Defense, Critical Infrastructure, International Issues spotlighting FCPA & Arms Export Control, Energy Security spotlighting on Utilities and the Smart Grid, Homeland Security Funding Opportunities, Law Enforcement for 2011, Natural Disasters, Communications regarding the Public Safety Spectrum, Financial Security, Private Sector and Security, Developments in Chemical and Hazardous Materials Security (CFATS) and the Role of Courts in Terrorism. Alejandro Mayorkas will be giving the opening keynote address with Admiral Thad Allen as the closing keynote speaker on the first day and Stewart Baker will be giving the opening keynote address on the second.

Whitley promises that this year will be the “best ever” and for additional information and to register online, please visit the website HERE.

Feb 15

Will Couric Stay At CBS?

Katie Couric at CURE Annual Chicago Benefit April 16, 2010

With her contract expiring at the end of May, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric has a big decision to make. But as David Bauder from the Associated Press reports, “her next choice is likely to be fraught with more risk, and may not truly be hers.”

Folks have been speculating for some time whether Couric would remain behind the anchor desk. But talk heated up last week when “60 Minutes” head Jeff Fager was named CBS News chairman with Bloomberg’s David Rhodes at his side. Deciding whether Couric remains after her current contract expires at the end of May will likely be their first point of business.

Couric, the first solo female anchor of a network evening newscast and veteran “Today” co-host does have options. Bauder writes: “Couric has discussed the syndicated talk show market with her good friend and former colleague, ex-NBC Universal chairman Jeff Zucker. A shorter-term extension with CBS to stay put, at least through the 2012 election, is possible, as is a move to cable where other big TV personalities have found homes, such as Oprah Winfrey, Conan O’Brien and Martha Stewart. Of course, the Web is yet another alternative for Couric in today’s marketplace.”

Bauder quotes WHC Insider‘s own Tammy Haddad:
“She’s got to find a place where her interview skills are used,” said Haddad, a veteran TV producer who worked with Couric in the 1990s. “She has that rare ability to make something happen every time she interviews somebody and every time she’s on-screen.”

Couric’s former “Today” partner, Bryant Gumbel, created his own niche with his well-respected “Real Sports” show on HBO, Haddad noted.

To read the full article go HERE.

Feb 12

GE Celebrates the Reagan Era

It was an 80s flashback at the Ronald Reagan Building, fully equipped with glow bracelets, Atari games, giant dangling Rubik’s cubes, and breakdancers busting moves to a cover band.  Not a bad way for Fred Ryan, President and CEO of Politico and Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and GE Chairman and CEO, Jeff Immelt, to get a party started.  Add in Tom Brokaw and Andrea Mitchell and you have a Washington style party to celebrate the Centennial birthday of the 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan.

Jeff Immelt

Thanks to the new GE ads, we remember Reagan as a Hollywood heartthrob and popular host of General Electric Theater, which aired on CBS radio and television. GE honored their beloved star with a party and conversation on Wednesday. Jeff Immelt reminisced about starting with the company back in 1982 while Reagan was in office (Immelt’s father worked at GE, too).

NBC’s Tom Brokaw moderated the panel discussion and aside from interviewing the president several times, shared a birthday with him: February 6. Panelists included Politico’s Mike Allen, CNN Sam Feist, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, Reagan White House Staffer Ed Meese, and former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer.

Reagan was remembered as “The Great Communicator “ and Fleischer did not doubt the president could still wear the title in today’s media environment. “If Ronald Reagan had a Twitter account he would know what to say in 140 characters or less.”

Reagan only needed four words to go down in history. Ed Meese recalled how anotherspeechwriter, Peter Robertson, told the president that “tear down this wall” was too strong and the State Department would not be happy with the phrase. Reagan insisted, telling Mr. Gorbachev and the rest of the world to knock down the Berlin Wall on June 12, 1987, essentially the beginning of the end of the Cold War.

The Reagan Library has more information on centennial celebrations taking placethroughout the country.

Check out photos from the party and panel discussion below:

Feb 11

Gibbs Gets Presidential Send-off

“Obviously, Gibbs’ departure is not the biggest one today,” President Obama joked, referring to the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

So began the 250th press briefing of the Obama Administration and the last time Robert Gibbs stepped behind the podium as the White House Press Secretary.

Obama walked Gibbs into the briefing room after making an official statement to cameras about the situation in Egypt. The president recalled when Gibbs began working for him while he was running for the US Senate in Illinois. “I still didn’t have a lot of money, so all I could afford was Gibbs.”

He then shared a bit of trivia about his keynote address in Boston at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. It was the speech that launched Obama into the national spotlight and set him on the fast track to the White House. But what most of us didn’t know was that they were having a problem deciding which tie Obama should wear. All eyes turned to Gibbs and the blue silk tie around his neck.

Gibbs relented and took off the tie. Obama quipped, [Gibbs was] willing to take one for the Gipper.”

“I have to tell you, that I know there’s a simmering resentment that he never got it back. So as a consequence I wanted here, today, to present on the record, on camera, finally returning Robert’s tie. If he chooses to break the glass, he can,” Obama said as he handed over a frame with the tie, photos and a handwritten note.

“Robert has not only been an extraordinary press secretary but he has been a great friend. You could not ask for somebody better in the foxhole with you.”

Gibbs shook hands and embraced the president who left the room so that he could begin the briefing. While taking his place at the podium, Gibbs joked: “I liked that tie.”

Before jumping into the news of the day, Gibbs took a moment to thank everyone he works with. “It is a tremendous honor and privilege to do this each and every day, to serve and to take part in days like today that are so momentous. I want to thank the president and all of his team for, again, the privilege to serve.”

Watch the briefing here:

The AtlanticWire has also put together some highlights from Gibbs “rocky tenure” and the Los Angeles Times spoke with Gibbs who reflected on tenure as press secretary.

Feb 8

New White House Video Star: Plouffe

In another sign of a new Obama era, notoriously camera shy David Plouffe, Senior Advisor to the President, is kicking off a new program the White House is calling a “direct line to senior staff.”

With Advise the Advisor, every week a member of senior staff will post a video seeking the opinions and feedback of the American people on different issues. Plouffe kicked off the program with a short video harkening back to the President’s “win the future” State of the Union message.

You can go now to and send your thoughts on American innovation. Be sure to check back in to see if your idea passed muster – they promise to read through as much of the feedback as possible and post a summary a few days after the video goes up.