Obama’s staff chief wants cybersecure meetings

April 17, 2013

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough (Chris Usher)

The pieces, by Buzzfeed and by Bloomberg, conclude he’s a driven, indefatigable and no-nonsense head of White House operations.

Each notes his tight rein on senior staff meetings and on the occasionally overly talkative people who attend them. McDonough was “known for his preoccupation with proper, formal process,” at the National Security Council, Buzzfeed wrote, and he’s “imported from [there] a ban on Blackberrys and other smartphones at staff meetings.”

“He doesn’t allow BlackBerrys in his office,” Bloomberg tells us. “Everyone entering must park their communication devices in the cabinet outside the door, the same rule as in the Situation Room, where security was paramount.”

And it still is. We hear the top reason McDonough bans phones owes more to worries over cybersecurity than efficiency. The goal is not having people in, say, Beijing become part of the conversation.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.
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