Denmark on the radar?
By Al Kamen,
Rufus Gifford, former Democratic National Committee finance chairman and more recently President Obama’s near-legendary 2012 campaign fundraising chief, is said to be the leading pick for ambassador to Denmark.
Gifford, an indefatigable — some beleaguered donors have said maybe too indefatigable — fundraiser, was the key person behind the campaign’s $1 billion war chest.
The longtime Democratic fundraiser and activist in the gay community would be the second openly gay U.S. ambassador to a NATO ally. The first, James Hormel, served in the latter part of President Bill Clinton’s second term as ambassador to Luxembourg.
Gifford’s ex-partner Jeremy Bernard — also a formidable fundraiser and major Democratic pol — is the first man and the first openly gay person to be White House social secretary. Gifford and Bernard, who remain good friends, had been called one of Washington’s top “power couples.”
The gay community had been pushing since the election for an openly gay appointee to a top-tier ambassadorship. While Denmark may not rank with places like Britain, Germany and France, its population, at 5.6 million, is more than 10 times that of Luxembourg. And Denmark has sent hundreds of troops to support the U.S.-led campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Gifford would succeed prominent Washington lawyer and Obama bundler Laurie Susan Fulton, who left this month after a somewhat uneven tour.
Loop Fans may recall a 2011 item about an inspector general’s report that criticized her for not delegating authority and being “harsh” when she finds fault with her staff. “Where she perceives lapses,” the report said, “her response has been sharp and, to those affected, frequently unpredictable.”
MALL VU! MUST SEE!
Hot real estate news on Capitol Hill — and it has nothing to do with a trendy condo development.
One of the most impressive properties in the Capitol building is opening up. The death of Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) late last year means that the lovely “hideaway” office he occupied will soon be available.
Inouye was the chamber’s most senior member, meaning he had dibs on the choicest of all the private hideaways — those offices in the Capitol building given to senators in addition to their official spaces. His was a second-floor office on the Capitol’s tony West Front, with sweeping views down the Mall, that was occupied by the librarian of Congress before the library moved into its own space in 1897.
The former library spaces, which were also later used by the Supreme Court before the justices decamped in 1935, are said to be breathtaking, with crystal chandeliers, marble fireplaces and mahogany galore.
Since Inouye’s death, the hideaway has undergone a refurbishment — nothing major, just a little spiffing up, we hear. And soon, the process of passing it on will begin.
Typically, hideaways are offered to senators in order of seniority, which means the space will be made available to the chamber’s now-most-senior members. With the addition of the office space inside the Capitol Visitors Center, even the most junior senator has at least a closet-size hideaway to call his or her own.
Some senators make their hideaways semi-public spaces where they hold meetings with staffers and visiting constituents, while others prefer to keep them very exclusive — keeping their locations secret so they can slip away from colleagues, reporters, maybe even their own staff members.
Gitmo bedtime stories
Ever wonder what books terrorists like to read? Probably not, but it seems some like to read about themselves or alleged close pals.
Ramzi Binalshibh, a Yemeni who is accused of having helped and trying to join the Sept. 11, 2001 , terrorists — but was denied a visa four times — isn’t into snuggling up with what the others at Guantanamo Bay favored.
As we noted in August, the most popular items borrowed from the prison library were early episodes of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” — the sitcom had replaced the Harry Potter book series atop the list of items requested by detainees.
Binalshibh, however, prefers more intense fare.
At the military trial in Gitmo of the 9/11 conspirators, we find Binalshibh, who reportedly had spoken of his role in the attacks with an al-Jazeera reporter, had in his cell two volumes of the 9/11 Commission report and the books “The Black Banners” and “Perfect Soldiers,” according to the Brookings Institution’s Lawfare blog.
“The Black Banners” — styled as “The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda” — is the 2011 memoir by former FBI agent Ali H. Soufan. Binalshibh is oft-mentioned in the book, which he had despite its apparently being banned in the prison.
The second book, Terry McDermott’s “Perfect Soldiers: The Hijackers: Who They were, Why They Did It,” is all about Binalshibh and his pals.
Probably bookmarked the references to his own alleged activities.
With Emily Heil