The gifts to a CIA nominee: Crystal clock, good tequila, and more


John Brennan, nominee for director of the CIA and White House chief counterterrorism adviser, listens to a question during a Senate Select Intelligence Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., Feb. 7, 2013. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)
February 7, 2013

We didn’t learn much leafing through White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan’s questionnaire, provided to the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of his nomination to be CIA director.

It’s generally ho-hum stuff, such as a list of his published works (although we imagine that his 2010 “U.S. Policy Towards Yemen” is a real page-turner), qualifications, past employment and the like.

But we perked up a bit when we got to question 27, wherein the prospective CIA director lists gifts exceeding $100 bestowed on him by non-relatives.

Elias Murr, a former Lebanese defense minister and deputy prime minister, gave what sounds like the most interesting present: a “crystal clock in the shape of a horse jumping over an obstacle.” Hmm . . . sounds like it could really tie a room together.

Also notable was the bottle of Jose Cuervo Platino, a high-end tequila, from Emilio Gonzalez Marquez, the governor of Jalisco, Mexico. A few descriptions of gifts he’s received are rather detailed, such as the “paper mache container with gold color inlay, and floral design on lid.” That one was from Indian Ambassador Alok Prasad. Sounds lovely.

Well, at least it sounds as if Brennan’s got a head start on decorating that nice office at the CIA, if he’s confirmed.

Moving on at State

Team Hillary is decamping from Foggy Bottom.

Melanne Verveer , one of the former secretary of state’s closest pals and her chief of staff in the Clinton White House years, is leaving Friday to run Georgetown University’s new Institute on Women, Peace and Security.

President Obama appointed Verveer in 2009 to be the first-ever ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues, an area of particular focus and concern for Clinton. Verveer visited some 60 countries to promote women’s economic and political participation, including garden spots such as Afghanistan and the violence-torn, not-so-Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Her husband, top communications lawyer Phil Verveer , left his job at State last week, where he’d been coordinator for international communications and information policy. He’s said to be mulling his options.

In addition, Kris Balderston— who worked in the Clinton White House, was Hillary Rodham Clinton’s legislative director and deputy chief of staff during Senate days, and more recently special representative for global partnerships at the State Department — is moving to head the Washington office of communications firm Fleishman-Hillard.

An honor, edited

It’s always a good idea to cozy up to the congressional princelings — the committee and subcommittee chairs — who have a big say in your well-being.

So Airports Council International-North America, a trade group that represents local, regional and state-run airports in this country and Canada, moved quickly after veteran Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) became head of the House Transportation and Infrastructure’s subcommittee on aviation Jan. 16.

The group, which styles itself as “The Voice of Airports,” announced two weeks later that it will honor LoBiondo — who had yet to chair a hearing this year — “with the 2013 Commissioners Congressional Leadership Award for his ongoing support of the aviation industry and airports.”

A Jan. 30 news release said that one reason for the award, to be presented at a March 20 reception, was that LoBiondo “has been an unwavering supporter of airport issues including his steadfast support to raise the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC).” That’s the charge, now limited to $4.50 on your ticket, that pays for airport maintenance and capital improvements.

One small problem. Someone noticed that LoBiondo apparently is not so “steadfast” about boosting the fee, having voted against doing so in 1999, we’re told.

ACI-NA representative Morgan Dye said the problem was that an “early draft” of the release was “mistakenly posted” before final edit.

Okay, no big deal. The group quickly issued a corrected news release that same day, deleting the PFC reference and noting instead that LoBiondo has “been a strong supporter of the aviation industry and infrastructure,” including at his local airport in Atlantic City.

Party’s still on for March 20.

Name that memoir!

Last call for submissions to the Loop’s name-Hillary’s-memoir contest!

We asked you to submit your ideas for what former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton should make the title of her forthcoming book about her stint as the nation’s top diplomat. And you have — but keep those submissions coming. The deadline is midnight Friday.

To recap, here are the rules: You may submit no more than two entries. Send them via e-mail to intheloop@washpost.com, and be sure to provide your name, profession, mailing address and T-shirt size (M, L or XL), in case you’re a winner.

(Congressional and administration types may enter “on background.”)

You must include a phone number to be eligible.

We’ll pick our five favorites and award each of them a coveted Loop T-shirt.

With Emily Heil

The blog: washingtonpost.com/
intheloop
. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.

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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