Federal City Digest

Federal City Digest

Michelle Obama joins Secretary Ken Salazar.
Michelle Obama joins Secretary Ken Salazar. (By Lawrence Jackson -- Associated Press)
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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Secure Interior

How tight was security for Michelle Obama's visit to the Interior Department yesterday? Not tight enough for some members of the fourth estate, who have been conditioned by a long season of reporting on now-President Barack Obama to expect an increasingly intense regimen of poking, prodding, sniffing and X-raying of their goods in order to get anywhere near him or his wife.

"Security for press at the check-in was lackluster," Christina Bellantoni of the Washington Times noted in the pool report on the event. "Two other reporters said their equipment was not hand-inspected. There were no X-ray machines, and I did not see a dog. . . . I went through the mag[netometer] and someone did not check my ID, search the pockets in my backpack, or turn on my computer or video camera."

Frank Quimby, a spokesman for the department, said the first lady's Secret Service detail, in coordination with Interior's own security personnel and U.S. Park Police, supplemented the two magnetometers at the scene with a number of handheld wands, but he agreed that no X-ray machine was used for press bags. Interior staff members, who already have to scan IDs in each morning to enter the building, were told not to bring bags to the event. "We were doing hand inspections as much as possible," Quimby said.

Malcolm Wiley, a spokesman for the Secret Service, called the day's security plan "effective in that there were no incidents" and said the agency appreciated the heightened concern expressed over the Obamas' security. The White House declined to comment, per its protocol on security matters.

Goodbye, Goo-Goo

The Council for Excellence in Government is going out of business, reports our colleague Joe Davidson; its major programs and much of the staff is being merged into the Partnership for Public Service. [Story, D4.]

The Confirmation Catalogue

The Washington Post has launched an online guide to who's where in the Cabinet confirmation process, called Confirming the Cabinet. Find it at http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics.


· Another day, another town hall -- just like the olden days of 2008. Obama travels to the Harborside Event Center in Fort Myers, Fla., today for a noon forum pitching the economic stimulus bill just around the time the Senate is expected to hold a vote on it. Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican who campaigned with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) last fall, will introduce Obama at the event.

· At 11 a.m., Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, above, is scheduled to outline "a comprehensive plan to restore stability to our financial system" in a major speech that will be given from the Treasury Department's Cash Room.

· The Senate Banking Committee meets at 2:30 p.m. to vote on the noncontroversial nominations of the once-controversial economist Austan Goolsbee and Cecilia Elena Rouse to be members of Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, followed by a hearing on the Troubled Assets Relief Program at which Geithner will testify.

· The Justice Department is staffing up, and at 10 a.m. the Senate Judiciary Committee kicks off a hearing on the nomination of Elena Kagan to be solicitor general and Thomas J. Perrelli to be associate attorney general, with both in attendance.

· Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben S. Bernanke will be skids down at the House Financial Services Committee in the afternoon for a hearing on "An Examination of the Extraordinary Efforts by the Federal Reserve Bank to Provide Liquidity in the Current Financial Crisis."

-- Garance Franke-Ruta federalcity@washpost.com

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