Tales from the Trail

CIA on WikiLeaks — WTF

The CIA gets the prize for the most entertaining acronym in Washington, a city that cannot speak without using at least one in every sentence.

The CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) has formed the WikiLeaks Task Force which is being referred to in-house as WTF.

(If you don’t get it, ask a teenager). SECURITY BUSH

TWP (The Washington Post) said the irreverence might be understandable since the agency was fairly unscathed by the WikiLeaks document extravaganza.

UPDATE: A USO (unidentified U.S. official) tells us: “Some might say the acronym is regrettable.  Perhaps we should consider that the CIA has a sense of humor after all.”

The revelation of WTF sent us ISO (in search of) other Beltway initials that might top it in amusement value — NFY (none found yet — OK we made that one up).

This lame duck sure can fly

Congress seems to work better under deadline pressure (like journalists).

Democrats are racing to cram as much through the post-election lame duck session as possible, before their majority turns into a pumpkin when Republicans take control of the House of Representatives in January.

HUNGARYRepublicans are grumbling about all the rush, but President Barack Obama went to their pond with some bread — tax cut extensions for the wealthy — so they aren’t quacking too loudly.

The lame duck session of Congress has produced — tax cut extensions have been signed into law, the repeal of “Don’t Ask , Don’t Tell” to allow gays to serve openly in the military will be signed into law tomorrow, and the START treaty is moving toward ratification.

Congress playing chicken in lame duck session

What’s going to fly?

That’s the question on Capitol Hill where Republicans and Democrats are engaged in a game of chicken over what legislation gets approved in  the final stretch for this Congress.  PANAMA/

Everyone wants to extend middle class tax cuts, but when it comes to extending tax cuts for wealthier Americans feathers get ruffled. Republicans are demanding all of the Bush tax-cuts be extended, but Democrats cry fowl, saying the tax cuts for the wealthy are too expensive to continue.

The House of Representatives, which is controlled by Democrats until the new Congress with a Republican majority is seated in January, will vote Thursday to extend only the middle-class tax cuts that are set to expire at the end of the year.

Senate Republicans ask: What’s the hurry on the new START treaty?

When it comes to ratifying President Obama’s nuclear arms reduction treaty with the Russians, Senate Republicans say: don’t rush us.

Obama has said he would like to see the Senate ratify the new START treaty with Moscow this year. But he will need some Republican support to get the 67 votes required for ratification. And Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell says Republicans don’t yet have the answers to their questions about the agreement and related concerns about how much money will be spent modernizing U.S. nuclear forces.

“The only way this treaty gets in trouble is if it’s rushed,” McConnell said in an interview with Reuters. “My advice to the president was, don’t try to jam it, answer all the requests, and let’s take our time and do it right,” he said.RUSSIA/

Senate Republicans keeping powder dry on START treaty

There appears to be no rush among Senate Republicans to finish what President Barack Obama STARTed when he signed the new arms reduction treaty recently with Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev.

NUCLEAR-SUMMIT/At a closed-door meeting Wednesday on Capitol Hill, Senate Republicans listened to arms experts and leaders in their caucus discuss the deal, a follow-on to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

But the general feeling in the room was that it was way too early to decide whether the new START merited a thumbs-up or thumbs-down from the Senate, some participants said.

Obama ready to lend Rahm to Russia

OBAMA/President Barack Obama has a potent weapon in his arsenal if his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev has any concerns about selling a new nuclear arms reduction treaty to the parliament in Moscow — his famously assertive White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

“Just as we have to go to our Congress, President Medvedev has to go to the Duma. And I think President Obama has said that he would send Rahm Emanuel to Moscow,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unexpectedly informed reporters during a White House briefing on the new treaty.

Emanuel’s muscular powers of persuasion are credited with holding U.S. lawmakers in line for the recent approval of the president’s historic healthcare reform, and he was also recently accused by a former colleague of picking an argument while stark-naked in a congressional shower.