Reducing Transition Vulnerability

The Sept. 11 commission, which has made a strong case for a myriad of intelligence-gathering-and-sharing upgrades, has added one more after the fact. Commission members Fred Fielding and Jamie Gorelick told a Senate Governmental Affairs subcommittee that presidential candidates should announce their choices for State and Defense secretaries and national security advisor before the election. The aim is to prevent a “very dangerous hiatus” of leadership between presidential administrations. The idea is get on with the necessarily time-consuming process of security clearances.

Not only would such a change reduce U.S. vulnerability during a transition period, but it could give voters further insights into the candidates. It might have been helpful, for example, if the electorate knew George W. Bush’s choice for a post-Cold War national security advisor. The New World Order was well underway as Bush selected Condoleeza Rice, a Russian-speaking, Stanford provost with old school expertise in Soviet history.

Ironically, the early declaration is done with vice presidents whose job descriptions tell you much less than those of Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense and NSA.

Kerry, frankly, should jump at the chance for a campaign jump start — and bask in the reflected glow of others’ credentials.

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