James Mattis

Mohammed bin Nayef’s Remarkable Prescience about Obama’s Second Term Cabinet

Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu just resigned.

Which got me thinking about my latest obsession: the Technical Cooperation Agreement beween Saudi Arabia and the US, under which (as far as the agreement admits publicly) the US helps the Saudis protect their critical infrastructure (read, oil fields) and borders. While the TCA is managed by State, it includes significant involvement on the part of DOD — particularly CentCom, DOE (because in Saudi Arabia infrastructure is energy), and Treasury (which handles the magic bank account at its core). In addition, a new focus on cybersecurity (presumably a response to the recent Aramco hack) gives DHS and NSA an increasing role.

So check out the list of people MbN met with while he was in DC from January 14 to 16, in significant part to “renew” the TCA (four months before the old one expired).

Prince Mohammad also met with a number of senior U.S. officials throughout his visit, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Director of National Intelligence James Robert Clapper, Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns, Treasury Deputy Secretary Neal Wolin, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, John Brennan, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Robert Mueller, and Director of the National Security Agency General Keith B. Alexander.

Remarkably, MbN didn’t waste his time with any outgoing cabinet member — not TurboTax Timmeh, not Chu, not Panetta — except for Hillary, with whom he was signing this agreement. While TurboTax Timmeh and Panetta’s departure was known, Chu’s was only rumored.

John Brennan is moving, sure, but I suspect his move won’t change his interactions with MbN — who has been a key stovepipe for Brennan — one whit.
The most interesting person MbN managed to not waste his time with on the visit, apparently, was General James Mattis, who was about to be, but had not yet been, ousted several months early the week MbN was in town.

I’m not suggesting this is all that meaningful, mind you. I just find it notable that MbN seemed to have a better sense of what was going on with Obama’s top national security leadership than most of the journalists in DC.

Emptywheel Twitterverse
emptywheel @atchley_sr First Gentleman.
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emptywheel @thegrugq He's gotta avoid admitting he was embarrassingly wrong at first. Very important. @mattblaze
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emptywheel If Clinton is lecturing POTUS on what he's doing it wrong, is he doing it as ex-POTUS or spouse of future candidate? https://t.co/Vbm9dp13o1
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bmaz Frankly, some of the better work ever done by FiveThirtyEightNate and his crew of stat kids http://t.co/luujZXGA4V
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emptywheel @billmon1 But but but! Inclusive government.
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bmaz Citizens shot by dozens in Chicago weekly, dozens kids killed in Newtown; but this country bed wetting over ISIS+Khorasan? #PatheticAmerica
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JimWhiteGNV Gosh, it sure isn't taking long for more of that camel to get into the tent.
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emptywheel @onekade Actually wonder if people who've been close to Karzai figure they need to get out while they can.
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emptywheel Why don't we call "inversion" defection, anyway?
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JimWhiteGNV RT @davewills34: Halloween came early to Boston... lots of the announced 35,566 people dressed as red seats for the game.
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emptywheel @TimothyS No, not really. They just don't realize that'll be the effect.
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