From: Greg Sandow <email@example.com> Date: Thu, 10 Oct 2002 11:07:32 -0400 Fwd Date: Thu, 10 Oct 2002 18:53:30 -0400 Subject: Re: Gleason - Sandow >From: Robert Gates <RGates8254@aol.com> >To: firstname.lastname@example.org >Date: Thu, 10 Oct 2002 01:23:59 EDT >Subject: Re: Gleason >Slight disagreement with Jerry. If a President of the United >States wanted to take his best buddy to some AFB to show them >something Top Secret, who would be in authority to stop the >President? There's an eye-opening story in the memoirs of Charles Colson, one of Nixon's aides. One evening, Colson was the ranking staff member on duty at the White House. He was also young and new to his job. Around 9 PM, Nixon decided he wanted to go to a show. What was available? Maybe something at the Kennedy Center, they all thought. So they tried to call the Kennedy Center to find out what was playing. That was their first problem. The box office was closed. The administrative office was closed. Finally they reached a restaurant at the Kennedy Center. Whoever answered the phone had trouble believing the president's staff was on the line, but eventually Colson learned that one of the military bands was performing that night. Very suitable for the president, but now there was a second problem. They had to let the theater know that the president was coming. The band had to be told to play "Hail to the Chief" when the president entered his box. (A curious American custom that list members from other countries are free to giggle at!) This disrupted the concert. Nobody was happy. The next morning, the chief of staff, Haldeman, came into work and heard about what happened. He reprimanded Colson for letting Nixon cause all that trouble. Nixon, Haldeman said, shouldn't have been allowed to go to the concert. "The president rattles the bars of his cage," Haldeman said. "But we can't let him out." Presidents aren't nearly as free as we might imagine. Nixon couldn't simply go by himself to bring his buddy to see the alien bodies, or whatever he's supposed to have done. The Secret Service would have to go along. Whoever carried the nuclear "football" - the device that allows the president to authorize the use of nuclear weapons, should that be necessary - would have to go, since this person never leaves the president's immediate vicinity. The military base where the bodies allegedly were would have to be notified. A visit from the president is one of the biggest events that could happen on the base. The base commander would have to be notified. Plans would have to be made. Any movement the president makes has to involve an astonishing number of people, and the arrangements have to be made by staff aides, whose chief can effectively delay, hamper, or even forbid some of the things the president wants to do. High officials tend to be very effective bureaucratic infighters. The commander of the base where the alien bodies supposedly were might not have liked the idea of the president bringing a civilian in, and could oppose it, both overtly and by sheer stubborn inaction. The president could argue with his aides (including such high-ranking people as the national security advisor, who might also be appalled by something like the Gleason visit). The aides will argue back. The president can't turn everything into a confrontation. Like anyone in a bureaucratic situation, even the top people, he or she depends on good working relations with subordinates. Only rarely can a president, or any CEO, simply order something to be done when most or all of other top officials are against it. There's also President Truman's comment, about what his successor Eisenhower would find when he took office. "He was the commander in chief of the Army," Truman said, or words to that effect. "When he gave orders, they were obeyed. When he's here, he's going to sit at that desk and tell people what he wants done - and nothing will happen." Greg Sandow
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