ILLUSTRATION BY JOE CIARDIELLO FOR USN&WRNow that we finally have the fall presidential campaign set up between Democratic Sen. Barack Obama and Republican Sen. John McCain, the business of getting them up to speed on all the world's hot spots that Washington has its fingers in begins. Several agencies involved in foreign policy and the war on terrorism confirm to Whispers that plans are underway to begin classified briefings for the candidates and their national security teams right after both parties' late-summer nominating conventions. Why the rush? Since 9/11, the administration finds that the world's danger zones have grown, and President Bush wants his successor more prepared than any previous chief executive to take over U.S. diplomacy in January.
Leading the baton pass is the Department of Homeland Security, which has been working on a transition plan since last summer. CIA and State also plan to begin briefing the Obama and McCain teams, sharing details on trouble areas and U.S. enemies and what the feds are doing to combat them. And, says a new report to lawmakers and Bushies, that will get even more heavy duty after Election Day, when the victor's national security team will join with the president's top aides to review daily intelligence reports. And they'll even be invited into special exercises used to test responses to catastrophic events.