The Reds are dead, but the spies are still around
We're shocked--shocked--with word from intelligence insiders that Russian President Vladimir Putin, himself once a top KGB spook, has boosted Moscow's spying on U.S. interests to Cold War levels. "You dance with the ones who brought you," said a U.S. intel tipster. While Washington has turned its spying eye to the Middle East, those who chart world espionage say that Moscow has recently fielded a new wave of agents against American targets. We're told that the level has reached the high-water mark of the Cold War. But unlike the good old days, the new targets are economic, not military. Moscow is trying to learn trade and manufacturing secrets from the IBM s and Exxon Mobils and also get a jump on contracts corporate America is chasing. "Our guys are distracted by the war on terror," said one insider, "but we don't do economic espionage anyway." Still, U.S. intelligence is watching the Kremlin's spies to chart evidence of bribery and business cheating and pass the information on to firms, presumably to complain about--or copy.
Rove: the numbers didn't lie
It was about 2 p.m. Election Day, and White House political chief Karl Rove was steaming mad. Crummy media exit polls were all over the Internet, claiming a Kerry blowout and possibly depressing the GOP vote, as well as Bushies around the nation. "Karl was furious," we're told. So he went to work in a White House dining room, laying out electoral spreadsheets, scrolling through GOP exit polls, and watching TV. "Karl knows every single precinct," says a friend. "We were never behind." But how would he get the word out? Enter Chief of Staff Andy Card and national security adviser Condi Rice. "She was into it," said the friend. Card shouted out vote counts from the computer, Rice scribbled them down, and Rove compared them with old statistics. When it looked as if the media polls were wrong, Rove's team blasted E-mails to gloomy Bushies in the field, reporting that their man was winning. "I'm not being Pollyannaish here; the race will be a close one," read one, "but . . . this drama has a ways to go before it fully unfolds." Rove's famous spreadsheets, as always, were right.
Hillary: ready, set
Friends of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton tell us that the New York Democrat is set to begin the hard work of running for president in 2008. Associates say that she already has organized a team to target fundraising prospects, create voter lists, and draw up a campaign agenda. The presidential effort will run in tandem with Clinton's 2006 senatorial re-election bid.
The Obama factor
Illinois Sen.-elect Barack Obama won't be welcomed just by Senate Democrats hopeful for a new voice to take on the GOP. We're told that the White House is looking to the Democrat's rising star to work with President Bush on one of his major initiatives. "We think he could emerge as their point person on bipartisan issues," said a Bush aide.
Not too soon...
With all eyes on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton 's expected 2008 presidential bid, Republicans are also quietly beginning to jockey to replace President Bush. There have been lots of whispers about a ticket pairing former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Sen. John McCain, but several GOP insiders said several other names are in play. Like: Florida Gov. Jeb Bush , Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and Tennessee Sen. Bill Frist. The list also includes conservatives like Colorado Gov. Bill Owens, Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.