At his Senate confirmation hearing last week, the prospective head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, David Paulison, seemed suspiciously bronzed. "The man looks like he just returned from Cabo," quipped one reporter. Paulison, it turns out, is getting heat not just at the Senate but, more invitingly, at his family home in Miami. "He's been helping around the house--with the gardening," says Aaron Walker, FEMA's communications director. We assume he's enjoying the rest while it lasts; hurricane season starts June 1.
The More You Know, the More You Get
The boom in national security employment has job seekers with security clearances in great demand. And the higher one's clearance, the bigger the salary, says William Golden, CEO of top placement firm IntelligenceCareers.com. Applicants with a basic secret clearance can get up to a 5 percent boost in salary. Those with a top-secret/special compartmentalized (TS/SCI) clearance can get a bump of between 10 and 15 percent. And at the top level--TS/SCI with a "lifestyle polygraph"--new employees can expect between 10 and 35 percent more. Nice work if you can get it.
Pressing the Prez on Intel Details
It's not law yet, but the Senate Intelligence Committee has passed an authorization bill with brawnier-than-expected requirements for the Bush administration to cough up more details about clandestine detention facilities overseas and detainees held there. The Senate panel also wants to know more about secret programs like the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance--before they show up in the press. The measures could still be stripped out of the bill, but either way, it will be hard to know whether Bush complies. Any reports to Congress would themselves be classified.
Iranian to Bush: 'Let's Talk'
The Bush administration refuses to talk with Iran about its nuclear programs. But at least some in Tehran want to talk with Washington. Most recently, the Iranians spoke with Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency, and at least one told ElBaradei that Iran wants a direct dialogue with Washington. Last week, ElBaradei conveyed that wish to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, says a U.S. official. The Iranian in question may be Ali Larijani, head of Iran's National Security Council. Rice wouldn't say; ElBaradei acknowledged meeting with Larijani but declined to elaborate.
Officials, Idols, and Hometown Ties
And how did Condi Rice relax last week? By watching the season finale of American Idol, naturally. She cheered on winner Taylor Hicks, a fellow native of Birmingham, Ala., and, says an aide, even plans to send him a congratulatory note.
With David E. Kaplan, Edward T. Pound, Marianne Lavelle, Kevin Whitelaw, Thomas Omestad and Angie C. Marek