Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Obama Learns America'secrets in CIA Briefings; Chief of Staff: Mr Obama Has Offered Role to Rahm Emanuel Home Team: Barack Obama with His Wife Michelle and Daughters Sasha and Malia. He Has Now Started Making Key Appointments for His White House Administration

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Obama Learns America'secrets in CIA Briefings; Chief of Staff: Mr Obama Has Offered Role to Rahm Emanuel Home Team: Barack Obama with His Wife Michelle and Daughters Sasha and Malia. He Has Now Started Making Key Appointments for His White House Administration

Article excerpt

Byline: JOE MURPHY

BARACK OBAMA was today being initiated into America's gravest security secrets as he began regular briefings with the country's top intelligence officials.

The new president-elect will start receiving daily classified briefings from the CIA and the Pentagon on threats to American interests, military dangers and domestic terrorism.

Joe Biden, the vice president-elect, will also begin to receive briefings this week as the pair get ready to take office in 75 days' time. Determined to hit the ground running, Mr Obama was stepping up preparations for taking power, including a clutch of key appointments for the new administration.

However, he was already facing his first big row critics accused him of handing key jobs to a "Chicago Mafia" of cronies. As revealed in yesterday's Standard, he offered the crucial position of White House chief-of-staff to fellow Chicago politician Rahm Emanuel, a close friend and highly partisan figure.

Mr Emanuel, who had long planned to become the House of Representatives Speaker, was expected to accept, even though it will mean giving up his Congress seat.

John Kerry, who lost the party's presidential bid four years ago, was said by Democrat sources to be lobbying for an appointment as Secretary of State in the new administration.

Mr Obama was expected to confirm a string of names within days, including his Treasury team. He is anxious to avoid Bill Clinton's mistake of leaving the appointments until days before he took office, which left his choices unprepared and subject to hostile confirmation hearings.

John Podesta, a Chicago native and former White House chief-of-staff under President Clinton, has been preparing a list of key positions, especially those relating to the economy.

Mr Obama announced yesterday that Mr Podesta was heading his transition team, which has already met President Bush's aides to prepare for a smooth handover. …

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