Future White House chief of staff and current Rep. Rahm Emanuel is not discussing with senior transition-team members his contacts with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich dealing with filling President-elect Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat.
"We don't expect him to," says one transition team member. "We know the two of them had a much more complex relationship than Obama had with Blagojevich."
In fact, by most accounts, Obama wanted little to nothing to do with Blagojevich, and was actually drawn into in his gubernatorial race by Emanuel, a more avid supporter.
The missing name from the discussion of who did what with whom in the Blagojevich scandal, say some Chicago political insiders, is David Axelrod, the mastermind behind the Obama campaign, and a longtime adviser to Blagojevich, who was involved in a number of his political races, but did not run Blagojevich's run for governor.
"They still talked quite a bit," says one longstanding Chicago Democratic political consultant. "And I'd be surprised if Blagojevich didn't reach out to Axelrod before anyone else to discuss the Senate seat situation."
One point about the scandal that several transition team members agree on is that Valerie Jarrett, a longstanding Obama friend and well-known political hack going back to her days working for the Daley machine, was not in the running for the Senate seat.
"Obama and Jarrett seemed to know early on that it would be difficult for her to be placed in a job that required a high level of transparency," says one transition team member. "As a senior White House aide, she will have to disclose a great deal of financial and personal information, but not to the degree that she would for a Senate seat or a Senate-confirmable position. She didn't want that, and Obama didn't want that." Jarrett is credited with hiring Michelle Obama to a high-paying job and drawing the Obamas more closely into the Chicago political machine.
Senior Obama transition team members have signed off on a recommendation that would have President Obama signing an executive order to bring back an Interagency Working Group on Human Rights, similar to an order signed by President Bill Clinton in 1998. This order, say the transition team members, would be the prelude to legislation renaming and expanding the role of the current U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
"It's an idea that an advisory group at the American Constitution Society came up with a few months ago, and it appeals to a lot of us working on the issue," says one transition team member working on the Justice Department transition project. "The basic idea is that we are no longer a nation that respects human rights here at home or abroad, and we need to send a clear message to our friends around the world that we will return to being a nation of laws human rights."
Under the plan, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights would be renamed the U.S. Commission on Civil and Human Rights, with a focus on a range of domestic policy issues, including homosexual marriage and the "rights" of illegal aliens.
"The goal is to create institutions that give all Americans a venue to get greater protection of their civil rights and to expand America's influence on such issues around the world," says a State Department transition team member, who resigned his career position at State a month ago, but intends to return as a political appointee there in the area of international human rights. "The more critical component of the recommendations is the re-creation of the interagency working group."
This group would identify and coordinate any and all human rights treaties that the U.S. might consider entering into, as well as coordinating the negotiations through the State and Justice Departments, among others. Staff on the new U.S. Commission would be given a role those negotiations to ensure domestic human rights issues are addressed.
The recommendations in the area of human rights are the first that give a look inside the Obama administration's plans to use the federal regulatory and advisory bureaucracy to put in place more radical and leftist policies in a more subtle manner than through controversial and attraction-getting major pieces of Congressional legislation.
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