Washington has not witnessed so much top level White House intrigue since October 20, 1973, when a Saturday night saw President Nixon fire the Watergate independent counsel, the U.S. attorney general, and the deputy attorney general in the "Saturday Night Massacre." Just ten days earlier, Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned after being charged with accepting bribes while governor of Maryland.
In the case of President Obama, the senior firings are not happening during a single nght but the recent involuntary sudden departures of the White House chief of staff and national security adviser, along with what WMR can confirm from multiple sources is a president who is suffering from Nixonian levels of paranoia, depression, and schizophrenia, has some top-level administration officials considering the first-ever invocation of Section 4 of the 25th Amendment -- the involuntary removal of the president from office. The White House meltdown has the Washington political circuit buzzing under the surface.
Unlike Watergate and the Iran-contra scandal, however, the corporate media is refusing to report on the breakdown of the Obama administration and the internecine political warfare within the Executive Office of the President.
The "Ulsterman" Diary
Like Watergate, the rumors about Obama's mental health, his lack of interest in the routine tasks of the presidency, and his mistaken belief that the crowds who see him on the campaign trail automatically adore him, are emanating from a "Deep Throat," a former White House staffer who is providing detailed information on the chaos and in-fighting in the White House to a blogger who goes by the name of "Ulsterman." Ulsterman has conducted a number of background interviews with the former Obama staffer over the past few weeks, publishing them in a series. WMR has independently confirmed with Washington insiders, some with high-level contacts in the White House, that most of the information in the interviews is correct.
The latest leak from the former White House official has Obama offering Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the vice presidential position in 2012. However, Clinton has no intention of taking the job and may well quit as Secretary of State after the mid-term election, especially if Secretary of Defense Robert Gates leaves earlier than his announced departure of next year and the Democrats suffer a big defeat at the polls on Nov. 2. It is known that Gates does not like the new National Security Adviser Tom Donilon and was not happy that National Security Adviser James Jones was fired earlier than his own planned departure date.
The other Ulsterman interviews are as follows:
White House Insider: What The Hell Have We Done? Sep. 18
Another similarity to the Watergate crisis is the usual "pre-crisis presence" of Washington Post influence peddler and original "Deep Throat" conjurer Bob Woodward. Woodward's new book, Obama's Wars, quoted Jones as calling Obama's advisers "water bugs," an utterance that resulted in Jones's early firing by Obama.
Rahm Emanuel's firing came after he and Mrs. Obama had a major argument, and the First Lady told Emanuel he had to go "for a reason." Mrs. Obama reportedly flatly told Emanuel he was "no longer welcome at the White House." The "Emanuel-running-for-Chicago-mayor" story was mere window dressing to cover up the meltdown in the White House leadership. The top-level White House resignations, just before a critical mid-term election, are unprecedented even by Watergate standards. The October 1973 White House instability was one year before the 1974 mid-terms, an election that still saw the Republicans suffer tremendous losses in the Congress.
As with "Deep Throat" and other past White House leakers, there is as much speculation on who has been speaking to Ulsterman as there is on the earth-shattering revelations coming out of his or her interviews. The leaker's information indicates that he or she was relatively high-ranking with access to the inner workings of the Oval Office. The following have all left the White House, some abruptly:
- Rahm Emanuel, chief of staff. Resigned effective October 1, 2010.
- Retired General James Jones, National Security Adviser. Resignation announced on October 8, 2010.
- Ellen Moran, Communications Director, left in April 2009, however, the leaks indicate the Obama "Deep Throat" had more recent access to the Oval Office. Moran is now chief of Staff to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.
- Van Jones, special adviser for "Green Jobs." Left in September 2009, again, too early to have been privy to later inside information.
- Mark Lippert, deputy national security adviser. Left in October 2009 and went from reserve to active status in the US Navy. Lippert was a "pick-up basketball" partner of Obama during the campaign.
- David Ogden, Deputy Attorney General. Resigned in February 2010.
- Greg Craig, White House Counsel. Craig was forced to announce his resignation in November 2009. Although November 2009 was also possibly too early for Craig to be the source, he is a consummate Washington insider who may continue to be privy to information from within the Oval Office and West Wing.
- Peter Orszag, Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Resigned in June 2010. Like Craig, a strong possibility.
- Retired Admiral Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence. Resigned in May 2010. Would have had classified access to White House operations although he did not work in the White House.
- Christina Romer, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. Resigned in September 2010.
- Larry Summers, Director of National Economic Council. Resignation not to take effect until after November 2 election.
There are also reports that White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has been told to look for another job. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has announced his decision to leave but with James Jones's early dismissal, Gates may move up his departure from the Pentagon. David Axelrod plans to leave as early as March 2011 to work, as he has stated, on Obama's re-election campaign from Chicago.
Obama's depression and paranoia and Hillary's intentions
WMR has learned that Obama's paranoia and severe depression over his correct belief that certain interests are out to get him have been mitigated by First Lady Michelle Obama and domestic policy adviser Valerie Jarrett. Mrs. Obama has been telling Obama that he should forgo a second term because he is "too good for the American people" and he has a future role on a "bigger world stage."
It is also being reported from White House sources that Hillary Clinton plans to run against Obama in 2012, something WMR previously reported. The reports that Obama has offered Mrs. Clinton the vice presidential position in 2012 is both an attempt at defusing the reports that Clinton, backed by her husband Bill Clinton, are planning a primary challenge to Obama and an attempt to send a message to Biden, who is considered by Obama to be working with the forces arrayed against him.
On August 27, 2010, WMR reported on the Obama-Clinton intrigue: "Informed sources in Washington, DC have told WMR that President Obama has been personally told by a delegation of top Democratic Party financiers that unless he radically changes his economic policies they will bolt from him for another Democratic candidate in 2012. The Democratic money moguls conveyed the warning to Obama in Martha's Vineyard, where the president and his family are spending their vacation. There are various factions within the Democratic Party that see different scenarios to bail out what many Democrats see as an administration in deep trouble with the electorate. One would have Secretary of State Hillary Clinton move up to replace Vice President Joe Biden on the 2012 ticket with Senator John Kerry becoming Secretary of State. However, WMR has been told that Clinton personally loathes Obama and his chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and may not want to be part of the 2012 president ticket playing second fiddle to Obama. WMR has also learned that Obama's reported 'severe narcissism' has a number of his cabinet officials and top Democratic fundraisers perplexed. Obama's refusal to change course because of his ego was discussed at the recent annual Bohemian Grove conclave in northern California, which brings together influential businessmen and politicians from both parties. Top U.S. business leaders openly complained about Obama's economic policies, with some stating that Obama is, for the business community, the worst president in anyone's lifetime. They also complained about White House gatekeepers like Emanuel and policy advisers Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod who are preventing access to the Oval Office.
Although such complaints could be expected from Republican businessmen, we have learned that top Democratic businessmen at the Bohemian Grove have told Jarrett, Obama's chief liaison to them, that all she does is shake them down" for campaign contributions and that the uncertainty on the costs for Obama programs on health care and taxes has prevented the hiring of workers.
WMR has also learned that rather than change course, the White House staff, who are keenly reading anything that is critical of the president, are more interested in exacting revenge for criticism than in changing course. 'The White House staff are voracious readers who are obsessed with favorable coverage,' one source said.
The Obama administration's interest in a favorable public image over all other interests has a number of Democrats running for re-election privately miffed. One change many Democratic politicians and fundraisers would like to see is the replacement of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner with someone with more gravitas and a better handle on fixes for the plummeting economy."
On January 7, 2010, WMR reported: "WMR has also learned of a schism that has opened up between Obama's political team of Emanuel, Jarrett, David Axelrod, and White House pollsters and focus group specialists who meet at the White House every Wednesday and the national security team of National Security Adviser Jim Jones, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The national security team is convinced that the political team is only focused on the 2012 re-election campaign and not on pressing national security issues. Brawls have reportedly broken out between the two groups with Emanuel looking for ways to threaten Jones, Gates, and Clinton with retaliation if their criticisms of the political team continues."
Now that Jones is out, Gates is going -- maybe sooner than reported -- and Clinton is contemplating leaving and challenging Obama in 2012, the national security team under Biden's close friend Donilon is now in the hands of a veteran Democratic political team. But the political team has also taken major hits, with Emanuel gone, Axelrod leaving next year, and White House General Counsel Greg Craig having left last January. New Chief of Staff Rouse is a protege of former Senator Tom Daschle and is considered close to Biden's circle.
Donilon's wife, Cathy Russell, is Biden's chief of staff and his brother, Mike Donilon, a long-time Democratic campaign consultant who advised Bill Clinton in his 1992 presidential campaign, is counselor to the vice president.
John O. Brennan, Obama's deputy national security adviser for Homeland Security and Counter-terrorism, is also under pressure to resign. Brennan, after retiring as interim chief of the National Counter-terrorism Center at the CIA in 2005, became CEO of The Analysis Corporation. Brennan's firm's employees were among those cited in rifling through Obama's State Department passport files in January 2008. It was never ascertained what information was gleaned from Obama's files and possibly those of his mother, grandfather, and grandmother. However, WMR has learned that Obama's past is curently of interest to individuals linked closely to the CIA.
Crisis management in the White House
The White House team now consists of Biden's circle of Donilon and Rouse, the Obama circle of Michelle Obama, Jarrett, and an increasingly weakened Axelrod, and those in the middle who are not sure about the future of the administration.
Mrs. Obama and, to a lesser extent, Jarrett, have tried to smooth things over between people like Vice President Biden and chief of staff Pete Rouse on one hand and President Obama, who is detached from his duties, and, according to the former White House staffer who is talking to Ulsterman, extremely lazy, only interested in watching ESPN and discussing sports, and playing golf, and doing what he is most comfortable at: campaigning. Obama clearly wants to run again for president, citing the "adoring crowds" who greet him on the political stump. Mrs. Obama has reportedly told the president that "there are no more adoring crowds."
Last March, the annual report on the president's health contaned a reference to drinking. Obama's doctor urged him to "Continue smoking cessation efforts, a daily exercise program, healthy diet, moderation in alcohol intake. . ." WMR has been told by informed sources that Obama's drinking has, on occasion, been more than moderate.
Previously, WMR reported that Michelle has told the president that he can make more money after one term as president than Bill Clinton has made after two terms. Privately, the First Lady has made no secret of her dislike of her role as First Lady and the constraints it has put on her own ability to make money. In a book about French First Lady Carla Bruni, "Carla and the Ambitious," Mrs. Bruni-Sarkozy reportedly said that Mrs. Obama told her that life in the White House is "hell." The White House staffer told "Ulsterman" that he was uncomfortable talking about the marital situation between the president and the First Lady, but WMR has previously reported on Obama's bi-sexuality, his activities with gay members of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ and an uptown Chicago bath house, in addition to his current controversial relationship with his personal trainer, Reggie Love, and a past short relationship with Larry Sinclair.
Obama's depression and lack of interest in his duties have senior administration officials and some Cabinet secretaries considering the invocation of Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, which deals with the involuntary removal of the president for physical or mental incapacity.
The first invocation of the Section 4 of the 25th Amendment is on the table
Section 4 has never been invoked. However, on two occasions it was almost invoked on President Reagan, after the March 30, 1981, assassination attempt against Reagan and in 1987 when Howard Baker took over as White House chief of staff from the fired Donald Regan. PBS reported that Baker's team was shocked over what they heard from Regan's staff: that "Reagan was 'inattentive, inept,' and 'lazy,' and Baker should be prepared to invoke the 25th Amendment to relieve him of his duties."
When asked by the Associated Press in March 1983 about White House plans to invoke Section 4 after his shooting in March 1981, President Reagan responded, "No one has ever mentioned such a thing to me." White House Chief of Dtaff James Baker III countered Reagan's statement by contending that Reagan must have forgot.
During the Bill Clinton impeachment episode, there was talk in the White House of creating the position of a White House psychiatrist who would be empowered to ascertain the mental fitness of the president to serve. Clinton's self-destructive sexual activities were cited as one reason for such a position. Lyndon Johnson's war-time depression and Richard Nixon's paranoia were also given as reasons for an "independent psychiatrist" on the White House staff. The issue returned during President George W. Bush's term of office with reports of alcoholism and depression.
1972 Democratic vice presidential candidate Senator Thomas Eagleton (D-MO) was stepped down from the ticket after revelations that he had been treated for mental depression. Presidential candidate George McGovern was forced to replace Eagleton with Sargent Shriver.
A March 14, 1999, New York Times report addressed the issue of presidential psychological problems and quoted former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford as being against the idea of a White House shrink. Carter was opposed to a mandatory annual psychiatric evaluation as part of the annual physical examination of the president. He told the Times, "No -- You don't have a mandatory requirement in the law to check a President for athlete's foot," but he added, "I believe that mental illness should be considered with the same import as physical illness." Ford also opposed the idea of a presidential psychatrist, saying, "I don't see the need for someone in that discipline being assigned specifically to the White House medical office . . . I think I was normal. I think I am still normal. If I had any problem along that line develop, the White House can acquire the best almost instantaneously." Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) also voiced opposition, saying, "The signal to the world that the American President, the leader of the free world, is having to get advice as to his mental condition might destabilize a lot of things, including stock markets and negotiations."
Zbigniew Brzezinski, former Carter national security adviser, not rejecting outright the idea of a presidential psychiatrist, said, "The psychiatrist would also probably have to sign a document obligating him to raise an alarm if he detected serious problems that could affect the President's ability to govern."
The present talk about invoking Section 4 has made Obama even more paranoid about his enemies, who he feels range from Biden and the Clintons to the banks and Wall Street.
Section 4 would allow Vice President Biden, along with a majority of either 'the principal officers of the executive departments," the Cabinet or "such other body as Congress may by law provide," to declare the President disabled by submitting a written declaration to the president of the Senate pro tem Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI), and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Under Section 3 of the 25th Amendment, Vice President Biden would become Acting President.
Section 4 is designed to be invoked if the president's incapacitation prevents him from discharging the duties of his office. A written declaration to that effect must be presented to Congress. The president may resume exercising the Presidential duties by sending a written declaration to the president of the Senate pro tem and the speaker of the House.
However, should the Vvce president and Cabinet remain unsatisfied with the president's condition, within four days of the president's declaration that he is fit, may submit another declaration that the president is incapacitated. The Congress must then assemble within 48 hours, if not already in session. Within 21 days of assembling or of receiving the second declaration by the Vice President and the Cabinet, a two-thirds vote of each house of Congress is required to affirm the President as unfit. Upon this finding by the Congress, Section 4 states that the vice president would continue to function as the "Acting President." If the Republicans win one or both houses of Congress on November 2, a lame duck Democratic-led Senate and House might have to deal with the invocation of Section 3, something that could plunge the country into a constitutional crisis.
If Biden were to become president, he would have to nominate a vice president subject to a majority approval of the Senate and House of Representatives. Again, a lame duck Congress may find itself thrust into approving a vice presidential successor and Biden would likly want such a decision to fall to Democratic-led chambers rather than one or both being controlled by the Republicans. In such an event, Secretary of State Clinton, the senior Cabinet member, may find herself as the favorite. Current talk in the corporate media about Clinton being offered the vice presidential slot by Obama in 2012, and her rejection of such a scenario, may be part of a campaign to prepare the American people for a vice presidency, not under Obama, but under Biden.
Enter the CIA
In another eerie replay of the Watergate crisis, WMR has learned that the CIA has not sat by idly as the Obama White House has unraveled. WMR has previously reported on Obama's and his family's past links to the CIA. However, Langley appears ready to take advantage of the weakening position of Obama to bring about added uncertainty.
WMR has learned from a reliable intelligence source that the CIA has secretly contracted with a retired top CIA official who was a principal actor in the Iran-contra scandal, to uncover any information that could be damaging to Obama from his past. On the table are any documents and information on Obama's place of birth, his paternal parentage, and his past employment activities. By contracting outside the CIA's normal channels, the agency is seeking "plausible deniability" should documents or information damaging to Obama be uncovered and subsequently leaked to the media.
The retired CIA official has recently been active with a carve-out special Pentagon intelligence-gathering contract approved by his one-time boss at the CIA, then-CIA deputy director Robert Gates, now the defense secretary, and CIA Director Leon Panetta, President Clinton's White House chief of staff. There is at least $15 million of Pentagon funds unaccounted for in the CIA's off-the-books intelligence-gathering operation, reported to have officially been for counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The contractor firm has been involved in domestic and foreign intelligence operations for the CIA and FBI for at least 20 years, including monitoring labor strikes, investigating at least one U.S. Supreme Court nominee, and its linkage to the FBI corruption case involving Boston criminal syndicate boss James "'Whitey" Bulger.
The scenario of invoking Section 4 of the 25th Amendment is a worst-case scenario but the mere fact that it is "on the table" provides an indication of the current dysfunctional situation in the White House. Democratic Party leaders are scrambling in anticipation of major losses on Nov. 2 in the Congress and state houses. President Obama may soon fund himself at the receiving end of senior Democratic Party elders who will bear a "shock therapy" message: "shape up or ship out."