Entries in Tom Donilon (5)


White House: U.S. Won't Increase Presence in Libya

MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In an interview with ABC News’ Christiane Amanapour, President Obama’s National Security adviser Tom Donilon insisted that the United States would not increase its presence in Libya due to NATO's success in protecting the embattled nation's civilians.

"NATO is still running this operation now, we're supporting it," Donilon told Amanpour. "They have the assets that are needed for them to engage in the civilian protection mission, and they are engaging."

Recalling NATO's ineffective war policy in Bosnia, where the U.S. "gave the Europeans the lead and they weren't able to protect the civilians," Amanpour asked if the United States policy of "leading from behind" will be ineffective in achieving the desired results in Libya.

"Will the U.S. step up more involvement?" Amanpour asked the White House National Security Adviser.

"No," responded Donilon. "When the president made this decision, there was an immediate threat to 700,000 Libyan civilians in the town of Benghazi. We've had a success here in terms of being able to protect those civilians. Now we need to continue that civilian protection mission and continue to put the pressure on Gadhaffi."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Donilon: Pakistan Remains Important U.S. Ally

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Following the killing of Osama bin Laden, a lot of questions have been raised about whether or not Pakistani officials were aware that bin Laden had been hiding out in the town of Abbottabad, in a compound located only a third of a mile away from a military academy of the Pakistani Army.

"The idea that he could be in a suburb essentially of Islamabad is quite remarkable," said former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in an interview with ABC News’ Christiane Amanpour.

"This isn't a time bluster from Pakistan," Rice added. "This is a time for serious analysis of why this happened, why he was hiding in plain sight for apparently as long as he was."

The U.S. did not give Pakistan prior warning about the raid in which Navy SEALs killed bin Laden, and White House national security advisor Tom Donilon said that decision was not based on mistrust, but rather on "operational security." The United States acted on the assumption that bin Laden had an escape plan; if the information leaked, the Al Qaeda leader would vanish once more. There was also the matter of protecting U.S. forces.

"The safety and security of our operators would have been put at issue," Donilon said. "So we didn't share this with anybody, not even our closest ally."

Pakistan remains an important ally of the United States, the national security advisor noted, and its role in the ongoing fight against terrorism should not be so easily dismissed.

The United States also has an immediate interest in preserving the relationship: Pakistan has in its custody all the non-combatants of the Abbottabad compound, including three of Bin Laden's wives. Pakistani officials also took additional material from the compound, according to Donilon, and the United States needs access to it.

Rice said it is possible and probable that high-ranking Pakistani officials did not know bin Laden was hiding in Abbottabad. Ignorance, however, is not an excuse.

"If this happens in your country," Rice told Amanpour, "you have an obligation to find out and to do a thorough investigation and to punish anybody who might have been responsible."

Politicians and Americans are now questioning whether the United States should cut off funding to Pakistan. From 2002 to 2010, the United States gave $13.3 billion in security-related aid to Pakistan, and $6 billion for economic assistance. More than $3 billion was requested for 2011.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


National Security Adviser: US Had 'Good First Day' of Operations in Libya

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- National Security Adviser Tom Donilon said in an on the record, off-camera briefing Sunday that the United States “had a very good first day” of operations against Moammar Gadhafi's forces in Libya.

On Gadhafi’s second declaration of a ceasefire, Donilon said, "It either isn't true or has already been violated," adding, we will "monitor his actions not just his words."

The White House expects this first phase of operations, which the U.S. is leading, to end later this week.  The allies will take the lead but the U.S. will continue providing "unique capabilities" after transition.  Those capabilities include electronic jamming, refueling and intelligence, but Donilon would not "pinpoint" how long the secondary role will last.

It was during a noontime briefing in Brasilia Saturday that “the final orders were given” by President Obama.

The president had three briefings on Sunday and talked with Jordan’s King Abdullah on the phone.  The longer-term efforts by the coalition will be aimed at proving Gadhafi “with choices,” and Donilon said they will continue to "squeeze him."

Speaker of the House John Boehner criticized the White House for not fully explaining its efforts in Libya.  Donilon said that is “a fair request and we are doing it."

Donilon also had strong praise for the constitutional referendum in Egypt, calling it “a very significant event."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


White House Security Advisor Counseled, Lobbied for Financial Giants

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama's new National Security Advisor spent the decade prior to joining the White House as a legal advisor to powerful interests including Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, and as a lobbyist for Fannie Mae, where he oversaw the mortgage giant's aggressive campaign to undermine the credibility of a probe into its accounting irregularities, according to government reports and public disclosure forms.

Thomas E. Donilon has been formally advising Obama on national security matters since the president's transition to the White House, and he worked in President Clinton's state department during the 1990s. But in between these high-profile public-sector assignments, Donilon was a highly paid lobbyist who represented an array of well-heeled and powerful clients, including former Republican New Jersey Gov. Christie Todd Whitman and Obama's 2008 campaign fundraising chairman, billionaire heiress Penny Pritzker.

After a stint at the law firm O'Melveny & Myers, where Donilon was registered as a lobbyist for Fannie Mae, he took on full-time work with the mortgage giant as executive vice president for law and policy. Donilon's name appears on Fannie Mae's public lobbying disclosure reports between 2000 and 2005.

While housing sales were still booming, internally these were troubled years for the company. In a report first noted by ABC News in 2008, Donilon is described as someone who lobbied for and helped paint a rosy picture of Fannie Mae's financial health to the company's board. He did so at a time when Fannie Mae faced accusations that it was misstating its earnings from 1998 to 2004. Fannie Mae settled with the Securities and Exchange Commission for $400 million in 2006, and did not admit any wrongdoing.

Donilon's tactics reportedly included attacks on the agency responsible for policing Fannie Mae's operations, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO), and an attempt to launch a separate investigation into OFHEO itself, according to a 2006 government report about Fannie Mae. Those efforts were ultimately unsuccessful, and regulators eventually discovered top Fannie Mae executives had been manipulating the company's financial reporting to maximize their bonuses.

During his 2008 campaign, Obama took a hard line on the behavior of lobbyists and decried the revolving door that allowed government employees to use their public sector connections to earn big money when they pass into the private sector. He created a rule that required lobbyists entering his administration to receive a waiver if they planned to do work related to their earlier lobbying efforts. But the restriction only covered those who had been lobbying within two years of taking their administration post. Donilon last registered to lobby in 2005.

A White House official told ABC News Friday that Donilon "did not require or receive a Pledge Waiver before starting as Deputy and does not need one now."

The administration official also noted that Donilon "divested all stock holdings in individual companies by Feb. 17, 2009 and did not need a waiver for his remaining assets," which are held in a variety of mutual funds, cash accounts and assorted bonds. Shortly after Obama's election, ABC News reported on Donilon's efforts on behalf of Fannie Mae from his position overseeing the company's sizeable legal and government affairs divisions.

Donilon did not comment for the 2008 report and his spokesman, Mike Hammer, did not offer comment when contacted Friday.

Fannie Mae's strategy, according to the 2006 report by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, was to neuter the agency charged with the company's oversight. "The goal of senior management was straightforward: to force OFHEO to rely on [Fannie Mae] for information and expertise to such a degree that Fannie Mae would essentially regulate itself," the report stated.

As this effort to minimize scrutiny was expanding, Fannie Mae's accounting practices began raising questions. In late 2003, its sister organization, Freddie Mac, disclosed it had misstated its accounting. Seeing the problems, OFHEO stepped up its monitoring of Fannie Mae and in a preliminary report in 2004 alleged the company had improperly used reserves to smooth its earnings.

ABC News reported that Fannie Mae executives began pushing back hard against the criticism. Its lobbyists -- overseen by Donilon -- pushed U.S. lawmakers to limit OFHEO's budget, and make it subject to annual approval. "[W] ith the knowledge and support of senior management," Fannie Mae's lobbyists "used their longstanding relationships with Congressional staff to attempt to interfere with OFHEO's special examination," according to the report.

They also tried to get OFHEO investigated. Email trails show that Fannie Mae lobbyists drafted legislation that required a probe into how the agency spent its money. While that effort was "conceived and executed" by the government relations team, it was "well known by many members of senior management" including Donilon," the report stated.

Shortly after Donilon's appointment to Obama's transition team in November 2008, Obama spokesperson Tommy Vietor said in a statement to ABC News that "Mr. Donilon is volunteering his time and more than 30 years of accomplishment to help prepare the State Department for an efficient transition to the President-elect, who is taking office at a time of war and when we are confronting a complex and challenging international environment. Mr. Donilon's experience in foreign affairs as Assistant Secretary of State and Chief of Staff at the State Department is critical to this review process."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Obama Thanks Gen. Jones for Service as National Security Adviser

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama formally announced the resignation of National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones on Friday, calling him “a dedicated public servant and a friend.”

Jones’ deputy, Tom Donilon, will take his place.

“The American people owe Jim an unbelievable debt of gratitude for a lifetime of service,” Obama said of Jones, who served as commandant of the Marine Corps and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe.

Obama lauded Jones for leading “an unprecedented reform” of the national security staff, including an emphasis on cyber security, development and climate change, and working to integrate the Department of Homeland Security into the White House’s efforts.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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