Sam Nunn

Requiem for the DLC

After a good quarter-century run, the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) has announced it will close its doors this month. Its original mission has long been accomplished: This small but famous—or, depending on your orientation, infamous—organization was founded in the wake of the 1984 Walter Mondale debacle by two House Democratic Caucus staffers named Al From and Will Marshall, who enlisted an assortment of elected officials with names like Clinton, Gore, Gephardt, Nunn, Babbitt, and Robb.

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The Senate recently held its third in a series of hearings on for-profit schools, many of which stand accused of mismanaging federal dollars and employing sketchy recruitment tactics, only to have less than half of their students graduate. Among those under scrutiny are big-name proprietary schools like the University of Phoenix and Kaplan. When undercover investigators applied at 15 for-profit colleges, they found recruiters misleading applicants and encouraging fraud so the would-be students—and ultimately schools—could collect more federal aid.

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A seven-member United Nations panel—yes, even a U.N. panel—without stammer and without dodging yesterday accused North Korea of providing banned nuclear and ballistic missile technology to Iran and Syria. The news was reported by the Associated Press, Ha'aretz, the Global Security Newswire of the NTI (an outfit founded by Sen. Richard Lugar and former senator Sam Nunn) and Reuters. The U.N.

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Pencils Down

On February 2, at the first Senate hearings on gays in the military since 1993, Admiral Mike Mullen became the only sitting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to support allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. He said the “institutional integrity” of the armed forces demands that they stop forcing gay service members to lie in order to serve their country.

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As I've been saying, the procedural critique of the Senate that some of us have been making for years is starting, but only starting to make headway into the conventional wisdom.

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This morning I'm inside the UN Security Council chamber for the special session, chaired by president Obama, on nuclear nonproliferation. Still not sure what to expect, as it's not clear whether anything unexpected might happen and, not unrelated, whether Moamar Qaddafi, whose country is currently a non-permanent Security Council member, will be here. For entertainment's sake, I certainly hope so. Stay tuned. Update: Early sightings as diplomats and leaders fill the room and schmooze: Sam Nunn, Henry Kissinger, Samantha Power.

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The Obama National Security Council has a new director for WMD terrorism and threat reduction in Laura Holgate, a vice president at the Washington-based Nuclear Threat Initiative. NTI is a private nonprofit outfit, chaired by former Senator Sam Nunn and funded by the likes of Ted Turner and Warren Buffett, that has done yeoman's work in helping the federal government address the WMD threat.

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For a while there, it was looking like we were going to spend the next four years arguing whether Barack Obama’s foreign policy was actually different than George W. Bush’s. As I noted the other day, Robert Kagan, the neoconservative foreign policy adviser to the McCain campaign, has been arguing that “the pretense of radical change has required some sleight of hand.” A few former Bush officials have made similar points.

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When Barack Obama spoke in Prague this weekend about a world free of nuclear weapons, he was to some degree tipping his hat to his sometime-advisor, Sam Nunn. Few people have lent as much mainstream credibility to the idea of nuclear abolition as the former Georgia Democratic Senator, who now chairs the private Nuclear Threat Initiative. In 2006 Nunn helped to kick off what you might call the new abolitionism when he co-authored a Wall Street Journal op-ed with Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, and William Perry--hardly a bunch of pot smoking hippies--setting the goal of a nuclear-free world.

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Nunn Watch

This is a good one: Former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia will join Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama in Indiana on Wednesday for a summit on national security. It is believed to be one of the first, if not the first, joint appearance between Nunn and the man who could make him the vice presidential nominee. Nunn is believed to be on Obama’s list of potential running mates and his presence in a key swing state on Wednesday will surely bolster that speculation.

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