White house staff changes continue

The White House continued its staff shake-up Friday by replacing President Obama’s chief legislative lobbyist in hopes of improving the president’s relations with Congress heading into the new year.

Miguel Rodriguez stepped down as the White House director of legislative affairs and will be replaced by Katie Beirne Fallon, deputy White House communications director and a veteran Senate aide, according to an announcement issued by the White House.

The switch capped a week in which the president recruited his former legislative director, Phil Schiliro, to return to the White House for a few months and enlisted John Podesta, a former White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton and co-director of Obama’s transition, to join the staff for a year. The changes indicate an effort by Obama to put in place a team that can help him move past the difficulties of recent months as he and Democrats look ahead to challenging midterm elections.

NSA, cyber oversight to stay together

The Obama administration will continue the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs and cyber command operations under the direction of a single military commander, the first move in advance of what published reports described Friday as limited changes proposed by a task force. The administration had considered splitting oversight of the two sensitive national security programs amid revelations about its surveillance programs sweeping phone and Internet data inside the U.S. and around the world. But National Security Council spokesman Caitlin Hayden said Friday the government believes that maintaining the oversight responsibilities together under one command is the most effective approach to accomplishing both agencies’ missions. It means Gen. Keith Alexander — the NSA’s director who is expected to step down this spring — will be replaced by another senior military commander instead of a civilian director.

News services