Jeffrey LewisMichael Allen Tapped for NSC Gig

Al Kamen reports that yet another of Dafna Linzer’s “Brady Bunch” NSC staffers has inherited a good gig as the rats scramble off the sinking ship of state that is the Bush Administration:

Arms Control — What, Me Worry?

Michael Allen, formerly the senior director for legislative affairs on the National Security Council, has moved over to become the senior director for counterproliferation. That’s the post vacated by John Rood in September 2006 when Rood went to the State Department to be assistant secretary for international security and nonproliferation. (He’s been nominated to be undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, but that nomination is going nowhere.) The NSC job remained vacant until a few weeks ago, when Allen formally took over. [I think he took the job in August, ACW.] The move raised eyebrows among the arms-control crowd because Allen doesn’t have much experience on these issues. He’s in his mid-30s, and before working in the administration had been a counsel to Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who’s not seen as much of a foreign policy expert. Now Allen is in a position previously occupied by serious heavyweights, including Bob Joseph, Bob Bell, Gary Samore and Dan Poneman.

Our colleague Dafna Linzer’s article in March 2006 focused on the youthful crew that had assumed major NSC positions..

“At the NSC, staffers said the gap is most noticeable when their boss, National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley, recounts his years as an arms-control negotiator during the Cold War.

“ ‘We’re like ‘Arms control, what’s that?’ “ said Michael Allen, Hadley’s special assistant for legislative affairs.

“ ‘I often hear about arms control from the old-timers, but it’s so different now. It’s about all the places we don’t have embassies now and it’s very rare, it seems, that [Congress] is lobbying the executive branch to engage. Most of the times it’s isolate, how can we isolate a country even more?’ said Allen, a lawyer who grew up in Mobile, Ala., and could easily win an Owen Wilson look-alike contest. Don’t ask the 32-year-old Allen about the era of bipartisanship; he never experienced it.”

Speaking of Dan Poneman — has anyone else noticed that he shaved off his mustache? I had no idea who he was at a dinner the other night until a friend pointed it out.

Must be trying to keep a low profile from all the groupies.


  1. Karl Schenzig (History)

    Dear Mr. Lewis,

    You underestimate the Bush administration at your peril.

  2. Shelby (History)

    Well, that gives me hope for post-doc career prospects, I guess, unless hiring standards really kick up a notch under the next administration. I can has arms control plz?