Lieberman staffer to head Foreign Policy Initiative

Chris Griffin, the former legislative director for Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) will become the next leader of the Foreign Policy Initiative, a conservative national security organization in Washington, the group is set to announce later today.

Griffin will be announced as the second executive director of FPI, succeeding former Bush-era National Security Council staffer Jamie Fly, who is moving on to become Sen. Marco Rubio's counselor for foreign and national security affairs. The board of FPI, started in 2009, consists of Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, Brookings Institution scholar Bob Kagan (husband of State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland), former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Eric Edelman, and former spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq Dan Senor.

"We're thrilled with the job Jamie Fly has done running FPI for the last four years, and we congratulate him on the important position he's assuming on Capitol Hill," the board said in a statement provided to The Cable. "And we're very pleased we were able to recruit Chris Griffin to replace Jamie, and are confident that under his leadership FPI will only go from strength to strength."

FPI provided The Cable with the following biography of Griffin:

Prior to serving as Sen. Lieberman's Legislative Director, Griffin was the senator's Military Legislative Assistant between 2008 and 2011, working to develop and execute Senator Lieberman's agenda as a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Between 2005 and 2008, Griffin was a Research Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where his work focused on U.S. policy toward Asia and security assistance programs. While at AEI, he was also a Contributing Editor to the Armed Forces Journal, writing a monthly column on military blogs and occasional pieces on the defense industry. Griffin serves in the Virginia Army National Guard.

Upon its founding, many Republicans saw FPI as a successor to the Project for a New American Century, a now defunct group of neoconservative foreign policy experts who played a role in supporting the push to go to war in Iraq. But under Fly, FPI has defined its own identity, playing a role in policy discussions on issues ranging from defense spending to nuclear weapons to human rights and democracy. Key members of the staff include Policy Director Robert Zarate, Human Rights and Democracy Director Ellen Bork, and Director of Operations Sarah Morgan.

FPI has also started ambitious young leader development programs both in Washington and New York, and hosts a well-attended foreign policy conference each year. Their 2012 forum featured speeches from Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Lieberman, and French philosopher and journalist Bernard-Henri Lévy.

Fly and Senor were also key foreign-policy advisors to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, with Fly being the director of Romney's National Security Council transition team and Senor having served as Romney's top advisor on the Middle East.

"Our nation is facing serious challenges around the globe, and it's critical that we do everything we can this Congress to ensure that America remains a leader in the world," Rubio said in a Jan. 18 statement. "Jamie's experience in both the government and private sector will make him an asset to the foreign policy challenges and initiatives we look forward to working on this year."

The Cable

Foreign policy officials tailgate at the Canadian Embassy

While hundreds of thousands braved the cold to watch President Barack Obama's second inauguration ceremony, a crowd of national security officials, diplomats, Congressmen, and VIPs experienced inauguration in style, engulfed in the warm hospitality of the Canadian Embassy.

Your humble Cable guy was invited to the Canadian Embassy Tailgate Party, which took place on the ground floor of the diplomatic outpost located directly on the Pennsylvania Ave parade route at 5th Street. But we soon realized that the real action was at the VIP Ambassador's Lunch event on the embassy's 6th floor, so we quickly absconded there, with our photographer in tow. The balcony overlooked both the ceremony and the parade route and the embassy staff pulled out all the stops for their distinguished guests.

Administration officials in attendance at the rooftop party included Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy, her husband Deputy Secretary of the VA Scott Gould, Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Shapiro, Assistant Secretary of State Anne Richard, State Department Climate Change Envoy Todd Stern, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Frank Rose, Deputy Undersecretary of the Air Force Rick McKinney, and many others.

Lawmakers at the Ambassador's Lunch included Sens. Chris Coons (D-DE), Mark Warner (D-VA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA), and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA).

Newt Gingrich and his wife Callista spent the afternoon at the event, which was hosted by Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird. Baird said that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was "very thrilled" to see Obama reelected because the two leaders had established a close and personal relationship over the last four years.

Baird also said he was looking forward to working with Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), nominated to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of State, because the two have some background in common.

"I am the grandson of an immigrant who came from Massachusetts, so I look forward to working with the senior senator from Massachusetts as early as next week," he said.

The drink of the day was the bloody Caesar, Canada's version of the bloody Mary, which replaces tomato juice with Clamato, a proprietary brand of tomato juice mixed with clam broth. Our photographer preferred the Royal 44, a mix of Crown Royal whiskey, cider, and Canada Dry ginger ale.

Food highlights included authentic Poutine, a notoriously unhealthy but delicious dish from Quebec consisting of French fries topped with brown gravy and cheese curd, as well as authentic Beaver Tails, fried dough treats stretched into the shape of a beaver's tail and topped with chocolate, cinnamon, or maple syrup.

The crowd noshed and chatted throughout the day in leisure, watching the event on any number of big screen televisions or at one of the several viewing stations. As the presidential motorcade passed, a team of Royal Canadian Mounted Police assembled atop their horses at the front of the embassy to salute the president and the First Lady.

The conversations at the Ambassador's Lunch were confidential and off the record.