“She served her country well”

Janine Brookner, an accomplished former CIA agent who overcame brutally unfair treatment at the agency, has unfortunately passed away. While many tributes to this wonderful person have already appeared (here), I would be remiss not to add a revealing anecdote from decades ago that I’ve kept confidential until now.

I met Janine Brookner, then a single mother, a couple of times in the mid-1980s. Her son Steve and I lived next door during our freshman year at Dartmouth. At the time, she was assigned to the United States Mission to the United Nations where she monitored Soviet Bloc officials. Our UN Ambassador then was Jeane Kirkpatrick.

In 1985, Amb. Kirkpatrick hired me for a 6-month internship. My job was to help her compile and edit four years of speeches, Congressional testimony and other official documents. We worked together almost daily for months and gradually, as I earned her trust, she would open up about some officials she worked with during her 4+ years in the Reagan Administration. Though she never shared anything confidential, she didn’t pull punches in giving her views.

I still vividly recall mentioning that I’d returned from New York to see Steve and had also bumped into Ms. Brookner. This was about 5 years before the CIA’s public humiliation of her. At the mention of the name “Janine Brookner,” Amb. Kirkpatrick put down her pen and became literally motionless. After a few moments she looked at me and said, “Janine Brookner has served her country well.”

She paused and then repeated that same statement.

The reason that memory has stuck with me so long is that I’d heard Amb. Kirkpatrick speak about many officials. Typically she’d comment about their intelligence (or lack thereof), savvy, or leadership. But I never heard her describe anyone else the way she described Janine Brookner, not even remotely.

Janine Brookner was a remarkable woman for her career and for how she triumphed over an awful level of misogyny. Rest In Peace, Ms. Brookner.

“Pride can inspire”

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One of the great professional joys of this job has been the opportunity to serve since 2008 as a consultant to Dawson & Associates, the nation’s leading lobbying firm for environmental permitting and water regulation issues.  With more than 10 retired Generals from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (including four former Commanding Generals and one Deputy Commanding General), the Dawson team has a stunning depth of experience.

But perhaps more important, they are all genuinely nice people — professional and bluff.

So it’s a special pleasure to offer this new video of our own Lt. Gen. (Ret) Hank Hatch, who was Commanding General of the Corps of Engineers during Gulf War I. Produced by the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME), the video features Gen. Hatch offering this characteristically uplifting advice: “Pride can inspire.”  It’s more than worth 10 minutes of your time:


In the beginning…

claims-journal-spring-2013It’s always a pleasure and usually a bit humbling to be cited favorably in a news article.  Claims Journal just posted a long article about the legal and insurance dynamics during the 1970s and early 1980s that resulted in Congress passing legislation to recognize and encourage the use of structured settlements.  Titled “The Beginnings of Structured Settlements,” the article’s author is Claims Journal editor Denise Johnson, an attorney and respected commentator on insurance.  I am cited twice, in my capacity as a consultant to the National Structured Settlements Trade Association (NSSTA).

For anyone who has been physically injured in an accident, the structured settlement offers unmatched advantages including the opportunity to design a stream of guaranteed payments to meet future medical and living needs.  Moreover, per the federal tax code, all income is completely exempt from federal and state taxes.

As U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin (RI), the only quadriplegic ever to serve in Congress, states in the article:

I always take the opportunity to educate my colleagues on the benefits of structured settlements to injured victims. These settlements ensure that victims have enough funds not only to pay their bills today, but also in the future. They provide economic security not found in a normal legal settlement.

More information about structured settlements is available at the NSSTA website or by clicking here.

It was 12 years ago today

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That may not have quite the ring of the opening line to Sgt. Pepper but on this date in 1998, I opened Arnold Consulting Group for business.  A bluff Democrat was in the White House, Congressional Republicans were overplaying their hands and the Washington Redskins were performing abysmally.  Certain things in life don’t necessarily change.

Special thanks to all my clients through the years but above all to my colleagues at AT&T and the National Structured Settlements Trade Association, both of whom have been with me since Day One.

Profound and deserved thanks should go to many, many people but two in particular stand out for their guidance and support through the years: Jim Cicconi at AT&T and Randy Dyer of the NSSTA and more recently, Ringler Associates.  For all their help, I am tremendously grateful.  Honorable mentions are also due to former White House spokesman Mike McCurry and litigator extraordinaire Christopher Wolf at Hogan Lovells, both of whom have generously imparted their considerable wisdom through the years.

Thanks to everyone and be assured that every day, we will continue to work to earn your trust.