[Marxism] Top Democrat urges continuation of police-state tactics

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Dec 11 07:36:07 MST 2008


Top Democrat urges "continuity" for CIA, DNI and interrogation policies
House Intelligence Committee chairman Silvestre Reyes channels Dick 
Cheney in urging Obama to retain Bush's key intelligence aides and policies.

Glenn Greenwald

I'm actually relieved that traveling burdens leave me with little time 
to write much about this story; then again, it essentially speaks for 
itself and requires minimal commentary (h/t Mad Dogs):

     The House Intelligence Committee's top Democrat [Rep. Silvestre 
Reyes of Texas] said Tuesday he has recommended that President-elect 
Barack Obama keep the country's current national intelligence director 
and CIA chief in place for some time to ensure continuity in U.S. 
intelligence programs during the transition to a new administration. . . .

     In an interview, Reyes said he believes that Director of National 
Intelligence Mike McConnell and CIA Director Michael Hayden should be 
kept in their posts. Reyes believes they should stay for at least six 
months, but said the time frame is ultimately a decision Obama must make.

But that was the least of it.  Chairman Reyes -- who was hand-picked by 
Nancy Pelosi to skip over the equally Bush-enabling Jane Harman to 
become Committee Chair in 2006 -- also:

     said he [] recommended to Obama's transition team that some parts 
of the CIA's controversial alternative interrogation program should be 
allowed to continue. He declined to say what he specifically 
recommended, however. . . .

     "There are those that believe that this particular issue has to be 
dealt with very carefully because there are beliefs that there are some 
options that need to be available," Reyes said.

     "We don't want to be known for torturing people. At the same time 
we don't want to limit our ability to get information that's vital and 
critical to our national security," he added. "That's where the new 
administration is going to have to decide what those parameters are, 
what those limitations are."

First Amendment lawyers will tell you that anyone who says:  "The First 
Amendment is important, but . . . " does not actually believe in free 
speech.  Analogously, someone who says:  "We don't want to be known for 
torturing, but . . ." is not someone who believes in ending torture. 
And note the consummately Cheneyite dichotomy Reyes has adopted between 
banning torture and staying safe.  Or, as Spencer Ackerman put it, "The 
chairman of the House intelligence committee just framed the debate as 
between effective torture and ineffective compliance with the law." 
[See the interview I conducted yesterday with Rear Admiral John Hutson 
regarding how deceitful that claim is].

Here's what is most amazing about this.  While virtually all of the Bush 
agenda over the last eight years ended up being deeply unpopular and 
profoundly discredited, it was his foreign policy and intelligence 
programs (torture, rendition, illegal surveillance, war) which caused 
the most intense opposition, at least among Democratic voters.  That is 
a large part of why Democrats just won their second straight national 
election promising to oppose Bush's policies and to implement "change." 
  It was the policies implemented and overseen by Bush's Pentagon, CIA 
and "homeland security" apparatus that caused the most disgrace. 
"Continuity" in those areas would be nothing less than a patent betrayal 
of everything Democrats, over the last two years, told the citizenry 
they intended to do.

And yet, having watched Obama already announce that he is retaining 
Bush's Defense Secretary, here we have the top Democrat on the House 
Intelligence Committee also urging that Obama keep, for "at least" six 
months, Bush's handpicked Director of National Intelligence (whom 
Democrats excoriated during the FISA debates for manipulating and, as 
even Reyes himself noted, outright lying to them) and Bush's handpicked 
CIA Director (who was, as Obama himself said, the "architect and chief 
defender" of Bush's illegal NSA spying programs).  Even worse, Reyes is 
publicly urging that Obama maintain, rather than overhaul, "some parts 
of the CIA's controversial alternative interrogation program" -- or else 
we'll all be slaughtered by the Terrorists.

It's worth recalling here that top Congressional Democrats were told, to 
varying degrees, about the vast preponderance of the most extremist Bush 
policies at the time those policies were implemented, including torture 
and illegal surveillance, and, in almost every case, did nothing to stop 
it, and often actively assented.  The fact that Reyes is recommending 
these steps this does not mean, of course, that Obama will follow. 
Indeed, as Marc Ambinder suggests today, Obama is actively considering 
several candidates to replace Hayden and McConnell and "is having 
trouble finding a potential CIA director who lacks politically 
incriminating links to controversial Bush Administration policies and 
yet commands the respect of the agency's rank and file."

But, as I've been arguing for several weeks, it is unrealistic in the 
extreme to think that these Bush policies are going to magically vanish 
without a major fight now simply because Democrats are in control. 
There are many factions in Washington working hard to ensure that these 
policies remain largely in place, and many of those factions are found 
at the highest levels of the Democratic Congressional leadership.

* * * * *

In addition to the appearance on this Friday night's Bill Moyers' 
Journal that I noted yesterday, I'll be on The Rachel Maddow Show 
tomorrow night (Thursday) to discuss the closing of Guantanamo, the 
efforts already underway to make it difficult for Obama to do so, and 
related matters (some of those issues were raised by this excellent 
piece in Salon a couple of days ago by the ACLU's Jameel Jaffer and Ben 
Wizner).  I'll try to post the exact time when I know it.

Additionally, Jim Angle of Fox News is doing a report on the John 
Brennan controversy for Brit Hume's program, and I was interviewed by 
him at length about that today.  I'll post the date and time of its 
broadcast once I know it.  It should be quite interesting to see how 
that ends up being edited and presented.

For a taste of how inane and hysterical some of the discussion of this 
Brennan episode is on the Right, see this bizarre rant today from 
"Pajamas Media" -- dramatically entitled:  "How the Netroots Brought 
Down Obama’s Spymaster" -- and duly promoted by Glenn Reynolds.  After 
excoriating me for having the audacity to opine on CIA policies even 
though I never worked in the intelligence community and then proceeding 
to defend both Brennan and the CIA's policies, the author describes 
himself this way in his bio line:  "M. P. MacConnell is a novelist, 
historian and political analyst."

Among the many perversely entertaining claims he makes, marvel at this 
assertion about Bush's interrogation and detention policies:  "American 
laws were not broken. . . . Nothing even slightly unseemly has been 
uncovered."  Pardon me, but I have to repeat that:  nothing even 
slightly unseemly has been uncovered.  It seems that Chairman Reyes sees 
things generally the same way.  Hence:  "continuity" is what we need.

UPDATE:  In comments, Jim White recalls a still-unbelievable episode -- 
first reported by CQ -- revealing what Silvestre Reyes is.

-- Glenn Greenwald

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