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