Saturday, August 2, 2014

Napoleon, Blown-Apart

Martin Longman argues that given the CIA's not-so-hilarious hijinks in snooping in Senate computers (and that's just the last straw), it's finally time for President Obama to toss CIA Director John Brennan out on his ass.

The administration defends John Brennan's actions by correctly pointing out that he was the one who asked the Inspector General to investigate this matter, and it's true that he did that and that he is allowing the investigation to go forward. But he also obstructed the investigation, leveled false charges at the Senate Intelligence Committee staff, filed those charges with Department of Justice, and oversees a process that has overly redacted their report.

By any normal standard, John Brennan would be prosecuted for his actions. But he is being protected by the administration. I don't think this is best explained by the idea that Brennan is doing a good job in other respects. He's a major embarrassment to the administration and protecting him makes them look extremely bad. From the very beginning of his administration, I think President Obama has simply been afraid to take on the Intelligence Community. And his official rationale is morally bankrupt:

Even before I came into office, I was very clear that in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, we did some things that were wrong. We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values. I understand why it happened. I think it's important when we look back to recall how afraid people were after the twin towers fell and the Pentagon had been hit and the plane in Pennsylvania had fallen and people did not know whether more attacks were imminent and there was enormous pressure on our law enforcement and our national security teams to try to deal with this. And, you know, it's important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had. A lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots, but having said all that, we did some things that were wrong. And that's what that report reflects.

This is how the president rebukes these unnamed CIA officers for acting contrary to our values without daring to hold them accountable despite what the law and our treaties say. It would be overly "sanctimonious" to hold them accountable. In actuality, it would be dangerous to hold them accountable. If anything is "sanctimonious," it is the failure to recognize that danger.

Even I have to call horseshit on President Obama's logic there.  9/11 happened 13 years ago.  It was hard on a lot of people, especially all the families who lost loved ones because our intelligence agencies screwed up.  It also has nothing to do whatsoever with spying on Senate Intelligence Committee computers in 2013, and he's lied multiple times about what the CIA has done.

The problem is Brennan's ouster would prove Rand Paul correct.  And getting a new CIA head right now would be impossible.  And given America's many foreign policy problems, slagging the CIA, even if they deserve it, has to take a back seat.  There are bigger problems out there, Putin, Netanyahu, Assad, and we need the CIA to keep us in the loop there.

I hate it and I want to see Brennan go.  It's not going to happen.

1 comment:

RepubAnon said...

It would be nice for the DOJ to start criminal investigations into all the various violations of law, though. The idea that it's OK to violate the law if you're scared is a frightening one. Imagine if, say, a local police force is afraid that some activists are planning on disrupting a trade summit. Under this logic, the police can illegally tap phones, perform warrantless searches, detain people and torture them - and escape prosecution because "they were scared."

Now that everyone has a Second Amendment right to have a house full of firearms, police are scared of being shot at - so they can kick in the doors and windows, throw in smoke and flash/stun grenades, and shoot anything that moves. Given the "it's OK if you're scared" defense, they wouldn't even need warrants or probable cause any more before taking action - they'd only need to make sure you weren't rich enough to cause them problems later.

Scary, isn't it?

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