Peace, Love, and Rock-n-Roll from a proud Lefty, Liberal, Socialist Hippie

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

The deafening roar of Progressive rage

Yesterday, amid the din of deafening ambivalence from the left, President Obama nominated his current Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism and Assistant to the President, John Brennan, to be the next Director of the CIA. Brennan is the man most responsible for the expansion of the Obama “death by drone” program as well as the White House approved “kill list.”
Brennan, 57, has been with the CIA for some 25 years and, prior to serving in the Obama White House, served as Deputy Executive Director to George W. Bush’s CIA director, George Tenet. During the 2008 presidential campaign, he served as a foreign policy and security advisor to then candidate Obama. In late 2008 Brennan was the reported choice for Director of the CIA in the incoming Obama administration. He withdrew his name from consideration however because of opposition to past public statements he had made in support of so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques” and “extraordinary rendition” while serving in the Bush Administration. Obama then appointed him to be his chief counter terrorism advisor, a position which did not require Senate confirmation and from which, by most accounts, he has enjoyed a position of unequaled access to both the intelligence community and the Oval Office.
In April 2012 Brennan was the first Obama administration official to publicly acknowledge CIA drone attacks in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Afghanistan, and elsewhere; arguing for the legality, morality, and effectiveness of the program. At the time he was even quoted as saying, “There hasn't been a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities we've been able to develop.” - a claim widely disputed by numerous human rights groups and independent news sources. Brennan is also credited(?) with developing the now infamous “kill list” which the Washington Post reported on last year. The list, formally known as the Disposition Matrix, is a database that officials describe as a "next-generation capture/kill list". Developed by the Obama Administration beginning in 2010, the Disposition Matrix goes beyond existing kill lists, and creates a blueprint for tracking, capturing, rendering or killing terrorism suspects. It is intended to become a permanent fixture of American policy. The process determining criteria for killing is not public, but has been heavily shaped by Brennan. The database catalogues biographies, locations, associates, and affiliations of suspects. It also catalogues strategies for finding, capturing, or killing suspects, or subjecting them to extraordinary rendition.
And so with all this baggage to carry into his confirmation hearings, you might ask, ‘where is the liberal outrage?’ I know I am certainly asking that question. I mean surely there will be at least the same level of protest as there was in 2008/2009. After all Brennan certainly has moved beyond some simple statements in support of administration policy to actually designing some of the most egregious aspects of the current policy. Maybe Glenn Greenwald has an answer. Writing at the Guardian UK he says:
“Prior to President Obama's first inauguration in 2009, a controversy erupted over reports that he intended to appoint John Brennan as CIA director. That controversy, in which I participated, centered around the fact that Brennan, as a Bush-era CIA official, had expressly endorsed Bush's programs of torture (other than waterboarding) and rendition and also was a vocal advocate of immunizing lawbreaking telecoms for their role in the illegal Bush NSA eavesdropping program. As a result, Brennan withdrew his name from consideration, issuing a bitter letter blaming "strong criticism in some quarters prompted by [his] previous service with the" CIA….

…Although I actively opposed Brennan's CIA nomination in 2008, I can't quite muster the energy or commitment to do so now. Indeed, the very idea that someone should be disqualified from service in the Obama administration because of involvement in and support for extremist Bush terrorism polices seems quaint and obsolete, given the great continuity between Bush and Obama on these issues. Whereas in 2008 it seemed uncertain in which direction Obama would go, making it important who wielded influence, that issue is now settled: Brennan is merely a symptom of Obama's own extremism in these areas, not a cause. This continuity will continue with or without Brennan because they are, rather obviously, Obama's preferred policies.”
Or maybe Alex Seitz-Wald sheds a better light on the subject when he writes atSalon.com:
“Meanwhile, no one on the left or the right seems to much care about Brennan’s nomination, despite the fact that he was forced to withdraw his name from consideration from the very same job in 2008 thanks to controversy over his alleged involvement with Bush-era interrogation programs…

In 2008, liberals and civil libertarians were outraged by the possibility of Brennan heading the CIA. “Appointing Brennan to the CIA does not mean a change from Bush. That was absolutely a critical part of Obama’s message. With Brennan, we get the taint of a Bush and two-facedness of a Clinton,” Andrew Sullivan, then at the Atlantic, wrote at the time.Four years later, civil liberties have largely disappeared from the range of issues liberals care about. Two weeks ago, the Senate quietly reauthorized the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendment Act — which codifies warrantless wiretapping and email snooping — with little debate and no amendments.”
Well I guess I can always hope that some liberal somewhere will be able to be heard over the deafening roar of progressive rage.

Chad (The Left) Shue

1 comment:

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