January 6, 2009

Why did Obama pick Leon Panetta — a man with no significant experience in intelligence — to head the C.I.A.?

The NYT has this:
Democratic officials said Mr. Obama had selected Mr. Panetta for his managerial skills, his bipartisan standing, and the foreign policy and budget experience....
Senator Dianne Feinstein, who is now the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee and will conduct any confirmation hearing, is openly expressing disapproval, both because Panetta is not an intelligence professional and because she was not consulted. Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, the outgoing chair of the committee, is also said to disapprove.
The choice of Mr. Panetta comes nearly two weeks after Mr. Obama had otherwise wrapped up his major personnel moves. It appears to reflect the difficulty Mr. Obama has encountered in finding a candidate who is capable of taking charge of the agency but is not tied to the interrogation and detention program run by the C.I.A. under President Bush.

Aides have said that Mr. Obama had originally hoped to select a C.I.A. director with extensive field experience, especially in combating terrorist networks. But his first choice for the job, John O. Brennan, had to withdraw his name amid criticism over his alleged role in the formation of the agency’s detention and interrogation program after the Sept. 11 attacks.
By contrast, Panetta wrote a piece in The Washington Monthly that said: "We cannot and we must not use torture under any circumstances. We are better than that." That's very nice, but a million bloggers have written the same thing. If you aren't on the inside, dealing with the details and responsible for outcomes, it takes nothing to say that, and in fact, it's the most obvious opinion that anyone would take. It's not impressive to have thought that up, and it certainly doesn't amount to a qualification for anything other than to appease the people who bellyached about Brennan.

But, we're told, Panetta has strong management skills — generic skill, supposedly applicable to anything.
If confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Panetta would take control of the agency most directly responsible for hunting senior leaders of Al Qaeda around the world. He would also become the oldest director in the agency’s history....
He's 70. A 70-year-old man with no background will lead the hunt for al Qaeda.
“It’s a puzzling choice and a high-risk choice,” said Amy Zegart, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has written extensively on intelligence matters.

“The best way to change intelligence policies from the Bush administration responsibly is to pick someone intimately familiar with them,” Ms. Zegart said. “This is intelligence, not tax or transportation policy. You can’t hit the ground running by reading briefing books and asking smart questions.”

IN THE COMMENTS: TheCrankyProfessor said:
If people think the Clintons gutted America's ability to respond to terrorism by treating it as a law enforcement issue, this appointment ought to signal that intelligence is now purely a political issue. So appoint a politician.

Hope! Change!

ADDED: Andrew Sullivan says:
Feinstein and Rockefeller sense a real individual with real clout at the agency, whom they cannot control. There may have been a lack of foreisght [sic] here in not phoning Feinstein ahead of time. But it is also indisputable that many leading intelligence Democrats were deeply complicit in the Bush torture program and his illegal wire-tapping. It was just as important for the president-elect to pick someone not beholden to them either.

Some are now citing Panetta's appointment as somehow "political" rather than substantive. But it's obvious that Obama has actually found someone both capable of running a bureaucracy as complex as the CIA, of a stature to be approved by the Congress and maintain good relations, and with the good sense to know how interrogation based on torture is never right and much less effective than legal methods.

It remains an inspired choice. And the critics help show why.
So, if your opponents oppose something, you should be for it? It seems to me you need better reasons than that. Obama and the congressional Democrats should want to project an image of seriousness and competence — and actually be serious and competent.

How is it obvious that Obama has found someone with the right skills? Where do these judgments come from? Do you think some people just have "good sense" and then they automatically know what is "never right" and what is "much less effective"? Whatever happened to deep knowledge and real-world experience? Now, you're willing to go on assertions of good character and a cocky belief in the soundness of what your instincts tell you is obvious and right? That attitude is positively... Bushian. And I remember when Andrew Sullivan loved exactly that about Bush.

52 comments:

bearbee said...

From Instpundit site:

Angelo Codevilla: “Leon Panetta may not know very much about foreign affairs or defense matters. He is wholly unacquainted with the questions and quarrels that have roiled the US intelligence community for a half century. But, as veteran political warrior, he will do what President Obama expects of him: prevent CIA from making war upon him as it made war on George W. Bush.”

ddh said...

Are we sure that Panetta's name wasn't switched by accident from the pile of candidates for Commerce? He would be well qualified for that post.

It seems that Obama thinks anyone who worked in intelligence after 9/11 is tainted by association with Bush-era policies on interrogations. He doesn't seem to know anyone with experience in foreign or defense policy to name as CIA director--which, as Anne points out, is different from intelligence.

Another point. The Director of National Intelligence sets policy and procedures for more than a dozen intelligence agencies, while the Director of CIA has day-to-day nuts-and-bolts operational control of only one. Leon Panetta read the President's Daily Brief 10 years ago, but does that mean that he knows how to build up spy networks in Waziristan? How many CIA personnel should learn Pashtu, and how many Korean and Persian? Or should we hire first-generation Americans who speak those languages and have the other skills needed to recruit and run spies? Or how much to spend on people who can penetrate Russian computer networks? These are all questions a CIA head deals with, but a DNI probably should not.

Expat(ish) said...

I'd take any number of 70 year old men to run the agency. But most people that age are smart enough to look at that pile of dimbulbs and just keep collecting social security!

I know it is reductionist to point this out, but Leon is infinitely more qualified to run the CIA than BHO is to be president. More accurately, once the Senate confirms Leon (if they do) it would be more accurate to say that they have the exact same qualifications: they ran for the office and won.

@bearbee: the CIA is politically aligned with Obama, it'll be a friendlier relationship. Ditto for State. It's not like BHO is going to cut jobs or reduce perks - the only thing that either of those agencies care about institutionally.

-XC

TheCrankyProfessor said...

If people think the Clintons gutted America's ability to respond to terrorism by treating it as a law enforcement issue, this appointment ought to signal that intelligence is now purely a political issue. So appoint a politician.

Hope! Change!

AllenS said...

Obama should have went with someone who has experience with the CIA. May I recommend Valarie Plame? If she got in a jam, she could send her husband, Joe Wilson, on a fact finding mission. Then we'd all be safer.

Joaquin said...

Can you say..........Harriet Myers?

Tibore said...

"Joaquin said...
Can you say..........Harriet Myers?"


Pfff... by comparison, Harriet Myers was actually more qualified for her nomination.

The Drill SGT said...

but is not tied to the interrogation and detention program run by the C.I.A. under President Bush.

1. I like Leon. He would have been a great Commerce Sec. He has NO intel experience period. other than being briefed a couple of times as WH COS.

2. The detention Rendition programs began under Clinton, which is why Obama can't find anyone who experinced.

3. Blair would make a decent DCIA. he worked there after all.

4. Leon would have made a decent DNI. it is a do-nothing policy, budget and referee job that Leon would be fine doing.

Simon said...

"Feinstein ... is openly expressing disapproval, both because Panetta is not an intelligence professional and because she was not consulted."

But mainly because she wasn't consulted.

Joseph Hovsep said...

He was on the 9/11 Commission.

Simon said...

Joseph Hovsep said...
"He was on the 9/11 Commission."

So was Richard Ben-Veniste. Is Richard Ben-Veniste therefore qualified to head the CIA? If not, what's your point?

AJ Lynch said...

Panetta was also part of the Iraq Study Group which was opposed to the surge.

The Drill SGT said...

Joseph Hovsep said...
He was on the 9/11 Commission.


guess again. He never was a member. He didn;t even testify as far as I can tell

LOL, his biggest qual was that he was a 2LT in the Intel section at a US base (ft Ord) without any troop units in peacetime.

The Drill SGT said...

From the 9/11 Commission web site:

Commission Members


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Thomas H. Kean
Chair

Lee H. Hamilton
Vice Chair

Richard Ben-Veniste
Fred F. Fielding
Jamie S. Gorelick
Slade Gorton
Bob Kerrey
John F. Lehman
Timothy J. Roemer
James R. Thompson

Maguro said...

Panetta is a squeaky-clean font of conventional wisdom. Might as well hire Fareed Zakaria or Tom Friedman.

Joseph Hovsep said...

My bad. I meant the Iraq Study Group.

Original Mike said...

Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, the outgoing chair of the committee, is also said to disapprove.

That's enough for me. Confirm him.

sg said...

Thank goodness Obama has nominated as CIA Director a person not "tainted" by having done eavesdropping or interrogations--you know, the stuff spies routinely do.

Andrew Sullivan, of course, thinks Panetta is an inspired choice.

Balfegor said...

On the one hand, it's a nakedly political choice, but on the other -- building on the point bearbee quotes -- I can't really blame him. It's easy, in retrospect, to read Bush II's experience with the CIA as indicating that it's more important that the CIA be loyal to its elected masters than that the CIA be effective at intelligence gathering. Because the CIA is apparently not effective at all at intelligence gathering, even if you have someone experienced at the helm.

I mean, we hear from the VP that a significant proportion -- like half -- of all our intelligence on Al Qaeda came from a single high level source subjected to "coercive" interrogation. That strongly suggests that we're not getting much bang for our buck from the rest of our intelligence operations. And that comports with what we know of the CIA's track record on recent events. Didn't they miss the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet collapse? I think they missed AQ Khan's nuclear proliferation and the Libyan nuclear program too. These aren't trivial misses either -- these are the kinds of things we pay them to keep track of. And in re: DDH's point about spy networks in Waziristan and so forth, my understanding is that one of the existing institutional defects in the CIA at the moment is apparently that it hasn't bothered to develop significant on the ground human intelligence resources, of the type that could be parlayed into spy networks in FATA. Maybe that's why the CIA keeps missing these things. Is a deep experience with our failing intelligence apparatus all that necessary?

Obama should be happy if he can just prevent the CIA from ginning up unfavorable leaks to undermine his policies. And Panetta is the man to do that.

Additionally, I'm not aware that Bush I had significant intelligence experience when he was put in charge of the CIA in the 70s. As far as I can tell, he wasn't a brilliant choice, but neither was he devastating to the agency's capabilities.

Xmas said...

bearbee,

Thanks for pointing that out. I was screaming at my computer that no one is bringing that up. I didn't see it on the instapundit site, and I was surprised Insty didn't bring it up.

holdfast said...

When Bush I was appointed to the CIA he had Cold War ambassadorial experience, we were not in a shooting war and folks had some faith that the "professionals" at Langley could handle things anyway. None of that applies to the Panetta appointment.

On the other hand, I can't help snickering that the intelligence community's nakedly political war against W has made them so untrustworthy in the eyes of Obama that he feels it necessary to appoint a strictly political whip hand.

Lem said...

As chief of staff Panetta allowed a lone intern to see the president 6 times.

Let's face it, Panetta got Clinton impeached.

Look at the timeline.

How is Panetta the best choice to find Bin Laden?

Balfegor said...

How is Panetta the best choice to find Bin Laden?

I assume Special Forces, out of DOD, will actually be the ones talking to people on the ground. Aren't they the ones who develop proficiency with local dialects and dress in native dress and all that T.E. Lawrence stuff?

Lem said...

A chief of staff is supposed to know who sees the president and where the president is at all times.

A president got impeached on Panetta's watch! and now he is getting rewarded?

This is like Bush hiring one of the Nixon plumbers.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Why did Obama pick Leon Panetta — a man with no significant experience in intelligence — to head the C.I.A.?

Something to do with farm animals, Obama and some photographs???

:-D

Richard Dolan said...

So where is Team Obama headed in national security matters? It's all a bit confusing.

On the one hand, they're keeping the Bush Admin's Sec'y of Defense, and nominate as Sec'y of State the only Dem candidate who wouldn't offer a grovelling retraction of her Iraq war vote. But now they disavow basically all experienced intelligence operatives and want to CIA director who knows nothing about intelligence gathering except what he won't allow.

TO top it off, Team Obama talks a tough game about Afghanistan (and sometimes Pakistan) and how they're going to take it to OBL and the Taliban -- no more Bushian sideshows and all that. Someone (Gates? HRC?) needs to explain to That One the direct connection between timely and accurate intelligence and the success of the mission Team Obama wants to undertake over there. Unless they do, we're quite likely to be see a rerun of that Theatre of the Absurd episode where, when they finally get OBL in their sights, Team Obama will have to consult the lawyers before deciding whether to strike. Don't want to take action based on intelligence derived from an illegal wiretap, or worse, agressive interrogation techniques. After all, it's more important for The One to be pure and untainted than it is for the mission to be, you know, successful or anything.

IF that's where Team Obama means to lead us, it's not surprising that they've nominated a Clinton Admin retread whose main claim to the job is political savvy. At the moment, I don't think Obama knows where he wants to lead us. The Panetta pick says that he's still in sound-bite mode, which is even scarier.

Kirk Parker said...

I've got a new year's resolution to propose to you, Ann: ignore Andrew Sullivan, as he so thoroughly and richly deserves. See if you can go a whole day, week, month, and then year, without mentioning him once on your blog--you know you want to!

Patm said...

"So, if your opponents oppose something, you should be for it? "

Hell, isn't that how it works? That's how it seems over at Huffpo, DU and Freepers. It's that sick mentality that reduces everything to "our guy good, them guys bad. Anything they don't like is what we want!" Ug. Ug. We Cavemen.

1jpb said...

So, the biggest arguments against Panetta are:

1) Unlike the successful recent/current CIA folks, he won't be able to find Bin Laden.

2) As an outsider who hasn't risen and prospered within the CIA under Bush oversight, and as an experienced manager he'll disturb the CIA's status quo.

3) Unlike other recent CIA chiefs, Panetta's too politically motivated. So, he may reverse the non-political [ha, ha, ha] actions of some of his predecessors.

4) He, has the unique position that US interests are not advanced by the implementation of a torture policy.

5) He may find things that embarrass the "insiders" on both sides of the isle.

And, Alhouse can't understand why Sully supports Leon for all the reasons others oppose him?

P.S.
Did folks hear that some BHO folks were leaking that W is writing a lot of checks that BHO will need to cash and there is some concern about a Bay of Pigs situation being handed off to BHO, as was done to JFK?

Is this partly why BHO wants certainty that the top dog at CIA isn't too tied to non-BHO forces in congress and the the CIA? Not that other choices would be disloyal, but because of their comfort with their own expertise they may be more autonomous and more inclined to unintentionally shape/shade/limit what the Pres sees than BHO wants.

Patm said...

"Bush writing checks Obama has to cash..."

Man that sounds sickly paranoid. The whole rant sounds sickly paranoid.

I'm going to make a bold prediction right now: Once Obama is in office,fretting about torture will be deemed irresponsible. Suddenly we'll be assured that torture of Al Qaeda ops is "necessary for our safety and survival, but that Obama will do it "better" and "more humanely" than Bush.

And Andrew Sullivan will say, "boo-rah, torture! We need it!"

former law student said...

Though there's a possibility he's merely a placeholder, given his lack of CIA experience, Obama most likely picked Leon Panetta to clean house of the "Intelligence professionals" who have been stinking it up.

Timeservers and deadwood should clean out their desks.

Patm said...

Dems loved torture before and they will love it again now that they have the WH:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123120464870255997.html

Balfegor said...

"Bush writing checks Obama has to cash..."

Man that sounds sickly paranoid. The whole rant sounds sickly paranoid.


Well, yes. But come on, can you say it isn't true? I mean, entirely separate from the CIA issue, there's been that whole bailout thing.

Joseph Hovsep said...

Since when has the CIA Director been required to be a former intelligence professional? Porter Goss? George Tenet? James Woolsey? George H. W. Bush? None were intelligence professionals before taking on the job.

Panetta was White House Chief of Staff, a long-time member of Congress, a veteran, and had even been a Nixon political appointee. And, if being an intelligence professional means having bought into the merits of illegal warrantless domestic surveillance and indefinite secret detention and torture of unindicted suspects, then, good God, please give us a Director from outside the formal intelligence world who actually shares American values.

1jpb said...

I, unexpectedly, stumbled on this information from NRO.

This NRO post and some neo-cons (who feel burned by the CIA) and Sully are all on board. But, Feinstein is balking. Odd stuff.

MayBee said...

Since when has the CIA Director been required to be a former intelligence professional? Porter Goss? George Tenet?

What's your definition of 'intelligence professional'. Tenent a staff member of the SSCI and then the Staff Director of the SSCI. He was on Clinton's national security team.
Goss was a spook in the 60-70's and was chairman of the House Intelligence committee.

MPorcius said...

Our Obama who art in Washington doesn't really have to worry about terrorism. On a psychological level, he doesn't care about terrorism; he's a Weather Underground groupie, for Christ's sake. He's not going to get all eaten up inside if some bankers in some office tower (you know, those who represent "the white man's greed") or some servicemen in the Pentagon get blown up by some foreigners (inhabitants of "a world in need.") On a political level, his fans in the press will blame anything that goes wrong on Bush, or just chalk it up as "the price we pay for living in a society that doesn't engage in coercive interrogations."

1jpb said...

Since when has the CIA Director been required to be a former intelligence professional?

A better example would have been the fella who's got a building named after him in Langley.

Cedarford said...

sg said...
Thank goodness Obama has nominated as CIA Director a person not "tainted" by having done eavesdropping or interrogations--you know, the stuff spies routinely do.


Whereas the intelligence community people, all the Congressional folks assigned to intelligence committees (like Jane Harmon who was interested in the Job), and people who served on National Security Council and other intel/security agencies going back to Carter are "tainted". By knowing of and failing to be advocates for terrorist or Red Army "rights". Involvement in eavesdropping. Approving of or acquiescing to, interrogation of Islamoid terrorists..

The Left and the wealthy and powerful Jewish progressive lawyer's community are as hysterical for safeguarding all protections and due process rights of unlawful enemy combatants as Andrew Sullivan. Who is unhinged by HIV infection and gay torture fantasies.

The all-time disaster at the CIA was Adm Stansfield Turner, who responded to a previous Lefty witch hunt by dismantling HUMINT. Let's hope Panetta doesn't go there and wipe out the CIA teams that have been waging an underground war at high risk to themselves against AQ and their EuroLeft and ACLU-type defenders.

Not discussing the appointment with Feinstein or her billionaire defense contractor husband was stupid...same with the other Senators...
But Panetta may be a good political choice and reflect positively on Obama's learning curve where it was obvious Bush was badly hurt by not having CIA people personally loyal to him at the top. If a Plame-like situation of disloyals arises, who trying to undermine Obama, Panetta can make heads roll or assign the likes of Plame or the suspected NYTimes leakers to a 4-year posting in Zimbabwe, Yemen, Moldava..renewable for another 4 years of existing with family in such shitholes if Obama gets reelected, unless they finally resign.

1jpb said...

...same with the other Senators...

It seems that Wyden was advised. And, Roberts and some other conservatives (not in government) are relatively quick and vocal in sort-of supporting Panetta. Is it possible the BHO folks were working around Feinstein? If so they do seem to have a good head of steam the plow over her. She (and Rockefeller) are blustering in the wind while some libs and conservatives are passing them by.

Of course it's still early (although Feinstein and Rockefeller have already unloaded some serious rhetoric so it's hard to see what they've got left--I suppose the W administration would remind me that CIA leaks are a lot more effective than senators blustering, stay tuned.)

Richard Dolan said...

Several commenters have picked up on the interview in NRO's Corner, where a former "deep undercover" agent has nice things to say about the Panetta pick. But the same former undercover agent offers this gem of an insight: "Now that the Democrats are in charge, their focus shifts from winning power to holding it. A nuclear attack on America or an ally that could have been prevented through intelligence reform will severely harm the new president and his party."

Nothing to disagree with there, I suppose, except perhaps for the really weird perspective. Makes you wonder about his judgment in other matters.

AlphaLiberal said...

For the life of me I do not understand the eager embrace of torture by Althouse and other conservatives. I think it has far more to do with exacting vengeance than in security.

Torture diminishes security. It makes people hate us.

Torture has nothing to do with getting information. We've heard from modern interrogators as well as the WWII generation, that torture is next to useless for getting actionable information. ("24" is fiction, people!)

Torture is deeply immoral (if you care about morality). There is no due process in deciding who is tortured. The USA has now tortured, some to death, many innocent people. (again, a deafening silence from the right on torturing innocent people).

Torture is terrible. We point to other nations who torture and cluck out tongues, and then you (not we) embrace torture. We used to be a better nation that that and we beat BOTH Tojo and Hitler without it.

Torture makes out troops LESS safe. Many military people have made this point.

But, still the right wing loves torture and fantasizes that makes them "tough." Wrong again. It makes you "sick." Your fear has made you mentally sick.

AlphaLiberal said...

As far as Panetta, Feinstein should be ashamed. The CIA needs to answer to civilian authority (radical concept, apparently). We don't need more insiders running their incestuous shop while a limp Congress continues to fail Oversight 101.

Panetta has the stones to get things done and his own power base. He will be tough to fuck with.

paul a'barge said...

Now, you're willing to go on assertions of good character and a cocky belief in the soundness of what your instincts tell you is obvious and right? That attitude is positively... Bushian. And I remember when Andrew Sullivan loved exactly that about Bush.

To be fair though, Sullivan turned on Bush when Bush turned his back on gay marriage. Every thing Sullivan has said since then is derivative.

Frankly, when Bush used his good character and cocky soundness he managed to keep us safe from terrorist attacks on our own soil for 8 years. 8 years folks.

It was when Bush crumbled and violated his soundness in an attempt to make nice-nice with DIMocrats that he took our country down the tubes (economically and constitutionally).

So, there you go.

Cedarford said...

Alpha Lib - Torture has nothing to do with getting information. We've heard from modern interrogators as well as the WWII generation, that torture is next to useless for getting actionable information.

Nonsense. It works. That is why all modern terrorist and spy cells are designed with a cutout man. Lessons learned from WWI and communist civil wars that people captured can be effectively interrogated to tell all they know, truthfully, verified by cross-checking. Limiting the knowledge of cell operatives and keeping the cutout guy, the conduit to orders and instructions at some remove from others minimizes the damage to the organization.
All that exists because all underground movements know coerced interrogation works.
The same with militaries tending to invest resources and some of their best and brightest in the intel and interrogation capacity of the militaries. It has been so for 3,000 years. Militaries are practical. They do not keep that which does not work in their arsenal.

Alpha Lib - Torture is deeply immoral (if you care about morality). There is no due process in deciding who is tortured. The USA has now tortured, some to death, many innocent people. (again, a deafening silence from the right on torturing innocent people).

In war there is no such thing as an innocent civilian or a soldier who is guilty by wearing a uniform. Those are silly criminal justice terms that our SCOTUS and the Euroweenies have foolishly reached in and tried applying to warfare.
Due process? Explain why we can kill or maim without due process, accept collateral damage...yet waterboarding an Islamazoid terrorist for 5 minutes is an unspeakable act of violence and violation of "due process" when whacking and maiming enemy and trashing a few civvies on the sideline isn't? I have a stake in this, as I worked 80-90 hour workweeks for 3 months - no days off - hoping and then succeeding in killing and maiming hapless conscript Iraqis with no "due process" in the Gulf War. Even got the medals to celebrate and congratulate my group's whackings of Hadjis..then their abandoned armor when they decided they faced something a whole lot personally worse than waterboarding or panties on the head humiliation...and beat feet.

And we all know that by "innocent" you mean a terrorist presumed innocent in the eyes of the media and various lawyers because they have not been found "guilty" by lawyers dressed in robes...Similar to the hilarity of Reuters calling Mumbai terrorists photo'd shooting people "alleged gunmen" - because of the same "presumption of innocence".

Alpha Lib - We used to be a better nation that that and we beat BOTH Tojo and Hitler without it.

Wrong. We tried "nice guy" and "bad guy" approaches in WWII. Both had times where they were highly effective, times when they didn't work. The French in Algeria had the same experience, as have the Israelis and Brits.

But, still the right wing loves torture and fantasizes that makes them "tough." Wrong again. It makes you "sick." Your fear has made you mentally sick.

Now you are just sounding like Andrew Sullivan, whose brain is ravaged by the HIV virus, 5 years of female-like hysteria, and dreams of gay wedding cakes. Now going around and calling everone else mentally sick.
What's your excuse?

1jpb said...

8 years

Congratu-Fing-lations! You don't have the decency to account for the loss of nearly 3000 victims of Islamofacist lunatic terrorists.

Right wing losers who refuse to acknowledge that we have lost a lot of citizens in eight years are either extremely poorly informed or despicable. Since, you can operate a computer I'm guessing the latter.

Those lives count!!!!!!!!

LarryD said...

The CIA has been dysfunctional for decades. They haven't been doing HUMANINT for a long time either, which is why the military has been doing it.

I suspect that those who say Panetta's primary job is to see that the CIA doesn't wage war on the Obama administration like it did on the Bush administration have it nailed.

Which is why I think "Ishmael Jones is right to say:

"The CIA should be dismantled and its parts assigned to functioning organizations. The clandestine service should be placed under the control of the U.S. military. Because the military is subject to the consequences of its actions, it is an efficient and accountable organization. Domestic CIA activities should be placed under the FBI, and embassy and diplomatic functions should be placed under the State Department. "

The CIA is way past it's self life. It's spoiled.

Simon said...

AlphaLiberal said...
"The CIA needs to answer to civilian authority (radical concept, apparently)."

The CIA are civilians. Did you think they were part of the military?

AlphaLiberal said...
"Torture diminishes security. It makes people hate us."

They already hate us, so that argument is a non-starter. You want to stick with the argument that it's immoral. I understand your reluctance to rely on it exclusively (you're looking for an airtight argument and the morality argument has limits and problems of its own - being defeasible by a contrary moral imperative, for example), but that's the argument that gets the most traction. The search for additional theories to plug the gaps is understandable, but if all you can find for that purpose are makeweight arguments, you're better off sticking to the one that's really persuasive in 90% of cases and conceding the 10%. Otherwise you just come off as a zealot who's determined to push an a priori agenda even against contrary needs.

Eric said...

This is the first indication I've had that Obama is a pretty practical guy. It pains me to agree with Cedarford, but he's right: for the most part the CIA stopped doing human intelligence under Adm. Turner, and they haven't been good for much since that time.

We now have fourteen separate intelligence agencies. It's not like Obama isn't going to be getting intelligence (the best of which is provided by the military). Panetta doesn't need to be an "intelligence professional" to make sure the CIA doesn't become a political liability - in fact a true intelligence professional would be wasted in that capacity.

Patm said...

hey, 1jpb:

Congratu-Fing-lations! You don't have the decency to account for the loss of nearly 3000 victims of Islamofacist lunatic terrorists.

Did you forget about the 1990's?

Of course you did. AlQ attacked our interests and holdings every 18 months and Clinton did nothing. They did it while they were planning 9/11. They did it while they were planning the COLE bombing, and Clinton did nothing.

Any US interests or holdings been attacked since 9/11?

Hm?

former law student said...

A loyal alum points out to me that with Janet Napolitano, there will be two Santa Clara alumni in the Obama administration. Go Broncos!

ZZMike said...

Doesn't anyone wonder why inexperience is a good thing for Democrats, but a complete disqualification for Republicans? (I think of the charges that Gov Palin was too inexperienced to be Vice-President.)

AlphaLiberal: We can probably all agree that torture is immoral. It would be a better world if there were none.

Now if we can only get the bad guys to agree...

OK, I see the "we're not like them" argument, and it's certainly valid. But the only real "rules of war" are that there are no rules.

Remember Daniel Pearl?

If I knew that someone was holding one of my family for ransom, and knew where they were, and I had him as a prisoner, he would tell me - one way or another. If his information turned out to be false, he would first regret having been born, then he would tell me the truth.

The main thing is, the torturers have to treat it just like any other job - as they did during the Inquisition. At lunchtime, they put down the hot pokers and whips and sat down to their brown-bag lunches.

More than that, sometimes the mere thought of torture will bring a confession. Some people flinch at the mere sight of a claw hammer.

The other side uses it for sport. I seriously doubt that we do the same.

To rephrase a very old saying, treat us as you'd like us to treat you.