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Torture – Yes We Can?

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    Obama and the national security question: the sellout accelerates Torture – Yes We Can? by Justin Raimondo November 14, 2008
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 6, 2008
      Obama and the national security question: the sellout accelerates

      Torture – Yes We Can?
      by Justin Raimondo
      November 14, 2008

      Most politicians wait at least until they've been sworn in before
      they start breaking their campaign promises. In this sense, as in so
      many others, Barack Obama represents an entirely new phenomenon: the
      politician who preemptively reneges.

      A recent Wall Street Journal piece describing the transition process
      as it relates to intelligence-gathering reveals we aren't going to
      see much change in this vitally important realm, the one in which the
      Bush administration truly made its blackest mark. This will "create
      tension within the Democratic party," we are told, apparently because
      even the worst party hacks will have a hard time going along with the
      revised Obama Doctrine on the issue of torture.

      According to the Journal, Obama's advisors on intelligence matters
      are "centrists" in the Clinton mold and outright Republicans, who
      favor torture "with oversight." These, we are told, are
      the "pragmatists," likely candidates for positions in Obama's
      national security bureaucracy. "He's going to take a very centrist
      approach to these issues," avers Roger Cressey, who served as a
      counter-terrorism official under Clinton as well as Bush II.

      It's a grotesque commentary on the moral health of the nation when
      advocacy of torture is considered "centrist." One shudders to imagine
      what it means to be right-of-center.

      A big problem for the pro-torture faction of Team Obama, however, is
      their Leader's pronouncements on this subject during the campaign,
      when he came out unequivocally against "'enhanced interrogation
      techniques' like simulated drowning that qualify as torture through
      any careful measure of the law or appeal to human decency."

      Human decency and government, however, are opposites in a dichotomy.
      Now that the Obama-ites have the power, all the pious rhetoric and
      self-righteousness of the Bush-hating Obama-loving "progressives"
      falls by the wayside, like so much confetti, to be swept up and
      trashed the morning after the election. It's an old story, but true –
      and yet with a rather grotesque twist that is all too indicative of
      the age we live in.

      After all, we are talking about torture, here, the apotheosis of
      barbarism – and the signature issue of the sort of limousine liberals
      who just adore the Dear Leader, and wouldn't think of criticizing him
      in public, especially this early on. This betrayal is a real slap in
      the face to these people, and one wonders if it will sting enough to
      provoke a reaction.

      So how will Obama's cheerleaders square this circle, and reconcile
      his campaign pronouncements with the emerging reality? The Journal
      avers that, just as he said he was against providing immunity to
      telecom companies that permitted illegal spying on thousands of
      Americans, yet voted for it, so he could finesse the torture issue in
      an all too familiar fashion:

      "The new president could take a similar approach to revising the
      rules for CIA interrogations, said one current government official
      familiar with the transition. Upon review, Mr. Obama may decide he
      wants to keep the road open in certain cases for the CIA to use
      techniques not approved by the military, but with much greater

      The elastic Obama doll is stretching to the breaking point – but,
      then again, everybody has their own breaking point. Mine came well
      before this, it's true, but surely such a slimy attempt to slink
      around the black-and-white issue of torture has got to shock Obama's
      supporters, many of whom, I realize, are big fans of this web site.
      In the mainstream media and its blogospheric extensions, Obama's
      loyal partisans have so far confined themselves to ordinary
      apologetics: touting Rahm Emanuel's "toughness" while ignoring his
      pro-war pro-DLC bias as head of the party's national congressional
      campaign committee, and mumbling "Brent Scowcroft" under their breath
      in explaining away the likelihood of Robert Gates staying on at
      Defense. How will they spin the persistence of Jack Bauer in Obama-

      Oh well, that's their problem. Ours' is finding out who's behind all
      this, and figuring out how to stop it. In this regard, the Journal
      informs us:

      "The intelligence-transition team is led by former National
      Counterterrorism Center chief John Brennan and former CIA
      intelligence-analysis director Jami Miscik, say officials close to
      the matter. Mr. Brennan is viewed as a potential candidate for a top
      intelligence post. Ms. Miscik left amid a slew of departures from the
      CIA under then-Director Porter Goss."

      Who are these people? Well, go here if you want to see a dress
      rehearsal for Obama's climb-down on torture, given by Brennan in an
      interview last year, in which he agrees that waterboarding, for
      example, is torture, and "should be prohibited," but then comes back
      and says:

      "There has been a lot of information that has come out from these
      interrogation procedures that the agency has, in fact, used against
      the real hardcore terrorists. It has saved lives. And let's not
      forget, these are hardened terrorists who have been responsible for
      9/11, who have shown no remorse at all for the death of 3,000

      So which is it – to torture or not to torture?

      Brennan, by the way, is the former head of the National
      Counterterrorism Center, a former deputy executive director of the
      CIA, and is being talked about as a leading candidate for CIA chief.
      He is also CEO of the Analysis Corporation, a company that employs
      many former intelligence officials: it was an employee of Analysis,
      you'll remember, who was caught prying into the passport records of
      prominent persons – including Obama and John McCain. The company
      insisted at the time that the whole affair was an "isolated
      incident." And now their CEO is in the running for CIA chief. Welcome
      to Bizarro World – please check your hat, and your rationality, at
      the door.

      As for Ms. Miscik, none other than she was in charge of intelligence
      analysis in 2002, when the big debate about Iraq's alleged "weapons
      of mass destruction" reached its crescendo, and the War Party was
      howling that Al Qaeda and Iraq were working hand-in-hand. Both these
      fantasies were pushed by Miscik, who outflanked the CIA's Mideast
      directorate and handed the job of intelligence assessment over to her
      compliant flunkies within the "counterrorism" community. A two-year
      old piece in Salon by Spencer Ackerman describes Miscik's role:

      "CIA analysts prepared a report titled `Iraq and al-Qaida: Assessing
      a Murky Relationship.' Or at least a few of them did. Circulated that
      June, as the administration sought rationales for an invasion of
      Iraq, the report excluded the assessments of the agency's Near East
      and South Asia (NESA) office, which generally cast doubt on either an
      existing or a prospective alliance between Saddam and Osama bin
      Laden. The paper was chiefly the product of the CIA's terrorism
      analysts, who explained that their approach was `purposefully
      aggressive in seeking to draw connections, on the assumption that any
      indication of a relationship between these two elements could carry
      great dangers.' Jami Miscik, the CIA's deputy director for
      intelligence, told Senate Intelligence Committee investigators that
      the paper was intended to `stretch to the maximum the evidence you
      had.' The exclusion of NESA prompted an inquiry by the agency's
      ombudsman into politicization."

      A profile of Miscik in Fortune documenting her career change from CIA
      to Wall Street, published in the summer of 2007, avers
      "Ex-CIA Intelligence Chief Jami Miscik was wrong about WMD in Iraq.
      But in her new career, Lehman Brothers depends on her to say where
      it's safe to put billions. An exclusive tale of intrigue and

      From George Tenet's CIA to Lehman Brothers – from intellectual
      bankruptcy to financial bankruptcy – in a year's time is a narrative
      of daunting consistency, albeit not one that bodes well for the
      competence of the incoming administration.

      This just isn't about torture: it's about how we gather intelligence,
      and to what end. Brennan and Miscik are part of the problem, not part
      of the solution. Far more important than whether Joe Lieberman is
      allowed to keep his chairmanship of the Senate Intelligence Committee
      is whether these two are going to be allowed to determine the shape
      of intelligence policy for the next four years.

      You aren't hearing about any of this from the "mainstream" news media
      and the left-wing of the blogosphere – with certain stellar
      exceptions – because of the red-state/blue state mindset that still
      persists, in spite of Obama's explicit rejection of the "old
      politics." MSNBC, for example, has turned into a blue state version
      of Fox News, with its openly adulatory "reporting" on the Obama
      transition, and systematic denigration of the President-elect's
      critics. Don't expect to see the torture issue brought up by Rachel
      Maddow – and Keith Olbermann would rather join a Trappist monastery
      than utter one word about it.



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