My cautiously-held hopes for the United States regaining its moral stature under Obama are fading. It's bad enough that Obama seems to be circling the wagons against any sort of accountability for Bush administration officials who approved of torture and cooked intelligence, but elevating them to his transition team and possibly higher? I really wanted to believe "yes, we can," but so far, he hasn't.
The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan says that "Obama is close to appointing John Brennan, who served under former CIA Director George Tenet," for a top intelligence post.
Who is John Brennan? Speaking yesterday on Democracy Now about Obama's intelligence transition team, author and former CIA analyst Melvin Goodman said:
John Brennan was deputy executive secretary to George Tenet during the worst violations during the CIA period in the run-up to the Iraq war, so he sat there at Tenet's knee when they passed judgment on torture and abuse.- Advertisement -
Jami Miscik was the Deputy Director for Intelligence during the run-up to the Iraq war. So she went along with the phony intelligence estimate of October 2002, the phony white paper that was prepared by Paul Pillar in October 2002. She helped with the drafting of the speech that Colin Powell gave to the United Nations-[inaudible] 2003, which made the phony case for war to the international community.
So, when George Tenet said, "slam dunk, we can provide all the intelligence you need," [inaudible] to the President in December of 2002, it was people like Jami Miscik and John Brennan who were part of the team who provided that phony intelligence. So what I think people at the CIA are worried about-and I've talked to many of them over the weekend-is that there will never be any accountability for these violations and some of the unconscionable acts committed at the CIA, which essentially amount to war crimes, when you're talking about torture and abuse and secret prisons. So, where are we, in terms of change? This sounds like more continuity.
Jami Miscik, along with Brennan, is a member of Obama's intelligence transition team. Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights in the same interview said:
The idea that Brennan, who should probably, along with Tenet, be facing some kind of war crimes trial, is actually heading the transition on this is extremely disturbing.
The president-elect and congress are rushing to take many things "off the table" at breakneck speed. Stephen Webster at Raw Story writes in "Obama advisers: Harsh interrogators will walk":
Even as President-elect Obama vowed "to regain America's moral stature in the world" during Sunday's 60 Minutes appearance, two of his senior advisers confessed there is no intent to pursue those in the Bush administration who engaged in torture. Speaking on condition of anonymity to the Associated Press, the advisers said that the plan is to put a stop to current interrogation methods and to "look forward" as opposed to focusing on prior transgressions.
In other words, Sorry about that torture, eh, no hard feelings? And that buddy of yours who died while in custody at Gitmo, we'd tell him we're sorry too, but, uh, we can't.
This is not "change." This is SOS. It's all in the name of a new "bipartisanship," but Glen Greenwald shoots that lousy excuse down like an old SCUD missile:
Where is the evidence of the supposed partisan wrangling that we hear so much about? Just examine the question dispassionately. Look at every major Bush initiative, every controversial signature Bush policy over the last eight years, and one finds virtually nothing but massive bipartisan support for them -- the Patriot Act (original enactment and its renewal); the invasion of Afghanistan; the attack on, and ongoing occupation of, Iraq; the Military Commissions Act (authorizing enhanced interrogation techniques, abolishing habeas corpus, and immunizing war criminals); expansions of warrantless eavesdropping and telecom immunity; declaring part of Iran's government to be "terrorists"; our one-sided policy toward Israel; the $700 billion bailout; The No Child Left Behind Act, "bankruptcy reform," and on and on.- Advertisement -
Most of those were all enacted with virtually unanimous GOP support and substantial, sometimes overwhelming, Democratic support: the very definition of "bipartisanship." That's just a fact....Indeed, the bulk of Bush's most substantial defeats -- immigration reform, Harriet Miers, the Dubai ports deal -- came as a result of opposition from the Right, not from Democrats.
Jonathan Turley on the Keith Olbermann show slammed Democrat complicity:
"The Democrats are trying very hard to show ... that they're not going to re-open these issues and that the Bush crimes will remain buried for all time. It would start a new administration on the same level that George Bush left it. And that's a very sad thing. We've had eight years of moral relativism and the avoidance of legal process. And to start a major campaign with the suggestion that we're going to distinguish between egregious and non-egregious crimes promises more of the same."