Hagel and Brennan

Along with Chuck Hagel, who hurt Lindsay Graham and John McCain’s fee-fees because he said something unsycophantic about Israel once, Obama is set to nominate John Brennan as the new director of the CIA:

[…], Brennan’s nomination will likely shine a spotlight on the administration’s controversial drone programme. Brennan was the first Obama administration official to publicly acknowledge the highly secretive targeted killing operations. Brennan has defended the legality of drone operations and has said they protect American lives and prevent potential terror attacks.

That’s the Guardian, but I don’t agree with that prediction. DC is going to be wrapped around the Hagel nomination axle for the next few weeks, and Brennan will sail through, especially because most Senators don’t have an issue with the drone program. After all the noise dies down, Hagel is going to be confirmed fairly easily, too.

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142 replies
  1. 1
    Jamey says:

    I’m badly underinformed.

    Does anybody know who the GOP’s preferred candidates for SecDoD are? Seems like they’re again declining the President’s intent but offering no alternatives.

  2. 2
    BlueDWarrior says:

    @Jamey: Throw a dart at a list of prominent Neo-Cons, that’d be your Secy of Defense choice if you’re an R

    also, to J Marsh, Crack is whack, yo.

  3. 3
    amk says:

    @Jamey:

    but offering no alternatives.

    Their only alternative obama should appoint prezinent mittbot.

  4. 4
    JR says:

    Brennan’s problem will be when liberal senators start pointing out that he’s a longtime fan an proponent of torturing in the name of the American people.

    …and by “problem” I mean “thing that will in no way interfere with his eventual, overwhelming confirmation.”

  5. 5
    MattF says:

    I tend to agree that Hagel (and some gun control) will be winners in the next month or two, but we shall see. There may be an extremely basic political truth coming into force here: winning is better than losing– and Obama has been winning.

  6. 6
    magurakurin says:

    @Jamey:

    Who gives a fuck who they prefer? The president picks the nominee.

  7. 7
    Mark S. says:

    Brennan has defended the legality of drone operations and has said they protect American lives and prevent potential terror attacks.

    They probably also incite future terrorist attacks. People generally don’t like it when you kill their families at a wedding party. They just don’t understand that we bomb because we love.

  8. 8
    Hawes says:

    Crack, I believe, is whack.

    Mo’ money, mo’ quandries as Byron said.

  9. 9
    some guy says:

    the Hagel nomination will allow us to see which Dem Senators put loyalty to the Lobby before loyalty to the Nation.

    bravo, Obama, very nice backhanded swipe at the Likudniks.

  10. 10
    Todd says:

    Obama could nominate Donald Rumsfeld for the job, and the Teatards would object.

  11. 11
    rikyrah says:

    I could care less about drones.

  12. 12
    Schlemizel says:

    @Jamey:

    Why, thats unheard of! The goopers opposing everything Obama suggests but offering no alternatives!?

    They might accept someone with real experience like Rumsfeld or Cheney but only after a close examination.

    OTOH, its not really their job to offer suggestions.

  13. 13
    Anya says:

    Chuck Todd is having a major erection over the anticipation of the upcoming Chuck Hagel nomination fight in the senate. You should’ve heard his introduction.

  14. 14
    Schlemizel says:

    @rikyrah:

    Maybe you could if you tried

  15. 15
    redshirt says:

    I believe John Bolton’s mustache is the only nominee Gramps and Huck and the Gang will support.

  16. 16
    Patricia Kayden says:

    But can’t an anonymous Senator put a hold on any nomination? Couldn’t a Republican Senator do that for Hagel?

  17. 17
    peach flavored shampoo says:

    Does anybody know who the GOP’s preferred candidates for SecDoD are?

    I’m guessing John Bolton, Dick Cheney, or Bo Dietl.

  18. 18
    PsiFighter37 says:

    Already expressed Hagel feelings, but not a fan of Brennan. Why not just kick up Michael Morrell?

  19. 19
    Citizen_X says:

    @amk: Graham and McAngry will offer a bipartisan compromise: Obama lets Romney pick the nominee.

    PS: isn’t it great to mention those two, and not have to add “and Lieberman” when describing our National Concern Trolls?

  20. 20
    Face says:

    Chuck Todd is having a major erection

    Thanks. Thanks for that image. I hate you.

  21. 21
    pk says:

    @rikyrah:

    You might if one fell on your family.

  22. 22
    gene108 says:

    @Mark S.:

    The political fall out for a Democratic President to have a terrorist attack on U.S. soil would completely ruin his/her term in office and undermine the Democratic Party.

    Look at the fuss created about failed terrorist attacks, like the underwear bomber and from my point of view, if Republicans still controlled the House, you’d be looking at impeachment proceedings or some other attempt to hamstring a Democratic President.

    I think drone strikes are as much a product of political risk assessment from the Executive branch, as it is about keeping us safe.

  23. 23
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    Will I be labeled a firebagger if I oppose Brennan? Im pretty sure I would be for opposing Hagel, but wanted to get official approval first.

  24. 24
    some guy says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay:

    Torture in the defense of liberty….

  25. 25
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mark S.: Wouldn’t attack helicopters or dumb bombs have the same effect on local populations? Poorly targeted attacks rather than drones per se are the problem as I see it.

  26. 26
    Chyron HR says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay:

    Dunno, do you plan on using charming rhetorical constructions like “mindlessly worshipping Dear Leader” and “licking shit from the anus of Black Jesus”?

  27. 27
    wubbahuh says:

    @pk: So, rikyrah might care even less about drones if a drone fell on his/her family? Thanks for clearing that up.

  28. 28
    Corner Stone says:

    @pk:

    You might if one fell on your family.

    That would depend on if Obama had approved it.

  29. 29
    Corner Stone says:

    @MattF:

    There may be an extremely basic political truth coming into force here: winning is better than losing

    Interesting theory. Do you have a newsletter one might subscribe to?

  30. 30
    Punchy says:

    How many cuts to Medicare will it take to get Republicans to vote Hagel? How much spending cuts to SNAP and NIH will be required before the GOP drops their filly on Brennan?

    Isn’t everything “negotiable” in today’s GOP world?

  31. 31
    Smiling Mortician says:

    @gene108:

    if Republicans still controlled the House, you’d be looking at impeachment proceedings or some other attempt to hamstring a Democratic President

    OK. Did I miss something? Or did you?

  32. 32
    Corner Stone says:

    @Hawes:

    Mo’ money, mo’ quandries as Byron said.

    Lord Byron? Damn, that’s a hell of a drug.

  33. 33
    Comrade Jake says:

    Cokie Roberts was on NPR this morning talking about Hagel. She spent an inordinate amount of time talking about some Bush nominee who didn’t make it through the Senate, because he wasn’t popular enough, or some such bullshit, and how this was a sort of “cautionary tale”. Punditry, how does it work?

  34. 34
    MattF says:

    @Corner Stone: I know, it sounds stupid. But the contrarian ‘worse is better’ argument keeps popping up, and its counterfactuality needs to be pointed out once in a while.

  35. 35
    Corner Stone says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay:

    Will I be labeled a firebagger if I oppose Brennan?

    That would depend on why you were opposed. Do you oppose Brennan because Obama is an awesome president? Or are you opposed because Obama is the most awesome president?
    We’ll need to know a little more before we either label you or hogtie you first and then label you.

  36. 36
    NotMax says:

    Other than the unassailable fact that he is 80, Dick Lugar would be an interesting choice.

    As would be Sam Nunn, a slightly younger 74.

    Wesley Clark (68) would make for a lively confirmation hearing.

  37. 37
    Lol says:

    @Patricia Kayden:

    Holds are just indications that you plan to filibuster a bill by making it go through the days long procedural hoops. Major bills and nominations are expected to get that of resistance so holds have no power. Minor bills and nominations which are supposed to sail through without tying up the Senate are where holds have power.

  38. 38
    Corner Stone says:

    I’d really appreciate it if someone could explain to me why MSNBC keeps putting Megan McArgle and Matt Welch on my TV.

  39. 39
    Bulworth says:

    That PBO. Nominating Republican Chuck Hagel for Defense. Why doesn’t NoBama ever nominate any Republicans? The meanest, most partisan, most divisive, hateful president ever. //

  40. 40
    Anya says:

    @Face: If it makes you feel better, I hate me too. I had to watch that little toad get all hot and bothered. He really likes his “democrats in disarray” narrative.

    Also, too, I think it’s anti-Semitic or at least otherizing Jewish senators when you list all the Jewish dem senators (Chuck Schumer, Frank Lautenberg, Bob Menendez, et al) and then say that “if AIPAC officially comes against the nomination, you can be sure that those Dems’ opposition will be hard.” I think that’s appalling.

  41. 41
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Corner Stone: You know, for the kids.

  42. 42
    Anya says:

    @Corner Stone: They had Michelle Rhee this morning. I find her more offensive and distructive than those two.

  43. 43
    Ash Can says:

    According to the article, Brennan wasn’t part of the W admin, just a higher-up at the CIA at the time, and he never endorsed the W admin’s torture policy. On the other hand, he didn’t quit his job or make a stink over it, so if that’s your yardstick for virtue regarding that whole sorry chapter, then no, he won’t measure up. He has, on the other hand, been part of the Obama admin, for 4 years now, and a prominent one at that, so it seems kind of silly to start fussing about him now. That ship done sailed.

  44. 44
    chopper says:

    @Punchy:

    ah, the Hagelian Dialectic. the GOP is just going to try to figure out which part of the flesh they want a pound of.

  45. 45
    GregB says:

    So I notice my wingnut FaceBook friends casually calling Hagel and anti-Semite.

    Just curious, when Senator Chuck Hagel was a GOP Senator in good standing, was anyone on the right calling him an anti-Semite?

  46. 46
    KXB says:

    @Comrade Jake:

    She also talked about how Hagel’s views on Israel may run afoul of Evangelicals. Yes, don’t mention any other groups that might object.

  47. 47
    Corner Stone says:

    @Anya: Sure. They have odious interviews from the R side all the time. I think there’s a distinction from letting Rhee air her disgusting lies in an interview spot to the way they put the other two on panels for interpretation of issues.
    Although I kind of like Chairmen Steele on their shows, even though he still sneaks in some rightwing talking points once in a while.

  48. 48
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    @Ash Can: people did fuss about him, which is why he was a part of the Obama Administration in an appointed position that didn’t require congressional approval.

  49. 49
    GregB says:

    I thought that Obama had a deep seated hatred for white people.

    http://livewire.talkingpointsm.....n-of-3-old

  50. 50
    Mandalay says:

    @Anya:

    Also, too, I think it’s anti-Semitic or at least otherizing Jewish senators when you list all the Jewish dem senators (Chuck Schumer, Frank Lautenberg, Bob Menendez, et al) and then say that “if AIPAC officially comes against the nomination, you can be sure that those Dems’ opposition will be hard.” I think that’s appalling.

    Why on earth is that anti-Semitic?

    And what about when Schumer said “A vote against John Bolton is a vote against Israel”? Did you find that “appalling”?

  51. 51
    Ash Can says:

    @GregB: Not allowing the Israeli government to direct the foreign (and, ideally, domestic) policy of the USA = anti-semitism.

    @Amanda in the South Bay: But is there any actual evidence tying him to the torture policies of the Bush admin? Is there any proof that he was in any way responsible? I’m honestly asking; I don’t recall any myself.

  52. 52
    RaflW says:

    I am more and more a fan of Daniel Larison over at AmCon.

    This is sweeeeet

    One might think that a wounded, flailing party in need of political revival and policy reform would be eager to claim someone like Hagel as one of their own, but instead the response has been exactly the opposite. Having suffered multiple electoral setbacks and more than a few policy failures, the GOP should be looking to win back all the moderates, independents, and dissident conservatives that they have spent the last decade alienating through incompetence and ideological obsessions, but that isn’t happening. Instead, the willingness of future party leaders to oppose Hagel has become a test of their hawkish credentials, and presumably a failure to oppose him will become fodder in future primary campaigns.

    *Emphasis added.

  53. 53
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    I suspect the only acceptable candidate to the GOP would be John Bolton, and only if Obama wasn’t the one nominating him.

    Line in the sand time, people. Either Israel is running our government or we are.

  54. 54
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay: Why are you opposed to Brennan?

  55. 55
    MattF says:

    @GregB: Aaand… what would happen, one wonders, if Obama nominated an AA woman for Sec. of State? Aaand… what would Mr. Spox say about that?

  56. 56
    dr. bloor says:

    @pk:

    I don’t think they “fall” on you as much as they’re “driven into you with the greatest possible force.”

  57. 57
    catclub says:

    @Patricia Kayden: Anonymous holds only work because the senator tells his minority leader that he has put on a hold. If the minority leader then tells the majority leader, a hold might be honored. The reason it is honored is that the entire minority delegation will back it.

    I seem to remember Leahy trying to put a hold on a FISA vote.
    It was ignored.

  58. 58

    Happy to see Obama go right ahead and back Hagel over neo-con whinging. I’m liking PBO v2.0 very much, so far. For those unhappy with a GOP nominee, keep in mind that the confirmation fight, however it goes, will weaken the GOP even further on foreign policy optics. But I think Hagel will get in.

    Here’s an NYT article from 2010 with lots of Brennan in it. We could do a lot worse than a CIA director with 20+ years of M.E. experience who can speak Arabic.

    BTW, Brennan came out against waterboarding before it was cool to do so (and possibly lost his chance to be CIA director earlier because of this). So I’m not sure where folks are getting that he was pro-torture.

  59. 59
    Comrade Jake says:

    @RaflW: Larison is one of the few sane conservative pundits walking the Earth. He’s been taking the GOP to task (as well as the typical DC conventional wisdom on just about anything) for at least the past couple of years. Good stuff.

  60. 60
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    They had Michelle Rhee this morning. I find her more offensive and distructive than those two.

    @Anya: Rhee hates America – and has done more to wreck it – than Bin Laden ever did.

  61. 61
  62. 62
    catclub says:

    @Comrade Jake: I read up onthe John Tower nomination. all but about two republican senators supported him, in spite of the fact that he was a drunk and a womanizer, according to the reports. He was turned down by a senate that was majority Democrat. The good news was that we got Dick Cheney as SecDef instead. Unintended consequences.

    Not really similar to this case, if Democrats decide to back him.

  63. 63
    burnspbesq says:

    But there will be no funny business by Hagel or Brennan, because David Addington is on the case, protecting us from executive overreach.

    http://maddowblog.msnbc.com/_n.....reach?lite

    Irony is well and truly dead.

  64. 64
    eric says:

    @catclub: my recollection is that he was brought down by conservative operatives and not the dems. i will have to google this later.

  65. 65

    @Jamey:

    Does anybody know who the GOP’s preferred candidates for SecDoD are?

    Since Hermann Göring and Heinrich Himmler are dead, no.

  66. 66
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    BTW, Brennan came out against waterboarding before it was cool to do so (and possibly lost his chance to be CIA director earlier because of this). So I’m not sure where folks are getting that he was pro-torture.

    The only people who hate Obama more than conservatives are “liberals”.

  67. 67
    cathyx says:

    We need a guy like Brennan to continue Bush’s war policies. Petraeus had to resign because he had an extramarital affair. Brennan can be pro torture and that’s acceptable.

  68. 68
    burnspbesq says:

    […], Brennan’s nomination will likely shine a spotlight on the administration’s controversial drone programme.cause Glenn Greenwald to melt down, at excruciating length and with dozens of updates.

    Fixed.

  69. 69
    Ash Can says:

    @cathyx: This doesn’t even make any sense. Again I’ll ask, where’s the evidence tying Brennan to W’s torture policies? Just being in DC (or, in this case, VA) at the same time doesn’t count.

  70. 70
    Anya says:

    @Mandalay: I didn’t know Chuck Schumacher said that. It’s insane.

    As for my comment, what I meant to say is when you accuse a United States senator of taking orders from IAPAC then you’re implying that he’s putting Israel’s interests above America. Also, why list all the Jewish senators? Frankly, I don’t believe that democrats will go against their president on his nominee. So, Chuck Todd is full of shit on all accounts.

  71. 71
    Chris says:

    @gene108:

    Look at the fuss created about failed terrorist attacks, like the underwear bomber and from my point of view, if Republicans still controlled the House, you’d be looking at impeachment proceedings or some other attempt to hamstring a Democratic President.

    The odd thing is that there was just as much fuss during the Bush years, just, for some reason, not directed at the administration.

    The default setting is “terrorist attack bad for Democrats,” no matter who controls what in Washington. If it happens on a Republican president’s watch, we’re all supposed to dkneel in reverent awe in a “rally around the flag effect,” ignoring any and all possibilities that they might’ve fucked something up. If it happens on a Democratic president’s watch, we’re supposed to impeach the fucker.

    I personally lean towards “there are all kinds of terrorist groups out there that hate America (including American ones) and every now and then one of their attacks is bound to get through no matter who’s in charge” – in other words, that it’s nobody’s fault. But we need to blame SOMEONE, and for some reason, it’ll always be the Democrats.

  72. 72
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    @RaflW:

    they have spent the last decade alienating through incompetence and ideological obsessions,

    An, they will continue to make the same dumbass mistakes. Austerity is what they seek, and Hagel, is the dupe they see as gutting their sacred cow.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01.....&_r=0

  73. 73
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @cathyx: Citation for Brennan for Brennan being pro-torture? I don’t think that simply being a senior CIA officer is enough to estabilish that. I have seen numerous articles like the NYT one linked above that indicate Brennan was not in favor of waterboarding

  74. 74
    Comrade Jake says:

    @catclub: I don’t think the details are particularly important. I was just shaking my head over Cokie’s insight, which amounted to little more than “sometimes unpopular people don’t get votes”.

  75. 75
    Corner Stone says:

    @Certified Mutant Enemy: What about Generalissimo Franco?

  76. 76
  77. 77
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Corner Stone: Still dead.

  78. 78
    Seanly says:

    How about we nominate a Democrat for SecDoD?

    NOt to say, Hagel isn’t qualified especially as a wounded vet, but he is Republican.

  79. 79
    ruemara says:

    @Judas Escargot, Bringer of Loaves and Fish Sandwiches:

    Because facts are stupid things and pre-whining about what we have learned from our favourite pundits and op ed writers is not just a liberal right, it is a liberal calling.

    Case in point, see above.

  80. 80
    eric says:

    @Seanly: here is the rationale…Obama wants to nominate one republican to be bipartisan and there are no republicans that he can nominate to domestic cabinet posts because there the policy disagreements are too vast. So that leaves defense where the two parties differ the least, even if we all wish they differed the most.

  81. 81
    Roger Moore says:

    @catclub:
    I don’t think that’s quite right. Most business in the Senate proceeds to a vote by unanimous consent, i.e. they ask if it’s OK to take a vote and make sure nobody says “nay”. If they can’t get unanimous consent, they have to take a cloture vote, even if it’s only one person saying “nay”. Since cloture is a time consuming process and consent is required several times through the process of pushing an item of business through, a single Senator who’s willing to deny unanimous consent at every turn can really drag things out, enough that it might make sense to table a minor item until the dissenting Senator can be brought in line/bought off. So a hold can effectively block a lower priority piece of business (e.g. a nomination of a lower tier appointee) but probably not high priority business, where the price of multiple cloture votes is worth paying.

  82. 82
    catperson says:

    @Ash Can: IIRC, it *was* the torture issue that killed Brennan’s shot at CIA director the first time around. This is a good summary of Brennan’s statements on torture and rendition. I think it’s possible to read them as talking points to support existing policy in regards to torture (i.e. being a good soldier)rather than an actual endorsement of torture, but bottom line is that it’s not going to matter. Caring about torture is so 2008.
    Edited to fix the link.

  83. 83
    Anya says:

    I just found out that Chuck Hagel made his “Jewish lobby” comment in 2006. Why wasn’t anyone outraged at the time?

  84. 84

    @Seanly:
    Can you name one Democrat that is (1) Qualified (ie nat’l security/defense experience), (2) On the right side of the Iraq War when it was unpopular to do so and (3) Hasn’t co-signed any PNAC letters with neo-cons in the past?

    I can think of one name: But that particular guy is kind of busy being President at the moment.

  85. 85
    Roger Moore says:

    @Comrade Jake:

    Larison is one of the few sane conservative pundits walking the Earth.

    Larison isn’t sane; he’s a member of the League of the South, for goodness sake. He’s just better than most Conservative crazies about not talking too much about his personal points of crazy.

  86. 86
    gene108 says:

    @Smiling Mortician:

    Just pointing out the obvious. Republicans have shied away from actually pushing for impeachment.

    If a foreign terrorist group so much as sets off a cherry bomb in a middle school toilet, look for impeachment proceedings to dominate the discussion.

    If people want the U.S. to stop using drones, we need to make the politics safe for politicians to tack to a non-interventionist policy. Complaining about Obama’s “failures” with the drone program doesn’t move the conversation from “fighting them over there, so we don’t have to fight them over here” to what it should be about “blow-back’s a bitch” and needs to be acknowledged.

  87. 87
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    @catperson: That’s a good summary of my opposition. I think also that the optics are shitty-it costs Obama nothing to appoint someone who wasn’t s high ranking Bush CIA official. Easy points to score with the civil liberties crowd.

  88. 88
    kindness says:

    One of the GOOD things that the Hagel nomination is bringing up is how far out of bounds the AIPAC is with respect to 1) American interests in the middle east and 2) that AIPAC is essentially now a Likud lobbying organization rather than and Israeli lobbying organization.

    Yes, they can still hurt American interests but by being so openly hostile to middle of the road American views will actually help us in the long run. No, the Serious Village Elders will still act as if AIPAC walks on water but regular Americans will see them as the morans they are.

  89. 89
    Chris says:

    @catperson:

    There have been a lot of information that has come out from these interrogation procedures that the agency has in fact used against the real hard-core terrorists. It has saved lives.

    I love that they keep repeating “torture saves lives” like a bunch of fucking parrots but can’t seem to point to a single case where torture actually saved lives. It’s “many scientists disagree with evolution/global warming/the Big Bang” all over again.

    Only time I remember one of them actually trying was Dick Cheney going “well, waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed actually saved lives!” And then the FBI interrogator who had actually interrogated KSM came out and said that in fact, everything KSM had given them had already been extracted without coercive means and the waterboarding hadn’t done shit.

  90. 90
    cathyx says:

    @Ash Can:

    In November, 2007, Brennan — in an interview with CBS News’ Harry Smith — issued a ringing endorsement for so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” short of waterboarding:

    SMITH: You know, this all becomes such a giant issue because the president has gone on record so many times saying the United States does not torture. If we acknowledge that this kind of activity goes on, you know, what does that mean, exactly, I guess?

    Mr. BRENNAN: Well, the CIA has acknowledged that it has detained about 100 terrorists since 9/11, and about a third of them have been subjected to what the CIA refers to as enhanced interrogation tactics, and only a small proportion of those have in fact been subjected to the most serious types of enhanced procedures.

    SMITH: Right. And you say some of this has born fruit.

    Mr. BRENNAN: There have been a lot of information that has come out from these interrogation procedures that the agency has in fact used against the real hard-core 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 deaths of 3,000 innocents.

  91. 91

    @catperson:
    Any actual Brennan quotes, not from Greenwald or Democratic Underground?

    I’ve been Googling: Can’t find any pro-torture quotes from Brennan. Closest I could find was a line in Slate where he suggest that “pulling the lapels” might sometimes be necessary (even as he repudiates waterboarding in the same statement).

    (Found an interesting interview with PBS’ Frontline, however).

  92. 92
    Ash Can says:

    @catperson:
    @Amanda in the South Bay:

    Greenwald’s conclusion is “disturbing but inconclusive” (in light of the most recent evidence). If it’s “inconclusive” to Glenn Fucking Greenwald that Brennan supports torture, then you can imagine that Brennan’s explicit rejection of torture vs. his earlier weasel words about it (at a time when Dick Cheney would have been watching his every move) would make regular folks believe that, no, he doesn’t really support torture. Grilling him on the subject of rendition, yes. Drones? Sure. But torture? Looks like a non-starter to me.

    As for the “optics,” the optics are that he’s nominating an expert on the Middle East who was instrumental in the finding and icing of bin Laden. Those are pretty good optics to me. Who among the prominent current champions of civil liberties would Obama realistically nominate, let alone get confirmed?

  93. 93
    Hill Dweller says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay: I know it sounds crazy, but perhaps it is nothing more than Obama thinking, after seeing him up close for 4 years, Brennan is the right man for the job.

  94. 94

    @Ash Can:
    This.

    Some of us have very long memories. I remember what Greenwald was up to back in 2002: He was a right-leaning (ie low-tax) libertarian with some focus on civil liberties issues. Not one peep against the Iraq war though, when it mattered. And not one peep against GWB’s policies until it affected Greenwald personally (they wouldn’t let his partner move to the US from Brazil).

    Then, lo and behold, just as popular opinion on Iraq started to swing, Glenn Greenwald! Champion of Civil Liberties!(tm) stumbled into his current Brand as the anti-torture guy. The rest is pundit history.

    IMO, Greenwald has zero credibility on national defense or intelligence issues. I won’t accept him as sole-source on anything regarding the subject.

  95. 95
    smintheus says:

    @Ash Can: Are you seriously trying to argue that Brennan was NOT a long time and public advocate of Bush’s torture regime, including his use of extraordinary rendition? That he didn’t assert over and over again (falsely, it seems) that the “enhanced interrogation” of prisoners proved to be ‘effective’? How many times does Brennan have to tell you that he’s a torture lover before you’ll believe him?

    This is an appalling nomination.

  96. 96
    WaterGirl says:

    @NotMax: Interesting. I wouldn’t be happy with any of those three, but I’m okay with Hagel.

  97. 97
    jp7505a says:

    GOP would oppose Obama if he nominated Moses to head DOD

  98. 98
    ruemara says:

    @smintheus: Once. Which he hasn’t but I see you are set in your narrative groove.

  99. 99
    Joel says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay: But enough about me…

  100. 100
    cathyx says:

    @ruemara:

    In November, 2007, Brennan — in an interview with CBS News’ Harry Smith — issued a ringing endorsement for so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” short of waterboarding:
    SMITH: You know, this all becomes such a giant issue because the president has gone on record so many times saying the United States does not torture. If we acknowledge that this kind of activity goes on, you know, what does that mean, exactly, I guess?
    Mr. BRENNAN: Well, the CIA has acknowledged that it has detained about 100 terrorists since 9/11, and about a third of them have been subjected to what the CIA refers to as enhanced interrogation tactics, and only a small proportion of those have in fact been subjected to the most serious types of enhanced procedures.
    SMITH: Right. And you say some of this has born fruit.
    Mr. BRENNAN: There have been a lot of information that has come out from these interrogation procedures that the agency has in fact used against the real hard-core 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 deaths of 3,000 innocents.

    It seems like you’re the one set in a narrative groove.

  101. 101
    Rex Everything says:

    @Ash Can:

    According to the article, Brennan wasn’t part of the W admin, just a higher-up at the CIA at the time, and he never endorsed the W admin’s torture policy.

    Brennan on CBS News, 2007:

    “There have been a lot of information that has come out from these interrogation procedures that the agency has in fact used against the real hard-core 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 deaths of 3,000 innocents.”

    http://mediamatters.org/resear.....sup/146719

    Endorsement? I mean dude. Does propagandizing get any more gung-ho than that? Brennan stopped just short of invoking Jack Bauer.

  102. 102
    Gotwolfy says:

    The guy was in the CIA when they tortured, so by definition he is pro-torture if he was against it he would’ve quit.
    Let’s say you work at an organization call NAMBLA and they decide that from now on they are going to start raping children, you would object And then quit. Because you would not want to be associated with an organization that rape children.
    Now since torture is a lot worst than child rape anyone who has worked for them while they used torture is pro-torture.

  103. 103
    Suffern ACE says:

    @jp7505a: Well, Moses did stop short of actually entering the promised land and at times seemed more interested in keeping his people wandering than actually solving their problems by slaughtering Edomites. He may have been for the two state solution. There are some troubling leadership questions there. If we went to War with Iran, could he be counted on to give it the 100% attention it needs?

  104. 104
    ruemara says:

    @cathyx: Obviously.

    During the Early Show interview, Brennan did say that one particular technique, waterboarding, “is certainly subjecting an individual to severe pain and suffering, which is the classic definition of torture. And I believe, quite frankly, it’s inconsistent with American values and it’s something that should be prohibited.”

    Greenwald also noted that, in a December 5, 2005, interview on PBS’ The Newshour with Jim Lehrer, Brennan stated of rendition: “I think it’s an absolutely vital tool. I have been intimately familiar now over the past decade with the cases of rendition that the U.S. Government has been involved in. And I can say without a doubt that it has been very successful as far as producing intelligence that has saved lives.”

    I can support the issue that he’s pro rendition, which I am not, and the bullshit he stated about Egypt being pro-human rights, which is bullshit. But to say he’s a “torture lover” is pretty much hyperbole. Is he wrong that some of this has born fruit? Yes. Is he dissembling in support of an administration that tortures? Yes. Would I apply torture lover to others in administration? Hell, yes. Would I prefer someone else? Probably, let’s see some names.

  105. 105
    burnspbesq says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay:

    Easy points to score with the civil liberties crowd.

    Fine, but the question has to be asked: why bother? What ability does the “civil liberties crowd” have to actually affect anything meaningful?

  106. 106
    smintheus says:

    @ruemara: Wow, you’ve raised hair-splitting to new levels. If you supported and defended Bush’s extraordinary rendition programs, then you supported torture. That is why the program existed – to send prisoners to regimes that could be relied upon to ‘coerce’ prisoners in ways that Americans preferred not to do themselves.

  107. 107
    Corner Stone says:

    @ruemara:

    I can support the issue that he’s pro rendition, which I am not, and the bullshit he stated about Egypt being pro-human rights, which is bullshit. But to say he’s a “torture lover” is pretty much hyperbole. Is he wrong that some of this has born fruit? Yes. Is he dissembling in support of an administration that tortures? Yes.

    I have to confess that I no longer have any idea whether you’re defending Brennan or not.

  108. 108
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @smintheus: Yeah, if Brennan supported extraordinary rendition, he was tacitly okaying torture, by non- US personnel, and the record laid out here shows that he was okay with x rend.

  109. 109
    handsmile says:

    @burnspbesq:

    “What ability does the “civil liberties crowd” have to actually affect anything meaningful?”

    I’m assuming/hoping that this is an ironic remark (or at least embittered). Something rattles around that you once acknowledged hereabouts that you are/were a member/contributor to the ACLU.

    I would submit that the Innocence Project, for one, has been doing something “meaningful” about civil liberties.

    As for David Addington’s appointment at Heritage (your comment #63 above), I guess they are truly worried about Obama issuing that platinum coin.

  110. 110

    A reasonably even-handed article on Brennan by WiReD’s Spencer Ackerman is here.

    ETA: Another article, same author, on Brennan w.r.t. drones is here.

  111. 111
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    @Ash Can:

    I have no idea how you parsed that from the latest GG article. He said he’s exhausted from fighting the Obama Administration, but that’s hardly an endorsement of the guy.

  112. 112
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    @Hill Dweller:

    If Brennan is the only possible person in our mammoth intelligence community fit enough for the job, why wasn’t he successfully nominated 4 years go? I can’t remember-were people accusing firebaggers of being closet racists 4 years ago?

  113. 113
    Corner Stone says:

    @Judas Escargot, Bringer of Loaves and Fish Sandwiches: Haven’t read those links yet but I will say that in a general sense, IMO, I think Spackerman isn’t very insightful on these issues and gets consistently rolled by his sourcing.

  114. 114
    Comrade Jake says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Larison isn’t sane; he’s a member of the League of the South, for goodness sake. He’s just better than most Conservative crazies about not talking too much about his personal points of crazy.

    I wasn’t aware of that and am surprised. I’ve never read anything by Larison that conveys racial sentiments. I stand by my opinion, based on the vast majority of things I have read by Larison. He’s worth reading IMO.

  115. 115

    @Corner Stone:

    I think Spackerman isn’t very insightful on these issues and gets consistently rolled by his sourcing.

    You might want to read that second article: Ackerman’s clearly not a fan of drones, or at least of Brennan’s defense of the policy.

    Being from WiReD, Ackerman’s angle is of course often from the “gee whiz! awesome tech!” side of the business. But for whatever reason, he does have a talent for getting mucky-mucks to talk to him off the record.

    IMO he has more credibility on these subjects than Greenwald.

  116. 116
    SenyorDave says:

    @Comrade Jake: The League of the South seems to be mostly populated by a bunch of bitter racists who long for the old days, the old days being the days when they could own other human beings because of the color of their skin. I was not aware that Larison is such a lunatic (and am quite surpised), and it does affect how I would view him or anything he writes.

  117. 117
    Paula says:

    @Judas Escargot, Bringer of Loaves and Fish Sandwiches:

    Actually, Ackerman has been running consistently with criticizing the US gov’t wrt the whole War on Terror.

  118. 118
    Corner Stone says:

    @Comrade Jake: How are we going to run a benevolent dictatorship together when you don’t know Larison is a full on nutjob?

  119. 119
    pablo says:

    @Jamey: The dick Chaney

  120. 120
    Corner Stone says:

    @Paula:

    and not enough specious moral superiority in his columns.

    Exactly right. That was what I was looking for, thank you.

    @Judas Escargot:
    Spackerman isn’t very insightful and does not include enough speciousness in his columns. Therefore, I reject and denounce Stalin.

  121. 121
    johnny aquitard says:

    @Roger Moore: Holy shit! Did not know this about Larison:

    “Let me take this opportunity to say a few words about the League of the South, a group to which I am proud to belong for these past ten years. This group of ladies and gentlemen, for whom such terms still have their traditional meaning, endeavours to preserve their Southern, Christian cultural, religious and political heritage from the ravages of the same freethinking, Yankee spirit and empire that has gone on to devastate so many other societies, including that of those northern states gulled into the cause of Unionism.”

    From the SPLC link provided by Roger Moore:

    “Somebody needs to say a good word for slavery. Where in the world are the Negroes better off today than in America?”
    — Jack Kershaw, League of the South board member, 1998

    “[T]he Southern League supports a return to a political and social system based on kith and kin rather than an impersonal state wedded to the idea of the universal rights of man. At its core is a European population.”
    — Michael Hill, essay on League of the South website, 2000

    Jesus. Those quotes were written while Larison was a member (and in his own words, proud to be one).

    What a fucking crypto-racist neo-confederate piece of shit.

    He hides his crazy carefully. I had no idea.

  122. 122
    Corner Stone says:

    @Paula:

    Actually, Ackerman has been running consistently with criticizing the US gov’t wrt the whole War on Terror.

    Except of course for the whole time he was fighting off Paula Broadwell so he could take his turn fellating Petraeus.

  123. 123
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    What a fucking crypto-racist neo-confederate piece of shit.

    He hides his crazy carefully. I had no idea.

    @johnny aquitard: I discovered this a few years ago. Something he’d written didn’t hit me quite right and I started digging.

    The most hilarious part is that the dumb fucker’s from Massachusetts or some place like that. A full-on Northeast Yankee, who if the LotS were worth the paper their charter’s written on, would have been flogged to within an inch of his life upon trying to join.

  124. 124
    Comrade Jake says:

    @SenyorDave:

    The League of the South seems to be mostly populated by a bunch of bitter racists who long for the old days, the old days being the days when they could own other human beings because of the color of their skin. I was not aware that Larison is such a lunatic (and am quite surpised), and it does affect how I would view him or anything he writes.

    I honestly don’t know anything about the outfit beyond what the SPLC had to say. Sounds uniformly despicable, I agree.

    I can’t reconcile how Larison could be a member of such a group and yet, almost without exception, capable of routinely writing informed, interesting critiques of the GOP and US foreign policy. While I can’t reconcile it, this doesn’t prevent me from nonetheless recognizing informed, interesting critiques as, well, informed and interesting. I don’t know why it should.

  125. 125
    dogwood says:

    @Comrade Jake:

    In many ways Larison is a smarter version of Ross Douthat. Like Douthat he is an extreme cultural conservative and a convert. Larison converted to the Eastern Orthodox faith. His academic background is in ancient history and I believe that is what he teaches. Unlike Douthat, he is not a gadfly. I don’t think he writes much about his odious cultural views because that is not the center of his professional life. Where I am always cautious with Larison is when he writes about Russia. He is a real Russophile, and I take his insight there with a grain of salt. When it comes to Russia, his views are closely tied to his reverence for the culture and the Russian Orthodox Church.

  126. 126
    Jay C says:

    @Patricia Kayden:

    Even assuming that the Senate Republicans would prefer to kill Hagel’s DoD nomination (rather than turn it into a full-blown media-circus shitshow they can milk for publicity and chin-stroking “analysis” from the GOP-leaning media), it’s unlikely they would (or could) do so for as high-profile a position as Defense. Silently smothering a nom for some Circuit Court judge or Deputy Secretary position is one thing: the big jobs (like State, Defense, AG) are too important not to have at least an open vote on.

  127. 127
    Jack says:

    Use this to demand the legal memoranda behind the targeted killing of a U.S. citizen is released. Jack Goldsmith thought it okay to do it. Brennan was deeply involved with that subject matter. At least make sure someone on the committee asks him detailed questions on the matter.

  128. 128
    nellcote says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay:

    I can’t remember-were people accusing firebaggers of being closet racists 4 years ago?

    yes. sasq

  129. 129
    RaflW says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Wow, that column is wack-a-noodle. As is this League of the South. It looks pretty secessionist these days.

    Too bad, I thought Larison was sane.

  130. 130
    xian says:

    @NotMax: Sam Nunn? Why not dig up Reagan’s corpse?

  131. 131
    xian says:

    @Corner Stone: because bloggers?

  132. 132
    Elie says:

    @pk:

    Oh for Pete’s sake — not everyone that gets droned is an innocent. Yes, I acknowledge that innocents are killed in drone actions, but fewer. They still create less damage and havoc than an F-15.

    We want to decrease our reliance on troops with boots on the ground in certain situations but don’t want to use technology as a substitute. Boots on the ground are even less popular than drones.

    Unless you believe that the world is completely peaceful and that no aggressive intervention by the US will ever be necessary, this might be a slightly better solution. Not perfect. It WOULD be just fine if we never had to do anything aggressive. I just don’t think that is realistic.

  133. 133
    Roger Moore says:

    @Comrade Jake:
    I don’t want to say that you shouldn’t read Larison; he’s still on my RSS subscription list. But it’s important to know that he has his own points where he’s pretty far out there so you can keep an eye out for the occasional bit of teh crazy in his columns. The place it’s most likely to glint through is when he’s discussing the Balkans. He’s Eastern Orthodox, and it definitely colors his opinions on everything where Russia and Serbia are involved.

  134. 134
    xian says:

    @dr. bloor: they’re remote-piloted planes. they don’t fly into you or drop onto you: they shoot you with guns or drop bombs on you.

  135. 135
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @dogwood:

    he is an extreme cultural conservative and a convert. Larison converted to the Eastern Orthodox faith. His academic background is in ancient history and I believe that is what he teaches. Unlike Douthat, he is not a gadfly. I don’t think he writes much about his odious cultural views because that is not the center of his professional life. Where I am always cautious with Larison is when he writes about Russia. He is a real Russophile, and I take his insight there with a grain of salt. When it comes to Russia, his views are closely tied to his reverence for the culture and the Russian Orthodox Church.

    This, exactly.

    Of course there are so few other Russophiles writing publically about American FP that I find this aspect of his viewpoint refreshing so long as you keep it in mind while reading his articles.

    His League of the South stuff he can shove where the sun don’t shine so far as I’m concerned, but I can’t recall ever reading anything on his blog which brought up the subject, and as long as he keeps it out his FP writings I’ll continue to read the latter with some interest.

    There are few enough conservatives who are sane on any of the issues foreign or domestic which we have to grapple with that it seems to me an insurmountably high bar to demand that they be sane on all issues or even most of them. I understand this means the soft biogotry of low exepectations, etc., but it seems to me we have little choice in the matter and hence must deal with the escaped lunatics, vampires and werewolves we have, not the nuthouse we wished we had.

    After all, if they didn’t drink human blood, tear at live flesh, howl at the moon and think they are Jesus + Churchill reincarnated, they’d be Democrats.

  136. 136
    xian says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease: I think he’s the right color.

  137. 137
    docg says:

    Since national politics is nothing but a joke, please let me pile on needlessly and offensively.

    Question: What is the difference between Chuck Hagel, John McCain, Lindsay Graham?

    Answer: One was shot up, one was shot down and one was shot on.

  138. 138
    Paula says:

    @Corner Stone:

    I don’t really care about Pat-whats-his-face, who seemed consistently wrong about Iraq strategy, therefore I don’t really care about whether any reporter talked about him or his views. Ackerman’s been consistent about most things, but judging from your reaction I assume the general lefty goodwill has dissipated since he left FDL.

    Also, do you, by any chance, have a life outside this blog? I am genuinely curious. Or do you wake up in morning to this page and take a couple or more hours a day to post comments in every other entry?

    EDIT: Ha I edited the fucking comment because I knew you’d latch on to it like a dog on a bone. Unfortunately, did not work. However, I am amused by the fact that you really do seem to hang on to this site.

  139. 139
    Paula says:

    Also, I wish I had a job or general existence that allowed me so much time to spend w/ Balloon Juice, really I do. You’re such a champ CS.

  140. 140
    Corner Stone says:

    @Paula: Don’t be jellin’.

  141. 141
    David Koch says:

    Droooooooooooooooooones!

    I’m sure when Elizabeth Warren becomes president she’ll appoint Matt Stoller to run the CIA and she’ll turn the UAVs into potted plants.

    Or not.

  142. 142
    David Koch says:

    @Anya:

    I just found out that Chuck Hagel made his “Jewish lobby” comment in 2006. Why wasn’t anyone outraged at the time?

    IOKIYAR

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