This may surprise you all a bit, but I’m no blind supporter of President-Elect Obama. Just visually impaired. But even through the mists of my rose-colored spectacles, I can see when it’s time to take the man out to the woodshed for an intimate discussion with the Smack-o-Matic.
This is that time. I discovered part of the reason for his ridiculous vote on FISA, which has been the only thing he’s ever done that’s stuck in my craw. And now it seems that the thinking – or lack thereof – that went into that vote could influence his presidency in all the wrong ways.
Last Wednesday, I wrote:
It simply is noteworthy of comment and cause for concern — though far from conclusive about what Obama will do — that Obama’s transition chief for intelligence policy, John Brennan, was an ardent supporter of torture and one of the most emphatic advocates of FISA expansions and telecom immunity.
Yesterday, Andrew Sullivan noted that observation but then linked to this post from James Gordon Meek of the Counterrorism blog, which reported that Brennan — a top CIA aide to George Tenet during most of the Bush administration — is a leading candidate to replace Mike McConnell and become Obama’s Director of National Intelligence. Meek, not providing any links or citations, wrote: “Among many things Democrats like about the softspoken Brennan are his anti-torture views” (emphasis added). Andrew is right when he says: “They both can’t be right.”
Glenn then goes on to paint, in lavish detail, the portrait of a man who may think waterboarding is a bit beyond the pale, but everything else is right and just and For Our Nation’s Safety. The man hasn’t spoken out against the other “enhanced interrogation” techniques that would be called what they are – torture – if this wasn’t America. He’s a big fan of the extraordinary renditions. He’s cheerled for some of the worst of the neocon abuses. And Obama apparently listens to him:
And in July, 2008, NPR attributed Obama’s reversal on FISA and telecom immunity to the fact that he was relying on the advice of Brennan, an emphatic supporter of those policies:
What’s important here is Obama’s reference to the information he’s received. He’s advised on intelligence matters by John Brennan, the former director of the National Counterterrorism Center. Like many intelligence professionals, Brennan says the FISA program is essential to the fight against terrorism. By adopting Brennan’s view, Obama improves his standing with the intelligence community. For someone looking ahead to a presidential administration, that’s important.
This is going to hurt me more than it’s going to hurt you, Obama, old son. I trust you, but not in this. So let’s just get this over with.
What the fuck are you doing listening to this fuckwit?
You and I both love this country and want to protect it, but you don’t protect it by breaking its laws. You don’t protect it by spying on its own citizens. You don’t protect it by condoning torture and throwing the Geneva Conventions out the window. If you do all of these things in order to protect America, you’re turning America into a country that isn’t worth protecting.
We elected you to roll back all of these abuses. We didn’t elect you to continue them. We expect you to defenistrate the intelligence “experts” who got snowed by the Bush regime’s 24-inspired cowboy covert operative mentality. We want those fuckers tossed out of the highest window you can find. There are plenty of sober, superbly skilled intelligence experts who can advise you how to protect this country while restoring its laws and reputations to the condition they were in before Bush & Co. came along and shredded them along with America’s international reputation and pride.
Do not fucking let us down.
Don’t let America down, and don’t let the world down. You rode in on a wave of international hope and joy. If you let this freakish bullshit continue in the name of national security, that hope and joy will turn to anger and disillusionment faster than you can say “extraordinary rendition,” our reputation goes right back down the toilet, terrorists get to point to you and say, “See? They’re still the Great Satan. Here, strap on this bomb!” and we are no better off than where we began. Worse, in fact. America expects better of you, and so does the world, and if those expectations are dashed, we’ll make all those bitter people in rural America who voted against you because you’re some super-scary socialist uber-liberal look positively cheerful.
I don’t care if you keep Brennan on. But you should take everything he says with a fucking salt block, and fuck this making him Director of National Intelligence. Fuck this listening to the little bugger spew neocon bullshit as if any of it has a place in a fucking democracy. It doesn’t. We do not torture, we do not engage in wholesale spying on our own fucking citizens, and we do not throw the rule of law out the door just because it makes the spies work harder. The fact that we did these things for eight fucking years should be an abomination, not the norm.
That is what you need to etch onto your heart. That is what you need to bring us back to. Talk to those people in national security who did a stellar job of it under Clinton. Talk to those people who saw 9-11 coming without the “benefit” of warrantless wiretapping, torture, and mayhem, and would’ve prevented it if the fucking president hadn’t been too busy playing rugged rancher to give two shits about the safety of this country. Put a person in charge of national intelligence who’s actually demonstrated some.
We didn’t elect you to continue the abuses of the Bush years. We elected you to put a stop to them. All of them. Do it.
I trust we won’t have to have this little talk again, but remember: the Smack-o-Matic is always right here waiting.