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Monday, January 5, 2009


Obama's selection to run the Central Intelligence Agency is Leon Panetta, former congressman and White House Chief of Staff. Sullivan points us to a very informative piece that gives me hope that the CIA's torture-happy days may be over:
Our Constitution defines the rules that guide our nation. It was drafted by those who looked around the world of the eighteenth century and saw persecution, torture, and other crimes against humanity and believed that America could be better than that. This new nation would recognize that every individual has an inherent right to personal dignity, to justice, to freedom from cruel and unusual punishment.

We have preached these values to the world. We have made clear that there are certain lines Americans will not cross because we respect the dignity of every human being. That pledge was written into the oath of office given to every president, "to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution." It's what is supposed to make our leaders different from every tyrant, dictator, or despot. We are sworn to govern by the rule of law, not by brute force.

We cannot simply suspend these beliefs in the name of national security. Those who support torture may believe that we can abuse captives in certain select circumstances and still be true to our values. But that is a false compromise. We either believe in the dignity of the individual, the rule of law, and the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, or we don't. There is no middle ground.

We cannot and we must not use torture under any circumstances. We are better than that.

Not everyone on the Left is psyched about Obama's latest pick, though, attributing the pick to political CYA:
Let's be honest with ourselves; the only reason Leon Panetta is the choice for director of Central Intelligence Agency is because he is completely clean regarding wire-taps and torture. He's completely clean in regards to those controversial programs because he never worked intelligence. Beyond the Iraq Study Group, Leon Panetta never worked intelligence. Even regarding foreign policy, his credentials are limited to his time in the House of Representatives; by the way, he never once served on a committee in Congress that is involved with foreign policy. Leon Panetta will not have the respect of the career-staff within the Central Intelligence Agency. Why would they respect him?

I see the point that Obama may have made the pick (quite late, for him) to avoid the appearance of hypocrisy when it comes to torture, but I really don't see what's wrong with a candidate's involvement with torture being a deal-breaker. Isn't that what we've been complaining about with regard to Bush-Cheney-Abu Ghraib-Gitmo for years? You can't get what you asked for and then bitch.

But my real problem with this post is that this person seems to care what CIA career-staff will think about their new boss. Career-staff who, presumably, have carried out the Bush-Cheney strategy of torture. So if they don't do their jobs because they're in a snit, Obama and Panetta will get rid of them. Who gives a damn what these people think?

I haven't written much about torture here, largely because many others are all over it already and I consider an egregiously obvious point: you can't claim you're the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave if you torture people to get information - much of which is likely faulty as a result of said torture. I agree with Panetta that we must embody the ideals that we claim to export. We wonder why "they hate us"? Please.

That said, I feel like I do after the Browns have a good draft. We have some good prospects, but they have to execute when the game starts.

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