Yesterday, we were talking about President-Elect Obama‘s choice of Leon E. Panetta to head up the Central Intelligence Agency. Since then, there have been several reports on high-level Democrat infighting regarding Panetta’s qualifications.
A former Congressman (who didn’t serve on any intelligence oversight committees in his eight terms in the House), Panetta was also President Clinton‘s Chief of Staff from 1994-97. The latter means he was privy to CIA briefs, which no doubt contain as much if not more sensitive information than what gets circulated on the Hill. Yet several senior Democratic officials, including the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), have questioned Panetta’s credentials. “My position has consistently been that I believe the agency is best-served by having an intelligence professional in charge at this time,” Feinstien reportedly said of Obama’s pick.
Panetta might not know the ins-and-outs of an agency notoriously hostile to outsiders, but he has spoken out firmly against CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” techniques and “black sites.” I think that’s fan-fucking-tastic, and I’m pleased Obama has the balls to stick by his campaign statements on this issue. Of course, it’s probably why the CIA post has been so damn hard to fill — where do you find an “expert” who’s not compromised?
Another thing: I’m soooo sick of hearing talk about torture focus solely on waterboarding. Supporters clearly want it that way, as it lets them split hairs about a single technique, thereby limiting the debate. Plus it sounds fun — like something you’d do at an outdoor amusement park. Hey kids, who wants to go waterboarding? After that, how ’bout some induced hypothermia, beatings, crippling stress positions, multi-week sleep deprivation, extended isolation/overstimulation and sexual/cultural humiliation?
Good thing Dubya‘s legal eagles found a workaround for all that stuff. By defining torture as “equivalent to the loss of major organs or leading to imminent death,” they’ve left plenty of wiggle room for the aforementioned activities. And thanks to our “extraordinary rendition” program, we can always outsource the really bad stuff (electrocution, etc.) to interrogators from nations where the rules really don’t apply. Thanks, John Yoo!
I understand that the “bad guys” aren’t playing tiddlywinks and that they represent a genuine threat to American security. But the fact is, torture not only doesn’t work, it’s a major liability. Why do you think we’re having such a hard time shutting down GitMo? Because it would create a legal shitstorm that would make Watergate look like shoplifting. Those detainees — a vast majority of which have yet to be charged with anything — are mentally and physically broken from years of intense abuse. Can you imagine if they were forced to stand trial? Talk about bad PR.
Oh, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the other agencies and organizations tasked with collecting intelligence on behalf of America, so you could see how big the community really is. I wonder if they’ve all got copies of the KUBARK manual?
US Intelligence Offices/Agencies:
Director of National Intelligence
The Director of National Intelligence serves as the head of the Intelligence Community. The DNI also advises the President, the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council on matters related to national security. The DNI is responsible for implementation of and oversight of the National Intelligence Program. Appointed by the President (pending Senate consent), the Director supposedly acts as chief coordinator for the U.S. intelligence apparatus. President-Elect Obama has tapped retired Admiral Dennis Blair for this position.
The rest break down something like this [Wikipedia]: