I'm actually relieved that traveling burdens leave me with little time to write much about this story; then again, it essentially speaks for itself and requires minimal commentary (h/t Mad Dogs):
The House Intelligence Committee's top Democrat [Rep. Silvestre Reyes of Texas] said Tuesday he has recommended that President-elect Barack Obama keep the country's current national intelligence director and CIA chief in place for some time to ensure continuity in U.S. intelligence programs during the transition to a new administration. . . .
an interview, Reyes said he believes that Director of National
Intelligence Mike McConnell and CIA Director Michael Hayden should be
kept in their posts. Reyes believes they should stay for at least six months, but said the time frame is ultimately a decision Obama must make.
But that was the least of it. Chairman Reyes -- who was hand-picked by Nancy Pelosi to skip over the equally Bush-enabling Jane Harman to become Committee Chair in 2006 -- also:
said he  recommended to Obama's transition team that some parts of the CIA's controversial alternative interrogation program should be allowed to continue. He declined to say what he specifically recommended, however. . . .
are those that believe that this particular issue has to be dealt with
very carefully because there are beliefs that there are some options
that need to be available," Reyes said.
"We don't want to be
known for torturing people. At the same time we don't want to limit our
ability to get information that's vital and critical to our national
security," he added. "That's where the new administration is going to
have to decide what those parameters are, what those limitations are."
Amendment lawyers will tell you that anyone who says: "The First
Amendment is important, but . . . " does not actually believe in free
speech. Analogously, someone who says: "We don't want to be known for
torturing, but . . ." is not someone who believes in ending torture.
And note the consummately Cheneyite dichotomy Reyes has adopted between
banning torture and staying safe. Or, as Spencer Ackerman put it, "The
chairman of the House intelligence committee just framed the debate as
between effective torture and ineffective compliance with the law."
[See the interview I conducted yesterday with Rear Admiral John Hutson regarding how deceitful that claim is].
what is most amazing about this. While virtually all of the Bush
agenda over the last eight years ended up being deeply unpopular and
profoundly discredited, it was his foreign policy and intelligence
programs (torture, rendition, illegal surveillance, war) which caused
the most intense opposition, at least among Democratic voters. That is
a large part of why Democrats just won their second straight national
election promising to oppose Bush's policies and to implement
"change." It was the policies implemented and overseen by Bush's
Pentagon, CIA and "homeland security" apparatus that caused the most
disgrace. "Continuity" in those areas would be nothing less than a
patent betrayal of everything Democrats, over the last two years, told
the citizenry they intended to do.
And yet, having watched Obama
already announce that he is retaining Bush's Defense Secretary, here we
have the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee also urging
that Obama keep, for "at least" six months, Bush's handpicked Director
of National Intelligence (whom Democrats excoriated during the FISA debates for manipulating and, as even Reyes himself noted, outright lying to them) and Bush's handpicked CIA Director (who was, as Obama himself said,
the "architect and chief defender" of Bush's illegal NSA spying
programs). Even worse, Reyes is publicly urging that Obama maintain,
rather than overhaul, "some parts of the CIA's controversial
alternative interrogation program" -- or else we'll all be slaughtered
by the Terrorists.
It's worth recalling here that top
Congressional Democrats were told, to varying degrees, about the vast
preponderance of the most extremist Bush policies at the time those
policies were implemented, including torture and illegal surveillance,
and, in almost every case, did nothing to stop it, and often actively assented. The fact that Reyes is recommending these steps this does not mean, of course, that Obama will follow. Indeed, as Marc Ambinder suggests
today, Obama is actively considering several candidates to replace
Hayden and McConnell and "is having trouble finding a potential CIA
director who lacks politically incriminating links to controversial
Bush Administration policies and yet commands the respect of the
agency's rank and file."
But, as I've been arguing for several
weeks, it is unrealistic in the extreme to think that these Bush
policies are going to magically vanish without a major fight now simply
because Democrats are in control. There are many factions in
Washington working hard to ensure that these policies remain largely in
place, and many of those factions are found at the highest levels of
the Democratic Congressional leadership.
* * * * *
In addition to the appearance on this Friday night's Bill Moyers' Journal that I noted yesterday, I'll be on The Rachel Maddow Show
tomorrow night (Thursday) to discuss the closing of Guantanamo, the
efforts already underway to make it difficult for Obama to do so, and
related matters (some of those issues were raised by this excellent piece in Salon a couple of days ago by the ACLU's Jameel Jaffer and Ben Wizner). I'll try to post the exact time when I know it.
Jim Angle of Fox News is doing a report on the John Brennan controversy
for Brit Hume's program, and I was interviewed by him at length about
that today. I'll post the date and time of its broadcast once I know
it. It should be quite interesting to see how that ends up being
edited and presented.
For a taste of how inane and hysterical some of the discussion of this Brennan episode is on the Right, see this bizarre rant today from "Pajamas Media" -- dramatically entitled: "How the Netroots Brought Down Obama's Spymaster" -- and duly promoted by Glenn Reynolds.
After excoriating me for having the audacity to opine on CIA policies
even though I never worked in the intelligence community and then
proceeding to defend both Brennan and the CIA's policies, the author
describes himself this way in his bio line: "M. P. MacConnell is a
novelist, historian and political analyst."
Among the many
perversely entertaining claims he makes, marvel at this assertion about
Bush's interrogation and detention policies: "American laws were not
broken. . . . Nothing even slightly unseemly has been uncovered." Pardon
me, but I have to repeat that: nothing even slightly unseemly has been
uncovered. It seems that Chairman Reyes sees things generally the same
Hence: "continuity" is what we need.
UPDATE: In comments, Jim White recalls a still-unbelievable episode -- first reported by CQ -- revealing what Silvestre Reyes is.