McConnell and Petraeus: Foxes In the Henhouse

The notion of Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell as the "honest broker" regarding the Bush FISA amendment was always nuts. Spencer Ackerman writes about it:

[A]fter last week's rapid, controversial revision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, in which McConnell played chief Congressional negotiator, lawmakers are wondering: Was McConnell set up by the Bush administration? Or is he a willing flunky?

He was neither. He was doing his job, serving the Bush Administration. This notion of allowing the Bush Administration to determine what the Congress decides is the problem. Senator Russ Feingold made this point in response to Sen. Lieberman's shameful performance in the senate FISA debate, when Lieberman called for the Senate abdicating its responsibility and instead just blindly doing what McConnell said. And we are in for a repeat in September when General Petraeus reports on Iraq. More. See also General Wes Clark's discussion of Petraeus and Iraq

I previously wrote about Petraeus:

[T]his is not meant to doubt General Petraeus' integrity or competence. It is meant to treat him for what he is - not an infallible disinterested observer, but a soldier who believes he can accomplish an impossible mission and will view events in a manner that most favors that belief. This is to be expected from ALL human beings. . . . Petraeus is NOT and can NOT be the honest broker here. He is invested in this mission, as he should be. Yet again the Beltway Elite simply do not understand their roles, which is not to worship at the altar of the "New Jesus" - it is to question and test what the "New Jesus" is saying. They have learned nothing these past 6 years.

Congress must remember that whomever they are dealing with from the Bush Administration, no matter how respected, represents the BUSH ADMINISTRATION. Congress must do its Constitutional duty and pass its own independent judgment on these issues.

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    The whole idea that McConnell (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 08, 2007 at 10:41:26 AM EST
    was some kind of independent honest broker was so laughable from the start that I'm amazed that anyone outside of the Republican caucus pretended to take it seriously. Perhaps I shouldn't have been.

    I saw your comments in the Clark thread (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Aug 08, 2007 at 10:46:59 AM EST
    unlike some of the Clarkies, I did not see Clark necessarily being against NOT funding the Debacle after a date certain.

    One of the more interesting aspects of this is IF you think you can affect Bush's behavior on this, it seems to me that the NOT funding card needs to be played, make him negotiate for his money.

    Make him accept a Clark plan in exchange for funding.

    I do not think Bush would ever go for it but if people want something more than gum flapping to happen, you have to use a powerful weapon to get Bush to the table.

    Not funding is that powerful card.


    It seemed to me that (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 08, 2007 at 10:49:48 AM EST
    he was operating from the premise that Bush could have his behavior or opinions changed. I agree that defunding is a powerful too, but I think it's too blunt an instrument to force a particular policy course. Pelosi and Reid simply aren't good enough politicians IMHO.

    It is the only instrument we have (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Aug 08, 2007 at 10:51:10 AM EST
    If not that, then what? There is no other instrument.

    What I mean is (none / 0) (#9)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 08, 2007 at 10:54:08 AM EST
    that we either stay or we go, and I don't think think that withholding funds allows us to dictate a particular withdrawal procedure, though I wish it did.

    But if you want (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Aug 08, 2007 at 10:59:44 AM EST
    to negotiate with bush then you need the hammer of not funding.

    Yes, and I think the question is (none / 0) (#14)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 08, 2007 at 11:02:16 AM EST
    to what degree can you negotiate? I think we can't really expect fine-grained control over the events in Iraq. We just have a crude on/off switch.

    If we can convince folks (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Aug 08, 2007 at 11:12:29 AM EST
    to adopt not funding, even as a negotiating device, it is a step forward.

    Sure (none / 0) (#17)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 08, 2007 at 11:17:29 AM EST
    So long as we don't presuppose that people hold that position.

    I assumed nothing (none / 0) (#18)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Aug 08, 2007 at 11:21:57 AM EST
    good (none / 0) (#19)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 08, 2007 at 11:33:33 AM EST
    It could though (none / 0) (#11)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Aug 08, 2007 at 10:59:18 AM EST
    and I think Clark's request is challenging us to begin shaping the political landscape by DEMANDING policies in Iraq that REALLY WORK and that can bring about a bill that defunds that current strategy.

    That should be *tool* (none / 0) (#8)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 08, 2007 at 10:52:51 AM EST
    I believe at this time that Clark is for (none / 0) (#7)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Aug 08, 2007 at 10:51:27 AM EST
    doing anything that forces a strategy change in Iraq.  If shutting off Bush's money means that he has to start listening to someone else's ideas then it is my perception that Clark is just fine with that!

    I think so too (none / 0) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Aug 08, 2007 at 10:58:36 AM EST
    I hope that's true (none / 0) (#13)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 08, 2007 at 11:01:15 AM EST
    but I think you might be projecting your opinions onto him.

    I'm working my butt off (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Aug 08, 2007 at 11:13:16 AM EST
    to understand where he is coming from.  I'm trying very hard to not project my opinions on him.  He has his own plan how to stablize the middle east and Iraq by engaging Iran and developing the best dialogue with them that we can. I'm not going to tell you that I don't think that is a good idea because as mankind goes respecting each other on whatever commonality we can find is our only real hope.  I've fought BushCo for so long though now and they are very very good about fighting right down to the splinter.  A vast foreign policy where we make our best efforts to embrace and respect and befriend our foe, that was so long ago I almost can't remember what that's like at all.  Remember that first day the baboon in Command stood up there and said Axis of Evil and we all thought to ourselves, "What the hell is talking about?"  Then he got in everyone's face, cut off diplomacy and when those nations pushed back or ended their diplomatic efforts with us he pointed his finger at them and said, "See, I'm a prophet from God!"  And diplomacy and global stability sunk several levels as we all had to fight our way through wiretapping and Iraq War Lies and My God everything else.

    Look here (none / 0) (#20)
    by lhuynh on Wed Aug 08, 2007 at 06:27:05 PM EST
    You should watch this TPMtv clip with General Clark. Go to about the 5 minute mark where Clark speaks to this issue.

    What do you think about Wes Clarks (none / 0) (#3)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Aug 08, 2007 at 10:48:33 AM EST
    vision of getting out of Iraq the right way?  It hurts me to have Wes Clark say that we have to argue for policy and strategy more than what's best for our troops because when we argue troops we are on Dubya's home court.  I wish it wasn't so but it is and I want to us out of Iraq so I take Wes Clark's advice on direction.  I desire more than anything to be out of Iraq as soon as possible.  I read one of your posts when I first started reading here where you said that Iraq was on your mind night and day......how do we get out of Iraq?  When I read that I thought it was nice to find someone out there as supposedly crazy as I was.

    Who are we arguing to? (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Aug 08, 2007 at 10:50:32 AM EST
    The problem is Bush.

    In my reply to andgarden, I explain that the only actual way to get Bush to listen to a Gen. clark is by threatening the funding and making him accept the Clark plan as a condition for funding.