Now That We Agree . . .

The latest -- "[Obama] is [not] beyond criticism." Good to know.

Now a consideration of Obama's selection of John Brennan to head his transition team on intelligence matters is in order. As I wrote, this is a matter of concern. As Glenn Greenwald wrote via Balloon Juice:

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. It would be foolish in the extreme to ignore that and to just adopt the attitude that we should all wait quietly with our hands politely folded for the new President to unveil his decisions before deciding that we should speak up or do anything.

Time to comment and show some concern about this I think.

By Big Tent Democrat, speaking for me only

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    Glenn also said this: (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by oldpro on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 06:33:13 AM EST
    "Politicians respond to constituencies and pressure.  Constituencies which announce their intention to maintain respectful silence all but ensure that their political principles will be ignored."

    Glenn is right.

    BTD is right.

    Hope is neither a strategy nor an effective lobbying technique and it's about as far from 'holding their feet to the fire' as you can get.

    Pay attention.  Brennan is inside the tent and he has Obama's ear.

    On guard, people!  Vigilence is still the price of liberty.  Let's not be caught napping this time.

    And you are right (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Demi Moaned on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 07:49:06 AM EST
    And, for good measure, Digby is right when she says:
    To those who are incessantly complaining about bloggers being "concern trolls" ..., I can only assume that you aren't aware of something called a "trial balloon" and its purpose.
    They actually want us to "concern troll" them so thy can gauge how the activist base, the mainstream media and the political establishment will react. It's not an act of "disloyalty" or a sign of hysteria to respond to these things any more than it is an act of disloyalty to respond to a poll or write a letter to the editor. It's the point.
    [Emphasis added.]

    gosh, just (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by cpinva on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 08:26:01 AM EST
    It simply is noteworthy of comment and cause for concern --

    myself, i think it's more than that (oh silly adult me!). that obama would even consider someone like this is telling of his mindset. what then, makes him any different from the current bunch?

    the best thing obama could do is publicly disavow this guy as having any possibility of any kind of role (even janitor) in his administration.

    speaking for myself only ellis, is this the bestest you could come up with?

    Speaking for myself only...damn are you boring.

    a hint: look the word "trite" up in the dictionary, then look in the mirror. notice the resemblance?

    More than considering (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by smott on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 10:02:37 AM EST
    It seems to me that Brennan clearly has Obama's ear. How else to explain the FISA reversal?...

    It's the jump to conclusions game! (1.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Crusty Dem on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 01:22:06 AM EST
    As a card-carrying Obama cult member (or at least that's probably how you would so unfortunately characterize me), I think it's fine to criticize any appointments.  Of course, I also said (as far back as the primaries), that I look forward to Obama disappointing me on a regular basis, just as Clinton did, because disappointment is far better than disaster.

    Still, while I certainly don't relish the selection of Brennan, the leap from temporary staffing to policy assumptions is a little premature, coming a whole 6 days after the election.  The Siobhan Gorman article you cite as evidence is nothing but rampant speculation (I sincerely doubt the WSJ has the real insider information on the Obama transition team).  Quite frankly, your ability to discern the direction Obama will take, nad the efficacy of that action, has been laughably wrong for about a year now..

    No leap from 'temporary staffing' (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by oldpro on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 06:40:40 AM EST
    to policy assumptions.  

    Brennan is head of the transition team for intelligence...not a temp taking the minutes of the meeting.  He chooses.  He selects and deselects.  He recommends.  HIS known policy positions, statements and attitudes are relevant to the menu being composed for Obama.  That leadership position can also be a job interview.  Wouldn't be the first time.


    Yes (none / 0) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 05:59:11 AM EST
    I see where you are coming from. As I said I guess we do not all agree.

    Nothing wrong with that.


    Crusty Dem (none / 0) (#23)
    by ding7777 on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 02:21:49 PM EST
    These news leaks are called Trial Balloons (information sent out in order to observe its reaction)

    Trying to stiffle reaction to the "trial balloon" is also an observable reaction


    Big Tedious Democrat (1.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Ellis on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 05:15:54 AM EST
    Speaking for myself only...damn are you boring.

    Wait, yes, they're calling for you over at No Quarter. They probably need help with the "Whitey Tape," or the latest revelation about Obama's birth certificate. I'm sure they could use your help.

    Fergawdsake, why don't you fold up your tent and go start your own website?

    When bored, only the kids (5.00 / 0) (#7)
    by oldpro on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 06:42:49 AM EST
    stick around at the party to annoy the other revelers.

    The grownups go home.


    When the liquor runs out, any way.


    These posts are so off base... (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Thanin on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 09:19:39 AM EST
    I keep expecting them to end with /snark.

    I keep searching for a point (4.00 / 3) (#8)
    by Dr Molly on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 06:55:08 AM EST
    lurking behind these pathetic, adolescent, blog posturing, d!ck-measuring comments.

    But I think they're just pathetic, adolescent, blog posturing, d!ck-measuring comments.


    Molly, the only point they could have ... (5.00 / 4) (#11)
    by Robot Porter on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 07:49:56 AM EST
    other than the ones at the top of their heads, is to defend Brennan.  They cannot do that.  So they attack BTD, or whomever.

    And what ultimately is BTD saying?  That it's worrying that a candidate elected on a change mantra has hired someone who supported some of the most dangerous positions (torture and illegal wiretapping) of the previous administration.

    Maybe Obama will be the staunchest defender of civil rights ever to serve as President, but we don't know that yet.  What we do know is that he's brought someone onto his team who supported torture and illegal wiretapping.

    BTD didn't create that fact.  Obama did.

    Did I mention that Brennan supported torture and illegal wiretapping?  That's torture and illegal wiretapping.


    Well (none / 0) (#3)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 05:58:00 AM EST
    I suppose not all of us agree.

    Is Brennan REALLY an ardent supporter of torture? (none / 0) (#9)
    by barryluda on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 07:28:48 AM EST
    I'm not 100% convinced, notwithstanding BTD's intuition, the New Yorker article, and the bold statement of Glenn Greenwald.

    Still, the time to speak up about this is now.  Hopefully, it'll turn out that either Obama picks someone else, or if Obama picks Brennan he turns out to help us make the changes we expect in our intelligence policies.

    Staying quite and complaining about things after the fact is just about the worst we can do.  Worse than that is taking cheap shots at BTD for speaking out about his honest concerns.

    I think Brennan does support torture (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by lilburro on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 07:58:48 AM EST
    I do not know why you would question the New Yorker article.  For me there are a few relevant questions - what was Brennan's role as these horrible decision were made?  Number one.  Number two - if he is now opposed to torture or would be willing to be opposed (his statement that 90% of information that is produced by such "interrogation" is bogus) what is that opposition based upon?  If he doesn't have an opposition as matter of principle, can we trust him to always advise Obama against torture in a leadership position in the admin?  I do not at this point trust that Brennan would say no to all torture in the future or that he would not enable us to torture with some BS excuse once again.  Are we supposed to assume, out of the carton of rotten eggs that is the Bush admin's intelligence people, that Brennan is one that isn't rotten?  

    CBS Early Show

    SMITH: I want to play some tape, because people have been hearing water boarding, water boarding, water boarding, for a week now. We just showed a little tape from a film. This is actual -- a former special forces member, who now a reporter, said I want to show people what this is like. What happens in water boarding?

    BRENNAN: Well, water boarding is a tactic, has been discussed, been used for several hundreds of years. And the individual usually is strapped to a board. His hands and legs are bound, and his head is lower than his feet. And then a constant stream of water is put over his face, his nose and his mouth. And it simulates drowning, and it also induces a gag reflex on an individual, which causes them to want to have that procedure stopped.

    SMITH: Right. This is a sort of mild, and as we talked earlier almost amateurish version. The person's head is usually at a much greater angle and an almost more continuous flow of water, so the sensation is very immediate that the person thinks they're going to drown.

    BRENNAN: Yes, and a sort of classic water boarding, and I'm not saying the CIA has ever used water boarding, but there would be a constant stream of water and a volume of water that is going to be continuous. Here they stop in between on occasions.

    SMITH: Right, right.

    BRENNAN: But it's something the individual wants to stop at any cost.

    SMITH: Is that torture?

    BRENNAN: I think it is, certainly, subjecting an individual to severe pain and suffer, which is the classic definition of torture.  And I believe, quite frankly, it's inconsistent with American values and it's something that should be prohibited.

    This guy. Is. Full. Of. Sh*t.

    Mcjoan also has problems with Brennan.


    From mcjoan (none / 0) (#14)
    by lilburro on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 08:18:17 AM EST
    link above

    It's not acceptable, and now is the best opportunity we have to make it absolutely unacceptable for the nation now and going forward. We have a new president who, early on in this campaign, condemned the Bush administration for promoting

    "excessive secrecy, indefinite detention, warrantless wiretapping and 'enhanced interrogation techniques' like simulated drowning that qualify as torture through any careful measure of the law or appeal to human decency."

    Brennan and his friends might be trying to push Obama to the "reasonable," "bipartisan" side on this one. But there can't be a "reasonable" or "bipartisan" angle to torture and lawbreaking. It's just wrong. Period. If we're ever going to erase the stain Bush has left on our country, the only we can do that is by never allowing our government to go there again.

    Thanks for posting this (none / 0) (#15)
    by robrecht on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 08:24:09 AM EST
    I mentioned this statement yesterday but is hard to post a link from phone.  Does he have some kind of BS position that while he personally is opposed to WB he thinks it should be an available technique left to the discretion or "moral compass" of the interrogator?

    I mostly agree with you (none / 0) (#17)
    by barryluda on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 08:39:20 AM EST
    but am still not 100% convinced Brennan is pro-torture.  Ironically, I read the same thing you did but it makes me think he's against continuing Bush's policy of allowing torture:

    "Is that torture?" Brennan responded by saying, "I think it is, certainly, subjecting an individual to severe pain and suffer, which is the classic definition of torture. And I believe, quite frankly, it's inconsistent with American values and it's something that should be prohibited."

    But in this interview (none / 0) (#18)
    by lilburro on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 08:42:59 AM EST
    he's a complete apologist for it.  "Not saying the CIA ever used it" "useful information."  Brennan knew.  He is full of BS.

    So other than some facts ... (none / 0) (#12)
    by Robot Porter on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 07:54:36 AM EST
    you're not convinced.

    Remember, the benefit of the doubt stance (which many granted the previous administration) led to torture and illegal wiretapping in the first place.


    One more reasonable quote from Brennan (none / 0) (#21)
    by Xclusionary Rule 4ever on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 11:04:49 AM EST
    John Brennan himself, from a frontline interview here:
    there is a question about how aggressive you want to be against terrorism in terms of, what does it mean to take the gloves off? There was a real debate within the agency, including today, about what are the minimum standards that you want to stoop to and beyond where you're not going to go, because we don't want to stoop to using the same types of standards that terrorists use. We are in this business, whether it be intelligence or the government, to protect freedom, democracy and liberty, not to violate that.

    When it comes to individuals who are determined to destroy our nation, though, we have to make sure that we take every possible measure. It's a tough ethical question, and it's a question that really needs to be aired more publicly. The issue of the reported domestic spying -- these are very healthy debates that need to take place. They can't be stifled, because I think that we as a country and a society have to determine what is it we want to do, whether it be eavesdropping, whether it be taking actions against individuals who are either known or suspected to be terrorists. What length do we want to go to? What measures do we want to use? What tactics do we want to use?

    Hopefully, that "dark side" is not going to be something that's going to forever tarnish the image of the United States abroad and that we're going to look back on this time and regret some of the things that we did, because it is not in keeping with our values. ...

    Sometimes there are actions that we are forced to take, but there need to be boundaries beyond which we are going to recognize that we're not going to go because we still are Americans, and we are supposed to be representing something to people in this country and overseas. So the dark side has its limits.

    I wonder if this (none / 0) (#22)
    by mantis on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 12:38:43 PM EST
    news will have any effect on Tiny Tent Democrat's assumptions about Obama's policy on torture:

    Obama's plans for probing Bush torture

    After all, if Obama might be for torture as TTD tells us, why would he investigate the Bush administration's use of torture?  I know it's not as good as speculation in the WSJ by a "government official familiar with the transition" (does that someone work in the White House?) that Obama may decide to keep letting the CIA use torture techniques, but it does seem relevant.

    So now specualtion is good? (none / 0) (#24)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 02:33:23 PM EST
    Here's a question for you, how much do you think the Brennan story had to do with this new "speculation?"

    some of you are so naive it is ridiculous.


    No (none / 0) (#26)
    by mantis on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 03:09:39 PM EST
    I never said speculation is good, I asked what your reaction is to the new speculation, as it seems to be possibly at odds with the idea that Obama has turned pro-torture.  Also, note that Benjamin at least claims to be talking to Obama's people, not a "government official familiar with the transition."

    Here's a question for you, how much do you think the Brennan story had to do with this new "speculation?"

    None.  Benjamin reported on talk among Obama advisors of such a commission back in August.  It's not new speculation.  And the impetus for the follow up seems to be much more about the blanket pardon question.

    Maybe instead of just calling me naive without reason you could answer the question.


    I read that article this morning (none / 0) (#25)
    by cenobite on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 02:55:59 PM EST
    And I profoundly disagree with it.

    The main thrust is that the Obama team wants to have hearings that can hand out immunity for testimony, and probably nothing more.

    We don't need hearings. We need criminal trials. We didn't have a bloody internal dirty war in this country like South Africa. We had an administration gone wild, and the way to deal with that is to have criminal trials in courts of law.

    We let them off after Watergate, we let them off after Iran-Contra, and if we let them off this time they will just do it again.


    Do you really want (none / 0) (#27)
    by mantis on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 03:11:50 PM EST
    the first year of the Obama administration to be consumed by criminal trials of the Bush White House?  I'd love for some of them to be behind bars as well, but what are our priorities here?  What will be better for the country, universal healthcare or John Yoo in a cell?

    Or, maybe, Yoo advising (none / 0) (#28)
    by oculus on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 03:29:57 PM EST
    the transition team on national security?