Psst...Rand Beers for CIA.

Us liberal blogging types are such a destructive bunch, aren't we?  We hardly know anything if you go by what the MSM says.  

But what confuses me most is that the press seems ignorant of the CIA transition process as anything more than Brennan, and now perhaps, Hayden.  I have read very little on any other possible candidates.  Wondering if Obama will appoint a progressive, who agrees with his views, is apparently beyond them.  Even if that guy is one of his advisers!

So here is my suggestion, made once before, now expanded into its own diary.  Beers for CIA Director.

I have made the case for Rand Beers before. I will make it again in a little more depth here.

Beers was the Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Combating Terrorism as of August 19, 2002. He was previously in International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

In March 2003 he left the Bush administration, before the invasion of Iraq. He spent a little less than 8 months in his counterrterrorism role in the National Security Council. After he left the Bush admin, he joined Kerry's team as an advisor.

His other qualifications include: working from 1988 to 1998 in the NSC as variously "Director for Counter-terrorism and Counter-narcotics, Director for Peacekeeping, and Senior Director for Intelligence Programs." Signing onto the Campaign to Ban Torture. Starting the National Security Network which has as its mission:

"We will faithfully honor the letter and the spirit of our
Constitution. We will never sanction torture, and we will never tolerate spying on law-abiding citizens."

He also wrote an article for the Washington Monthly entitled "No Torture. No Exceptions," in which he lays out the case against torture. As his critique includes the harsh treatment of Al-Libi in Egyptian and American custody, one can assume he is also against rendition. This fits with his endorsement of the Campaign to Ban Torture's declaration that:

"The Rule of Law
We will acknowledge all prisoners to our courts or the

International Red Cross. We will in no circumstance hold persons in secret

prisons or engage in disappearances. In all cases, prisoners will have the

opportunity to prove their innocence in ways that fully conform to American

principles of fairness.

Duty to Protect

We acknowledge our historical

commitment to end the use of torture and cruelty in the world. The US will

not transfer any person to countries that use torture or cruel, inhuman, or

degrading treatment."

What should encourage you is that a guy who believes that we will "never tolerate spying on law-abiding citizens" advises Obama on homeland security. What one might question is why Rand Beers is not being circulated as the go-to-guy more frequently considering his breadth of knowledge on counterterrorism issues and years of service. Just not a popular guy? What is the deal?  And if he is not a popular guy, despite heading one of Obama's transition teams, it makes you wonder, who is the press talking to anyway?

Some people are saying that who Obama chooses for his staff positions - people to whom he is delegating the responsibility of managing entire agencies! - is not so important. But isn't it a lot easier to implement the policies you want if the person doing the actual implementation of the policies agrees with you?

Rand Beers agrees with the most liberal aspects of Obama's intelligence policy. And unlike Brennan whose stance on FISA was that telecom companies should be protected for following the Bush admin's lead on the warrantless wiretapping program, Beers has signed onto this:

"Clarity and Accountability
All US personnel--whether soldiers or intelligence staff--deserve the certainty that they are implementing policy that complies fully with the law. Henceforth all US officials who authorize, implement, or fail in their duty to prevent the use of torture and ill-treatment of prisoners will be held accountable, regardless of rank or position."

That is an extremely promising vision of accountability in a post-Bush world. And the fact that Beers is talented at seeing through Bush - and McConnell's - BS is another admirable trait. I also think Beers may be outsider enough to not present a flagrant conflict of interest if Obama decides to investigate torture/rendition or prosecute even.  It may come out that he forwarded the torture program in some way as an advisor to the NSC.  Judging by his vehement opposition to torture and duration/level of involvement with the NSC I doubt it though.

Beers is not without transgressions - and for some they may be dealbreakers. He has sharp critics against his policies in Colombia. See the links here (from his Sourcewatch). Also Al Giordano probably will not be a fan.

All in all though, I think Beers is the man for this job (especially if you consider the competition). As others have pointed out, George HW Bush was appointed to the CIA by Ford, well outside of the CIA insider track (and talk about political appointments - HW had headed the flippin' Republican National Committee three years earlier). But guess what Big George received for his role in the CIA? You guessed it, high praise - "Bush was credited with helping to restore the agency's morale."

So there you go. I'm pushing the story. Let's have these whispers amount to reality. "Intelligence sources" (excuse my rudeness) can and ought to suck it up and accept an outsider like they did before.  Perhaps he can once again restore the agency's morale.  And I will go back to believing that most of the "intelligence sources" in the CIA are interested in covering their @sses and/or Tenet than seeing the CIA take a strong step in restoring America's moral credibility.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Oh yes, we can trust Mr. Beers (none / 0) (#1)
    by SeeEmDee on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 11:15:02 AM EST
    After all, we have him to thank for the 'fumigation' program that's poisoning who knows how many children in Colombia and Equador, and also for the shoot-down programs in which at least a dozen aircraft had been shot down under (unconfirmed) suspicion of their being used in narcotrafficking, killing their passengers in the same way as Vicki Bowers and her 6-month old child were slaughtered in 2001.

    Suuuure, we can trust him, uh-huh...

    re: (none / 0) (#2)
    by lilburro on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 01:12:09 PM EST
    If you think Beers will lead the CIA on wrongfooted drug crusades in Colombia, that is a fair objection.  

    I advocate for Beers because I think our focus is going to be on terrorism in the ME and we need someone who opposes torture, rendition, and unnecessary warrantless wiretapping.  

    Obviously the CIA does not limit itself solely to that.  Possibly a better case would be made for others.


    Your point taken (none / 0) (#3)
    by SeeEmDee on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 07:52:32 AM EST
    But my point was that Mr. Beers may be suffering from 'tunnel vision' when it comes to matters of terrorism. As the old adage goes, to a man equipped only with a hammer, all problems resemble nails.  

    For example, he's made connections between the illicit drug trade and terrorism the core of his CV, but has failed repeatedly to acknowledge how his support of programs made necessary by drug prohibition, itself has contributed to the 'necessity' for those ineffective and destructive programs, which have only served to act as recruiting inducements for the very terrorists he works against.

    (Having your kids poisoned by US-supplied aircraft and chemicals, indiscriminately spraying highly toxic substances and ruining your ability to feed them by contaminating what little arable soil you have left tends to do that.)

    Such a retinal 'blind spot' would prove to be even more catastrophic in a place such as the Middle East. Since one man's 'terrorist' is another man's 'freedom fighter', Mr. Beers's two-dimensional approach to 'terrorism' may exacerbate the problem, not relieve it.

    His stance on torture aside, the refusal to deal with root causes and only deal with the symptoms those causes create is an earmark of a reactionary, not a visionary, and Mr. Beers has demonstrated through past actions that he is of the former category, rather than the latter. I'd be very leery of letting him any closer to the levers and buttons of power than he has been already.

    Although Beers' (none / 0) (#4)
    by lilburro on Sun Dec 14, 2008 at 09:00:16 PM EST
    early record re: Plan Colombia is not good, I think it is important to note a few things from his National Security Network's site that indicate he no longer supports the plan.

    This report criticizes McCain's continued support for Plan Colombia.  

    John McCain has long been a supporter of Plan Colombia's failed policies. Speaking to the Florida Association of Broadcasters, McCain said, "I intend to fight for Plan Colombia." Rather than supporting a smart, comprehensive policy McCain has consistently offered to throw more money toward military assistance, while Obama has put greater emphasis on social rather than security assistance.

    Maybe I'm giving Beers too much credit, but he does not seem to be going out of his way to protect Plan Colombia here.  The NSN seems to understand quite clearly that Plan Colombia has not worked - in their words it has "created a "balloon effect" in the country" - and they have incorporated the criticisms of that Plan into the policies they recommend.  Those polices are as follows:

    What is needed is a comprehensive policy that fights the drug trade at its roots--rural poverty and lawlessness in Colombia and its Andean neighbors-and offers Colombian farmers an economically feasible alternative. Such efforts must be coordinated with targeted and effective interdiction and manual, preferably voluntary, eradication where necessary and paired with a significantly expanded demand reduction effort at home as well as in Latin America.

    You may find this insufficient, certainly years too late, but it is the right direction.  

    As far as terrorism goes, the NSN is again, clear-minded re: terrorism in their report.  Furthermore, they recommend talking to Iran without preconditions.  

    I can't explain why Beers made his (later withdrawn) statement that FARC was being trained by Al-Qaeda; I don't know what that was all about.  But now, in 2008, he is on almost exactly the same page as Obama.  Beers even contributed ideas to Obama's counterterrorism speech on August 1, 2007.  

    And if you are afraid that Beers will try to repeat Plan Colombia in Afghanistan, for instance, I think the NSN's suggestions for Afghanistan are much more in line with their positions on Colombia (as per their site):

    We must develop an effective counter-narcotics effort with the Afghan government. The drug trade is undermining coalition efforts to bring stability to Afghanistan. The country's poppy cultivators need an effective alternative livelihood program, accompanied by adequate security. At the same time, effective law enforcement must target the traffickers and their drugs while tackling the widespread corruption in the police and government.

    This is not a Plan Colombia approach.