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Tilting at Windmills

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January 5, 2009

PANETTA GREAT ON TORTURE.... With Leon Panetta slated to take over the CIA, for many of us, and I include myself in this, the first question is pretty straightforward: how is he on torture?

Atrios pointed to an op-ed piece Panetta wrote for a California newspaper in March, in which he took an unequivocal line: "Torture is illegal, immoral, dangerous and counterproductive. And yet, the president is using fear to trump the law."

Before that item was published though, Panetta had a piece right here in the Washington Monthly on the subject. It's worth re-reading given his new position.

According to the latest polls, two-thirds of the American public believes that torturing suspected terrorists to gain important information is justified in some circumstances. How did we transform from champions of human dignity and individual rights into a nation of armchair torturers? One word: fear.

Fear is blinding, hateful, and vengeful. It makes the end justify the means. And why not? If torture can stop the next terrorist attack, the next suicide bomber, then what's wrong with a little waterboarding or electric shock?

The simple answer is the rule of law. Our Constitution defines the rules that guide our nation. It was drafted by those who looked around the world of the eighteenth century and saw persecution, torture, and other crimes against humanity and believed that America could be better than that. This new nation would recognize that every individual has an inherent right to personal dignity, to justice, to freedom from cruel and unusual punishment.

We have preached these values to the world. We have made clear that there are certain lines Americans will not cross because we respect the dignity of every human being. That pledge was written into the oath of office given to every president, "to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution." It's what is supposed to make our leaders different from every tyrant, dictator, or despot. We are sworn to govern by the rule of law, not by brute force.

We cannot simply suspend these beliefs in the name of national security. Those who support torture may believe that we can abuse captives in certain select circumstances and still be true to our values. But that is a false compromise. We either believe in the dignity of the individual, the rule of law, and the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, or we don't. There is no middle ground.

We cannot and we must not use torture under any circumstances. We are better than that.

That's what I wanted to hear.

What's more, Moira Whelan raises a good point about an important asset Panetta will bring to the CIA: "He knows how brains work inside the West Wing because he was there as White House Chief of Staff, and therefore will know how to provide information that gets attention in the way it should. Personally, I think this will give the IC a big advantage in terms of getting their point of view across in the Oval. Panetta will know how to be subtle, but also how to sound alarm bells as needed."

Steve Benen 4:20 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (83)

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"We are better than that."

Correction: Some of us are better than that. Others of us are scumbags.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on January 5, 2009 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Very inspiring, but it is corporate-speak. People don't, for example, watch 24 out of fear. They do it for the excitement, to relieve the frustration of no progress, to substitute for information and, of course, for evil reasons.

Posted by: PhilPalmer on January 5, 2009 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Combined with the Dawn Johnsen pick, this is a pretty strong repudiation of the Bush policy on torture. How ironic it would occur on the same say that John Yoo published an Op-Ed in the Times.

Posted by: Dan on January 5, 2009 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus PhilPalmer are you kidding? I could care less for 24 but give me a break maybe some people just watch the show because they like it.

Posted by: Gandalf on January 5, 2009 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK
People don't, for example, watch 24 out of fear.
No, they watch 24 out of a desire for entertainment. We have to stop confusing TV with reality. But people tolerated the assault on human dignity out of fear. Sure, there are idiots who get a vicarious thrill from the idea that "our guys" are doing unspeakable things to "those guys". But almost all Americans feel a visceral repulsion. They have been able to overcome that repulsion and allow atrocities to be done in their name because they have been kept in fear.

But you cannot live in fear forever. (tooting my own horn there.)

Posted by: Bernard HP Gilroy on January 5, 2009 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

In addition to his budget and managerial experience, he is also old enough and experienced enough to back the Agency in giving the Pres what he needs to hear not what they think he wants to hear, another departure from the Bush years. He knows as a former CoS how dangerous bad information is. It sounds like a good pick to me, though he's probably not there for the whole first term.

Posted by: Mimikatz on January 5, 2009 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Good. But how is Panetta on what's left of the Fourth Amendment? Is he equally opposed to felonious surveillance and witness-tampering through telco immunization? I'm still going on the rebuttable presumption that Obama is Big Brother without the face-eating rats.

Posted by: well well well on January 5, 2009 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

Great! Another incompetent Clintonite (redundant). Is this the "change" Obama (blessed be his name) promised?????

Posted by: fred t on January 5, 2009 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

Panetta began his adult life in Army Intelligence. He is as much a liberal Nixonista as a moderate Clintonista. He worked for Kuchel, Finch, and Lindsay before becoming a Democrat with similar centrist/liberal views. He held the highest possible security clearance in the Clinton Admin., and was never accused of untoward leaks. He serves today on the sensitive Iraq Study Group.

He is above all a patriot and will be respected by the CIA patricians who are the same.

He partners with Gates, a career CIA man who can't speak of the heroism of our troups without also mentioning the sacrifice of "civilian members of the Dept. of Defense."

As a budget wizard, Panetta can help the CIA cut waste--where blunders are hidden by a top secret stamp--and advocate with Congress and the White House for more money and presidential signings where necessary.

Many in the Agency are just as disgusted by torture as all of us and recognize its minimal practical use.

We've heard to the point of nausea about two CIA bosses who failed; two others, McCone and the similarly resume-deep George Bush, Sr., were well-received in Langley.

This is a great pick for the Agency, for the country, and for the president, whose man the director of CIA is and must always be.

SH

Posted by: Steve High on January 5, 2009 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Republicans are the most intellectually bankrupt people on this Earth. I'd rather talk to earnest Maoists at this point — they are simply cartoons.

I'd be happy to go over my list of grievances I had with the Clinton Administration — and there were enough — if they were willing to own up to the President who came after him. You know the one. Arbusto somethingorother.

I can then point to the things Clinton actually accomplished and how his problems were, in comparison to the current occupant, misdemeanors as opposed to the mindbendingly wrongheaded, dishonest and corrupt cockheadedness we've suffered through to 8 years.

And then I'd say: don't believe ME. Believe the sainted "Heartland" who sent Slick Willie off with a 60%+ approval rating and who've overwhelmingly rejected the last three years of the Bush National Nightmare.

Really. Discuss that, own up to that, and maybe sometime in the next 20 years, Republicans might be regarded as people more honest than child molesters.

Posted by: Jay B. on January 5, 2009 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

Panetta is a good guy but I don't know about this - seems like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I hope he is ready for some rough trade.

Posted by: Don Tomas on January 5, 2009 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

That smell of brimstone that was emitted from Cheney's bowels has permeated who knows how much of Langley. Panetta will need his sharp nose to sniff this out of the CIA.
The whole now Intelligence-Military-Industrial-Political Combine must be pushed back. It was a great sign that Feinstein squawked as if she was afraid that Panetta would pour water on her.
I would love to see Fitz moved to S.California to spearhead such an investigation.

Posted by: plschwartz on January 5, 2009 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

The fact that Diane Fienstein doesn't like it is all the endorsement I need...

Posted by: ChicagoPat on January 5, 2009 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

ChicagoPat, maybe Blago would consider appointing her to get her out of CA? Pretty please.

Posted by: MobiusKlein on January 5, 2009 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

Panetta is a good guy but I don't know about this - seems like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

?

The CIA is a baby in exactly the same sense that Damien was a baby in The Omen. That is, if the devil was sadistic, arrogant, completely incompetent, practically illiterate AND a force for harm in this country and the world at large.

There is a necessity for an intelligence agency, of course. If only we had one instead of warren of mediocrities and halfwits playing Risk and Spy v. Spy with our lives.

Posted by: Jay B. on January 5, 2009 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK

We cannot simply suspend these beliefs in the name of national security. Those who support torture may believe that we can abuse captives in certain select circumstances and still be true to our values. But that is a false compromise. We either believe in the dignity of the individual, the rule of law, and the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, or we don't. There is no middle ground.

There is some undefined ground. Somewhere between withholding between-meal snacks and 336 hours of food deprivation is where "torture" begins. But where?

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 5, 2009 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

Panetta will know how to be subtle, but also how to sound alarm bells as needed.

In January 2004 SecDef Rumsfeld reported to the U.S. Senate that the DoD was conducting an investigation into reported abuses of prisoners of war. The Senate's response was more than "subtle"; it was absent. Did Panetta at that time write a subtle analysis of how prisoners of war were to be treated? Did he publish it?

Did Panetta sound alarm bells?

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 5, 2009 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

Panetta seems like a good guy even though nothing in his background really qualifies him as head of the CIA. He would be leaving himself open to serious criticism if any changes in policy at the CIA lead to attacks on the US. That's why I don't think he'll change much; it's not easy to argue with 7 years of success. He'd be the first one looked to in the event of an attack.

Posted by: civitas on January 5, 2009 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

I'm guessing this is why Feinstein and Rockefeller don't like him?

Posted by: Paul Camp on January 5, 2009 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

Feinstein appears to be peeved that she wasn't personally informed about the Panetta pick before it hit the media. As the head of the Senate Committee on Intelligence, she no doubt felt she should have been personally appraoched about who should head the CIA. Obama probably could have smoothed it over had he just called her first.

Posted by: civitas on January 5, 2009 at 10:48 PM | PERMALINK

civitas, I'm sorry, but Feinstein would not be smoothed over. She's as R as a D could be and get elected in CA.

And don't assume that CIA changes would be so easily lead to attacks, it's a bit more complicated than that.

Posted by: MobiusKlein on January 5, 2009 at 11:25 PM | PERMALINK

Some Repugs, I suspect, are posing as dems and trashing Panetta. See Rawstory's comments section to it's article on it.

I lived in a district served by Leon Panetta in bygone days and had only admiration for the way he conducted himself. It's probaby the best pick that Obama could have made to that post.

Posted by: Byron on January 5, 2009 at 11:37 PM | PERMALINK

Of course Cheney would agree with every point of Panetta's position. That is why Cheney and Co. (Addington and Yoo?) redefined the meaning of torture.

Until there is a substantive discussion on what constitutes torture, one can be in the same position as Cheney. And unless there's a broadening of the new definition of torture, we'll not have much progress.

Posted by: JWK on January 6, 2009 at 2:12 AM | PERMALINK

MatthewRMarler wrote: There is some undefined ground.

Stop pretending the torture employed by the Administration you so enthusiastically carry water for is the result of ambiguity among people acting in good faith, you mendacious toad. There's no ambiguity about waterboarding or so-called "stress positions" being torture until your heroes in the Bush Administration got caught doing it.

I know there's no honest way to defend the criminality of the Bush Administration, Marler, but no one forces you to do so dishonestly. Shame on you for defending this Administration's use of torture. Your serial dishonesty is, and always has been, a prime example of the intellectual rot on the right, which leads inevitably to the GOP nominating imbeciles like Palin.

Jackass.

Posted by: Gregory on January 6, 2009 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

"civitas, I'm sorry, but Feinstein would not be smoothed over."

I doubt she will either, mobius. But Panetta will do his best to work with her.

"And don't assume that CIA changes would be so easily lead to attacks"

I haven't. I just asked what will Panetta's response to the US public be if he does make changes to Bush policy at the CIA and there is an attack.

Posted by: civitas on January 6, 2009 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

There is some undefined ground. Somewhere between withholding between-meal snacks and 336 hours of food deprivation is where "torture" begins. But where?

Nice square quotes around "torture." I bet Marler also uses them when discussing "rape" or "child abuse."

But yes, if only we had some definitions to elucidate this "undefined ground"....oh, wait, under federal law we already do!

TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 113C > § 2340. Definitions
As used in this chapter—
(1) “torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;
(2) “severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from—
(A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
(B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;
(C) the threat of imminent death; or
(D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality;

Posted by: Stefan on January 6, 2009 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

That's why I don't think he'll change much; it's not easy to argue with 7 years of success.

Uh, 7 years of success if you start counting on September 12, 2001.

Hilarious and pathetic how the Republicans always attempt to evade responsibility by defining away their myriad failures. Lemmings have more of a sense of personal responsibility than conservatives do.

Posted by: Stefan on January 6, 2009 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

"Uh, 7 years of success if you start counting on September 12, 2001."

uh, yes. Math major, were you?

It's interesting that not a single person on here has even bothered to wonder what the American public will think if there's an attack on the US during the Obama administration.

Posted by: civitas on January 6, 2009 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Panetta seems like a good guy even though nothing in his background really qualifies him as head of the CIA.

Former Indiana Rep. Tim Roemer (D), a former 9/11 commissioner, president of the Center for National Policy, and an expert on intelligence reform, addressed the notion that Panetta doesn't have a background with the agency: "I think that underestimates his chief of staff experience, when you're dealing with the CIA and the national security administration on a daily basis. He has about three years of experience dealing with the heads of agencies, with crises, and with national and foreign policy issues. I think he does bring a knowledge of the CIA and good national security experience from both his time on the Hill and the Iraq study group...and as chief of staff to the president where you're immersed in it on an hourly basis." -- Steve Benen

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/

Posted by: Stefan on January 6, 2009 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

uh, yes. Math major, were you?

You can't discount the major failure and then claims success. Bush was not president for seven years, but for eight years. His record of protecting the US from attack is one of staggering, catastrophic incompetence, neglect, and failure -- and if I doubt that, I only have to look out my window at what used to be the World Trade Center. There's been no need for al Qaeda to attack again because they got what they wanted on the first try; it's simply dishonest, mendacious and ridiculous to claim the current regime has any kind of record of success on national security issues.

And hey, the Titanic has never again crashed into an iceberg since 1912 -- I call that 97 years of success!

Posted by: Stefan on January 6, 2009 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

"You can't discount the major failure and then claims success."

Who is discounting 9/11? It's been 7 years since 9/11. And it's doubtful that most Americans are going to fall for crap about how it's all just been luck that kept another attack from happening.

"His record of protecting the US from attack is one of staggering, catastrophic incompetence, neglect, and failure"

Most Americans don't and won't see it that way. Particularly if another attack happens.

"There's been no need for al Qaeda to attack again"

There wasn't any need for it on 9/11. Do you think they just don't want to attack the US anymore? Seriously? Can you really be that naive?

Posted by: civitas on January 6, 2009 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

"Former Indiana Rep. Tim Roemer (D), a former 9/11 commissioner, president of the Center for National Policy, and an expert on intelligence reform, addressed the notion that Panetta doesn't have a background with the agency"

Well, he's certainly entitled to his opinion. No less than any other member of Congress.

Posted by: civitas on January 6, 2009 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

Most Americans don't and won't see it that way.

Most Americans don't see Bush's record as one of impotence, neglect and failure? Yeah, and that's why he's leaving office as such an honored and respected president, with his party having won the last election by running on their record of success.....

Face it, people hate Bush and hate Republicans. Their sham of national security competence has been exposed for the pathetic lie it was.

Posted by: Stefan on January 6, 2009 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

Who is discounting 9/11?

You were.

It's been 7 years since 9/11. And it's doubtful that most Americans are going to fall for crap about how it's all just been luck that kept another attack from happening.

It's certainly luck, because it damn sure hasn't been competence, expertise, or intelligence.

There wasn't any need for it on 9/11. Do you think they just don't want to attack the US anymore? Seriously? Can you really be that naive?

Ah, the studied faux-stupidity of the conservative -- it never gets old. Can you really have that poor reading comprehension? Honestly? Can you really be that stupid? Perhaps you might want to consider the difference between the word "need" (which I used") and the word "want"( which you turned it into) -- that is, while I'm sure al Qaeda wants to attack the US again, it doesn't need to.

Al Qaeda attacked the US on September 11th in an attempt to goad the U.S. into an over-reaction through an attack on the Islamic world which bin Laden thought would enable him to bog down American troops in an endless war -- which plan seems to have worked out much as he thought it would.

Now, having achieved exactly that end, he doesn't need another such high-profile attack. He may want one, but his initial gambit has already paid off.

Posted by: Stefan on January 6, 2009 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

"Most Americans don't see Bush's record as one of impotence, neglect and failure?"

On terror attacks in the US? No. Of course not. As soon as the US was attacked, all kinds of changes to the established Clinton policies were made. And then 7 years went by without another attack. Quite a record seeing as how other countries like the UK and Spain could not manage it. It's not like islamic terrorists have stopped wanting to attack the US.

If that record continues under Obama, he'll get the credit for it. If he makes a big show of making huge changes and there's another attack, well, he'll get the blame. This is not rocket science.

Posted by: civitas on January 6, 2009 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Well, he's certainly entitled to his opinion. No less than any other member of Congress.

But probably more than an anonymous blog commenter who falsely claimed that Panetta had no qualifications.

Posted by: Stefan on January 6, 2009 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

On terror attacks in the US? No. Of course not.

This is the most recent poll I could find, but I think it's safe to say that in the last two plus years Americans' opinions of Bush's culpability have not exactly grown less....

Poll: More Americans blame Bush for 9/11
POSTED: 9:31 p.m. EDT, September 11, 2006
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The percentage of Americans who blame the Bush administration for the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington has risen from almost a third to almost half over the past four years, a CNN poll released Monday found.

Asked whether they blame the Bush administration for the attacks, 45 percent said either a "great deal" or a "moderate amount," up from 32 percent in a June 2002 CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.

Posted by: Stefan on January 6, 2009 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

"You were."

No, I was counting from it. By definition, that's not ignoring it.

"It's certainly luck"

Because there are just no competent terrorists around these days? Sure, tell that to the Indians, the Brits, the Spanish.....

"Perhaps you might want to consider the difference between the word "need" (which I used") and the word "want"

That's um, why I also used the word "need". Did you miss that? First sentence of my response.

"Al Qaeda attacked the US on September 11th in an attempt to goad the U.S. into an over-reaction through an attack on the Islamic world which bin Laden thought would enable him to bog down American troops in an endless war"

You really are a naive sort, aren't you?

"Now, having achieved exactly that end, he doesn't need another such high-profile attack. He may want one, but his initial gambit has already paid off."

Yes, he's a really happy guy.

Posted by: civitas on January 6, 2009 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

"This is the most recent poll I could find"

Thanks. It makes my point nicely. As was GWB, Obama will also be blamed if an attack happens during his administration.

So why would he be interested in changing what has kept one from happening for 7 years?

Posted by: civitas on January 6, 2009 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

As soon as the US was attacked, all kinds of changes to the established Clinton policies were made.

Complete nonsense. The Bush regime had all the intelligence procedures in place to prevent the 9/11 attacks had they actually bothered to use any of them -- just as in contrast the Clinton Administration did use established intelligence policies to preven the Millenium attacks. The fact is that after even having been provided with specific and credible intelligence that, as was so famously said, "bin Laden determined to strike in US" George Bush did nothing, not one damn little thing, to preven them. This wasn't because of any "Clinton policies", this was because he was too lazy and stupid to get off his ass during vacation and actually attempt to fulfill his constitutional duties.

Posted by: Stefan on January 6, 2009 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

"Complete nonsense."

ah, Clinton had a Dept of Homeland Security then?

And the wall between the CIA and the FBI, erected during Clinton's terms was removed.

"just as in contrast the Clinton Administration did use established intelligence policies to preven the Millenium attacks."

You're somehow unaware that the WTC was attacked during Clinton's term?


Look, you can bleat all you want. The fact is that an attack during Obama's term will be blamed on Obama. And if he's made a big show of changes to what has worked for 7 years, it won't be good for Obama.

Posted by: civitas on January 6, 2009 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks. It makes my point nicely.

The poll that finds that Americans blame Bush for the 9/11 attacks make your point nicely that Americans don't blame Bush for the 9/11 attacks? Ah, yes, well, I can't argue with that logic.

As was GWB, Obama will also be blamed if an attack happens during his administration.

Assuming, that is, that Obama receives a PDB warning of the attack, scornfully tells off the agent who delivers the briefing that "alright, you've covered your ass, now", and then goes back to his vacation without doing anything.

So why would he be interested in changing what has kept one from happening for 7 years?

Hardly. It's my magic rock that has kept an attack from happening the last 7 years.

Homer: Not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol must be working like a charm.
Lisa: That's spacious reasoning, Dad.
Homer: Thank you, dear.
Lisa: By your logic I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away.
Homer: Oh, how does it work?
Lisa: It doesn't work.
Homer: Uh-huh.
Lisa: It's just a stupid rock.
Homer: Uh-huh.
Lisa: But I don't see any tigers around, do you?
[Homer thinks of this, then pulls out some money]
Homer: Lisa, I want to buy your rock.

Posted by: Stefan on January 6, 2009 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

The fact is that an attack during Obama's term will be blamed on Obama.

Most Americans don't and won't see it that way....

Posted by: Stefan on January 6, 2009 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

"The poll that finds that Americans blame Bush for the 9/11 attacks make your point nicely that Americans don't blame Bush for the 9/11 attacks?"

Where did I say that Americans don't blame Bush for the 9/11 attacks? They blame him for them as mush as they'll blame Obama (or any other president) for an attack.

"Ah, yes, well, I can't argue with that logic."

Apparently you can't. Apparently you don;t even know what I actually said.

"Assuming, that is, that Obama receives a PDB warning of the attack"

No, he'll be blamed regardless of the circumstances. The president has to keep the country safe. You may not see that as his job, but the public does.

"Hardly."

Hardly what? Hardly interested in changing what has worked for 7 years? My point precisely.

Posted by: civitas on January 6, 2009 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

"Most Americans don't and won't see it that way...."

that an attack on the US during an Obama term is Obama's fault? Dream on.

Maybe you're hoping it will be blamed on Bush. LOL

Posted by: civitas on January 6, 2009 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

America outlawing torture would be a positive step, but it'll be academic if it just goes back to sending its enemies to proxy states like Syria or Saudi Arabia that aren't reluctant to do its dirty work for it. Shutting down places like the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (formerly the US Army School of the Americas) would demonstrate that America's stance against torture is more than rhetorical. I suspect that such action is not on the schedule for this administration nor for any after it ... shutting down Gitmo isn't going to magically cleanse America's bloody hands.

"There wasn't any need for it on 9/11."

AQ had a major demand that wasn't being met - the removal of US troops from Saudi Arabia. After 9/11, that major demand was met by Bush. He may not negotiate with terrorists, but he'll sure as hell do what they ask him to, especially when it suits the desires of his BFFs in the House of Saud.

9/11 had a strategic objective for Bin Laden beyond meeting such demands: to entice America into long, exhausting military campaigns in places like Afghanistan - Bush played along with that one too. Afghanistan is invisible in the media (& has been for years now) because it's not going well, & sending in more troops isn't likely to change that.

Al Quaeda is very unlikely to strike the US again for a very simple reason: they got pretty well everything they wanted from 9/11.

Posted by: jim on January 6, 2009 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

ah, Clinton had a Dept of Homeland Security then?

Didnt' need one. A Department of Homeland Security was hardly needed to prevent the 9/11 hijackings, as the intelligence and law enforcement agencies already had all the intelligence and resources necessary to prevent the attack had they been directed to.

And the wall between the CIA and the FBI, erected during Clinton's terms was removed.

You don't seem to know your facts. This so-called "wall" that conservatives accuse Clinton of enacting had been operative well before Clinton became president. The House and Senate intelligence committees' report of September 11 intelligence failures found that the "wall" did not originate under Clinton, but rather: "The 'wall' is not a single barrier, but a series of restrictions between and within agencies constructed over 60 years as a result of legal, policy, institutional and personal factors." The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review also traced the origin of the "wall" to "some point during the 1980s."

Enforcement of the "wall" also did not end with the Clinton, but continued under Bush, and in fact Bush-appointee deputy attorney general Larry Thompson had reauthorized the "wall" in August 2001.

Posted by: Stefan on January 6, 2009 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Where did I say that Americans don't blame Bush for the 9/11 attacks?

Where I said that "His [Bush's) record of protecting the US from attack is one of staggering, catastrophic incompetence, neglect, and failure" and you replied that "Most Americans don't and won't see it that way."

Posted by: Stefan on January 6, 2009 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

"Didnt' need one."

Because there was no attack on the US during his terms?

"You don't seem to know your facts. This so-called "wall" that conservatives accuse Clinton of enacting had been operative well before Clinton became president."

He continued it. Even in the face of an attack on the US mainland. That was a mistake. Bush ended it. Obama won't go back to it.

"Enforcement of the "wall" also did not end with the Clinton, but continued under Bush"

until? What was that date?

Posted by: civitas on January 6, 2009 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

"Where I said that "His [Bush's) record of protecting the US from attack is one of staggering, catastrophic incompetence, neglect, and failure" and you replied that "Most Americans don't and won't see it that way."

That's true. But I'm asking where I said that Americans don't blame Bush for the 9/11 attacks as you claimed I said. You seem incapable of following conversation.

Posted by: civitas on January 6, 2009 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

civtas wrote: As soon as the US was attacked, all kinds of changes to the established Clinton policies were made.

A pity that as soon as Bush took office, they changed the established Clinton policy of paying attention to the threat of terrorism.

Shorter civtas: After the horse left, the Bush Administration closed the barn door.

Posted by: Gregory on January 6, 2009 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Because there was no attack on the US during his terms?

You seem to be engaging in some bizarre post hoc, ergo propter hoc rationalizations by arguing that since there have been no 9/11 scale attacks since 9/11, and that after since 9/11 DHS was also established, then therefore DHS would have prevented the earlier attack as well.

He [Clinton] continued it [the "wall"].

Yes, but you didn't say he continued it, you said he's started it.

Even in the face of an attack on the US mainland. That was a mistake. Bush ended it. Obama won't go back to it.

Again, the so-called "wall" had nothing whatsoever to do with the 1993 attacks. You simply don't know anything about the subject matter and are merely spouting ill-informed talking points you've gleaned off talk radio.

And even accepting your formulation, Bush did not end this "wall" when he was appointed president, and in fact his regime re-authorized its application. If this was supposedly such an area of great concern, why did Bush re-authorize it?

until? What was that date?

That date was August 2001, which, you may notice, is quite a bit after the 1993 attacks that you claim were justification for taking down the "wall."

Posted by: Stefan on January 6, 2009 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

But I'm asking where I said that Americans don't blame Bush for the 9/11 attacks as you claimed I said.

Again, where I said that "His [Bush's] record of protecting the US from attack is one of staggering, catastrophic incompetence, neglect, and failure" -- i.e. Bush is to blame for the 9/11 attacks -- and you replied that "Most Americans don't and won't see it that way" -- i.e you claim they don't blame him.

Perhaps you have some other, non-English-based formulation by which your words have some other sort of meaning, but I'm afraid my English-to-Conservative Alternate Reality dictionary isn't able to give me the correct comparison.

Posted by: Stefan on January 6, 2009 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

As soon as the US was attacked, all kinds of changes to the established Clinton policies were made.

This is indeed true. After the 1993 WTC attack, the established Clinton policy was to successfully find, arrest, prosecute and imprison the perpetrators.

After the 2001 WTC attack, the Bush regime changed those policies for ones in which the perpetrators would not be found, arrested, prosecuted or imprisoned, but would remain free over seven years later, and further that the attack would be answered by attacking and invading a completely unrelated country.

Posted by: Stefan on January 6, 2009 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

"A pity that as soon as Bush took office, they changed the established Clinton policy of paying attention to the threat of terrorism."

You mean the policy that prevented the first terror attack on the WTC?

"Shorter civtas: After the horse left, the Bush Administration closed the barn door."

Had Clinton done the same after the first WTC attack, 9/11 might not have happened. Thanks for making my point.


Posted by: civitas on January 6, 2009 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

"since there have been no 9/11 scale attacks since 9/11"

Actually, there have been no attacks of any scale on the US since 9/11.

"and that after since 9/11 DHS was also established, then therefore DHS would have prevented the earlier attack as well."

Certainly some of the changes Bush made after 9/11 could have helped pre 9/11.

"Yes, but you didn't say he continued it, you said he's started it."

Some of it he did start. Google Jamie Gorelick.

"Again, the so-called "wall" had nothing whatsoever to do with the 1993 attacks."

It didn't prevent them. That's why it was removed. And Clinton should have removed it too.

"And even accepting your formulation, Bush did not end this "wall" when he was appointed president"

No, he didn't. He should have just like Clinton should have.

"and in fact his regime re-authorized its application. If this was supposedly such an area of great concern, why did Bush re-authorize it?"

Because no one could have foreseen 9/11. But that excuse is gone forever, it won't be applicable to Obama's term. He cannot say that no one could have foreseen such an attack.

"That date was August 2001"

No, it wasn't. Try again. The changes Bush made were made after 9/11.

"is quite a bit after the 1993 attacks that you claim were justification for taking down the "wall."

In my view, yes, they were. Can you justify the wall after the 93 attacks and if so, on what basis?

"Again, where I said that "His [Bush's] record of protecting the US from attack is one of staggering, catastrophic incompetence, neglect, and failure" -- i.e. Bush is to blame for the 9/11 attacks -- and you replied that "Most Americans don't and won't see it that way" -- i.e you claim they don't blame him."

Again, I'm asking where I said that Americans don't blame Bush for the 9/11 attacks as you claimed I said. What you posted does not show me saying that. You don't get to "i.e." your own thoughts into what I've said. Why not just admit now that I didn't say it?

"Perhaps you have some other, non-English-based formulation by which your words have some other sort of meaning"

They mean exactly what they say, not what you'd like them to say.

"This is indeed true. After the 1993 WTC attack, the established Clinton policy was to successfully find, arrest, prosecute and imprison the perpetrators. "

The missing piece was a policy of preventing the attacks. Most people aren't satisfied to know that "hey, if terrorists kill you on US soil, we'll do everything we can to put them in prison."

"After the 2001 WTC attack, the Bush regime changed those policies for ones in which"

no further attacks on the US would happen. How awful, eh?

Posted by: civitas on January 6, 2009 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, there have been no attacks of any scale on the US since 9/11.

They always forget anthrax, don't they?

Posted by: Stefan on January 6, 2009 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

"They always forget anthrax, don't they?"

You consider that an islamic terror attack?

Posted by: civitas on January 6, 2009 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

No, it wasn't. Try again. The changes Bush made were made after 9/11.

Jesus, you really can't read, can you? August 2001 was when Deputy AG Larry Thompson, a Bush appointee, re-authorized the application of the so-called "wall."

Posted by: Stefan on January 6, 2009 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

You consider that an islamic terror attack?

I don't know what it was, since the perpetrators have never been arrested and convicted. And you are only now qualifying it to "an islamic terror attack," when before you had written (emphases mine): "Actually, there have been no attacks of any scale on the US since 9/11."

And even if Islamic terror attack or not, isn't it Bush's responsibility to stop and punish it no matter the source?

Posted by: Stefan on January 6, 2009 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

The missing piece was a policy of preventing the attacks. Most people aren't satisfied to know that "hey, if terrorists kill you on US soil, we'll do everything we can to put them in prison."

OK, I'll bite. How should the Clinton Administration have prevented the Feb. 1993 WTC attack?

Posted by: Stefan on January 6, 2009 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, there have been no attacks of any scale on the US since 9/11.

Um, anthrax?

Had Clinton done the same after the first WTC attack, 9/11 might not have happened. Thanks for making my point.

Say what? Clinton did; it was Bush that let the damn thing swing open again.

Posted by: Gregory on January 6, 2009 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

"I don't know what it was, since the perpetrators have never been arrested and convicted. And you are only now qualifying it to "an islamic terror attack,"

What other kind of terror did you think we were talking about?

"And even if Islamic terror attack or not, isn't it Bush's responsibility to stop and punish it no matter the source?"

To stop it, yes. And he has successfully kept attacks from outside the US for 7 years. Obama won't want to be the guy who "let's down his guard" and let's one happen. This isn't rocket science, why do you have such a tough time with it? Do you agree that it is the president's job, regardless of who he/she is, to stop attacks against the US?

"OK, I'll bite. How should the Clinton Administration have prevented the Feb. 1993 WTC attack?"

I didn't say he should have. I said he should have made changes AFTER the attack. Both he and then Bush should have. But no one did until after 9/11 when Bush finally did. Obama won't go back to the way things were under Clinton.

Posted by: civitas on January 6, 2009 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, there have been no attacks of any scale on the US since 9/11.

"Um, anthrax?"

Islamic terrorists have not used anthrax against the US

"Say what? Clinton did"

No, he didn't.

Posted by: civitas on January 6, 2009 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

"Jesus, you really can't read, can you? August 2001 was when Deputy AG Larry Thompson, a Bush appointee, re-authorized the application of the so-called "wall."

and you consider that a "change"? It looks like it's you that cannot read. Here's what I said "No, it wasn't. Try again. The changes Bush made were made after 9/11."

So you can't use a reauthorization as a "change". Got it? Calm down and you'll think more clearly.


Posted by: civitas on January 6, 2009 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Can you justify the wall after the 93 attacks and if so, on what basis?

It's quite clear you have no idea what the "wall" is or what it did.

The Gorelick memo and Clinton administration guidelines reflecting it only prevented certain communications within Department of Justice units, but did not prevent other government units from sharing information with intelligence agencies or law enforcement. The guidelines as spelled out in 1995 clearly state that they applied only to intelligence sharing "between the FBI and the Criminal Division" within the Justice Department; that is, they prevented intelligence being shared between the enforcement and prosecution arms and limited prosecutors' ability to get information from the FBI's counterintelligence division.

In fact, these guidelines were note even sent to any other agency. The guidelines, therefore, had no effect on the Department of Defense or the CIA communicating with each other, or with the FBI or anyone else.

In short, they did nothing to prevent any sort of pre-emptive or prevenatative intelligence sharing, and should not have been a barrier to the relevant intelligence agencies charged with preventing an attack from using and sharing intelligence to do so.


Posted by: Stefan on January 6, 2009 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Certainly some of the changes Bush made after 9/11 could have helped pre 9/11.

Such as, stop ingoring the threat of terrorism.

no one could have foreseen 9/11

Tom Clancy did. And dredging up that pathetic excuse -- which even the Administration didn't have the stones to repeat after the August 6 PDB surfaced -- shows that you'll engage in any amount of willful blindness to pretend that Clinton and not Bush was responsible for 9/11. Better trolls, please.

Posted by: Gregory on January 6, 2009 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

"It's quite clear you have no idea what the "wall" is or what it did."

So that's a "no", you cannot justify the "wall" after the 93 attacks.


Posted by: civitas on January 6, 2009 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

Islamic terrorists have not used anthrax against the US

And you know this about the anthrax attacks how? Since you seem so sure, is there perhaps information you have that you want to share with the FBI?

Posted by: Stefan on January 6, 2009 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

"Such as, stop ingoring the threat of terrorism."

So you agree that both Clinton and Bush should have? Good. You may not be as stupid as your first post indicated you might be.

"Tom Clancy did."

And JK Rowling forsaw wizards. But if your point is that the CIA should begin to take advice from authors such as Clancy, why not pass that on to Obama and see what he thinks of it? Perhaps Clancy is available for a stint at the CIA.

"you'll engage in any amount of willful blindness to pretend that Clinton and not Bush was responsible for 9/11."

Neither was responsible for 9/11. Islamic terrorists were. Both were responsible for preventing such attacks.

Posted by: civitas on January 6, 2009 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

"And you know this about the anthrax attacks how?"

Show me the proof that islamic terror groups have used anthrax against the US.

Posted by: civitas on January 6, 2009 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan: OK, I'll bite. How should the Clinton Administration have prevented the Feb. 1993 WTC attack?"

civitas: I didn't say he should have. I said he should have made changes AFTER the attack.

You have a bad habit of pretending not to have written what you've just written, perhaps not aware that I can just go upthread and find it. In response to my claim that Clinton at least caught and imprisoned the 1993 attackers, you said that (emphases mine):

The missing piece was a policy of preventing the attacks. Most people aren't satisfied to know that "hey, if terrorists kill you on US soil, we'll do everything we can to put them in prison."

You see? That right there? That's where you said he should have prevented the attacks.

Posted by: Stefan on January 6, 2009 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

no one could have foreseen 9/11

No one could have foreseen armed men hijacking planes? Really?

Posted by: Stefan on January 6, 2009 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

"You have a bad habit of pretending not to have written what you've just written, perhaps not aware that I can just go upthread and find it."

If you could actually do that, you would have. Your one feeble attempt was laughable since every time you go upthread you can't find me saying what you've claimed.

"In response to my claim that Clinton at least caught and imprisoned the 1993 attackers, you said that (emphases mine):

The missing piece was a policy of preventing the attacks. Most people aren't satisfied to know that "hey, if terrorists kill you on US soil, we'll do everything we can to put them in prison."

You see? That right there? That's where you said he should have prevented the attacks."

No, I didn't. I said he should have had policies designed to prevent attacks. And he should have. If you think he should not have had such policies, what is your justification for that? And if you think most Americans would be satisifed knowing that the pres would imprison their murderers after a terror attack in the US, rather than having policies designed to prevent such an attack, why not just say so?

Posted by: civitas on January 6, 2009 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

"No one could have foreseen armed men hijacking planes? Really?"

List the other times islamic terrorists have flown planes into buildings in the US.

Posted by: civitas on January 6, 2009 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Show me the proof that islamic terror groups have used anthrax against the US.

Show me the proof they haven't. You're the one who made the definitive statement that they've never done it, not me. I'm simply saying I don't know who was responsible for the anthrax attacks, while you seem to be implying that you know at least who it wasn't, which makes me wonder -- and perhaps should make the FBI wonder -- that if you know so clearly who didn't do it, perhaps you may also know who did.

Posted by: Stefan on January 6, 2009 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

"Show me the proof they haven't."

Innocent until proven guilty. The burden is on YOU to provide evidence of their guilt.

"You're the one who made the definitive statement that they've never done it"

If you say they have, I'll look at the proof you can provide.

Posted by: civitas on January 6, 2009 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

List the other times islamic terrorists have flown planes into buildings in the US.

Who cares? If you simply prevent the hijackings, you prevent them from flying into buildings in the US. No hijackings, no 9/11.

And if we're talking about the ability to "foree" it, then both Tom Clancy (in his novel Debt of Honor) and the 1996 Kurt Russell/Halle Berry/Steven Seagal movie "Executive Decision" foresaw terrorists flying planes into buildings in the US. So if you're saying no one could have foreseen it, I think you mean no one except Tom Clancy/Kurt Russell/Halle Berry/Steven Seagal fans.

Posted by: Stefan on January 6, 2009 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan: You see? That right there? That's where you said he should have prevented the attacks.

Civitas: No, I didn't. I said he should have had policies designed to prevent attacks.

Ah, he shouldn't have prevented the attacks, but he should have had policies designed to prevent attacks. Crystal clear.

You probably couldn't hear it over the Intertubes, but the above was said in a really sarcastic voice....

Posted by: Stefan on January 6, 2009 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

And he has successfully kept attacks from outside the US for 7 years.

No, we've gone over this. My magic rock has successfully kept attacks from outside the US for 7 years.

Posted by: Stefan on January 6, 2009 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

Cut and pasted from several previous posts so the more casual reader can see how civitas bollixed up the chain of the conversation. I particularly got a laugh about the admonition to think more clearly:

Stefan: Enforcement of the "wall" also did not end with Clinton, but continued under Bush.

civitas: until? What was that date?

Stefan: That date was August 2001.

civitas: No, it wasn't. Try again. The changes Bush made were made after 9/11.

Stefan: Jesus, you really can't read, can you? August 2001 was when Deputy AG Larry Thompson, a Bush appointee, re-authorized the application of the so-called "wall."

civitas: and you consider that a "change"? It looks like it's you that cannot read. Here's what I said "No, it wasn't. Try again. The changes Bush made were made after 9/11."

civitas: So you can't use a reauthorization as a "change". Got it? Calm down and you'll think more clearly.


Posted by: Stefan on January 6, 2009 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

No, we've gone over this. My magic rock has successfully kept attacks from outside the US for 7 years.

That magic rock is one powerful amulet. It has kept terrorists from attacking this country, and it has kept my Kansas City co-op from being overrun by wolverines.

Posted by: Blue Girl on January 6, 2009 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

"Who cares?"

Which American don't care about terrorists flying planes into buildings in the US?

"And if we're talking about the ability to "foree" it, then both Tom Clancy (in his novel Debt of Honor) and the 1996 Kurt Russell/Halle Berry/Steven Seagal movie "Executive Decision" foresaw terrorists flying planes into buildings in the US. So if you're saying no one could have foreseen it"

That's correct. No one could have. And no one did.

"Ah, he shouldn't have prevented the attacks, but he should have had policies designed to prevent attacks."

No to the first, yes to the second. Again, not rocket science. I'll ask again why you believe that Clinton and/or Bush should not have had policies to prevent terror attacks against the US.

"No, we've gone over this."

If you think he did not prevent terror attacks on the US for 7 years, name such an attack after 9/11.

And if you think your magic rock is in someway connected to US intelligence, you're a sadder case than even I thought. Does your rock have like, you know, a job at the CIA?

Thanks for the chain of posts. It makes my point that calming down would be helpful to you quite nicely.

Posted by: civitas on January 6, 2009 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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