Tag Archive: Afganistan

Oct 11 2010

Damning Praise for Obama: Up Date

US Air Force Gen. (Ret.) Michael Hayden, former CIA Director and NSA chief under George W. Bush, was a guest on State of the Union with Candy Crowley. Naturally the discussion was about terrorism, the recent European travel alerts and the drone attacks in Pakistan that are perpetuating the cycle of terror threats from Al Qaeda. Naturally the discussion also turned to the possibility of another attack in the US and that Americans are on edge based on recent polling done by CNN.

CROWLEY: I want to show you a poll that we took between October 5 and 7, so a recent poll. And the question was, “Will there be acts of terrorism in the U.S. in the next few weeks? Forty-nine percent said it’s likely. Forty-eight percent said not likely. What does the former head of the CIA say?

HAYDEN: I’m not surprised that people are on edge. I’m a little surprised at the spread, particularly since you gave it a time frame in the next few weeks. I don’t think any of us inside government who have a chance to see the variety of information would attach that imminence to the — to the attack. But the probability, I think all of us would agree to. We’ve been quite good since 9/11. We’ve worked very hard. We’ve taken the fight to the enemy…

Keep that fear factor going.

Ms. Crowley then turned the conversation to Pakistan

CROWLEY: We of course, in order to make up for the lack of action in northern Waziristan, have been sending these drones in, record number in September.

There is a cost to it, of course, because the Pakistani populace, which in general doesn’t like the U.S. — the Pakistani government has to make sure that they don’t — there’s no uprising from them because it looks like the Pakistani government is cooperating too much with the U.S.

Do you think these drones have been excessive, and do you think they’re always helpful?

HAYDEN: Well, as you know, I’m not here to confirm or deny any specific operational activity.

. . . But I do know that taking the fight to the enemy, being able to take Al Qaida’s senior leadership off the battlefield, as we say, and that began about July of 2008, in the current effort has been, I think, the single greatest factor in keeping America and our friends safe. I know all activity…All activity that we do…to take the enemy off the battlefield is done very carefully. It’s great precision, high confidence in the intelligence. So I think it’s an appropriate course of action. In fact, it’s one that, in conscience, it would be very difficult for any administration to stop doing.

CROWLEY: You sound as though you believe President Obama is doing a good job on the terrorism front.

HAYDEN: There are some things that I disagree with, and I’ve disagreed with publicly.

CROWLEY: Such as?

HAYDEN: Making the CIA Office of Legal Counsel interrogation memos public, stopping the CIA interrogation program and not really replacing it with any other interrogation program, even to this date.

But, by and large, there’s been a powerful continuity between the 43rd and the 44th president, and I think that simply reflects the reality that both President Obama and President Bush faced in terms of the threat and the tools that are available to them.

(emphasis mine)

What digby said peas in a pod

Up Date: Glenn Greenwald picks this up today with this final comment:

Civil liberties and a belief in the need to check government power is something many people care about only when the other party is in control.  They seem to believe that there are two kinds of leaders — Good ones (their party) and Bad ones (the other party) — and it’s only when the latter wield power that safeguards and checks are necessary.  Good leaders, by definition, are entitled to trust and faith that they will wield power appropriately and for Good ends, thus rendering unnecessary things like accountability, transparency, oversight and even due process.  Of course, the core premise of our government from the start was that political power will be inevitably abused if it is exercised without constraints, that nothing is more irrational or destructive than placing blind faith in political leaders to exercise unchecked power magnanimously.  But the temptation to want to follow Leaders blindly — to believe in their core Goodness and to thus vest them with unverified trust — is almost as compelling a part of human nature as the abuse of power when exercised without checks and in the dark.

That’s why self-anointed defenders of the Constitution are instantly transformed into authoritarians and back again every time there is a change of party control:  many people don’t believe in these principles generally, but only when political leaders they dislike are in power. The problem, though, is that endorsing civil liberties abuses because one’s own Party is in power virtually ensures that those abuses will become permanent, available to future leaders from the other Party as well.  That was the argument which fell on deaf ears when made to cheering Bush supporters, and it’s barely more effective now.

(emphasis mine)

Do you hear this, Obama Loyalists? You CANNOT have it both ways.