Sunday, July 12, 2009

Of course it was Cheney.

This story is making me lose my mind and I'm not even sure why. It's not like I'm shocked the CIA lied to Congress. I'm not shocked Dick Cheney was behind it. And I'm certainly not shocked the GOP is accusing the Democrats of playing politics simply by their bringing these self-evident truths to light. Even so, there's something so sickeningly routine and predictable about this whole process of revelation, denial, and counter-accusation, that it makes me really think there's little hope for bi-partisan agreement on matters of national security.

I try very hard (most of the time) to put myself in the shoes of the "other" side on most issues---to experience news stories not only in the way they instantly strike me, but also in the way a reasonable-minded person with a different belief system might perceive such stories. My gut feeling on water boarding, for example, is that it's undeniably torture and one of the biggest black marks our nation will ever have on its permanent record. I'm highly critical of torture apologists, but mostly those who defend it in the most disingenuous of ways...such as denying it even qualifies as torture, or suggesting that the Bush administration did its due diligence in considering the alternatives. If someone at least openly admits that torture is a necessary evil in the war on terror, while I vehemently disagree with that assessment, I have "some" respect for someone who calls a spade a spade...even if they're whacking that spade over someone's head in the name of protecting Americans. Similarly, while I believe Bush/Cheney and their assorted strategies did far more harm than good in the war on terror, I can somewhat relate to the basic opposition premise that, "well, we didn't have another 9/11 on his watch." I find that reasoning incredibly facile, but it's factually true and shouldn't be dismissed out of hand.

All of this is just my way of saying that when I can't see the other side of an issue, it blows my mind that ANYONE would be on the opposite side of that issue. This whole CIA concealment issue is one such issue. In response to the newest revelations about Cheney's directives to the CIA to keep certain programs and information away from Congress, here's what two prominent Republicans had to say:

Sen. John Cornryn (Texas): "This (new assertion) looks to me suspiciously like an attempt to provide political cover to Speaker Pelosi and other Democrats."

Sen. Judd Gregg (New Hampshire): "This continued attack on the CIA and our intelligence gathering organizations is undermining the morale and capacity of those organizations to gather intelligence."

First, as to Cornryn's statement, Pelosi didn't really need any cover. It was a dead story in the mainstream press. And while I personally think these revelations add credibility to Pelosi's claims, plenty of analysts think this only hurts her by having this old story brought to the surface yet again. Further, who cares what it looks like to you, Sen. Cornryn? Is it more important how something "looks," or is it more important to get to the truth of the matter? If the Democrats are truly playing politics with national security, do the exact opposite. The more the GOP acts like the mature, responsible, nation-first party, the broader their appeal. It's mind-boggling to me that nobody in the GOP has any interest in verifying these claims. The only claim they seem interested in investigating is the one made by Pelosi.

As for your statement, Sen. Gregg, if the fucking CIA is so fragile that they can't organizationally withstand some (valid) criticism, then we truly need to overhaul the CIA pronto.

CIA Agent: "Hey, Bob. I can't make it to work today."

CIA Manager: "Why not, Ted?"

CIA Agent: "I'm just so beat down by all the criticism our agency is getting."

CIA Manager: "But we need you. Today is important."

CIA Agent: "Yeah, I know. But I'm just so...down. Nobody respects what we do."

CIA Manager: "But you help save lives!"

CIA Agent: "Meh. Check back with me tomorrow."

The "undermining morale" argument is a go-to argument for the GOP when it comes to not wanting to deal with certain issues. "How dare you speak out against the way we planned the war in Iraq! That will undermine the morale of the troops and that's dangerous---not to mention unpatriotic!" Bullshit. Complete and total bullshit. By this standard, we should never critique or investigate any action by the military or any action of our intelligence gathering organizations. It's downright insulting to think of these professional men and women as incapable of doing their jobs when there is a legitimate question raised as to the ethical conduct of a small group of leaders within the organization. In fact, it's more likely that because they are such professionals, they, too, would want to have whatever rot there is removed.

I just don't get it. I just don't get why the GOP, at least on this one issue, can't be honest. Any investigation would be bi-partisan. And EVEN if this feels like a witch hunt, something I don't believe it would be, the end result would be a cleansing which would benefit both parties and the nation as a whole. If it were the Democrats who were responsible to playing fast and loose with the laws of this nation, there is NO WAY I would seek to justify it, nor would I tolerate evasion of the truth. There has to be some accountability, folks. We've now seen the horrors which can (and will) happen without it.

This is inexcusable.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right on. You cut right to the heart of the matter.

Loved the evil Cheney pic...

July 25, 2009 at 3:04 PM  
Blogger Kraig Smith said...

Thanks for the comment!

July 26, 2009 at 7:17 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Perhaps your morale narrative is entertaining, but it's not a convincing argument.

The problem with the witch hunt against the CIA is that it will likely cause individuals within the CIA to become more risk averse and, a result, refrain from taking actions necessary to save American lives and to protect this country.

We live in a dangerous world. In the midst of this mess, CIA agents and officers have to make difficult decisions everyday. These individuals should be given some leeway to make those decisions without some goody two-shoes coming in after the fact and second-guessing their decisions and threatening punishment or sanctions. You demand accountability. I agree we want some degree of accountability. I just don't think these issues are so black-and-white. There are many shades of grey, and particularly in that grey area, the CIA needs freedom to operate.

It's a balancing act. The political parties differ on where that balance should be struck. More likely, a lot of this is just plain politics--Democrats seeking to investigate a Republican administration.

Further evidence that everything isn't so black and white:

August 18, 2009 at 1:58 PM  

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