Wednesday, December 30, 2009

While President Obama dreams of Sulla and Pompey, the CIA Fights back

The Left, for a long time, has made the Intelligence Networks the Enemy. For all the fulminations about the leak against one well placed Office based Agent during the last administration (leaked by Colin Powell's Deputy at State, Richard Armitage), Democrats and Liberals have set up the Central Intelligence Agency [CIA] as the font of all Geo-political Evil on Earth.

No, the CIA is not perfect. Look at Iran in 1953 or Chile in 1973. Then again, their bosses, the Commander in Chief, believed in a Nixonian foreign policy. President Bush believed in Wilsonianism, so the CIA was not used to get "Dictators who love us," It could happen with President Obama, but maybe not. Read on.

Do you remember Senator Obama? Here is what he said about the CIA from the Senate floor about Michael Hayden on May 25, 2006 (h/t Congressional Record):

Mr. OBAMA. Mr. President, let me start by saying that the nomination of General Hayden is a difficult one for me. I generally, as a rule, believe the President should be able to appoint members of his Cabinet, of his staff, to positions such as the one General Hayden is nominated for without undue obstruction from Congress.

General Hayden is extremely well qualified for this position. Having previously served as head of the National Security Agency and as Deputy Director of National Intelligence under John Negroponte, he has 30 years of experience in intelligence and national security matters. And he was nearly universally praised during his confirmation to Deputy DNI.

There are several members of the Intelligence Committee, including Senator Levin, who I hold in great esteem, who believe General Hayden has consistently displayed the sort of independence that would make him a fine CIA Director.

Unfortunately, General Hayden is being nominated under troubling circumstances, as the architect and chief defender of a program of wiretapping and collection of phone records outside of FISA oversight. This is a program that is still accountable to no one and no law.

Now, there is no one in Congress who does not want President Bush to have every tool at his disposal to prevent terrorist attacks--including the use of a surveillance program. Every single American--Democrat and Republican and Independent--who remembers the images of falling towers and needless death would gladly support increased surveillance in order to prevent another attack.

But over the last 6 months, Americans have learned that the National Security Agency has been spying on Americans without judicial approval. We learned about this not from the administration, not from the regular workings of the Senate Intelligence Committee, but from the New York Times and USA Today. Every time a revelation came out, President Bush refused to answer questions from Congress.

This is part of a general stance by this administration that it can operate without restraint. President Bush is interpreting article II of the Constitution as giving him authority with no bounds. The Attorney General and a handful of scholars agree with this view, and I do not doubt the sincerity with which the President and his lawyers believe in their constitutional interpretation. However, the overwhelming weight of legal authority is against the President on this one. This is not how our Constitution is designed, to give the President unbounded authority without any checks or balances.

We do not expect the President to give the American people every detail about a classified surveillance program, but we do expect him to place such a program within the rule of law and to allow members of the other two coequal branches of Government--Congress and the judiciary--to have the ability to monitor and oversee such a program. Our Constitution and our right to privacy as Americans require as much.

Unfortunately, we were never given the chance to make that examination. Time and again, President Bush has refused to come clean to Congress. Why is it that 14 of 16 members of the Intelligence Committee were kept in the dark for 4 1/2 years? The only reason that some Senators are now being briefed is because the story was made public in the newspapers. Without that information, it is impossible to make the decisions that allow us to balance the need to fight terrorism while still upholding the rule of law and privacy protections that make this country great.

Every democracy is tested when it is faced with a serious threat. As a nation, we have had to find the right balance between privacy and security, between executive authority to face threats and uncontrolled power. What protects us, and what distinguishes us, are the procedures we put in place to protect that balance; namely, judicial warrants and congressional review. These are not arbitrary ideas. They are not new ideas. These are the safeguards that make sure surveillance has not gone too far, that somebody is watching the watchers.

The exact details of these safeguards are not etched in stone. They can be reevaluated, and should be reevaluated, from time to time. The last time we had a major overhaul of the intelligence apparatus was 30 years ago in the aftermath of Watergate. After those dark days, the White House worked in a collaborative way with Congress through the Church Committee to study the issue, revise intelligence laws, and set up a system of checks and balances. It worked then, and it could work now. But, unfortunately, thus far, this administration has made no effort to reach out to Congress and tailor FISA to fit the program that has been put in place.

I have no doubt that General Hayden will be confirmed. But I am going to reluctantly vote against him to send a signal to this administration that even in these circumstances, even in these trying times, President Bush is not above the law. No President is above the law. I am voting against Mr. Hayden in the hope that he will be more humble before the great weight of responsibility that he has not only to protect our lives but to protect our democracy.

That was Senator Obama threading the needle about Executive Power and Intelligence work.

President Obama started this year by moving KSM to have a trial in New York City. The trial will not go after KSM and his compatriots, but the Bush Administration and those who worked for them in Guantanamo Bay. Who had jurisdiction over getting information out of the prisoners? The CIA.

Recently, the Obama Administration gave more power to INTERPOL overriding our Intelligence networks sovereignty. Could INTERPOL go after any Agents active in Afghanistan, Iraq or Iran during the past 8 years?

And lest you think 2008 was all smiles and flowers between Senator Obama and the US Intelligence Networks, Obama spent the election campaigning against the CIA.

Now let's wind the clocks back to the Christmas Plane Bomber. The CIA met the father and knew for six weeks prior.

The CIA is a bureaucracy and a fighting force; if they feel disrespected by an Administration, they will use their tools to go after the Administration. Period. How many leaks did the CIA give to the New York Times during the last administration?

While President Obama forgets the lessons of Sulla and Pompey about destroying a Republic (Hint: You don't send your partisans after the last guy; You chart your own path or Civil War erupts), there is pushback. If Former Vice President Cheney was wrong, wouldn't the higher level CIA operatives have complained when he speaks? Not one has gone to the mats to defend Obama, but they remain quiet on Cheney.

Quick! Someone poll the CIA on which Administration has their back!

The CIA does not declare war openly, but they defend themselves well. Unless President Obama openly and quietly defends the Intelligence Networks of this country, they might turn another blind eye. And while it might hurt the Administration, it will hurt civilians too.

Heck, the CIA has already gone to war against Speaker Pelosi. The Tea Party Movement definitely had some help, not unlike Iran in 1953 -- and they want to vote out incumbents, weakening her power. And the polls for 2010 look good for the opposition. Hmmmm......

This is a two sided question, those within the Intelligence community (answer anonymously if you must, but I can track if you are real by the StatCounter) and those outside. While everyone parties in the New Year, you can think upon this.

For those outside: Do you think the Obama Administration understands the Intellegence Community? What will be the fallout if he doesn't?

For those inside (Domestic or overseas): How do you feel about President Obama? If you are overseas, do you feel secure? if you are an analyst, do you think President Obama understands your work?

Happy New Year!

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  1. My concern is that this seems to be a 9/10 mentality as they call it and it scares me to think that now Bush is gone and we have attacks again on US Soil. We need a president that will be a leader and not play Peter Pan

  2. I have always found it confusing that Obama shows such disrespect for those he would need the most, should there ever be a future uprising. The military know how he feels about them, as do veterans. Why would he alienate those he would need?
    Then again, with Interpol and a civilian army, maybe he wouldn't need them??

  3. I will repeat a point made by someone at another blog. Obama is quite prepared to drop missiles on suspected ratbags around the world yet he feels the need to give full legal rights (minimal interrogation) to someone caught trying to blow up a US flagged aircraft and kill the passengers and crew.

    The ex`CIA number two at the National Security Council said yesterday that they take their lead from Holder and the Justice Department.

    It certainly makes sense, considering the hot war is being run through JAG lawyers.

  4. Davod,

    Thank you for commenting and your insight into what is going at the NSC.

    My question to you is, what do the rank and file think of the current Administration? Are they supportive of the DOJ getting involved?

    If you wish to reach me by email, please do. Tell me what you think "off the record," but give me a way to publish an answer "on the record,"

    Again, thank you for your service.

  5. JSF,

    I found your blog through the Instalanche today. I've read a couple posts, and I find myself quite intrigued. I'll definitely be around for more.

    The last blog I read by an ex-CIA operative was very much leftist. I forget the woman's name, but the site was and she was forever whining about outsourcing intelligence and military capabilities to contractors - but somehow seemed to be completely ignorant or oblivious to the fact that it was Slick Willie who gutted DoD and the TLAs so that he could claim "balanced" budgets after the Republican Rout of 1994.

    I also follow Spook86's blog at (ex-USAF intel guy who retired at rank of Captain). He still has several contacts in the black world and within USAF; he's been blogging about USAF's screwups with its JAG corps and the ongoing Minot clusterfark.

    Anyway, I wanted to comment on a couple things you wrote here, and end with a question.

    First, the INTERPOL EO amendment thing. That one scares me for many reasons, not the least of which is that it seems to open the door to three separate things that become possible with the amendment:

    1. INTERPOL now can commit acts of rendition against US citizens on US soil without fear of official discovery or prosecution (diplomatic immunity and their records are exempt from discovery);

    2. DOJ can now hide any records it so chooses within its own INTERPOL unit, which operates out of DOJ headquarters in DC (thus allowing Holder et al to have a place to officially "hide" anything that they want; compare and contrast with the latest EO about classified docs that allows the Obama Administration the option of classifying previously unclassified documents if, during a FOIA request, someone claims that the information in the document is "sensitive"); and

    3. Others have suggested that Obama did the EO amendment in this case to quietly throw Iran yet another bone - as Iran is now using INTERPOL to go after Iranian dissidents abroad.

    Just plain scary.

    Next, I think Obama is, in his heart, nothing more than a simple Leftist thug with strings pulled by Soros and Daley. He has no honor or respect for anyone except that which he seems to wear as a temporary mask while giving speeches that, under the guise of "empathizing" with the subject of the speech, actually work to tear it apart. He would gladly rid the US of its nuclear weapons arsenal under a banner of "peace" while actually being motivated by creating a state of fear in the general public (which causes people to be motivated to depend on Government more than they would choose to do so otherwise) while raiding the DoD's budget to the last dollar for political patronage purposes.

    So now to my question: for all the foibles committed by GWB during his tenure as POTUS, he does seem to have been strongly committed to preventing another 9/11 on US soil, his stupid forays into illegal alien amnesty notwithstanding. That being said, what do you think caused CIA to leak so much intel during that time, which seems to have seriously impaired the execution of the War on Terror? I have read where the nature of Government employment favors the ever-Leftward push of Govt agencies because Republicans will generally keep experienced personnel regardless of their politics, but Democrats will (more often than not) purge agencies of those in power - positional power or influential power - if said personnel are believed to be "sympathetic" to the Republican side of things. This cycle would mean that over time, many in the TLAs who hold senior or key positions would be sympathetic to Democrats. Do you think this purge cycle has anything to do with how the CIA acted against Bush, or were there other reasons? I'd be quite interested in your views on this issue.

    Thanks again, and I look forward to catching up on your posts.


  6. Wanderlust,

    Welcome to the Valley! And thank you for that detailed information.

    As per your question, I undertand that HUMINT is fallable because, like every human, we follow fads or trends. How many times have I heard from people that it was "Cool," and "OK," to bash President Bush with no undeerstanding of what he did (from here in CA)?

    But, my guesstimate (again, I can be proven wrong), is that as it was trendy to pile on Bush (and add to the Leak by Armitage which made it an issue for the TLA's), the Intellegence networks joined in.

    And like most people, the HUMINT fell for the Obama line that he was pragmatic.

    That's just my idea -- again, thank you.


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