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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