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Palomar Observatory

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rubber hits the road

I had a great conversation with my buddy Bigdave today about Eric Holder's August 24 decision to investigate the CIA for criminal conduct. As you are no doubt aware, seven former CIA Directors, including James Woolsey and others that worked for Democratic and Republican administrations, and the current Director, Leon Panetta, are against the inquest.

I have always thought that Panetta was a pretty square guy. I don't think Senator Feinstein wants to see it happen. I have always respected her as solid, fair and temperate.

Be that as it may, I have mixed emotions about the investigations. One of the primary objections put forth is that international intelligence sources could be exposed if this investigation goes forward.

Now I think Gen. Michael Hayden is probably in it up to his ass and I have no doubt that the previous administration engaged in all sorts of illegal activity. But do the underlings at the CIA have to take the fall for orders that certainly germinated at Dick Cheney's desk?  Guys that pretty much have to do their job or resign?

Behavior has to be modified and a little in house spanking would not be sufficient.  We are after all talking about torture here, a behavior that once actually cut across the american grain. But do you really think the agents were operating in a rogue and unilateral manner? Are we going to find a few sacrificial lambs to burn? And like it or not, it's still a big bad world with some nasty chaps that want to do us in.  We do need an intelligence service. A non neutered one.

Dave said that I was sounding like a reactionary republican or something equally dreadful. He said that the evidence in the new Colorado Pakistani Bomber affair seems to keep shifting. My question is, do we have the luxury to let these imans and co. hire an F. Lee Bailey so that the evidence of wanting to bomb Grand Central Station is thrown out on some mere technicality? (They had maps.) Do they get the full weight of constitutional protection? The defender is always at a tactical disadvantage against the aggressor or initiator in this type of game situation.  Do we have the luxury of being the Marquis of Queensbury?

Are we glossing over the fact that some very angry, theologically driven people would like nothing better than to vaporize us? I think it will take more than a gestalt session at Esalen to modify their kind of behavior. Need several Grateful Dead tours with some major dosage to reform these kids.  And Jerry ain't around no more.

Dave asked me if I could take the opposite viewpoint. Of course I can, I rattled off , "The constitution was built for tough times, when we selectively apply it, we are diminished, blah, blah, blah. The strength of our system is its fairness in just these situations. And people need to be punished for inappropriate behavior so it doesn't happen again."  He felt that Holder was making this call - I think the President's hands are all over it.

It's an interesting question. I don't have the answer.  But maybe, just maybe, could these former CIA Directors actually know what they are talking about? Maybe in the dark crevices of their infernal spooky souls there lurks a lone shred of decency that we should listen to, just this once? Could there be grave consequences to national security if the wrong operation gets disclosed or the wrong people get compromised? I think we better be sure.

6 comments:

island guy said...

When has the CIA ever been reined in? Perhaps just in the cyclical nature of things it's time to do so. There seems to be no shortage of people in and out of government who want to give them carte blanche. This is not my own position, I would take one more based on ethical considerations, but a response to your query.

The picture for the film fest? Thumbs down. Essence of bulldog it ain't.

Blue Heron said...

Ok, thanks. I won't submit it. I am torn on the CIA thing but wouldn't want to be cavalier if the boy who cries wolf is right, this time.

wave_man said...

Yes, we face an asymmetric threat. But you sound like an old Al Franken skit of him posing as a Republican, honestly. There are maybe twenty thousand people in the world that want us dead as a nation. As a culture. Big f***ing deal. If only twenty thousand people hate your nation you must be doing something right. We have embraced this war on a noun, why, you might ask? Because it was the only enemy we could latch onto at a time when we desperately need an enemy to justify our investment in empire, to justify a military budget greater than the total of the rest of the world. Funny, but not ha-ha funny, we also lead in the percentage of our populace that we imprison, because that is now a private for-profit corporate venture. So, in our quest to expand democracy and freedom, we have exported shock and awe, a greater terror than our enemies could have ever wrought, and a prison culture even scarier than our own, one just disappears without warning or cause if the color of the skin is wrong (sorry Maher Harrar, that is the apaology you will never get even from Obama's administration...). This is f***ed up on so many levels I can't bring myself to dwell on it much longer. But yeah, you sound like a republican. Cut it out.

Blue Heron said...

Let's see - Between 1.5 and 1.8 billion muslims in the world, if 2% are radicalized, probably a preposterously low figure...20,000? Where in the hell did you get that figure dear brother? And with a low tech enemy fighting asymmetrically, how many 9/11 terrorists were there, like 22. Even to accept an absurdly low number like 20k on its face, the destruction possible by this number of committed foes would be staggering. It's amazing that we catch the ones we do. Do you view them as a benign and mostly harmless threat, like ants on a picnic table? Blow up Grand Central Station - Bad.

Anonymous said...

http://www.danielpipes.org/comments/65537 says 1.8 million jihadists.

Anonymous said...

This was drivel, and incorrect almost entirely on the subject of Salafism/Wahabbism. Please do some more research before you take this quack to heart. I could make similar arguments about the danger of 30 million fundamental christians, and still be rather over-wrought even though it would be "fun" at the time.