Just More Outrageous Bi-Partisan Agreement: “CIA nominee John Brennan to face tough questions in Senate” – latimes.com

Just note that the headline might lead you to think he was going to have a rough time being confirmed but that is not what it says, nor what it means.

In effect, it means that (1) a few senators exercised over his not having paid them due deference by reading a report he plans to ignore before meeting with them, (2) a few more concerned about killing citizens abroad without according them their rights and explaining themselves, and (3) a few worried about leaks (not worried about why there aren’t more and why so many resources are applied to finding them unless they favor the administration, but about why there are any that do favor the administration).

And it means he will get through the hearing and confirmation this time despite significant opposition leading to his withdrawing his name from consideration last time for the questions his prior conduct had raised.  Now, after compounding his earlier sins and presumably his rationalization skills, he can expect confirmation.

After all, we all agree that torture and unconstitutional intrusions on individual rights are acceptable, don’t we?

CIA nominee John Brennan to face tough questions in Senate – latimes.com.

If this doesn’t run chills down your spine, you have to be sleeping!

Just catch these last few paragraphs.  There is a future beyond Brennan, Obama, Romney, all the prospective presidents whose names we might now foresee.  Having this in place, as well as laws that fail to define “terrorism” or “associated forces” and permit indefinite detention, even of citizens, and presumably killing them on presidential authority, is not consistent with American values as I’ve learned them.

“Said Brennan: “I think the president always needs the ability to do things under his chief executive powers and authorities, to include covert action.” But, he added, “I think the rule should be that if we’re going to take actions overseas that result in the deaths of people, the United States should take responsibility for that.”

One official said that “for a guy whose reputation is focused on how tough he is on counterterrorism,” Brennan is “more focused than anybody in the government on the legal, ethical and transparency questions associated with all this.” By drawing so much decision-making directly into his own office, said another, he has “forced a much better process at the CIA and the Defense Department.”

Even if Obama is reelected, Brennan may not stay for another term. That means someone else is likely to be interpreting his playbook.

“Do I want this system to last forever?” a senior official said. “No. Do I think it’s the best system for now? Yes.”

“What is scary,” he concluded, “is the apparatus set up without John to run it.””

via CIA veteran John Brennan has transformed U.S. counterterrorism policy – The Washington Post.

The most dangerous “state” belief–I’m sure it is sincere

Convincing oneself that one is following a valid process, to do something one’s own lawyers believe to be legal, to achieve something  appropriate that others in the future will confirm by following this example must surely be one of the most common and self-deceptive journeys upon which the human mind can embark.

“For an administration that is the first to embrace targeted killing on a wide scale, officials seem confident that they have devised an approach that is so bureaucratically, legally and morally sound that future administrations will follow suit.”

via Plan for hunting terrorists signals U.S. intends to keep adding names to kill lists – The Washington Post.


The Power to Kill – NYTimes.com–The corrupting influence of power and the most pernicious assertion Holder made

How do we recapture our rights?  No small trick in the face of this kind of assertion…

Mr. Holder said such operations require high levels of secrecy. That is obvious, but the FISA court operates in secret, and at least Americans are assured that some legal authority not beholden to a particular president or political party is reviewing such operations.

Mr. Holder argued in his speech that judicial process and due process guaranteed by the Constitution “are not one and the same.” This is a straw man. The judiciary has the power to say what the Constitution means and make sure the elected branches apply it properly. The executive acting in secret as the police, prosecutor, jury, judge and executioner is the antithesis of due process.

via The Power to Kill – NYTimes.com.

Free speech, “the national dialogue” and “reasonable speech:” The Pat Buchanan case (Updated)

In a post about Pat Buchanan’s being fired by MSNBC by guest blogger “rafflaw” on Jonathan Turley’s blog there is this quotation from William O. Douglas.  Among the numerous comments following the post are the two items quoted below, both causes for alarm.  The first is alarming because a cable news executive presumes to speak for what ideas are appropriate for  the national dialogue, the second for its having to remind the commenters that free and useful debate is not tied to some conception of “reasonableness ” and that there are real risks to free speech in making such a connection.

Douglas quotation:

“Justice William O. Douglas said it best in the Terminiello v. Chicago decision, “Accordingly, a function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute. It may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger. Speech is often provocative and challenging. It may strike at prejudices and preconceptions and have profound unsettling effects as it presses for acceptance of an idea. That is why freedom of speech, though not absolute, Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, supra, pp. 315 U. S. 571-572, is nevertheless protected against censorship or punishment, unless shown likely to produce a clear and present danger of a serious substantive evil that rises far above public inconvenience, annoyance, or unrest.“ (Emphasis added)

From two comments from different people beneath this post:

Comment 1. (MSNBC president)

“…Deadline Hollywood asked MSNBC president Phil Griffin to shed light on Buchanan’s employment status at the network. Griffin stopped short of making anything official but said that the ideas put forth in the book are not “appropriate for the national dialogue, much less MSNBC.(Emphasis added)

Comment 2.

“It is disheartening to see several responses here positing REASONABLE as having to do with free and useful debate. I don’t want to listen to Pat Buchanan anytime and not because he is unreasonable. Aristotle invented the use of logic to extend facts when arguing. Start with facts? Too much to ask? We are letting corporate media brainwash us and “reasonable” becomes mostly whatever we hear said without furious backlash. It is often the backlash that exposes how narrow our ability to listen to a different view is.”


Call the White House TODAY about the Patriot Act extensions…

Call 202-456-1111 between 9:00 and 5:00ET and ask to speak to someone working on renewal of the Patriot Act.  If the line is busy, please keep trying.  When you speak to someone, urge them to have the president veto the provisions coming to him and to take additional steps to revise the act in light of ten years of experience to restore rights the Act usurped in the first heat of 9/11.  Whatever modifications in procedures may be needed to confront our enemies, ten years experience is enough to allow for the crafting of something more fitting and more like a scalpel than the axe that the current Patriot Act is as used against enemies and citizens.  Ask the person to use the Bill of Rights as a guide for new legislation.

When the government stokes fear, it lays the groundwork for stochastic terror…

I just put on this blog a post by Kos about commentators whose comments can trigger “lone wolf” terrorists.  But those opinion sources often have a friend in the US government.  Janet Napolitano’s rock hard statements about dangers to the public, the TSA boss’s apparently limitless imagination for ways one might blow up an airplane, seemingly unqualified by experience or probabilities, and the President and White House willingness to support positions that arouse public fear all give the Becks, Hannitys, Limbaughs, et. al. presumably authoritative statements from “people who ought to know” from which to work.

In  particular, I want to point to the President’s saying that his first priority was “the safety of the American people.”  Nowhere in his oath of office are there words suggesting a priority to public safety.  His first obligation is to “protect and defend the constitution of the United States.” yet much of what he has done has reduced the force and power of the constitution and he has said he has done it to provide safety to the people.  The constitution provides them safety, that’s why we have the bill of rights and some colonies refused to ratify the constitution without it.  Yet we are behaving as if the safety of the people was at odds with the constitution and bill of rights.  I don’t buy that and I hope you don’t either.

Laws, read by the legislators, not just their staff members, affecting individual rights deserve thoughtful debate.  The Patriot Act was an initial reaction to 9/11 and the lack of debate can be justified only by the fear generated by the events of that terrible day.  Subsequent undebated amendments and those provisions soon to be renewed as they are or amended as proposed by some are no credit to our legislators but even more, no credit to us for our unwillingness to be brave enough to live in a free and open society.