S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

What about The Mikes?

Just catching up with the three Mikes who have put their signature on the Bush administration --

The Director of National Intelligence, Mike McConnell, should be sitting pretty right now. He and the Bush Administration got the FISA revamped in a way that compromised civil liberties. Robert Davey at The Huffington Post says it was "for nothing." To quote:

Now President Bush has the law he and Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell set out, more than a year ago, to manipulate Congress and the media into giving them, perhaps it's time to consider once again the role played by Spc. Alex Jimenez. Jimenez was abducted by Iraqi insurgents in mid-May 2007 and probably killed very soon after.

But he provided a convenient peg on which McConnell and the rest could hang their specious claims about the flaws in FISA, claims that were believed by the Senate Intelligence Committee and by the New York Times. On May 1 last year McConnell, speaking at a session of the Senate Intelligence Committee, asserted four or five times that intelligence officials wanting to intercept communications between two foreign terrorist suspects outside the United States in some circumstances needed to get a warrant from the FISA court. This requirement, never envisaged by the authors of FISA, was apparently slowing down intelligence collection at a time when the United States needed to be on constant alert lest a new terrorist attack should escape detection.

Within two weeks came the abduction of Jimenez, and some time after that we learned the awful truth -- that FISA requirements had delayed surveillance on his captors, wasting precious hours while National Security Agency lawyers worked their way through a bureaucratic maze to ensure that foreign terrorists' Fourth Amendment rights were respected! How that must have gone over with talk radio audiences! But it was never true. The FISA never required a warrant before intercepting communications between two non-U.S. persons (meaning those who are neither U.S. citizens nor permanent residents) in a foreign country.

Mike Hayden, Director of the CIA -- The Washington Post wrote this piece on Michael V. Hayden, CIA Director, not long ago. To quote:

Soon after accepting the post of CIA director two years ago, Michael V. Hayden set an unusual goal for his scandal-beset agency: virtual invisibility.

"CIA needs to get out of the news as source or subject," he said in an internal memo to his staff in 2006.

Two years later, that goal is far from met, as Hayden has tacitly acknowledged. In a retirement
ceremony last month marking the end of his military career, the Air Force general stressed the need for the agency to "stay in the shadows" while ignoring what he called the "sometimes shrill and uninformed voices of criticism."

The comment reflected the difficulties that Hayden's CIA faces in trying to turn the corner on six years of controversy at the same time that it attempts sweeping internal changes. While the agency's leadership has sought a return to normal and has launched initiatives intended to improve ties with lawmakers and foreign allies, it finds itself in the cross hairs of a Congress determined to force a reckoning over the agency's past intelligence failures and its conduct in the fight against terrorism.

Mike Mukasey, Attorney General -- The Washington Post wrote this on Michael Mukasey, Attorney General, who "rejected calls to appoint a special counsel to investigate Bush administration officials who approved the use of coercive interrogation techniques against terrorism suspects." To quote further,

In a letter sent yesterday to House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), Mukasey said opening a criminal investigation would be "unfair" and "seriously short-sighted."

"I am aware of no basis for appointing a special counsel to investigate the policymakers who approved the CIA interrogation program or the national security lawyers who concluded that the program was lawful," he wrote to Conyers and nearly five dozen other Democrats.

Critics of the administration's policy have likened the questioning tactics to torture and have called for senior policymakers to be held accountable. Justice's Office of Professional Responsibility, which probes ethics complaints against department lawyers, is conducting its own investigation of Justice memos that blessed controversial techniques including simulated drowning and sleep deprivation.
The people to replace these people cannot come too soon for my taste.

View my current slide show about the Bush years -- "Millennium" -- at the bottom of this column.

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