Sunday, December 9, 2007

The leak-wars have begun

Let the bloodletting commence.

Last week, some of the wind went out of the sails of the neocon chickenhawks who have been chomping at the bit for a war with Iran. By weeks end, we learned that the CIA had destroyed tapes that probably showed CIA agents committing war crimes.

So you know what that means...time to leak something damning about Democrats. Whadya got? Anything?

Today, on page A01 of the Washington Post, the headline screams Hill Briefed on Waterboarding in 2002 and we learn that in September of 2002, four members of Congress met clandestinely to receive a "virtual tour" of the program being developed by the CIA to extract information from terrorism suspects captured by the U.S., including the "harsh techniques" that had been devised to punish all captives, be they guilty or innocent make prisoners talk. The Post article makes it clear in the first few words that Nancy Pelosi was included in that group. You have to read on a bit (okay, five paragraphs) to find the names of thethen-majority Republicans who were briefed (Porter Goss, Pat Roberts).
Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said. (Wanna bet that Roberts and Goss were the ones asking that question? The article quite conveniently doesn't say.)

"The briefer was specifically asked if the methods were tough enough," said a U.S. official who witnessed the exchange.


"Among those being briefed, there was a pretty full understanding of what the CIA was doing," said Goss, who chaired the House intelligence committee from 1997 to 2004 and then served as CIA director from 2004 to 2006. "And the reaction in the room was not just approval, but encouragement."
That front-page article is the Wurlitzer at it's smarmy best - without saying it outright, it paints Democrats as hypocrites for protesting about waterboarding now. "Why wasn't a mighty howl set up then?" is the implication.

Well, being in possession of critical thinking skills, I do believe that I can take a stab at sorting through this unholy mess, without giving anyone any passes.

First off, anyone in a position to see that information is bound by stringent secrecy rules. They sign an additional oath beyond their oath of office. Just because someone has a security clearance does not mean that anyone who has one can know anything. It is always based on "need to know." Anyone poking around and asking questions that they have no demonstrable "need to know" will find themselves neck-deep in a pile of trouble in short order. When only four people in the congress are briefed on something, and two have expressed enthusiasm for the program, it is not difficult to determine who is leaking, and bring some heavy-duty charges against them. And rightly so.

And now - lets look at this pragmatically. Do you remember September 2002? I do. For a solid year, the administration had whipped up the frenzy and fear and hatred, and kept picking at the scab of grief over the loss of life in the largest, most heinous act of mass murder ever perpetrated.

What, exactly would you have had the Democrats do?

Acquiesce just enough to keep their seats?

Or stand on principle?

Utilitarianism, or Deontology?

Mill, or Kant?

Again, I'm not giving any passes, I'm just trying on their shoes.

Would you like to let your imagination off the leash and think about where we might (probably would) have gone in 2002 / 2004 if the Congressional Democrats in congress hadn't all triangulated and acquiesced at least a little bit and hung on to their seats so we could take a majority in 2006?

Sometimes, what gets referred to as triangulation, might be better described as "giving the fucker enough rope to hang himself."

I'm pissed off at Pelosi and hope her tenure as Speaker comes to a quick end. She has been a bitter disappointment, and the job does not suit her. But if the choice is Pelosi or Hastert, hell gimme Nancy. In fact, I'll take two, they're small.

That said - I still think we should at least think about stepping back, closing our eyes and taking a deep breath then looking at the big picture.

And when I do that, I see a year of "he said/she said" fingerpointing as everyone tries to cover their political asses.

Stock up on Maalox now.

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