Monday, December 8, 2008

Who Is Left?

Although the press appears to be moving on from the "Brennan as CIA director-Brennan got screwed" storyline to juicier tidbits about Hayden staying on, it still seems worthwhile to suggest a few alternatives to these two who have received the greatest amount of attention.

I have made the case for Rand Beers before. I will make it again in a little more depth here.

Beers was the Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Combating Terrorism as of August 19, 2002. He was previously in International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

In March 2003 he left the Bush administration, before the invasion of Iraq. He spent a little less than 8 months in a counterrterrorism role in the National Security Council. After he left the Bush admin, he joined Kerry's team as an advisor.

His other qualifications include: working from 1988 to 1998 in the NSC as variously "Director for Counter-terrorism and Counter-narcotics, Director for Peacekeeping, and Senior Director for Intelligence Programs." Signing onto the Campaign to Ban Torture. Starting the National Security Network which has as its mission:

"We will faithfully honor the letter and the spirit of our
Constitution. We will never sanction torture, and we will never tolerate spying on law-abiding citizens."

He also wrote an article for the Washington Monthly entitled "No Torture. No Exceptions," in which he lays out the case against torture. As his critique includes the harsh treatment of Al-Libi in Egyptian and American custody, one can assume he is also against rendition. This fits with his endorsement of the Campaign to Ban Torture's declaration that:

"The Rule of Law
We will acknowledge all prisoners to our courts or the
International Red Cross. We will in no circumstance hold persons in secret
prisons or engage in disappearances. In all cases, prisoners will have the
opportunity to prove their innocence in ways that fully conform to American
principles of fairness.
Duty to Protect
We acknowledge our historical
commitment to end the use of torture and cruelty in the world. The US will
not transfer any person to countries that use torture or cruel, inhuman, or
degrading treatment."

What should encourage you is that a guy who believes that we will "never tolerate spying on law-abiding citizens" advises Obama on homeland security. What one might question is why Rand Beers is not being circulated as the go-to-go more frequently considering his breadth of knowledge on counterterrorism issues and years of service. Just not a popular guy? What is the deal?

Some people are saying that who Obama chooses for his staff positions - people to whom he is delegating the responsibility of managing entire agencies! - is not so important. But isn't it a lot easier to implement the policies you want if the person doing the actual implementation of the policies agrees with you?

Rand Beers agrees with the most liberal aspects of Obama's policy. And unlike Brennan whose stance on FISA was that telecom companies should be protected for following the Bush admin's lead on the warrantless wiretapping program, Beers has signed onto this:

"Clarity and Accountability
All US personnel—whether
soldiers or intelligence staff—deserve the certainty that they are implementing
policy that complies fully with the law. Henceforth all US officials who
authorize, implement, or fail in their duty to prevent the use of torture and
ill-treatment of prisoners will be held accountable, regardless of rank or

That is an extremely promising vision of accountability in a post-Bush world. And the fact that Beers is talented at seeing through Bush - and McConnell's - BS is another admirable trait. I also think Beers may be outsider enough to not present a flagrant conflict of interest if Obama decides to investigate torture/rendition or prosecute even.

Beers is not without transgressions - and for some they may be dealbreakers. He has strong critics against his policies in Colombia. See the links here (from his Sourcewatch). Also Al Giordano probably will not be a fan.

All in all though, I think Beers is the man for this job (especially if you consider the competition). As others have pointed out, George HW Bush was appointed to the CIA by Ford, well outside of the CIA insider track (and talk about political appointments - HW had headed the flippin' Republican National Committee three years earlier). But guess what Big George received for his role in the CIA? You guessed it, high praise - "Bush was credited with helping to restore the agency's morale."

So there you go. I'm pushing the story. Let's have these whispers amount to reality. "Intelligence sources" can and ought to suck it up and accept an outsider like they did before. And I will go back to believing that most of the "intelligence sources" in the CIA are interested in covering their @sses and/or are friends of Tenet.

No comments: