Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How Obama Deep-Sixed a Truth Commission

Man, I really wish I voted for someone that would deliver transparency and accountability. Apparently, I did not.

I saw this over at TPM Cafe posted by rumpole. Here's the link. Froomkin quotes Jane Mayer:

"'I'm not big on commissions,' Panetta told me. 'On the other hand, I could see that it might make some sense, frankly, to appoint a high-level commission, with somebody like Sandra Day O'Connor, Lee Hamilton—people like that.' The appeal was that Obama could delegate to others the legal problems stemming from Bush Administration actions, allowing him to focus on his ambitious political agenda. 'In the discussion phase'—early in the spring, before Obama decided the issue—'I was for it,' Panetta said. 'Because every time a question came up, you could basically say, "The commission, hopefully, is looking at this."' But by late April Obama had vetoed the idea, fearing that it would look vindictive and, possibly, inflame his predecessor. 'It was the President who basically said, "If I do this, it will look like I'm trying to go after Cheney and Bush,"' Panetta said. 'He just didn't think it made sense. And then everybody kind of backed away from it.'"

Ok, first of all, Cheney is inflamed. And he is calling for the further declassification of documents - IOW, a Truth Commission.

Accountability for torture, equality for gays - Obama is turning out to be timid. A weenie.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

You'll Never Get Ahead...

From Truthdig/LATimes:

"Reporting from Washington -- President Obama's pick to be the intelligence chief at the Department of Homeland Security withdrew from consideration on Friday amid signs that he could face opposition on Capitol Hill over his role in the CIA's interrogation of terrorism suspects."


Mudd became the latest candidate for a high-level intelligence position to be forced to withdraw after being tied to the CIA's use of severe methods to interrogate terrorism suspects. 

From 2002 to 2005, Mudd served as deputy director of the CIA's counter-terrorism center, a unit that swelled in size in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks and was responsible for running the agency's secret overseas prisons."

At least we know torturing doesn't get you ahead in the job world (except when it does - courtesy of Militarytracy).  But you do get to keep your old job and duck questions about what you did in the past - or work your way into another high-level, confirmation unrequired position, like John Brennan did.  

At this point, it's obvious that we would all be better served by having a Truth Commission establish the genesis and implementation of Bush's torture programs.  I don't really weep here for Mudd and his career trajectory, but I do think it is absurd that all our political system has done so far in response to our past torturing is create a bump in the road for anyone interested in civil career advancement.  It is a pathetic injustice to all involved - from Binyam Mohamed to Mudd and the American people in general.

And a final question - why does President Obama keep selecting these guys?  Especially after the example of John Brennan, why did he think Mudd would squeak through?  I would note that Mudd's role at the CTC is not entirely clear - his FBI biography (h/t Laura Rozen) suggests as Deputy Director of the CTC he "was responsible for overseeing operational, analytical, and support programs in the Center" and also that he was in the CTC "the Deputy Director of the Office of Terrorism Analysis, the analytic arm of the CTC."  I would generally be more creeped out by people involved in Operations.

But the interesting aspect of Mudd's withdrawal from consideration is that it raises questions about how the analytical branches influenced interrogations - from an AP Report:  "Mudd's analysts used information obtained through harsh interrogations, and the official said that Mudd is likely to be questioned on whether the analysis branch pressured interrogators in the field to use harsher methods because they believed detainees were not telling the truth."  This hasn't been much talked about, and apparently it won't be (remember, part of Brennan's defense - or defenses made for him - was that he was in analysis, not operations).

In any case, Mudd's relationship to torture policy has been established.  How cowardly is it that our government selects people with these backgrounds for new positions, allows them close to a confirmation hearing at which point they withdraw, go back into the part of the government they came from, and no one says boo.  I guess the Senate Intelligence Committee really isn't all that eager nor interested in the answers to the questions they were intending to ask.