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Hullabaloo


Saturday, December 27, 2008

 
The Great And Powerful Left

by digby

I just saw a truly depressing interview with Dennis Miller. He says that he isn't going to be like the left and try to make Obama fail the we did to Bush and claims that he hopes to be a fervent Obama supporter four years from now.

The reason that's depressing is because it means that he's probably going to try to slither back over to the liberal side. It's not entirely surprising. It's the smart career move for sleazy political opportunists and there is no more sleazy a political opportunist than Dennis Miller.

And speaking of the hateful left, Atrios had an interesting Deep Thought the other day:

Remember when the obnoxious tone of anonymous blog commenters on liberal blogs was going to doom the Democratic party forever? Good times


Actually, we've moved up. As hard as it is to believe, this story about liberal bloggers destroying the CIA by tanking the good soldier John Brennan's nomination just won't go away. CNN was running it all day:

MALVEAUX: There's still a conspicuous hole in Barack Obama's national security team, the case of the vanishing CIA chief. Did bloggers force the president-elect's choice to go away?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: While the president-elect is on holiday in Hawaii, he may be taking some time to mull possible candidates for CIA chief. And he may be mindful about reaction on the blogs, given what happened to his first choice.

Our Brian Todd is here.

Brian, this opening in Obama's national security team really seems to be a hot topic in the blogosphere. Tell us why..

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It certainly has been, Suzanne, and it has got people using a term called "blogocide." I had never heard that one before. That's because there are implications that bloggers caused the demise of Obama's first nominee as CIA director. The transition team says that's nonsense.

But the political ramifications of this post are significant right now. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): In an otherwise well-received transition, one prominent hole remains. The Obama team is still looking for a CIA director.

Former top counterterrorism official John Brennan withdrew his name, citing "strong criticism in some quarters prompted by my previous service with the Central Intelligence Agency."

Some liberal bloggers had blasted Brennan's past support for rendition, the capturing and transporting of terror suspects to other countries for interrogation and detention. Some also claimed Brennan supported harsh interrogation techniques, which he strongly denied.

Two knowledgeable sources tell CNN the Obama team pressured Brennan to withdraw. Obama transition officials say it was his own decision.

Was this nomination torpedoed by blogs?

JEFF STEIN, NATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR, "CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY": I don't think the bloggers knocked him out, so much as that they realized they would have to have a fight at his confirmation hearing.

TODD: Analyst says, if Brennan didn't support harsh interrogation, his overall ties to the post-9/11 era at the CIA, with the prewar intelligence flap and all the controversial tactics in the war on terror, would have made him tough to confirm.

Human rights officials are throwing down their gauntlet.

ELISA MASSIMINO, CEO AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST: It really is incumbent on the incoming administration to choose people for those slots who don't have any baggage from the previous policies and can demonstrate a clear break from those policies.

TODD: Elisa Massimino says that doesn't mean everyone who served in the CIA then should be automatically disqualified. But analysts say it will be hard to find a really qualified spy chief who doesn't have some tie-in to that period.

A former CIA officer says, if the Obama team can find someone like that:

TYLER DRUMHELLER, FORMER CIA CHIEF OF EUROPEAN OPERATIONS: They have a unique opportunity to make changes now in the agency, the way the agency fits in to the intelligence community, get back to the real core mission of the service, to recruit agents and have -- collect intelligence through classic espionage.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Tyler Drumheller says the ideal person for that would be, not a former analyst, but someone from the operations side of the CIA, the division that actually carries out missions in the field. So, the challenge right now for Obama's team, find someone like that who is not associated with the controversies of the past eight years.

Suzanne, it's going to be a very tall order. That really narrows the field.

MALVEAUX: OK, Brian Todd, thank you so much.


First, I have never really bought the idea that bloggers actually tanked this nomination. (If we had that kind of power, do you think we'd be faced with Rick Warrens greasy visage on inauguration day?) So this insistence among the press, and presumably their sources at the agency, is a bit hard to swallow. Indeed, the report itself, which they teased with the headline "was Barack Obama's first choice to be CIA chief torpedoed by bloggers? all day, pretty much says it's bs.

I would not be surprised if the Obama team told Brennan that was the reason. (They deny it, so there's no clear answer.) But frankly, this story just doesn't make sense no matter how you look at it. If the Obama team wanted to drop Brennan, let's hope they used a more believable excuse than "bloggers" made them do it. If Brennan believed them, then it shows that he is far too gullible to be the head of the CIA. And if people in the CIA are using this as a way to make Obama look weak or foolish, they are being unpatriotic asses.

And then there's the press. They get the story wrong over and over and over again. This is a Fox story which CNN has decided is juicy enough for them to flog with a Fox style misleading headline all day long. There's just no end to it, despite the fact that Glenn Greenwald and others have been very precise in their criticisms of Brennan, never once implying that anyone who was in the CIA during the Bush administration is disqualified.

I have to say that it's more than a little bit disconcerting if anonymous members of the CIA are focusing their ire on liberal bloggers. Considering the vast powers of the agency, it has a tinge of a threat to it. As I pointed out before, liberal bloggers have long defended the CIA's analyses and never held the torture and rendition regime against the rank and file, while the right wing was defaming them at every turn, blaming them for 9/11 and the failure of Iraq.

But Brennan was at the top of the food chain and he made statements after he left the agency indicating he supported some aspects of the program. To those of us who believe that torture, Guantanamo and rendition are serious threats to national security as well as an immoral degradation of American ideals, it's important that Obama not send the wrong signals to the world by appointing someone who has made such public statements.

I suspect that's the same conclusion the Obama transition team came to as well, which is why they made it clear that he wasn't going to be chosen. Whether they rather lamely blamed bloggers or Brennan just seized upon some criticism he read while googling his name isn't particularly relevant. But the fact that members of the CIA are still obsessing over this and using Fox and the NY Daily News and now CNN to pimp this story is fairly creepy. The Obama administration should clear this up. This is a typical bureaucratic power play, but allowing the CIA to blame political bloggers for ruining their careers is nothing to fool around with.


Update: And "clearing it up" like this is the exact opposite of the right thing to do. If "pro-Brennan" members of the Obama transition team are also blaming bloggers, then the team has a problem. I don't know who tanked Brennan, but the fact that a whole bunch of people are still whining about bloggers doing it a solid month after it happened strikes me as a sign that something's amiss.

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