Fear exacts a terrible toll on our democracy. Five years ago, America went to war in Iraq over the false fear that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.But then there's this:
Even though we now know that there were intelligence officials who questioned the assertion, few leaders were willing to challenge this argument for war because they knew it might undermine public support for the president's decision to invade Iraq.
More recently, President Bush vetoed a law that would require the CIA and all the intelligence services to abide by the same rules on torture as contained in the U.S. Army Field Manual.
The president says the rules are too
But all forms of torture have long been prohibited by American law and international treaties respected by Republican and Democratic presidents alike.
Our forefathers prohibited "cruel and unusual punishment" because that was how tyrants and despots ruled in the 1700s. They wanted an America that was better than that. Torture is illegal, immoral, dangerous and counterproductive. And yet, the president is using fear to trump the law.
The same rationale is used to justify eavesdropping on U.S. citizens without a warrant. The president has made clear that the failure of the Congress to pass this authority could jeopardize our security. Instead of trying to negotiate a compromise with Congress that would meet both our intelligence and privacy concerns, it is easier to threaten with fear.
Luckily the wiretapping is not a purview of the CIA and torture is, so he's on the right side of what I consider to be the most important issue pertaining to his job.
I'll have to do some research on the rest of Panetta's ideas on intelligence. He's an extremely annoying bipartisan fetishist, but I'm not sure how that would affect him in this position. I would guess that the most important constituency here is the CIA itself, and I have no idea what they think of him.