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Brennan Tapped to Head C.I.A.

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    Jared, Dutch, and James --

    In case you missed Rachel Maddow's show tonight, I highly recommend it.

    Will Obama bring drones out of the dark?

    It's her opening segment and therefore kind of long...18 minutes, but she addresses and asks many of the same questions we have addressed in this thread...the drone covert operations...John Brennan's role...what will Obama's next term bring...the CIA versus the Defense Dept role, and more. A big focus on John Brennan.

    I thnk you will appreciate it. It stimulates new thinking.

    And Dutch...yes you have opened up a can of worms. I thought of this much more simplistically until you prompted me to delve deeper into it. My views are still evolving as I think more about the issues.
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    "schmidt" thanks very much, I looked at that clip and indeed this "forum" was ahead of it. By the way do you or "kosko" happen to know if anyone from MSNBC reads our topics? Anyway the interview of this "Bill Burton" guy gives me the creeps; His words "that keeps America safe" is ridiculous.
    He claims that we only hit "Al Quada" people; sure you can label anyone to be a terrorist. So you actually are free to kill anyone on this world and "give it a terrorist name" and wash your hands by saying " this keeps America safe" I'm getting a bit sick of this government mentality.
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    Thanks Schmidt. I really enjoyed that segment and it was quite an interesting point of view. I've always been a big fan of Ms. Maddow and she's a breath of fresh air to all the progressives out there that have been yearning for someone to speak on behalf of them on national television. Where I will take issue with Ms. Maddow is this point: the CIA has been doing covert and highly controversial operations since it's inception in 1949. I think that the only thing new is that what they are doing is more in the public sphere now than it has ever been. Does that mean that it's right? No, it does not, but it should not be over looked. Our Government has engaged in many questionable operations for many years, all the in the name of "Democracy." John Prado's book "Safe for Democracy" was a wonderful look into all of the covert wars of the CIA and I would highly recommend it. I'm not arguing that I agree with what our government and the CIA is doing, but what I am saying is that it's nearly impossible to get the worms back in the can after you let them out.

    With regards to the Military getting involved in these operations, that is an entirely different issue. Our military operates under different rules of engagement and I'm not sure how the international court (although we hardly recognize it when they come after US officials) would react. I would much rather leave the drone program under the auspices of the CIA.

    Now, I want to be clear that I AM NOT advocating these programs, especially in countries that we are not at hostilities with. I am actually rather opposed to (most) drone warfare because I believe it takes the personal and psychological side of war off the table. On the other hand, I just do not see how we, or any other nation that has them, will ever give them up when they can go to war without having to use any of their soldiers. When I peer into the future, it does give me pause. With the relative juvenile technology that is required to have a basic drone, I think that most countries with have access to them in the near future. What worries me the most is what the reaction of Western countries will be when one of us are attacked with a drone. How will we know who's it was? How will we respond?
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    "jared" yes you are thinking the same as me and "schmidt"; however you did not have anopinion about what this "government" guy said; that worries me the most. Labeling anyone with being a "terrorist" and then using these things does not sound to me very "kosher". Sorry to say, we have no war with Somalia, neither with Yemen or Pakistan. So by using these things above their soil is trespassing for sure,which could be an excuse to create an other 9/11 attack. We are indeed playing with fire; not like this government idiot says, it makes us safer; the contrary is true.
    We used "revenge" in Iraq and Afghanistan; they will use "revenge" too. Do not forget the US is not that much loved around the globe anymore, so are we going to erradicate everyone who hates our guts?. Then we have to built at least millions of these things. NO, it is urgent time to change our attitude and quit being the worlds policeman. A reputation as the "good samaritan" sounds much better and does not create terrorists.
    Drop bread instead of bombs, sound so much friendlier.
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    John Brennan will be questioned today by the Senate Intelligence Committee, but I expect some of the stuff will be discussed behind closed doors. Leading up to Brennan's confirmation hearings, President Obama yesterday directed the Justice Department to release the secret legal memo that justifies the drone warfare:

    Huffington Post: John Brennan Confirmation Hearing: Obama CIA Director Pick Faces Senate Intelligence Committee

    "John Brennan, the White House counterterrorism chief and Obama's nominee to run the nation's spy agency, helped manage the drone program. The confirmation hearing Thursday sets the stage for a public airing of some of the most controversial programs in the covert war on al-Qaida, from the deadly drone strikes to the CIA's use of interrogation techniques like waterboarding during President George W. Bush's administration."

    Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., a committee member has left open the possibility he might block Brennan's nomination. It depends on what the secret legal memo says and how forthcoming Brennan is in the hearings.

    Rachel Maddow did a nice job in her opening segment yesterday to put the Brennan's role in the secret drone program in context along with his role in the Bush torture program. She has asked some good questions that hopefully the confirmation hearing will address.

    Rachel Maddow Show, John Brennan Confirmation Hearing

    I look forward to her take on the hearings as I don't plan to be glued to the TV watching it all today.
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    For those that are interested, CSPAN will carry the Brennan confirmation hearing live starting today, Thursday at 2:30 pm ET.
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    You can't get upset over every little atrocity or you'll be banging your head against the wall all day long. Obama picked the man he thinks will best further his policies just as Al Capone picked Frank Nitti to be his enforcer. In the old country ( the USA ) these policies would have caused a stir, but now they are just everyday occurences.( drones, assassinations, wire taps etc. ) And as Ronald "Dopey Dildock " Reagan used to say...."You ain't seen nothing yet." If they can get away with what they've already pulled off there's no stopping them now. Just remember.... This is still a free country as long as you do exacttly what you're told.
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    Leftofcenter Wrote: You can't get upset over every little atrocity or you'll be banging your head against the wall all day long. Obama picked the man he thinks will best further his policies just as Al Capone picked Frank Nitti to be his enforcer. In the old country ( the USA ) these policies would have caused a stir, but now they are just everyday occurences.( drones, assassinations, wire taps etc. ) And as Ronald "Dopey Dildock " Reagan used to say...."You ain't seen nothing yet." If they can get away with what they've already pulled off there's no stopping them now. Just remember.... This is still a free country as long as you do exacttly what you're told.
    I would agree with you to a point, but I think it's far more complicated than that. I whole heartily agree with many pundits and politicians that are upset with the President's escalation of drone warfare, especially with the ambiguity of firing missiles inside of countries that we are not technically at hostilities with. On the other hand, President Obama is doing exactly what he campaigned on back in 2008. He said he was going to reduce America's footprint in the middle east, but will still go after those that are hostile to America. Whether we like it or not, we are still operating under the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists Act, which states:

    SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This joint resolution may be cited as the `Authorization for Use of Military Force'.

    SEC. 2. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.

    (a) IN GENERAL- That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.
    (b) War Powers Resolution Requirements-
    (1) SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION- Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.
    (2) APPLICABILITY OF OTHER REQUIREMENTS- Nothing in this resolution supercedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution.

    That bill was specifically written ambiguously to allow the President (Bush at the time) to have leverage in how that force is used. We can debate the role of congress and how they have basically given away their powers when it comes to the armed forces. The Constitution states that Congress has the power to declare war, but they have abdicated that responsibility since World War II. Instead of declaring War, congress has always just authorized the use of force. Can we can really blame ANY President for pushing the boundaries of warfare if the Congress has decided that they want to play a sidelined role in whatever conflict we get ourselves into? If we want to get control of these drones, then the Congress needs to step in and make a law regarding them. That's what their purpose is. Until then, any President will be able to exploit the fact that there are still operating under a ten year old use of military force authorization.
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    Jared, Excuse me. You would agree with me to a point ? What might that point be ? You say," Can we really blame any President for pushing the boundaries of warfare .....?" Well, if we can't place blame here where can we place it ? Is it alright for a President to say....Well, the Congress is not interfering so let me shit can the Constitution ? It seems to me that we certainly can place blame when a president is formulating new rules that go against the whole long history and practice of the nation. The justication for "collateral damage", for example ,may be an acceptable excuse when civilians are killed by accident. But when they are killed according to plan and there is no intention to discontinue the practice.....this is murder in any legitimate court. And it was crimes of wanton murder like these that brought about the Neuremberg trials......And what about this new policy that says we no longer have to wait for another nation to become a threat, but we can attack them if we just THINK they MAY become a threat somewhere down the line ? I'm sure it must bother you in your reflective moments that this adminstration is gearing up to have all U.S. citizens spied on with the use of thousands of drones. Perhaps you've heard of the massive center out west where ALL communications made by citizens on computers are funneled to be checked out and filed ? Remember what Tricky Dick said.....If the President does it...it's legal ? We are not heading for a new imperial reality. We are already in it. Take a long, sober look at the U.S. military presence around the globe and ask yourself if that presence is there for benevolent reasons. Be honest about it. The time to reverse all this is past. The ball games is over here, Jared. From here on in it can only get more gruesome. What we should be talking about is how we're going to adjust and live with this new reality.....And not to be paranoid but perhaps you heard that a few days ago Blackhawk helicopters flew over downtown Miami and sprayed the area with blank bullets. Scared the bejabbers out of a lot of folks, but not to worry. The authorities said is was just an excercise........Is anyone asking....an excercise for what purpose?
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    I'm quite sure that we're on the same page Left, but just have a different way of looking at things. We as a country have opened up a Pandora's box that we may not be able to close. The Supreme Court has sat idly by, besides their ruling that the Military Tribunals unconstitutional, this entire decade with regards to Presidential powers and the use of force. In fact, the Supreme Court and Congress have sat idly by for decades as the President has accumulated more and more power of the nations armed forces.

    With regards to our world policing--I could not agree with you more. It is very hard to turn back now and I agree with you that we might just have to get used to this new reality. I do not see America just having a change of heart one day and deciding that they don't see the need for our hundreds of military bases around the world anymore. Those are there to stay whether we like it or not. I'm a firm proponent of reducing our footprint around the world and letting countries decide for themselves how they like to govern without our government peering over their shoulders and threatening retaliatory measures if they don't tow the line.

    I'm not as doom and gloom as many would think about everything though. We are spied on all the time by private companies wanting to know where we shop, what we read, what we eat, etc. I don't really see much of a difference with a low level government employee doing the same thing. Am I saying I agree with it? Absolutely not. Not at all. All I'm saying is that American's have allowed their government to do this to them and now we get the government that we deserve. The dumbing down of our society will have irreparable consequences on our society. American's lack of historical knowledge and lack of interest in *ACTIVE* participation in our government is what has led us down this road. Plenty of people vote every two to four years, but that's all. People like you and I, and others on this site, are vastly outnumbered in this country. So many Americans willfully accept what their government tells them and I have a feeling it is going to get far worse before it gets any better.

    And with regards to the Blackhawk helicopter story--It wasn't just Miami, but Houston and Los Angelas as well. Now, that scares the living hell out of me and I don't really know what else to say other than that.
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    jaredsxtn Wrote: I'm quite sure that we're on the same page Left, but just have a different way of looking at things. We as a country have opened up a Pandora's box that we may not be able to close. The Supreme Court has sat idly by, besides their ruling that the Military Tribunals unconstitutional, this entire decade with regards to Presidential powers and the use of force. In fact, the Supreme Court and Congress have sat idly by for decades as the President has accumulated more and more power of the nations armed forces.

    With regards to our world policing--I could not agree with you more. It is very hard to turn back now and I agree with you that we might just have to get used to this new reality. I do not see America just having a change of heart one day and deciding that they don't see the need for our hundreds of military bases around the world anymore. Those are there to stay whether we like it or not. I'm a firm proponent of reducing our footprint around the world and letting countries decide for themselves how they like to govern without our government peering over their shoulders and threatening retaliatory measures if they don't tow the line.

    I'm not as doom and gloom as many would think about everything though. We are spied on all the time by private companies wanting to know where we shop, what we read, what we eat, etc. I don't really see much of a difference with a low level government employee doing the same thing. Am I saying I agree with it? Absolutely not. Not at all. All I'm saying is that American's have allowed their government to do this to them and now we get the government that we deserve. The dumbing down of our society will have irreparable consequences on our society. American's lack of historical knowledge and lack of interest in *ACTIVE* participation in our government is what has led us down this road. Plenty of people vote every two to four years, but that's all. People like you and I, and others on this site, are vastly outnumbered in this country. So many Americans willfully accept what their government tells them and I have a feeling it is going to get far worse before it gets any better.

    And with regards to the Blackhawk helicopter story--It wasn't just Miami, but Houston and Los Angelas as well. Now, that scares the living hell out of me and I don't really know what else to say other than that.

    Jared, I agree with what you seem to be saying. We should always hang onto to any shred of hope. In our lifetimes we witnessed what to me was a miracle....the Soviet Union decided to shut itself down. This was because it had become no longer economically sustainable. Something like that could happen here eventually. Our eye popping military budget is the run away locomotive that could bring the whole thing down. Not likely, but ...... There is a difference between capitalist companies using personal info to squeeze bucks out nof you, and government agencies tapping your phone and opening your mail in the Post Office. Because I was openly active in the Vietnam War resistance and published an anti capitalist monthly aimed at informing working people what the war was all about as far as they were concerned.....the FBI went to my union and told the leadership that I was a communist. I didn't find this out until much later. In the meantime I was black balled from the union and had to scratch and scramble to support my children. I was never given a chance to defend myself against the false charges, and I'm positive that the things I post here are added to my thickening file. So I know exactly how some of those prisioners in Guantanamo feel......Keep plugging. Support the brothers and sisters whenever possible. Thanks for your considered and civilized response.
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    'Left/Jared" you forgot what I mentioned in an other thread,that specialized helicopters are being used above Washington to search for dirty bombs; again something they just do; do these helicopters have radiation which can harm people? No one knows; things like this go on and on. I fully agree with both you guys this is a like Napoleon, a sign of a world power to eventually collapse, because all these "strings" are impossible to oversee and manage, let alone control all over the world and then we could have our Waterloo!!
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    Jared and Left --

    I appreciate your in-depth perspectives and can generally agree. I always have hope that things might be getting better, but then we also seem to be stuck in some kind of conservative driven paranoia about "bad guys" right around every corner...and sometimes those bad guys are seen as the government itself. I feel I know President Obama enough to not have to fear our own government...it's what the right wing crazies are pushing and want people to believe. However, I also appreciate that precedents are being set with little push back or oversight, and with a future Ted Cruz or the like as president, anything is possible. Policies on drones and spying on Americans needs to be nailed down in President Obama's last term or yes we may one day have to fear our own government...but not now.

    I did watch the first couple of hours of the Brennan confirmation hearing today, and I'm glad I did. John Brennan came across as highly knowledgeable and apparently willing to work with the Senate Intelligence Committee to fix things. He didn't duck the subjects except where national security was concerned. The hearings will continue behind closed doors, but I did like many of his responses so far. I feel much better about him than I did before.
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    "schmidt" I already said something about this guy when he was nominated; I do not feel like you that this hearing changed anything. He looks to me a very clever "chameleon" who can adapt to any "leader" just like "yes General". What I do not trust is the past performance under Bush, he just follows orders as a robot. I gues the "right" must like him more than Hagel. No I do not thrust the CIA regardless; they've got too much individual power and are able to talk something straight which is crooked, like "this keeps America safe" always as an excuse.