President Donald Trump’s pick for CIA director is about to experience a good Borking. No one doubts her professionalism. President Barack Obama’s CIA director, Leon Panetta, told CNN she's “a good officer,” “who really knows the CIA inside out.” She has the endorsement of Obama’s director of national intelligence, James Clapper, and of Mike Morell, who served as acting director of the CIA twice under Obama. Haspel’s career at the agency since the 1980s, including extensive work undercover in the field, is getting blotted out by her reported involvement in the CIA’s black-site interrogation program, which has become a warrant to say anything about her. Her critics assert she should be in jail, instead of running free at the CIA, and The New York Times editorial page wrote about her nomination under the headline, “Having a Torturer Lead the C.I.A.” Not to be outdone in demagogic attacks on anyone associated with our national security apparatus, Sen. Rand Paul calls Haspel “the head cheerleader for waterboarding,” and claims she mocked a detainee for his drooling. The only problem is that this anecdote comes from a book by a contractor who worked with the CIA, James Mitchell, and it describes a man, not a woman, making the comment. Their factual accuracy aside, the attacks on Haspel are ahistorical in that they ignore the context of the CIA program and unfair insofar as they portray her as a remorselessly cruel prime mover behind it. The interrogation program began when Al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah was captured in March 2002, in the shadow of the Sept. 11 attacks.Not until December 2001 had the rubble at Ground Zero been reduced to street level. In March, workers began searching for human remains in an area of the towers they hadn't been able to reach yet. The last column wasn't removed until the end of May. In 2002, we believed another attack was imminent and preventing it had an urgency fueled by raw memories of an event that was literally yesterday’s news. In light of this pervasive feeling, it's unsurprising that a broad political consensus supported doing what was necessary to get information from captured Al Qaeda leaders. The CIA repeatedly briefed select congressional leaders, especially the top Republicans and Democrats on the Intelligence committees. By all accounts, the program met with the assent of lawmakers. Later, when waterboarding become politically radioactive, Nancy Pelosi tried to say she didn’t know about it, even though a CIA memo said the interrogation techniques had been described to her in September 2002.The briefings go to how the interrogation program wasn't a rogue operation. It was approved at the highest level of the U.S. government and the CIA sought, and got, explicit legal approval from the Department of Justice. The enhanced interrogations of Zubaydah didn't begin until Attorney General John Ashcroft verbally approved the methods. When he initially didn't sign off on waterboarding, the CIA team waited until he did a few days later. Haspel is connected in the press to the Zubaydah interrogations, although the CIA hasn't confirmed her participation in the oversight of any particular detainee and insists much of the reporting about her work in this period is erroneous. Again, the Mitchell book suggests a man, not a woman, was in charge at the time. A New York Times report places her at the site in Thailand in question beginning in 2003, when Zubaydah was subjected to waterboarding in 2002.But let’s consider Zubaydah’s case. He was not a detainee who had nothing to tell us, as he is often portrayed by critics of the CIA. Shortly after his capture, he identified Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks and provided information about the so-called Dirty Bomb plot. In the run-up to the use of harsh interrogations techniques, according to the 2014 Senate Intelligence report on the interrogation program, “Abu Zubaydah provided information on Al-Qa’ida activities, plans, capabilities, and relationships,” in addition to information on “its leadership structure, including personalities, decision-making processes, training and tactics.” The enhanced interrogations were brutal. Zubaydah was struck, placed in stress positions, confined in small boxes and repeatedly waterboarded. During one session, he became unresponsive, until he received medical care. By any standard, this was extreme and right up to the legal line. The CIA didn't learn of any planned attack in the U.S.; it did became confident that he wasn't holding back any information about one. From his capture to his transfer to the Department of Defense on Sept. 5, 2006, there were 766 intelligence reports based on information from Zubaydah. In the cold light of day, we would have handled all of this differently. The Bush administration shouldn't have been as aggressive in its legal interpretations. We should have realized that we had more time to play with, and that the program itself would become a black mark in our reputation overseas and such a domestic flash point that we would basically lose all ability to interrogate detainees (droning became the preferred alternative).But this was a national failing, and at a time when we understandably believed we were in a race to prevent another atrocity on our shores. To punish Gina Haspel more than 15 years later for doing what her country asked her to do, and in response to what she was told were lawful orders, would be a travesty and a disgrace.But so were the confirmation hearings of Robert Bork.
Carl M. Cannon, RealClearPoliticsOn the morning of September 11, 2001, Leon Panetta was testifying to a House committee about the health of Earth’s oceans when he was handed a note informing him about the attack on the World Trade Center. The session ended abruptly as people instinctively scrambled for safety, not knowing that passengers on United Airlines flight 93 were taking brave actions that may have saved the U.S. Capitol from becoming a second Ground Zero.
Republican lawmakers have said that Rick Saccone just wasn't up to the challenge in last night's special election.
The president has embraced chaos since the beginning, but the past week's drama has left staffers dangerously depleted.
The Supreme Court declined to speed up the fight over DACA.
Russ Roberts: For Smith--those--you just said it in a very rich way. The way I summarize it: When we interact with other people, we have these little feedback loops of approval and disapproval. That's what Smith talks about. And, it's the raised eyebrow. It's that look, that you are talking about, that says, 'I want more. I want to be here.' And, when you get that look, you know you are doing something right. Jordan Peterson: Right-- Russ Roberts: It's a beautiful signal. Jordan Peterson: Exactly. I want to be here with you now. That's a good look. Russ Roberts: And, just to refund (?) that for a second--some of the most transcendent moments of my life have been the handful of times that I've had a conversation where that kind of connection is established, with a person who might be almost, sometimes a stranger. Doesn't have to be your wife--although but if it's your wife, it's lovely, and your children, or your loved ones. But when you can connect with another human being in that open, inviting--it's a delicious thing. It doesn't have to be--it's not someone just telling you a joke. It can be somebody sharing a tragedy that you empathize with that connects them to you in a profound way. Jordan Peterson: Yeah. Well, I describe that in Chapter 9. That's Rule 9. Assume that the person you are listening to knows something you don't. And it's a guide to having that kind of conversation. And I would say that's a conversation where, speaking metaphysically, I would say that's a conversation where the logos is present, right? Because both of you are developing in the conversation. This is my favorite part of the most-recent EconTalk episode, "Jordan Peterson on 12 Rules for Life," EconTalk, February 19, 2018. It led me to two thoughts. 1. I think of most of my close friendships and how I can remember a particular conversation that started them, where one of us said something and the other responded in a way that showed that he had truly gotten it, not just intellectually but, often, emotionally. Russ Roberts mentions his wife. What I recall is the first two conversations I had with the woman who became my wife and how they made me think "This is the one." 2. I also think of my own way of being in the world where the odds that any human interaction will lead to a close friendship are low, but nevertheless I get a real pleasure that actually sometimes is so intense that I can feel my head getting a little fuzzy. I shared one of them here a few years ago. In my normal month, this happens a fair amount, but it happens even more frequently when I travel. I take many of the opportunities to enjoy and appreciate someone I run into in a hotel, say, and I sometimes get a lot back. When I spoke at Webber International University last week, I had 3 events in the afternoon and evening. The first was my talk on numeracy in a statistics class. It went reasonably well, but not as well as I had hoped and not as well as it went when I was a professor and did it in class. The third was my public talk to about 90 to 100 people, 90% of whom were undergrads. It went reasonably well but, I think, was too technical for that audience and maybe that's why there were, at times, 3 or 4 side conversations that were so distracting that I stopped my talk to ask them to please stop talking. But the second one was amazingly good. My host, Professor Phil Murray, had told the students that they could come and talk to me about anything--their careers, economics, freedom (one of the students was reading my book The Joy of Freedom: An Economist's Odyssey), and I don't know whether he put any other topics on the agenda. I've done this before at other schools with reasonable results, but in this one, many of us were really connecting. I had told them early in the hour, because it was a propos of something, about my hugging Ronald Reagan in his office in Century City. After I answered one student's question "How much do you trust government?" with the answer "Under 10 percent," we had a really interesting discussion. First, a number of them thought I had said, "One hundred and ten percent," and so I clarified and then I got the impression that some were relieved that it wasn't total but most seemed to have more trust in government than I did--there's a lot of room between 10 and 110. Second, I laid out examples to back up my distrust in government. I mentioned George W. Bush who, I concluded in some recent research with Chad Seagren, may not have been lying about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq but was certainly looking for confirming evidence. I mentioned the police in Baltimore who, according to one cop, carried BB guns "in case we accidentally hit somebody or got into a shootout, so we could plant them." I gave the example of Defense Secretary and my former Hoover colleague Jim Mattis, who, when Donald Trump asked him what the justification was for sending so many troops to so many countries, answered "Sir, we're doing it to prevent a bomb from going off in Times Square." Then one student said, "Do you think that government sometimes lies to us in order to calm us down when they're afraid of telling us the scary truth." I said that I think that sometimes happens but that it's more typically the other way--trying to hype a small threat when doing so will help pass legislation that they want. A student from Haiti said that the way he looked at it you could either just tell yourself that government is keeping us safe and trust them to do it or you could be more realistic and realize that you need to take care of yourself. I told him I could hug him. Afterwards, in fact, I did. I also liked this part: Russ Roberts: And I do my part. But it doesn't get into my bones the way--I don't feel the need to rant, say, about the latest policy blunder the way I used to. And I'm increasingly humble about what I'm sure of. So, that's all good. But at the same time, I worry, as I think you do, that the American experiment or more broadly the Western experiment that celebrates and honors liberty, restrains the power of the state, recognizes the sanctity of the individual--that that's in jeopardy. Maybe serious jeopardy. And I see your book and your book and your videos as a part of an effort to fight against that serious tide. And I want your advice on how to balance tending one's own garden with the chaos that seems to be erupting outside of ourselves and saying, 'Well, I'll just stick here to my little garden. I don't need to solve all that.' I can't. And besides, it's a lot of nonsense, mostly. But, it could be that the house is on fire. I'm getting a little nervous. Peterson answers: Well, I would say that having the sorts of conversations that we're having--I mean, these are public conversations as well. I can't think of anything that's better that you can do. Like, what could you possibly do that would be better than that? You know--you are not in a position at the moment to directly influence large-scale policy decisions, let's say. And you know how difficult it is to formulate those properly to begin with. I believe--I truly believe--that if people tended to what was in front of them, if they paid attention to what they can control and they organized that properly, that that would do the trick. That would solve the policy problems. I believe that it's the right level of analysis. And so, you know, you said, while you have a family and you've raised your family and you're trying to get along with your kids, and you have this podcast, and you are trying to put forth the ideas of Adam Smith--genius-level idea of Adam Smith. And I presume that you find that engaging and meaningful. And it might be that you are working at exactly the right level of resolution. I like that. But I also like the fact that a local friend, Lawrence Samuels, got me involved against a fight against a county-wide sales tax increase in 2003. It was my first focused activism to achieve a particular goal and we won. If I were to, Thomas Jefferson-style, list a few things on my grave stone that I was proudest of in my life, I would list that battle. So I'm glad I went beyond the usual things academic and journalistic economists do, at least that one time. (See here, here, and here for my story about the whole thing.) I want to add one thing. One way to both do what you do well and still be doing other things to save civilization is to be courageous and model courage for others. I sometimes have fantasies about foiling a terrorist hijacker and that's great but, fortunately, it's unlikely to happen. But we have chances to speak up in many situations. When I was a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, I did it by asking tough questions of visiting 3- and 4-star Admirals and of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (at 43:40). As one of my students put it, "There's no problem with saying 'Choose your battles.' It's good advice. The problem is that many people who say 'Choose your battles' never choose any battles." (1 COMMENTS)
After failing to arrest and even extending the scandal over a senior aide's clearance status amid domestic abuse allegations, the president took a low-key approach on the Florida shootings.
Former CIA Director Leon Panetta warned President Donald Trump on Sunday against firing special counsel Robert Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein."If he tries to go after them and tries to somehow appear to be obstructing the process that’s involved in this investigation; he’s going to hurt himself," Panetta said on "Fox News Sunday." "But more importantly, he’s going to hurt the country."Trump has grown increasingly frustrated with Rosenstein, who is overseeing Mueller's probe on whether Russia colluded with the president's 2016 campaign. A recently released memo, which was orchestrated by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and released with Trump's blessing, claims bias against the FBI after it obtained and renewed surveillance warrants against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page relying heavily on a dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele. Rosenstein approved at least one renewal of a FISA surveillance warrant, according to the memo. FISA is an acronym for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. That 1978 law created a court that allows for law-enforcement agencies to seek warrants for surveillance.The president on Saturday wrote on Twitter that Nunes' memo "vindicates" him in the probe and that there "was no Collusion and there was no Obstruction."Panetta, who also served as secretary of defense and White House chief of staff, said Trump will hurt his presidency should he continue to tweet about Mueller's investigation."If he spends his time tweeting about the investigation or trying to tweet about undermining the FBI, very frankly he’s going to hurt his presidency," Panetta said.
After a week of intense speculation, Speaker Paul Ryan has backed President Trump's wish to release the infamous "FISA Memo" on Friday (despite Nancy Pelosi's demands that its main architect, House Intel Committee Chair Devin Nunes, be moved from his position), the president pushed back against accusations that he's politicized federal law enforcement, claiming that the FBI's leadership is truly to blame. "The top Leadership and Investigators of the FBI and the Justice Department have politicized the sacred investigative process in favor of Democrats and against Republicans - something which would have been unthinkable just a short time ago. Rank & File are great people!," the president said in the first of two tweets. In the second, he included a quote from Judicial Watch head Tom Fitton about the Democratic skullduggery that was involved in the creation and funding of the memo, which may have been used improperly by the FBI to secure a FISA warrant against Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. "'You had Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party try to hide the fact that they gave money to GPS Fusion to create a Dossier which was used by their allies in the Obama Administration to convince a Court misleadingly, by all accounts, to spy on the Trump Team.' Tom Fitton, JW" The top Leadership and Investigators of the FBI and the Justice Department have politicized the sacred investigative process in favor of Democrats and against Republicans - something which would have been unthinkable just a short time ago. Rank & File are great people! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2018 “You had Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party try to hide the fact that they gave money to GPS Fusion to create a Dossier which was used by their allies in the Obama Administration to convince a Court misleadingly, by all accounts, to spy on the Trump Team.” Tom Fitton, JW — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2018 Republican leaders have pushed back against Democrats' objections by calling for increased transparency at the law enforcement agencies. As reported on Thursday, Trump reportedly has viewed the memo and been briefed on its contents. Once he signs off, it will be up to Nunes and his peers to deliver the final OK. Meanwhile, the FBI has promised to release a rebuttal of the four-page memo that it says provides crucial details and context for the information compiled by Nunes, while also warning that the bureau has "grave concerns" about the memo's release. Meanwhile, one Republican lawmaker said the FBI is right to be concerned - because the revelations in the memo will "shake the FBI to its core"... Some of Trump's critics have warned about the national security implications of releasing the memo over the FBI's objections. Former CIA Director Leon Panetta even went so far as to say the release could even trigger "a constitutional crisis," during an interview with NBC's Chuck Todd. Nunes has said the memo contains evidence of "egregious abuses" of the FISA power by the FBI during the Obama era. On Thursday, Rep. Jeff Duncan said that "Having read “The Memo,” the FBI is right to have “grave concerns” - as it will shake the organization down to its core - showing Americans just how the agency was weaponized by the Obama officials/DNC/HRC to target political adversaries." Having read “The Memo,” the FBI is right to have “grave concerns” - as it will shake the organization down to its core - showing Americans just how the agency was weaponized by the Obama officials/DNC/HRC to target political adversaries. #ReleaseTheMemo — Rep. Jeff Duncan (@RepJeffDuncan) February 1, 2018
Leon Panetta, CNNThis week, Congress has an opportunity to speak for the majority of Americans by passing the Dream Act. It's an opportunity to affirm the fundamental and unchangeable values of who we are as a people: a nation of immigrants, writes former Secretary of State Leon Panetta.
The White House chief of staff is traditionally responsible for pushing an agenda forward — not cleaning up messes or averting disaster.
New documents shed light on the quiet influence on the commander in chief of Trump's general-turned-defense secretary.