Friday, April 29, 2011

A few random thoughts, #2

Updated So PHC* has "reshuffled" his national security team: Defense Secretary Robert Gates is retiring this summer. He's to be replaced by Leon Panetta, now head of the CIA. Panetta is to be replaced by Gen. David Petraeus, now commander of US forces in Afghanistan. Petraeus will be replaced by his deputy Lt. Gen. John Allen, formerly a commander in Iraq. And there's a new ambassador to Afghanistan: Ryan Crocker, whose last post was as ambassador to Iraq.

In short, this is no change at all. In terms of policy or impact, it's utterly meaningless. The same faces with the same attitudes, just in different chairs. It's just musical chairs where you don't take one away. Why this is supposed to make any difference is a mystery to me - because the fact is, shuffling the deck doesn't mean much if the deck is still stacked at the end. Nor does it mean anything if you're still playing with marked cards.

Footnote: I wonder if any of the inevitable encomiums that will greet Gates' retirement will mention that he was deputy director of the CIA during the Iran-contra scandal, during which the CIA actively and illegally aided the Nicaraguan contras while at the same time lying to Congress about arms dealings with Iran.

Updated with Another Footnote: Via Glenn Greenwald, I learn this: In 2006, Shrub nominated Gen. Michael Hayden to be the new director of the CIA.
Democratic Chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein [said]: "You can't have the military control most of the major aspects of intelligence. The CIA is a civilian agency and is meant to be a civilian agency."
Nancy Pelosi added that "I don't see how you have a four-star general heading up the CIA." Then-Sen. Joe Biden said he was worried that a CIA lead by a general would "just be gobbled up by the Defense Department."

Think there's any chance of them raising such objections now?

*PHC = President Hopey-Changey

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