Friday, February 8, 2013

Senate Hearings Produce Mixed Results

We watched John Brennan’s confirmation hearings and came away from the experience with mixed feelings.
On the one hand, it is a testament to our democracy that we should publically debate the taking of one American life without due process.  Even if it is the life of a sworn terrorist who has renounced his citizenship and joined with others to take American lives. While we personally trust this president to exhaust every other option before authorizing the use of drones; we are uncomfortable with allowing one individual to serve as prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner. The debate on this topic is healthy because it sets a precedent for future administrations.
On the other hand it was laughable watching Democrat members of the Senate Intelligence Committee as they tried to use Brennan’s testimony to rekindle their worn out attacks on the Bush administration.  They brought up “enhanced interrogation techniques” and tried to get Brennan to admit they were forms of torture.  The waved redacted documents and tried to get Brennan to admit that they were proof that Bush and Cheney took us to war based on a lie; all weak attempts to paint Bush and Cheney as war criminals and propagators of an unjust war.  As if any one of them had the balls to prosecute Bush or Cheney on these charges. 
The country already knows what went down in the aftermath of 9/11.  These same Democrats had the opportunity to prosecute various members of the Bush administration for violations of both domestic and international law, but they shrank from their responsibilities.  Now they look like petulant children, stomping their foot in anger…all an act for political theater.
Things weren’t going much better down the hall.  This time it was Republicans engaging in boorish behavior for the benefit of the cameras.  John McCain and his mini-me Lindsay Graham grilled outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Joint chiefs Chairman General Mark Dempsey on the events surrounding the attacks on the US Consulate in Benghazi.  Unsatisfied by the pound of flesh they carved from Secretary of state Hillary Clinton two weeks earlier, they honed in on Panetta and Ramsey with little affect. 
The answers are the same.  The consulate was lightly protected by members of the Libyan armed services as is the custom with most consulates.  The attack was essentially over before the closest US military forces could respond.  Previous requests from the consulate for additional security forces had gone unanswered and the state department officials who ignored those request were relieved of their duties.  There is really nothing new to discuss.  Yet McCain and Graham could not resist the opportunity to savage the Obama administration.
We applaud Senator Feinstein and the members of the Senate intelligence Committee for their thoughtful and appropriate investigation into the use of drones and the targeting of American citizens.
All the rest was just another example of what is wrong with Washington.          

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