Obama Appoints Fox To Evaluate Terror Watchlist Henhouse

fox-and-chicken-richardson-300x288Barack Obama, doing his best to make Dick Cheney’s questions about leadership look rational, has assigned John Brennan to conduct the Administration’s ballyhooed investigation into the claimed failure of the terrorist watchlist program in the Christmas Fruit Of The Loom Bomber incident.

What’s wrong with this picture? Throw a dart in any direction and you will find something.Politico gives the unsettling details:

President Barack Obama promised a “thorough review” of the government’s terrorist watch-list system after a Nigerian man reported to US government officials by his father to have radicalized and gone missing last month was allowed to board a Northwest Airlines flight to Detroit that he later tried to blow up without any additional security screening.

Yet the individual Obama has chosen to lead the review, White House counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan, served for 25 years in the CIA, helped design the current watch-list system and served as interim director of the National Counterterrorism Center, whose role is under review.

In the three years before joining the Obama administration, Brennan was president and CEO of The Analysis Corporation, an intelligence contracting firm that worked closely with the National Counterterrorism Center and other US government intelligence, law enforcement and homeland security agencies on developing terrorism watch-lists.

“Each and every day, TAC makes important contributions in the counterterrorism (CT) and national security realm by supporting national watchlisting activities as well as other CT requirements,” the company’s Web site states.

According to financial disclosures forms released by the White House, Brennan served as president and CEO of TAC from November 2005 until January 2009, when Obama named him to the White House terrorism and homeland security job. The disclosures show that Brennan reported earning a $783,000 annual salary from the Analysis Corporation in 2008. ….

One former senior intelligence official told POLITICO it is “unsavory to see Obama put Brennan in charge of a review of this matter since it is possible that NCTC or TAC could have failed in their responsibilities.”

Oy. “Unsavory”? Ya think? This is akin to a law school final exam where you try to identify all the conflicts of interest in the given situation. But there is not enough time to hit them all. Do not fret, the crack White House ethics team has looked at Brennan and determined there are no conflicts at all. Which is pretty strong evidence that the White House ethical team might ought to be checked out for its own conflicts, if not sanity.

By virtue of his experience, John brings a unique mixture of know-how and understanding to this assignment,” said Denis McDonough, National Security Council chief of staff. “The applicable ethics rules recognize that when the public interest outweighs other issues, an official should be authorized to proceed with an assignment, particularly in the national security arena.

Well, that is reassuring. Or, you know, not so much. I can’t wait for the New Year’s Eve 4 pm news dump out of the White House. My prediction is Hank Paulson will be named Obama’s point man to lead the investigation of the racketeering, fraud and conspiracy at Goldman Sachs McClatchy has been meticulously detailing.

You have to hand it to the Obama White House, they have the last administration beat hands down. Even Bush and Cheney didn’t think to have Paul Wolfowitz lead an investigation into their Iraq war and occupation strategy.

(graphic courtesy of NC Jeff at SodaHead)

Update: this post originally attributed this Politico article to Josh Gerstein. Carol Lee and Laura Rozen were the lead reporters on the piece.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

100 replies
  1. Suzanne says:

    judas forking priest

    my guess is mr andrea mitchell will be appointed to head that investigation

    and then he will appoint dick cheney to investigate any possible war crimes committed by the previous administration

  2. Rayne says:

    Why this White House doesn’t just fly the white flag and admit they’ve been overrun by left-behinds, I don’t know.

    Pick a recent leak of documents by the military — it’ll be left-behinds at work. Pick some odd issues emerging from DOJ and you’ll find more left-behinds.

    They’ve basically rolled over and caved and they haven’t the decency to tell us to our faces they’ve been had.

  3. bobschacht says:

    Brennan served as president and CEO of TAC from November 2005 until January 2009, when Obama named him to the White House terrorism and homeland security job. The disclosures show that Brennan reported earning a $783,000 annual salary from the Analysis Corporation in 2008. ….

    How nice. Another robber baron. They resign their robber baron position every now and then for a term at the levers of government control so that they can game the system when they leave government “service.”

    Government by robber barons, of robber barons, and for robber barons. We the people? Not so much.

    Bob in AZ

    • montanamaven says:

      Wow! THe White House ethics guy gave Brennan an ethics waiver. Wish I would have known about such a deal. Imagine how much easier it would have been to pass college tests. Can you get an ethics waiver for your income tax reports?

    • freepatriot says:

      ethics waiver ???

      well, if ya need an ethics waiver …

      everybody should understand what that means

      there ain’t no ambiguity there

      when it comes to ethics, the dude needs a waiver

      ain’t no way to avoid that conclusion

    • Phoenix Woman says:

      Here’s his blog post explaining the decision:

      We are posting our written authorization and waiver under the ethics rules to John Brennan to participate in the reviews of the attempted bombing of Northwest flight 253. John is the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. By virtue of his long experience in government and the private sector, John brings a unique mixture of know-how and understanding to this assignment.

      The applicable ethics rules recognize that under the circumstances set forth in the attached memo, counsel should review the matter and authorize the official to proceed with the assignment where the public interest so requires.  That is particularly true where, as here, national security concerns are implicated. We have done that analysis and have determined that, as set out in the authorization and waiver, it is in the public interest for John to proceed.

      Of course, this is the sort of thing that would made Dick Cheney quite happy, so don’t expect to see any criticism of this move make it to network TV or any other place that non-news-junkies might see it.

  4. ThingsComeUndone says:

    Whitewash I wonder who will he pin this on a computer glitch or will he blame the CIA for not updating their lists?
    Didn’t a few Lefties have problems flying because of this list? Funny how they made the list and this guy got through. I bet there will be no mention of that.

  5. ThingsComeUndone says:

    “I’m on the Transportation Security Administration’s watch list. The watch list is being used for political purposes … It is very intimidating to be taken aside and be given a special screening by the state when I travel. When I went up to Vermont to copy-edit this book … I opened my case, and there was a letter from the Transport Security Administration in my suitcase. We are living in a surveillance society now. It’s time to sound the alarm.”


    Naomi Wolf made the list.

    • BillWalker says:

      Rahm seems to want to take away the 2nd Amendment rights of Naomi Wolf and anybody else put on the Watch List for real, arbitrary, accidental, or political reasons:

      The IDF volunteer wants to have final say of whose Constitutional rights are protected, judicial process be damned.

      Why do I get the feeling Rahm wouldn’t object to Martial Law being declared if he made 10 bucks and was given a high level position in the police state?

      • ThingsComeUndone says:

        Holy Shit Naomi got on the No fly list for no other reason than she is a Lefty. Rahm thinks if you are on the list you can’t own a gun. Maybe Jane should give the NRA a call I like them more than Grover.

        • BillWalker says:

          To take it one step further, I suspect Joe Lieberman (Chair of Senate Homeland Security committee), Rahm, and “Israel’s Lawyer” Dennis Ross (in charge of M.E. policy for the White House based NSC, would all agree that a vibrant, healthy, representative American democracy is bad for expansionist Israeli policies.

          Michael Chertoff is widely believed to have written the Patriot Act before 9/11. Chertoff’s mother helped create the Mossad.

          If the Israel Lobby can write legislation that almost everybody in Congress rubber stamps no matter how repulsive, who’s to say that AIPAC would stop their omnipotent lobbying efforts if supporting Israeli war crimes and expansion became untenable because of an irate American public?

          Who’s to say that Congress could resist?

          An Israeli company was in charge of security at that airport in Amsterdam last week. Is it possible that this kid was allowed on the plane because it would be “good for Israel”?

          Lord knows the C.I.A. was fully aware of him. Lord knows Brennan would be a good choice to cover up any incriminating evidence.

          • Kassandra says:

            Homeland Security (HLS) & Public Safety in Israel
            This relates to the Fruit of the Loom bomber.
            After 911, Israel saw a “growth opportunity” and began the “homeland security industry” They have trade fairs for governments all over the world.

            The link is to a rather slick PR online brochure. For more, read The Shock Doctrine – Klein. Wonder if SHE’S on the list?

            • ThingsComeUndone says:

              Wonder if SHE’S on the list?

              I wonder what a commenter at the Lake has to do to get on the list write a book! Its not fair I try to be as Left as the Naomi’s!

          • ThingsComeUndone says:

            Your distracting from the real issue any Lefty without trial can be put on the No Fly List and that means that Rahm will come to our homes looking for our guns legal or illegal. If Rahm claims we might have illegal guns he can search all our homes.
            There is no due process to get on the No Fly List and no due process that I know of to get off the list. Suppose the terror attack worked we all could in a new climate of Fear have our homes searched.
            Israel Lobby is bad but secondary.

    • robspierre says:

      I’m on the same list. Being searched multiple times by strangers is indeed intimidating. It is also unpleasant for those of us Scandihoovian types that aren’t used to being touched (as a matter of fact, the guys that frisked/groped me WOULD have found the Nigerian underwear bomb had they been on the job in Amsterdam). Having your person violated by strangers is, moreover, maddening. It provokes anger, tension, and fear in the witnesses to the process–which is, of the course, the real point of the exercise.

      I have a very, very common name (the second or third most common combination of first and last names for males, depending on the year). The silliness of this is such that a couple dozen of my namesakes were featured on 60 Minutes. The false-positive effect clearly swamps any possibility of ever successfully barring my presumably terroristical namesake from boarding an airplane, and the extra workload required to make us listees jump through the extra “security” hoops clearly makes it impossible for Homeland Security to find the time to act when a Nigerian father warns them that his son might be a mad bomber. So what is this watch list really for?

      The answer is that it is political/public relations ploy. It keeps tension high and makes way for ever more repressive “security” measures. If it provides cover for tracking and harassing political opponents and critics, so much the better. But the real reason is to bully the citizenry and keep it from focusing on what is happening in Washington and on Wall Street.

      Sensible safety measures are obviously necessary. First and foremost, we had to stop people using planes as missiles. Reinforcing and locking the flight-deck door–as aviation safety experts recommended for decades prior to 9/11–solved that problem. Now we just need to keep weapons, not people, off of airplanes. And we need to do a reasonable, not a perfect, job.

      An unarmed jihadist on an airplane is not a problem. If he behaves himself, no one will know he’s there. If he doesn’t, a dozen or so people will grab him and tie him up for the duration of the flight.

      So airport screening just has to make it hard to board with any weapon that makes it easy to overpower a crowd of airline passengers. We need to keep guns and big knives off airplanes, because they effectively equalize the numbers. But fingernail scissors? not so much. We need to keep bombs off, to the extent that we can. But, in practice, it is good enough if we can keep a bomb from going off. In the Nigerian case, as in the case of the Shoe Bomber, security screening made it hard to get a decent detonator on board, so neither bomber was able to detonate his explosives before passengers overpowered him. That, to my mind, is a security success, not a “systemic failure”.

      Hysterical calls for more intrusive “security” measures, such as banning carry-on items, are merely an attempt to hide this success and preserve the state of supposed emergency. We are being told that coats and hand-luggage have to be baqnnned, even though such items are what people would use to fight someone armed with a box cutter. But the business travellers’ carry-on electronics are apparently going to be exempt, even though they are far better candidates for concealing a bomb (as the Lockerbie bomb showed, a thin sheet of plastic explosive can be molded to fit inside the case of an electronic device and the required battery and detonator will raise no suspicion).

      Admittedly, sensible restrictions will not guarantee that a bombing, in particular, will never happen. But so what? Bombings have been happening from time to time for almost as long as there has been commercial flight. Why is the currently fashionable motive–Muslim extremism–more awful than the insurance fraud that used to drive the crime? Compared to other causes of loss of life in commercial aviation, bombings are rare, and commercial aviation is very safe. Safer, in fact, than driving a car that is chock full of safety features, none of which guarantees safety.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Imagine how many false positives facial analysis software will generate – and how much more money it will earn – when pictures are taken of passengers in mid-grope.

        Rather than reveal their fear of being detected, those images will reveal a lot of other emotions, none of them kindly, but few of them related to any motive, means, opportunity or interest in doing harm (except to the ego or stature of the groper).

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The reverse is also true, in that small batteries and thin sheets of electronics can mimic computer operations sufficiently so as to pass a glancing inspection, while leaving room for a kilo of nasty stuff. Which means those trace element detectors and X-ray machines would have to be pretty good.

        I agree that many of the steps TSA mandates simply populates the database and instills fear and compliance among the already compliant. It won’t have much affect on the dedicated. Ditto in the UK where DNA collection and background checks are becoming a mania out of all proportion to the risks to be avoided.

        Banning liquids may be one good idea, what with multiple stage devices. That assumes airport handling of the supplies put on planes is also of a consistent high order. Is that true? Neither Bush nor Obama seems to devote many resources to obvious safety measures such as cargo inspections. Those affect big bidness. Airlines are hardly the only way to inflict public damage and political embarassment on the many in order violently to protest the plight of the few.

  6. TarheelDem says:

    Obviously the review is not to overhaul a system beset by the information overload of an overwhelming number of false positives but to find out who dropped the ball. A “systemic failure” is going to be reviewed from the point of view of “personal accountability”. It’s not that the procedures were wrong, but that some person or department did not follow the procedures in a timely manner. At least it’s obvious (and must bring some comfort to the intelligence community that is “so unsure” of Barack Obama).

    A lower level civil service employee with a narrowly defined task could have done as much and not been noticed.

  7. ThingsComeUndone says:

    Maybe if Darth was not so busy spying on Lefties and putting them on no fly lists then maybe all that extra manpower could have kept tabs on that would be bomber.
    Lets see if anyone in the Media has the Stones to ask Darth that question.

  8. BayStateLibrul says:


    Establish a formal “Office of Connecting the Dots Bureau”
    Staff it with employees of the Onion in Madison, Wisconsin.
    Fund it with a tax on anonymous sources.
    Advertise it when the OPR Report (it’s late/late)is issued.

  9. eCAHNomics says:

    Now Obama is starting to disappoint me. While the substance of his policies is the same as W’s, at least I thought O would get the optics better. Now, not so much.

  10. aview999 says:

    It doesn’t surprise me what comes out of Obama and his choices anymore . No WTF moments here. (except that i voted for him)

  11. eCAHNomics says:

    Damn. The news is just too depressing.

    On a lighter note, anyone got an update on Limpball’s condition?

        • ThingsComeUndone says:

          We are not going to get any real reports on Rush he probably has a private room and Doctors all paid extra to keep quiet unless the Lake knows a nurse or Doctor at that hospital we got nothing definite.
          Does the Lake have anyone in place? please please please!

    • ThingsComeUndone says:

      Read through one Koz thread comments on Rush one mention heart condition one mention heart attack but no links given his size its likely however heart condition could just be a cover story for something worse or more embarrassing.
      Heck botched liposuction is my guess.

  12. ThingsComeUndone says:

    Has Naomi gotten off the No Fly list yet? Is Rahm working to take away gun rights for Lefties? Glen Beck is going to have a Cognitive Dissonance to end all Cognitive Dissonances!

  13. oldgold says:

    The other thing about this:

    One senior former intelligence official told POLITICO it is “unsavory to see Obama put Brennan in charge of a review of this matter since it is possible that NCTC or TAC could have failed in their responsibilities.”

    Who is this senior former intelligence official ? Do
    they have a conflict that would cause them to want to denigrate the review?

      • wigwam says:

        There is no doubt that Brennan is the man most responsible for the system that failed. But it’s hard to imagine anyone calling Obama’s decision to put him in charge of reviewing its failure “unsavory.” President Obama is the bravest, warmest, kinds, most intelligent and wonderful person ever born on this planet.

      • oldgold says:

        No, I am not kidding. I would like to know who this person is and what their interest is in the matter. What is unreasonable about that?

        • bmaz says:

          Nothing, but to intimate that there are not HUGE conflicts of interest here on Brennan’s part is somewhat far beyond ludicrous and would border on the seriously delusional from a legal perspective.

          • oldgold says:

            Yes, from a “legal perspective” it would be. But, this isn’t a formal legal proceeding. It is a cursory review.

            • bmaz says:

              I think that government should maintain the same standard of avoiding the appearance of impropriety. It just strikes me that this “review” looks so questionable and tainted from the outset, there is no legitimate purpose in it. No matter what the result, it can never be trusted because it will lead a rational neutral observer to wonder “why was it done in this manner – what was really up?” There are a hundred people in or about Washington qualified to do this review that are not tainted like Brennan; why does Obama insist on him? It just reeks. And he has a proven track record of being a go to guy to clean up politically uncomfortable situations and hiding the truth from his involvement in the Bush torture program. It just reeks.

              • oldgold says:

                I think your concerns are legitimate. You are probably correct. But, I don’t see it in as dismal a light as you do.

                Plus, as indicated above, I am always skeptical of anonymous quotes. And, since you mentioned legal proceedings, this quote was hearsay.

                Also, although my skepticism was worthy of a challenge, I wonder why the wild and troubling speculation concerning Israeli involvement goes unquestioned.

    • bobschacht says:

      …Who is this senior former intelligence official ? Do they have a conflict that would cause them to want to denigrate the review?

      Yeah. Who indeed? How dare s/he question John Brennan? Who the heck does s/he think s/he is, anyway??? After all, we’re looking forward, not back, aren’t we? [/s]

      Bob in AZ

  14. shootthatarrow says:

    …sure the tighty whiteys bomber’s Dad sent out warnings…the State Department had a trackable visa and passport travel trail to follow up on…a mysterious “handler” helped undie bomber get on board which surely was not normal for the airports security practices…odd that being so…but the dots were too hard to connect via computer cross checking or data profile alerts…security is hard work…kriminee sakes…blah blah blah
    …no one flunked,failed or will get a pink slip. Remember — this guy did not get on board with a box cutter,a shoe bomb or a bottle of water…graded on a curve this was a success…right?

  15. Watt4Bob says:

    I read two stories on saturday, 12/26 that the so-called terrorist was boarded in Amsterdam in spite of having no passport.

    He was escorted to the boarding gate by a man described as a nicely dressed Indian around 50 years old. This man was said to have told the folks at the gate that “This man needs to get on theis flight and he has no passport.”

    The source for this story provided a boarding pass as proof that he and his wife were on the flight.

    I have found various descriptions of security at Schiphol airport online, and most say that they are professional and secure, Matt Yglesias’ blog contains many posts describing peoples experience at Schiphol, and they are almost unanimous, the place is very secure.

    Of course the MSM is pushing a story that highlights he had a valid passport, but that’s to be expected isn’t it?

    I mean how many low level security employees are going to speak-up and contradict a false story if it just happens to absolve them of any responsibility.

    This incident smells highly of fish.

  16. alank says:

    The thing about contractors, the main benefit realized, are the efficiencies in the flow of taxpayer/fed fiat monies to the private sector.

  17. BillWalker says:

    “Israel Lobby is bad but secondary.”

    I think the two issues are very much intertwined.

    Lieberman actively and viciously campaigned against Obama, but he got to keep his Homeland Security Chairmanship?

    Rahm the IDF volunteer wants to decide for himself who gets to keep their 2nd Ammendment rights?

    Chertoff, son of Mossad, writes and implements the Patriot Act?

    Even if I’m way off base, thanks for recognizing the danger of Machiavellian ballerinas wanting to limit the ability of political opponents to defend themselves against a possible future corporatist government hellbent on retaining and consolidating power with a wildly unpopular and inhumane agenda.

    In the distant future, of course.

  18. BillWalker says:

    Must see TV:

    Abe Foxman of the ADL got the series stopped when he met with Roger Ailes and said “you’re killing us”.

  19. JoeBuck says:

    No watch list system can work. The bad guys can just recruit someone with a clean record and a harmless name (say, Richard Reid) with a passport from an EU country, and next time they can make the guy shave and wear a suit. The good news, though, is that few people want to be terrorists, so they really have to scrape the bottom of the barrel to get these guys. Looks like Mohammed Atta was the last competent person they recruited.

    Changing the system so that the underwear bomber couldn’t fly to the US would probably result in a system where no person ever heard to mouth off about the horrible things the US is doing in the world can fly to the US. The result would be that technology companies, which rely heavily on people not born here, would have to move their operations out of the US, taking millions of jobs with them.

    The right response here isn’t improving the watch list. Maybe we could use dogs to sniff out explosives before they can get on planes, thereby catching people whether they are on a list or not.

  20. BillWalker says:

    Remember how the Pentagon lied about who heroically shot the Ft. Hood terrorist?


    Watch Texas Governor Rick Perry report that there were actually three shooters, before the Pentagon came out with their “lone gunman” explanation:


    Then two weeks ago the U.S. supports airstrikes in Yemen that supposedly targeted the cleric of the lone nut Ft. Hood shooter:

    I’m not jumping to conclusions, just more fishiness to point out. The news networks haven’t stopped creaming themselves since Christmas.

  21. Mary says:

    I’m kind of wondering if wigwam has a point (@36 – not so much 48 *g*) Rayne, Brennan wasn’t a left behind, Obama embraced him as an advisor before the elections – at least during the primaries. He gave Obama that tingly, insider to torture and US power crimes cache. Maybe he hasn’t so much needed “the goods” on Obama as he’s been able to take an inexperienced, empty suit, and pretty much form him.

    This is starting to be a meme with Obama. From Goldman Sachs guys financial bailout to Wellpoint exes writing healthcare legislation to the TAC CEO (who also has a vested interest in covering for The Company) investigate the TAC/Company failures.

    • BillWalker says:

      Geithner’s tax problems were also small beans compared to his unique ability to protect Americans from economic malfeasance and calamity.

      Obama wasn’t/isn’t some empty suit getting steamrolled. There is a power structure in this country forces people like Brennan and Geithner upon any president.

      If Obama had shown any sign that he was a loose cannon, the establishment’s press would have torn Obama apart before the primary.

      • PJEvans says:

        That’s not a trail; it’s all rumor and innuendo. (Also, everyone I know who’s flown in and out of Europe, Schiphol included, in the last 20 years says their airport security is much better than ours. And not nearly as humiliating to passengers. So I seriously doubt that no-passport story.)

  22. solerso says:

    wow. what a great picture of a Fox. Lets not be hard on the fox guys, if we didnt have all the chickens locked up in one place the fox wouild stay out of the hen house.(THIS IS NOT A POLITICAL METAPHOR. I like foxes. there are a couple of them in the little patch of scrub woods behind my house)

  23. susants says:

    Why can’t we have that knockout (drop-dead gorgeous) fox instead? Equating Brennan to it is an insult a noble vermin killer.

  24. fatster says:

    This is so naive, bmaz, that your eyes will probably glaze over while reading it. And it’s so loosely related to the subject of your excellent post, that you’ll probably throw a brick at me. But, if we the taxpayers now own 80% of AIG, do we have any ownership rights? As in, demanding a complete accounting (professional audit) of the place from a few years back to today? Or some other equally far-fetched notion?

    We have lost so much control over so much, that I suspect I’m in a pre-panic mode about this absurd (but certainly not from their point-of-view) appointment of Brennan. We increasingly have no say, no more, no how. And the merger of corporatism and government continues apace.

  25. fatster says:


    “The United Nations is moving as many as 60 foreign employees, or about one-quarter of its international staff, out of Pakistan for at least six months out of safety concerns, a United Nations official said Thursday.”


  26. iremember54 says:

    It all boils down to the fact that we allow a Government that fucked up to investigate itself, with the people in it, in hopes it will find it did something wrong.

    There is no more proof of the insanity of the American people, than for them to allow our Government to disiplin it’s self.

    No memeber of Congress has commited suicide because they voted for Glass Sieagall, the Wars, the Bailouts, or the distruction of our Country.

  27. earlofhuntingdon says:

    What’s the easiest way to let the guy most associated with national security cover his ass instead of find systemic or idiosyncratic error(s) in our “protective shield”? Put him in charge of the investigation.

    In Europe, this is sometimes done in order to hoist a bureaucrat on his own petard. But there, unlike here, politicians are still forced to resign and permanent bureaucrats are still fired or forced to resign because they’ve bolloxed things up or because they are taking one for the boss. Here, politicos circle the tradmed wagons and never, ever stop shooting until their critics have parted the scene. (See, Dick Cheney.) They also never fix the problems their rule discloses.

    Is this the first time in is life that Mr. Obama has underperformed by being cautious, safe and unleaderly?

  28. Sara says:

    I have a little problem with the profile that seems to be emerging for John Brennan here. I think it very much understates his origins and career path in CIA. Apparently he was always on the Analysis side of the agency, came up through the various Middle East desks, probably promoted because he is fluent in Arabic, which in the 70’s and 80’s was a fairly rare skill at Langley, particularly on the Analysis side. He apparently moved to senior management status about the same time George Tenet arrived at the agency as Deputy Director, lined up with Tenet during the Clinton Administration, and moved up when Tenet was promoted to director. He seems to have had the Saudi account for a number of years, primary top level management contact with the Saudi’s during most of the Clinton-Tenet years.

    When Porter Goss replaced Tenet, Brennan pretty much had to retire, as unlike the Gosslings — the outside operatives Goss brought into management, Brennan was far too identified with Tenet, and by extension with the Clinton Crowd. In essence it was a forced retirement, as few agency types who rise essentially by merit to management go back to the trenches when the political leadership changes. I don’t get the impression that Brennan’s move to the private contractor side was an intended career move, Richard Clark used Brennan as a named source in his book, “Your Government Failed You: Breaking the Cycle of National Security Disasters,” as a critic of outsourcing, at least to the extent it was practiced in the Bush/Cheney Administration, even though at the time Brennan was describing himself in the private sector as a “Butts in Seats” administrator — Essentially finding persons minimally qualified to occupy a seat in a contractor’s set-up, either in an outside office, or at CIA and other agencies. I am not at all certain this makes Brennan a great exponent of privatization of Intelligence…and would suggest that not putting him in proper context leads to a quite inaccurate and incomplete profile.

    At the same time, Brennan is no “profile in Courage” type, putting everything on the line, for instance, around the torture program contracting for instance. But those types very rarely get promoted at CIA, let alone find themselves in the Senior Service and Management. And Barack Obama does not hire those sorts — we know he excluded all the political drama queens from his campaign staff — and he is hardly hiring them for his administration.

    • bmaz says:

      and he is hardly hiring them for his administration.

      That is exactly what he has done; in fact, he hired the biggest political drama queen imaginable as his chief of staff – Rahm Emanuel. Eric Holder is another. Obama has an absolute boatload of these.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Bush hired lobbyists, like Andy Card. Obama hires blue dog drama queens. Says a lot about what makes up his comfort zone.

        • Sara says:

          “Obama hires blue dog drama queens. Says a lot about what makes up his comfort zone.”

          I don’t consider Rahm a drama queen at all. He is a hard driver who has a very foul mouth. Hired not to enhance his own power, reputation or position, not to make policy, but simply to kick ass when necessary. He is more like a Marine Basic Training Drill Sergeant, or my nun-teacher, Sister Mary Alice, in the 8th Grade, who made us all walk on sidewalk cracks, and the green tiles in a brown and green checkerboard hallway floor, (she liked straight lines, and very even strides,) which you did because otherwise she would turn bloood red and explode. In Political Campaign linguistics, a Drama Queen is more like Mark Penn in the Clinton Campaign — “The Star” — The super expensive Celebrity Campaign Manager, and it was “all about him.” James Carville would fill the “Drama Queen” bill too.

          I don’t really fault Rahm, largely because I don’t see him as an independent actor in the Obama Administration. He is a very different and somewhat colorful character, but I doubt if he has much latitude to exercise much policy judgment that isn’t agreed Obama positions or strategy. He was hired largely because he knows how to manhandle Congress and any staffers with an independent instinct, and if he fails at that, he will be gone.

          • bmaz says:

            In my eye, he has been a failure and so has Obama. They are nothing but common retail Chicago politicians more concerned about the climb to, and accumulation of, power and are complete frauds from the image they try to project. Let me put this in terms Rahm could understand, I think he is a fucking asshole that is not good for the country and its long term interests and we would all be far better off with him long gone.

              • bmaz says:

                I am a little touchy these days. I agree with Sara very much in that Rahm is not an independent actor; this is Obama’s policy porfolio and he is in charge; doesn’t mean it does not have Rahm’s greasy fingerprints all over it though.

                • earlofhuntingdon says:

                  I think of Obama as the patron having his portrait done in political oils. Obama is paying for it and directing its size, its background, its broad outlines and some of its finer elements. Rahm is choosing colors, mixing them on the palette and canvas, applying the brush strokes himself.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            I agree that Rahma & Bahma are tied at the hip. Whether that’s voluntary or a function of Illinois or Democratic machine politics is beyond me.

            Rahm and Obama are mutually dependent, but each retains considerable independence. Rahm is not simply the kind Obama’s tough assistant principal, who has to administer swats and take names. As COS, Rahm controls the president’s agenda, determines his office and travel schedule, and a myriad of other things, including the resources dedicated to making sure Senate nominees are approved by the Senate. He’s the last person most staff, aides and even Cabinet level appointees wrestle with. He’s not a gofer. He thinks he controls Congress, he’s not subject to it.

      • freepatriot says:

        he hired the biggest political drama queen imaginable

        kkkarl rove expanded my imagination on this topic in the past few years

        compared to most repuglitards, rham is an amateur

        he might be the biggest Democratic Drama queen

        Personally, I think rham finishes second in the drama queen competition in his own family, and barely better than fourth in the Illinois State Democratic drama queen competition (daley, burris, the blagoff, et al), but that’s jes my opinion …

    • bobschacht says:

      Thanks for helping us put Brennan in context.
      Nevertheless, its hard to imagine Brennan as an honest broker in these matters. There really is a little too much like appointing the fox to investigate the hen house.

      There really is too much a pattern of this in the Obama administration. Yes, no one knows more about the crime than the perpetrator, but that doesn’t mean it is good practice to appoint the perpetrator to head the investigation.

      Shouldn’t Congress have the power to approve of these kind of appointments where there’s a possible conflict of interest?

      Bob in AZ

  29. ocean1 says:

    pathetic regime…it may better for all of us to lame duck Obama. He’s a complete sell-out and does not have a principled bone in his body (not much of a backbone either).

    • freepatriot says:

      it may better for all of us to lame duck Obama.

      here’s a better plan

      let’s rise in anger at the disgusting behavior of the repuglitarded party

      a new year is dawning, and it don’t look good for repuglitards

      I’m in favor of working to make it worse for repuglitards

      by their recent comments, the loyalty of some repuglitarded members of congress is in question at the moment

      call them up and ask who’s side they’re on

      the loyalty of the repuglitarded is about to become an issue

      let’s staart a parade, so Obama can jump in front of it

      (beginning to see how this politics thingy works yet)

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