Praising by Damned Faintness: The NSAs, SoSs, and SoDs Who Didn’t Endorse Chuck Hagel

Ever since this letter, in which a bunch of former Directors of Central Intelligence–but not Poppy Bush–came out against torture investigations, I’ve been more interested in who doesn’t sign these endorsement letters than who does.

For example, did you notice that Harold Koh did not vouch for John Brennan’s respect for the rule of law the other day, even though his counterpart at DOD, Jeh Johnson, did?

The same is true of this letter–signed by a bunch of former National Security Advisors and Secretaries of Defense and State in support of Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be Defense Secretary.

Here’s who did endorse:

Hon. Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State

Hon. Samuel Berger, former National Security Advisor

Hon. Harold Brown, former Secretary of Defense

Hon. Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Advisor

Hon. William Cohen, former Secretary of Defense

Hon. Robert Gates, former Secretary of Defense

Hon. James Jones, former National Security Advisor

Hon. Melvin Laird, former Secretary of Defense

Hon. Robert McFarlane, former National Security Advisor

Hon. William Perry, former Secretary of Defense

Hon. Colin Powell, former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor

Hon. George Shultz, former Secretary of State

Hon. Brent Scowcroft, former National Security Advisor

Which leaves–in addition to currently serving Tom Donilon, Leon Panetta, and Hillary Clinton–these non-endorsers:

Stephen Hadley

Condi Rice (both NSA and State)

Anthony Lake (Lake directs UNICEF right now, which may preclude such endorsements)

Frank Carlucci (both NSA and Defense Secretary) [Update: Thanks to Justin Raimundo for correcting me–while Carlucci did not sign this letter, he did sign a LTE in support of Hagel]

John Poindexter

William Clark (NSA for Reagan)

Richard Allen (NSA for Reagan)

Henry Kissinger (both NSA and State)

Donald Rumsfeld

Dick Cheney

James Schlesinger

James Baker III

Jeebus, White House, get on your game! You want people to vote for Hagel? Release the list of all the corporatist warmongers who didn’t endorse Chuck Hagel. Hagel may not be my first choice, but there is no clearer praise than the list of non-endorsers Hagel has racked up.

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.

10 replies
  1. pdaly says:

    The ghost list. I like it.

    OT: Here is a 2008 quote from then CIA-director General Hayden, in case you don’t already have this quote framed and hanging on your wall. Not a bad mission statement for “emptywheel” as well:

    ““Secret information isn’t always the brass ring in our profession. In fact, there’s a real satisfaction in solving a problem or answering a tough question with information that someone was dumb enough to leave out in the open.”

    I found it here
    http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/07/exclusive-google-cia/

  2. Jim White says:

    I must confess that my first reaction to reading the list was “Melvin Laird is still alive?”

    After that, though, it is remarkable that moderate Republican Obama’s nomination of a moderate Republican faces stiffer opposition from wingnut Republicans than from “Democrats”.

  3. John Casper says:

    Nice work, nice to see Melvin Laird (R-WI) breaking ranks with the neocons. I sent a link to your piece to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

  4. shekissesfrogs says:

    Anthony Lake is a liberal Interventionist, and if James Baker said anything, it would be used against Hagel.

    Does Henry Kissinger really count? Should he?

    “In Haig’s presence, Kissinger referred pointedly to military men as “dumb, stupid animals to be used” as pawns for foreign policy. Kissinger often took up a post outside the doorway to Haig’s office and dressed him down in front of the secretaries for alleged acts of incompetence with which Haig was not even remotely involved. Once when the Air Force was authorized to resume bombing of North Vietnam, the planes did not fly on certain days because of bad weather. Kissinger assailed Haig. He complained bitterly that the generals had been screamin for the limits to be taken off but that now their pilots were afraid to go up in a little fog. The country needed generals who could win battles, Kissinger said, not good briefers like Haig”

    Bob Woodward & Carl Bernstein The Final Days pp. 194

    Then there’s this guy who probably doesn’t matter much to the war profiteers.

    His combat experience intrigues many current veterans, who believe it could make Hagel one of the more qualified defense secretaries America has ever had.

    “It’s a total game-changer,” says Paul Rieckhoff, chief executive officer of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, who was a first lieutenant and infantry rifle platoon leader serving in Iraq from 2003 to 2004. “It’s hard for civilians to understand what that means…”

    “I don’t want to create levels of citizenship – this isn’t ‘Starship Troopers,’ ” he says. “But there is a different level of connection that you have to this country once you’ve been asked to die for it.

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