Tommy Vietor and I Exchange On the Record Non-Dickish Comments

Back in the days, just weeks ago, when Tommy Vietor was the National Security Council Spokesperson, I tended to attribute the dickish comments made by Senior Administration Officials in articles in which he was also quoted to him.

When he left, we had this exchange on Twitter.

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I will say this for him. He’s a good sport.

I don’t envy his position trying to claim the Obama Administration lives up to its self-billing as the Most Transparent Administration Evah™, based on releasing White House visitor logs.

All that said, I would have added two points to the exchange above.

First, the Administration is not conducting counterterrorism exclusively under the AUMF.

Obama’s own Administration went to the mat in 2009 to prevent a short phrase — maybe 6 words — from being released under FOIA making it clear that torture was originally conducted under the September 17, 2001 Gloves Come Off Memorandum of Notification on President Bush’s authorization alone. And they managed to win that battle by arguing the MON — which authorizes targeting killing, among other things — is still active. So, no, Tommy, the Administration is not operating — not exclusively anyway — under the AUMF.

Also, what the fuck kind of democracy are we if we require lawsuits for basic democracy to take place? It’s all well and good of Vietor to say we (only Trevor Timm of the three of us really has the funds to sue sue sue, and even then, only in selective situations) should just sue our way to democracy. But the law says we shouldn’t have to sue.

Anyway, it was a particularly fun appearance, and great to be on with Kevin Gosztola and Trevor Timm as well.

7 replies
  1. Greg Bean (@GregLBean) says:

    “Dirty secrets”; is there any other kind?

    Don Tapscott has a new book called Radical Openness that makes some interesting points.

    We live in the most transparent world ever, so the Obama administration is likely the most transparent adminstration ever, but the next administration will have no choice but to be even more transparent.

    Too bad, Obama is resisting rather than embracing the full possibilities.

  2. ess emm says:

    Nice job, ew. A terrific panel except for that Vietor cat.

    I’m also glad Gosztala called Vietor on his red herring.

    But the sad part is you cant have a conversation with Vietor, he’s like a robot programmed with a very limited vocabulary. Consequently, nearly everything out of his mouth is a non sequitur.

  3. JTMinIA says:

    Out in my garage, there’s a hammer that I love. My love for it is completely separate from my feelings about it as a useful thing, because, to be honest, it is not very useful and actually has a tendency to damage things when I use it such that I mostly avoid it. It’s just, for lack of a better phrase, a likable tool.

    I wonder why I was reminded of that label for said hammer while watching Tommy Vieter in that video.

  4. Arbusto says:

    Perfect is the enemy of the good = Hiding a myriad of sins behind banal mindsets = Pragmatist. I wonder what brilliant minds in the administration, such as Vietor, will think in a few years after relecting that they contributed to increased secrecy and a more authoritarian government by not speaking truth to power.

  5. der says:

    The irony that a whistle blower (Scott Prouty)helps in Obama’s win over Romney so Obama can continue to persecute whistle blowers. I’m sure no one on Obama’s team worried about the RNC mining Prouty’s video for political gain. The concern about drone technology falling in the wrong hands is like the worry that Iran will nuke Nagasaki.

    Tommy Vietor and the Village people’s attitude to any questioning of their authority: “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.” You will respect my Authoritah!(So fuck off losers!)

    Garry Wills: – what advice you gave him?
    I said, “Don’t go into Afghanistan.”

    We were already there, so I assume you’re referring to the deployment of additional troops. How did he respond?
    He was very prickly. He said: “I’m not a naïve optimist. I know of the difficulties. They’re all being considered and taken care of.” He really cut off this conversation.

    Transparency begins at home. Releasing all of DOJ’s files on Aaron Schwartz can be a start, no drones or al-Qaeda there.

  6. JTMinIA says:

    More seriously, the claim that “we’re the most transparent evah!” because you released embarrassing documents written by the previous administration and let everyone see the visitor logs when you knew that said logs would be released is not impressive to me. If the Obama Admin had started out with the firm plan to keep the visitor logs secret and later decided to release them, then that would mean something, but what Vietor is touting is like saying “I never pick my nose when people are watching” and thinking that that somehow should be taken as positive evidence of personal hygiene.

    To be clear: to have released the Bush memos but not your own actually makes the release of the former make you look worse, not better. It makes said release appear petty and/or partisan. Anything that is selective is a negative, not a positive. Unless and until all memos are released, the release of some memos – just like the leaking of some but not all information on any topic – should be taken as evidence against claims of transparency.

    The above seems so obvious. And Vietor appears smart enough to understand concepts that are obvious. Ergo, likable tool.

  7. JohnT says:

    @ess emm:

    But the sad part is you cant have a conversation with Vietor, he’s like a robot programmed with a very limited vocabulary. Consequently, nearly everything out of his mouth is a non sequitur.

    That’s what they’re taught; to repeat the same phrases over and over again to try to frame the debate. The trick is not to take the bait

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