A Recess Appointment for Militarized Spooks But Not for Rule of Law

Remember how Dawn Johnsen’s nomination to head OLC languished and then died as Obama claimed–falsely–not to have the votes? Obama pointedly didn’t use a recess appointment to put his incredibly qualified candidate in the post.

Not so for James Clapper, whom Obama is preparing to recess appoint to head Director of National Intelligence rather than make concessions on intelligence oversight to Congress. As Marc Ambinder reports, DiFi won’t hold hearings for James Clapper until an intelligence authorization is passed, but Nancy Pelosi wants to use that intelligence authorization to force the Administration to expand notice on covert programs. And since that’s all going to take a lot of time (and Obama doesn’t want to be forced by Congress to expand notification), Obama’s likely to recess Clapper.

So not just is Obama appointing someone who wants to dismantle DNI even while Congress thinks it should be strengthened, but he’s doing so in such a way that deliberately avoids reestablishing the balance of power between the branches of government.

Hey, Obama? All that crazy covert stuff that will expand in DOD under Clapper? All the problems that’s going to cause? You own that.

51 replies
  1. BoxTurtle says:

    I can only hope that Obama is primaried. Preferably by Feingold. But right now, I’d send HILLARY a donation.

    Boxturtle (Mr. President, don’t you think you should clean up existing messes before making new ones?)

      • BoxTurtle says:

        If the voters decide to blame ObamaLLP for the mess in the gulf, it could well happen. We’d better hope so.

        Boxturtle (Or it could be President Dodds…or Beck…or Palin)

  2. klynn says:

    Hey, as you figured out here, based on evidence, Nancy was right and has every reason to force the Administration (POTUS) to expand notice on covert programs.

    This should be big time headline news and screamed about all day long.

    This IS Unitary Executive.

    No hope. No change. Worse than before.

    (Not Feingold. It will end up more of the same.)

    • BoxTurtle says:

      (Not Feingold. It will end up more of the same.)

      We disagree on that…but whom would you send $25 to?

      Boxturtle (Remember, Jerry Garcia is dead, man :-) )

        • BoxTurtle says:

          If I were going to disqualify people based on their stance on Israel, there would be nobody left to vote for.

          Boxturtle (There’s no “good guy” in the mideast)

          • klynn says:

            In some ways I cannot disagree with your comment. However…

            Some take a more serious stance than others. Feingold has a pretty serious stance in favor of Israel and has not utilized the language of “peace process” much in his discussions irt Israel.

            That alone concerns me greatly.

            Back to the topic, I still think after EW’s post the other day about Nancy being correct, this recess appointment is seriously dangerous beyond anyone’s total awareness.

      • TarheelDem says:

        Just make a list of primary candidates. Now ask yourself how many could win the primary without the votes of various parts of the Democratic coalition. Union members, African Americans, Hispanics, Blue Dog supporters, youth, and so on. Tell me which possible candidate could get a margin of victory over an incumbent President in a primary. I don’t see any, not even Feingold. The Democratic bench is too thin, and the issues that most progressives would break with Obama over don’t faze the base of the Democratic Party. In part because those issues don’t have national media traction. The Democratic Party is going to need a new bench to replace some of the aging politicians; getting progressives onto that bench is a better use of time and money than running a primary challenger.

        • BoxTurtle says:

          Currently, ObamaLLP has pissed off the unions, Africian Americans, hispanics, youths, progressives, and gays. The only groups he hasn’t already annoyed are the blue dogs and the Democratic leadership. But there’s still time.

          That said, I see nobody on the horizon who could unite enough of the former to overcome the latter. The latter has all the money.

          Boxturtle (But I’m a Browns fan and we never give up hope, there’s always next year)

          • gannonguckert says:

            I think youse guys/gals are on the right topic, in part because I think primarying Obama remains on the horizon.

            I agree I don’t know who might succeed, cuz the bench is thin, but there are highly ambitious people out there, some of whom have considerable charms, brains and contacts, BUT:

            This president BHO is looking increasingly like a real loser, whose only trajectory is down, because he doesn’t, as others are pointing out more often of late, understand power.

            That fundamental limitation continues to prevent him from learning on the job, because he is, dare we say it, executing his own fundamentalist ideology re the use of power.

            • mookieblaylock says:

              because he doesn’t, as others are pointing out more often of late, understand power.

              i wouldn’t personalize it too much. I would hazard a guess that his actions have nothing to do whatsoever with him and are more a result of the ptb. Sadly it’s a new frontier that is decidedly undemocratic, sucks but what are you gonna do

              • gannonguckert says:

                I reject the contention that I have made a personalized attack on the Pres.

                I think it is evident that he essentially completely mis-understands America’s current situation regarding who and what needs to change in order to best benefit America. Quoting, among others who’ve said similar stuff, Frederick Douglass opined that power yields nothing without a demand.

                Given the number and magnitude of changes we need, Obama’s refusal to get a little pushy indicates he does not understand our current spot in our current context.

                One can only be as ignorant of these realities, facts and dynamics if one has been perceiving the world for a long, long time through an ideological prism.

                BHO’s prism, based on community-organizing principles of power, skews his worldview, which is why he will continue to screw up. Hence, my contention his only trajectory is down.

  3. fatster says:

    Army charges five soldiers with murdering Afghans

    “Seattle — Five Stryker Brigade soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord killed three civilians in separate incidents in Afghanistan’s Kandahar Province earlier this year, according to charging documents released Wednesday by the Army.

    “The Army says all three victims were shot and two of them were also hit by grenades.”


  4. fatster says:

    BTW, our reason for staying in Afghanistan for a generation or so just tripled in value.

    Afghan Mineral Wealth May Be Greater: $3 Trillion

    “Afghanistan says its untapped mineral wealth is at least $3 trillion _ triple US estimate”


    • ghostof911 says:

      Afghanistan says its untapped mineral wealth is at least $3 trillion _ triple US estimate

      And that doesn’t take into account the high-grade dope that Monsanto is hybridizing there.

  5. fatster says:

    What timing! Eric already left?

    Justice Department Says Blackwater Case Should Have Gone Forward 6/17/10

    Associated Press
    June 17, 2010

    “WASHINGTON – The Justice Department has told a federal appeals court that there was more than enough untainted evidence to justify a trial for five Blackwater Worldwide guards involved in a deadly 2007 shooting in Baghdad.”


    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      It’s not just that he left so many campaign promises in the dust, along with the campaign staff who believed in them and him. It is that he is so weak, so devoid of real leadership (in that he refuses to confront conflict, bending any which way to avoid it), and so resolutely pro-corporation and anti-citizen. He really ought to admit he’s a Republican.

  6. ScrewBush says:

    I’m only surprised by the author’s surprise. I don’t know how else to put it, “Obama is just not that into you” or how about “Obama is not a Progressive/Liberal” or “Obama is a corporatist”.

    Take note, the Obama administration has ONLY been offing government jobs to Progressives to get them out of running against Corporate/BlueDog DINOs. Translated, WH prefers the DINOs. SCOTUS candidates are not and will not be Liberal progressive for all the reasons above. Finally, as we see here, recess appointments have not and will not be used for Progressive candidates. Get over it and see the man for who he is already.

    • Mary says:

      I don’t know why you think the author was/is surprised. Obama’s kowtows to the right have been recognized as they happened and predicted before they happened, over and over.

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Like Mr. Bush, but more efficiently, Mr. Obama “owns” a lot of things other people are paying for.

  8. JohnLopresti says:

    Recess appointment ends with the current congress, ?or 24 months?; thankful for little favors. It is interesting that Nancy is supporting a remake of notifications. I see the Clapper regency as being somewhat in the same genre as the theme of the recent post about the database with nine lives in cyber-eternity. I think it was Hayden at his confirmation hearing who had laudatory words for US* sigint; maybe there is a renaissance occurring in **signal corps**, though I am not sure robo-boxing is its most cogent and visible outer manifestation; I see part of that other topic as a TIA mapped onto forms of GIS. Some way, this may be part of the administrations brand of aparatchikality, too.

  9. klynn says:

    OT but a bit concerning…posted a little over an hour ago at the Guardian.

    A senior Kyrgyz official today warned that the interim government would consider shutting a strategic US airbase if Britain refused to hand over the son of the country’s ousted president.

    The Kyrgyz government believes Maxim Bakiyev, arrested at Farnborough airport on Sunday, helped organise the violence ravaging the country’s south.

  10. marc5 says:

    Not just owned, Obama is filling his shopping cart with these foul goods. And why not, with no clerk and no security guard it’s all free for the taking these days. Anyway, only a chump/DFH worries about social costs.

    I really expected better behavior from this president. Yeah, chump’d.

  11. ghostof911 says:

    Love it.

    Congress didn’t ask the right questions about the extent of the CIA’s direct involvement in mining the Nicaraguan sea channels.

    The proper question for Congress to ask is, why should taxpayers be funding these militarized spooks? For whom do they operate? Certainly not for those who are paying their tab.

    If the oligarchs wish to conduct spook operations, let them conduct them with their private Wackenhut armies. The money saved can be used to drone more wedding parties.

  12. lysias says:

    Weakening the DNI’s office should suit the CIA’s agenda to a “T”.

    If Obama were a stealth candidate inserted into politics and eventually into the White House by the CIA, what would he be doing differently?

    Now, what was that again about the research outfit in Chicago where Obama worked for a year after graduating from Columbia being affiliated with the CIA? And did his mother, when she was ostensibly doing anthropological research for USAID and the Ford Foundation in Indonesia while the Communists were being purged there, also have another, secret employer?

    • ghostof911 says:

      If JFK had learned to play footsie with the Langley gang as well as Joystick is doing, he may have lived to dump LBJ as VP in ’64 as he and Bobby planned to do. LBJ was quicker at the draw, with a little help from his (Langley) friends.

  13. lysias says:

    And don’t forget Obama’s failure to nominate anybody to be CIA IG. That must make the CIA very happy as well.

  14. b2020 says:

    Speaking of recessive appointments: Obama is pulling the trigger only for trigger pullers.

    “The NLRB was hobbled for 27 months with just two of its five members; the Board operated at this diminished capacity for the last year of George W. Bush’s term, and more than a year under President Obama.
    “The Board now has four members, following recess appointments of Craig Becker and Mark Pearce in March. But that’s only for the next month and a half.
    “If neither Obama nor the Senate acts, the NLRB will be completely vacant by the end of next year.
    ‘The last twist of the knife comes from straight the chief justice, who asks mildly, “And the recess appointment power doesn’t work why?” Katyal admits that the recess appointments process, which allows the president to fill up the board with his temporary appointments while the Senate is out of session, works just fine. It’s the president who has been unwilling to pull the trigger.'”

    • bmaz says:

      My understanding is that Becker and Pearce’s recess terms will extend through the end of the Senate term next year; i.e. about December 24 2012. I may have missed something, but I think that is the case as I recall.

      • JohnLopresti says:

        DOL is what was on my mind in the early discussion of how resource extraction industries design separate operating companies for high risk ventures. Republican smaller government means obstruction. DJohnsen, Republicans use senate to shut down the flow of oversight until most chargeable malfeasances have run statute time limitation. **Tort reform** following sunsetting Inspector General, was a part of the Republican construct. I suspect the 2012 GOP platform will plank for more de-reg, non-standing, executive and barnacle privilege, less OSHA, hyperfrendlifying MMS (or its three successor departments), neatly obscured beneath a tri-corner hat manufactured in Wasilla. NLRB, yikes yip Republicans. I hope CA in 2011 refurbishes CRLA, and reduces the supermajority provision an initiative put in the state constitution during Reaganomics, which gave Republicans the ability to block most budgets, for FY2011 recently already having missed the first scheduled legislative vote, though that state*s chief executive has bluepencil privilege (there*s a misguided O*Co suggestion at the federal level, and a **compromise** president O should avoid; standard pork being a better balance than handing the presidency yet further over-ride alternatives over congress).

  15. eCAHNomics says:

    Hey, Obama? All that crazy covert stuff that will expand in DOD under Clapper? All the problems that’s going to cause? You own that.

    O can’t wait!!! Whoppee hoooray! More & better covert wars. More assassinations, esp of dastardly U.S. citizens. That’s what real alpha males jerk off about.

  16. Hugh says:

    I hope someday we can retire the tired stories that Obama is super cautious or that he is playing 11-dimensional chess. Actions like this show that when Obama wants to do something he does it. And when he doesn’t want to do something (as in anything progressive) a thousand intractable obstacles appear.

  17. sundog says:

    Can Howard Dean run for President again? Hell, he already got the bs trumped up scream out of the way and I think he has a great track record in actually working for the people, as novel an idea as that is for politics today.

    Hell, I just want someone who will address our real economic problems. It would be nice to have a job. I’ve been out of work for one year this month and it’s really depressing, especially when it appears that those in D.C aren’t really doing anything to solve the problem. Where’s our industrial policy to create jobs and stop shipping them overseas? Then, when I see Obama behaving like Bush, it’s like pouring salt in the wound.

    I don’t know how we get back to where the politicians are truly answerable to the people. I’ve heard the talk, I’ve made the calls, talked to people, made donations and this is the shit I end up with? It’s like the harder I work to make our country better the harder I get kicked in the balls for it.

    • gannonguckert says:

      Howard Dean is a hell of an idea. He certainly could run; no legal restrictions there.

      He could start out going for the Dem nom, i.e., a proper primary challenge to Mr. O, then switch about summer, 2011, to an independent run, cuz Dem brand is getting pretty tarnished with BHO anyway, so maybe a successful challenge doesn’t have to be all within the D party.

      (Yes, I know, an independent run will need upwards of $500 million…)

  18. wirerat1 says:

    Bah. All the politicians you guys ever talk about are tainted by the Bush administration and Congress’s shunning of all responsibility to anything or are Obama’s lapdog today.

    If Nancy was actually serious she’d put a stop to war supplementals. She had the ability to make things very bad for the President, but like all “good Democrats” she plays ball and shares equal blame for the tragedy the past decade has been.

    I refuse to support any of them. They are all tarnished by greed and self interest. You don’t think Nancy’s change in stance isn’t to improve her position in her district? Between now and November all our good “progressive” friends are going to be showing what uberly awesome people they are.

    Get over it, it’s all a show.

    I’m not surprised by Obama. Unless he does something like a false flag terrorist attack or something like that, I don’t see how he can possibly win in 2012.

  19. Hmmm says:

    Insofar as PBO seems to be doing exactly what he wants, and getting away with it, no matter how out of control it is, I’m not quite getting the reasoning behind the assertion that he doesn’t understand power. He’s not responsive to us, certainly, but that’s very different from not understanding power.

  20. PPDCUS says:

    Revenge of the Irony Chef

    Just too absurd … When I copied this Keep Up the Good Work post to the WH, the validation code down below was — which fascisti.

    Thanks, Marcy.

  21. b2020 says:

    “DJohnsen, Republicans use senate to shut down the flow of oversight until most chargeable malfeasances have run statute time limitation”

    The Republicans are nothing but a distraction. If anybody is running the clock on torture and other crimes, it is Bygones himself and his Beholder.

    Scott Horton nails it:

    Obama has, without need or justification, chosen to make his administration and himself integral part of the cover-up of some of the worst criminal acts addressed in law, and has thus, according to some of the same laws, made himself an accessory after the fact. It is also very likely that, in his term, Obama has committed additional crimes of his own, relating to JSOC @ Bagram, AFM App. M procedures, and extralegal assassinations.

    Hostis humanis generis. A primary challenge to Obama is not contingent on viability and likelihood of success. It is necessary to make the historical record show that nobody can say there was no alternative.

    For all its failings, this is still a democracy. If your elected representatives can publicly claim that Palestinians need to face illegal occupation and reprisals in response to electing Hamas, and not be shunned and disgraced in the public eye, then the consensus should be that the voters here are just as accountable for the crimes of their own elected leaders – crimes more substantial than anything Hamas has done or could conceivably do.

    Congress has been derelict in fulfilling its members’ sworn oaths. “Hold them accountable” does not refer to privilege, it refers to duty. It has long since been the People’s turn.

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