April 22, 2009

THE CIA DOESN'T TRUST HIM AND CONGRESSIONAL DEMOCRATS DON'T RESPECT HIM:

Slow Roll Time At Langley (David Ignatius, April 22, 2009, Washington Post)

President Obama promised CIA officers that they won't be prosecuted for carrying out lawful orders, but the people on the firing line don't believe him. They think the memos have opened a new season of investigation and retribution.

The lesson for younger officers is obvious: Keep your head down. Duck the assignments that carry political risk. Stay away from a counterterrorism program that has become a career hazard.

Obama tried personally to reassure the CIA workforce during a visit to Langley on Monday. He said all the right things about the agency's clandestine role. But it had the look of a campaign event, with employees hooting and hollering and the president reading from his teleprompter with a backdrop of stars that commemorate the CIA's fallen warriors. By yesterday, Obama was deferring to the attorney general whether to prosecute "those who formulated those legal decisions," whatever that means.

Obama seems to think he can have it both ways -- authorizing an unprecedented disclosure of CIA operational methods and at the same time galvanizing a clandestine service whose best days, he told them Monday, are "yet to come." Life doesn't work that way -- even for charismatic politicians.


Obama Won’t Bar Inquiry, or Penalty, on Interrogations (SHERYL GAY STOLBERG, 4/22/09, NY Times)
[U]nder intense pressure from Democrats on Capitol Hill and human rights organizations to investigate, the president suggested Tuesday that he would not stand in the way of a full inquiry into what he has called “a dark and painful chapter” in the nation’s history.

Mr. Obama said he was “not suggesting” that a commission be established. But he also sketched out the parameters for a panel that would look much like the one that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks, saying that “if and when there needs to be a further accounting,” he hoped Congress would examine ways for it to be conducted in a bipartisan fashion. Some Democrats are pushing similar proposals on Capitol Hill.

The president restated his opposition to prosecuting C.I.A. operatives who followed the Bush administration’s legal guidelines in conducting interrogations. But as for lawyers or others who drew up the policies allowing techniques he has banned, Mr. Obama said it would be up to his attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., to decide what to do.

“I don’t want to prejudge that,” Mr. Obama said.

The comments knocked the ordinarily smooth White House press operation back on its heels. Mr. Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, spent much of his daily briefing on Tuesday being peppered with questions about precisely what Mr. Obama had meant, declaring at one point, “To clear up any confusion on anything that might have been said, I would point you to what the president said.”


The ease with which the Hill repeatedly rolls him is just embarrassing.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 22, 2009 9:10 AM
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