Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Mike Pompeo, Torture and the Future of the Democratic Party

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Things new CIA director Mike Pompeo likes. Things Chuck Schumer many other Democratic senators are just fine with. How bad will the vote for Pompeo hurt the Democratic Party?

by Gaius Publius

As I've written many many times, we're at a tipping point in this country, a very serious one. As serious and potentially revolutionary as during the Depression. The Democratic Party, which should have been a shoo-in to win the presidency last year — and would have been with Bernie Sanders as the candidate — had to scratch and claw for a narrow loss, which, with a little smarter scratching and clawing, might have been a win, but still a narrow one. Against the least popular presidential candidate in modern history.

In addition, the Democratic Party as a whole has been taking it on the chin since 2010, both at the federal level — loss of congressional seats, failure to take back the Senate in a cycle very favorable to Democrats — and at the state house and governorship level.

Clearly, Democrats as a party must not only seem different than the version that's been losing badly for the last six years, they must be different.

In a nutshell, with Sanders as the nominee instead of Hillary Clinton (she of the Wall Street speeches), the Party could be credibly seen as fundamentally transformed, in a Jeremy Corbyn–Labour Party way, in a "clean break with the Clintonism past" way.

Or, with Bernie Sanders as Senate Minority Leader, say, instead of Chuck Schumer (guardian of Wall Street interests), the Party could be credibly seen as fundamentally transforming itself as a response to the Trump win.

But Hillary Clinton was the nominee, and Chuck Schumer is Senate Minority Leader, and all those left-leaning voters who didn't pull the lever for Clinton are now asking themselves, "Is the Democratic Party any better than it was?"

We'll know the answer sometime in the next six months, largely because of the Trump confirmation votes.

Enter Mike Pompeo, Trump nominee to head the CIA.

Mike Pompeo, Abuse of National Security and Torture

Rand Paul, the only Republican senator to vote No on his nomination, writes this about Pompeo (my emphasis):
Rand Paul: Why I voted against the new CIA director

I voted against the new CIA Director because I worry that his desire for security will trump his defense of liberty.

More than ever before, oversight of the secretive world of intelligence is critically important.

Programs are authorized, money is spent, and operations are carried out in the name of the American people, yet only a few members of Congress are even allowed to know what is happening in the dark corners of these U.S. intelligence programs.

Most of Congress was surprised to learn that the U.S. government was collecting all of our phone records in bulk. Most of what our intelligence community does is shielded from the rank and file of Congress. Only eight legislators are privy to the full extent of the surveillance state....

Only begrudgingly are the American people being told about the scope of the massive intelligence apparatus that has steadily grown in secret.

Yet when oversight of the intelligence community is most needed, Congress has demonstrated an insufficient appetite for curbing the worst excesses of our country’s domestic surveillance.
And now the worst part, or the second worst part, depending on what you think about torture:
Some in Congress advocate that government collect “financial and lifestyle information” on Americans, combine it with their metadata, and store it in a government database.

A database that cross-references our every online action would be a devastating assault on liberty.
Do you want the government to collect "financial and lifestyle information" on every citizen, to use as it wishes (including, by the way, for blackmail)? I'm willing to bet that a staunch Republican like Mike Pompeo — from the Kansas branch of the party, no less — is eager to "oversee" (or use) such a program and the information it provides.

About Pompeo and torture, Rand Paul writes:
The new CIA Director described a congressional report on the CIA’s past use of torture as “a narcissistic self-cleansing.” He went on to say that those senators who voted to release the torture oversight report were “quintessentially at odds with [their] duty to [their] country.”

I [Rand Paul] couldn’t disagree more.
To recap, Pompeo thought that when Congress called the CIA (rather gently) on the carpet for committing systematic acts of torture (a war crime, by the way), Congress was indulging in an act of "self-cleansing," and Pompeo saw that use of oversight as "narcissistic" (too self-involved) on Congress' part. Pompeo's disdain, his scorn, is like Cheney's, who considered recycling as narcissistic cleansing of liberal guilt.

And Pompeo, by saying that the oversight report was "quintessentially at odds with duty to country," essentially says that defending torture is patriotism, a duty.

That's the new CIA director whose confirmation just passed the full Senate, 66-32.

Which Democrats Voted For Pro-Torture Pompeo?

The vote, 66-32, was quite lopsided. There are 52 Republicans in the Senate, 46 Democrats and two Independents (Sanders and Maine's Angus King). Only one Republican crossed the aisle to vote No — Rand Paul.

Fourteen Democrats (plus Angus King) put the stamp of approval on pro-torture Mike Pompeo, the new head of Donald Trump's CIA...
• Joe Donnelly (IN)
• Dianne Feinstein (CA)
Maggie Hassan (NH)
• Heidi Heitkamp (ND)
• Tim Kaine (VA)
Amy Klobuchar (MN)
• Joe Manchin (WV)
• Claire McCaskill (MO)
• Jack Reed (RI)
Brian Schatz (HI)
• Jeanne Shaheen (NH)
• Mark Warner (VA)
Sheldon Whitehouse (RI)
...including the Senate Minority Leader...
• Chuck Schumer (NY)
The roll call also includes these names as "not voting":
Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
Chris Murphy (D-CT)
Unless these two were ill or incapacitated, this was a cowardly act. They are either anti-torture and afraid to show it, or pro-torture and afraid to show it. (Blumenthal did vote No on the motion to proceed three days earlier. Murphy voted Yes.)

I've bolded the names of "people who are not who voters think they are," but really, Democrats in the Senate are now on record as a part of the "bipartisan pro-torture" crowd. Democrats now own Mike Pompeo and all his works.

The Clock on the Democratic Party Is Ticking

Will more people vote for a Democrat after this pro-torture stamp of approval than would have done before this vote? I would guess, no.

Will this situation improve after the next round of roll call votes on Trump nominees? After all, Elizabeth Warren voted for Ben Cardin for head of HUD in committee. Same with Sherrod Brown.

What Mike Pompeo does, Chuck Schumer and many of his fellow Democrats helped cause. He's not just Trump's pick; he's the Democratic Party's pick as well. Tick tick tick.

GP
 

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4 Comments:

At 11:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great article. Please keep up the score card on the turncoat Democrats as other appointees come up for a vote. I wrote both my Virginia Senators yesterday objecting to their vote. This type of voting only enables the obviously dangerous Trump administration. Now is not the time for moderation or bipartisanship but for radical opposition. Just one note: I think you meant to say Elizabeth Warren voted for Ben CARSON for HUD.

 
At 11:52 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

Thank you Gaius, once again.

We really, really need an FDR type to come along, a younger version of Bernie. Without FDR, we would all be speaking German. We need someone with courage, foresight and vision who loves this country and the wonderful variety off the American people. Oh, and who believes in science.

Please will someone tell Diane Feinstein to retire? And Chuck we need you to stand up, not smooth out. Don't you see it would be best for your own career to do so, although maybe not your pocketbook? There is a war for our country going on.

Obama should have pardoned Snowdon, a true hero who exposed the intelligence community's war on the American people. Do we really want this brilliant man in Russia of all places? The people running all of these hidden departments are developing their own power bases and they can and will be just as dangerous to us all as Congress and Trump and his crew now are. A whole other horror show going on.

What a freaking mess.

 
At 4:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good comment Hone.

GP, your "tipping point" occurred closer to the day cheney invaded Iraq who didn't do dick to us/US. And at approximately the same time, give or take a year, we implemented and justified structural kidnapping, torture and extrajudicial/nonwar murder.

Nobody in the senate, most of whom are still there today, nor in the house did or said fuckall; they iteratively reaffirmed everything by funding that war.
Instead of reining in cheney's bloodlust (and greed... oil and all), they passed PATRIOT and several versions of a defense act that normalized and expanded all that.

Fast forward to 2008 when we elected old hopey changey with the expectation (delusionally, it turns out) that HE and a new DOJ would go back and enforce laws and shit. Boy were we wrong.

Today's fascism is along the downward vector started by voters and cheney and congress in 2002. Draw a line through all the data points from cheney II and obamanation 1 and II... All data points plotted so far by der fuhrer are on that same vector.

We tipped 15 years ago and are still coasting downhill from then. Voters don't WANT to apply brakes. Congress can't find the brake pedal for all the money on the car floor. And drumpf never learned how to drive... or even what a car is.

Pure evil like ryan, mcturtle, pence, sessions and everyone else in the news today SHOULD have been shunned from civilized society when they were in high school. Instead, pure evil like them and drumpf get elected to lead us/US.

Voters. It's all voters. ryan/mcturtle/drumpf aren't evil in a vacuum. they're just the cork on a vast cistern of evil.

Maybe if obamanation had been FDR instead of the fucking bought corrupt neoliberal neocon douchenozzle impotent albino sack of shit.

 
At 8:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The future of the Democrap party is the same as its present which is the same as its recent past.

They liked torture before; they did nothing to change that during obamanation; they'll re-affirm it today and forever.

Further proof that the democrap party needs to be euthanized before THEY are complicit in euthanizing millions more hominids.

 

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