Mike Pompeo, Torture and the Future of the Democratic Party
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 directorAnd now the worst part, or the second worst part, depending on what you think about torture:
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.
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.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.
A database that cross-references our every online action would be a devastating assault on liberty.
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.”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.
I [Rand Paul] couldn’t disagree more.
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)...including the Senate Minority Leader...
• 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)
• Chuck Schumer (NY)The roll call also includes these names as "not voting":
• Richard Blumenthal (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.)
• Chris Murphy (D-CT)
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.