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When, in the fall of 2011, David Petraeus moved from commanding the Afghanistan war effort to commanding the CIA, it was a disturbingly natural transition. I say "natural" because the CIA conducts drone strikes in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region and is involved in other military operations there, so Petraeus, in his new role, was continuing to fight the Afghanistan war. I say "disturbingly" because this overlap of Pentagon and CIA missions is the result of a creeping militarization of the CIA that may be undermining America's national security.
This trend was clear during the Bush administration, but it accelerated under President Obama, who greatly expanded drone strikes, and it reached a kind of symbolic culmination when Obama nominated this four-star general to run things at Langley. That would have been the perfect time to reflect on the wisdom of the convergence of the CIA's and Pentagon's jobs. But, instead, the network of journalists, think tankers, public officials and others who constitute the foreign policy establishment preserved their nearly unblemished record of not focusing on the biggest questions.
There were exceptions, notably in the Washington Post. Its reporters raised the militarization issue shortly after Petraeus was nominated for the CIA post and then, the week before he took office, raised it again. Discussing the ongoing "expansion of the paramilitary mission of the CIA," Greg Miller and Judie Tate wrote:
A U.S. Air Force MQ-1 Predator drone
airborne in southern California.
The shift has been gradual enough that its magnitude can be difficult to grasp. Drone strikes that once seemed impossibly futuristic are so routine that they rarely attract public attention unless a high-ranking al-Qaeda figure is killed... The drone program has killed more than 2,000 militants and civilians since 2001, a staggering figure for an agency that has a long history of supporting proxy forces in bloody conflicts but rarely pulled the trigger on its own.
The militarization of the CIA raises various questions. For example, if the CIA is psychologically invested in a particular form of warfare—and derives part of its budget from that kind of warfare—can it be trusted to impartially assess the consequences, both positive and negative, direct and indirect?
Plus, there is another aspect raised by the Post's story:
Human rights groups go further, saying the CIA now functions as a military force beyond the accountability that the United States has historically demanded of its armed services. The CIA doesn’t officially acknowledge the drone program, let alone provide public explanation about who shoots and who dies, and by what rules.
“We’re seeing the CIA turn into more of a paramilitary organization without the oversight and accountability that we traditionally expect of the military,” said Hina Shamsi, the director of the National Security Project of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Wright notes that the circumstances surrounding Gen. Petraeus's arrival at the CIA a year ago were troubling: "Yet there no alarm was sounded that was anywhere near as loud as the hubbub surrounding Petraeus now. That's scandalous."
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2009—The Corporate Empire Strikes Back: Corporate Dems Seek "Alternative" To Public Option. Again:
Yesterday we learned:
Even as Senate Majority Leader Reid seeks votes for a healthcare bill with a public option that states can opt-out of, Reid has allowed Sen. Thomas Carper, D-Del., to work on what one aide called a "Plan B" if Reid cannot line up 60 votes for cloture.
The "Plan B" Carper has come up with is not a co-op, and not a trigger, but a co-op trigger. A co-op that wouldn't even happen unless it was triggered. Which it wouldn't be, because "triggers" are the legislative equivalent of sternly worded letters; they don't happen. That's the brilliant plan being dreamed up because not only is the public option too controversial, not only is an option with opt-out controversial, not only are the ineffective and nonsensical "co-ops" too controversial, and not only was a trigger itself much too scary, but the only thing Carper and some other Dems think would be milquetoast enough for the Senate to stomach would be a trigger that does nothing attached to a co-op that will do nothing.
"No one needs outlets these days, so let's hide all of them behind beds and heavy tables." -The World's Only Hotel Interior Designer — @rebeccawatson via HootSuite
More TradMed coverage of Teh Gop Crazy means more Kagro in the Morning coverage, too. Poor Tennessee Republican Beth Cox, profiled in the WaPo, features prominently. Plus RedState's boo-hoo-ing about the Romney campaign being a "consultant con job." Dude, the Romney EVERYTHING is a consultant con job! And still the TradMed is after us for "compromise" with the people who hate numbers, science, reason, logic and economics. Sigh!