Tuesday’s post, It’s Impossible to Overstate How Terrible Mike Pompeo Is, laid out the view that Trump’s firing of Rex Tillerson represents a major shift toward war footing for the Trump administration, with Iran the specific target. This pivot was easily predictable, and I wrote numerous articles doing just that during 2017. Nevertheless, forecasting it and then seeing the disastrous pieces being moved into place are two different things.
Trump’s push to install Mike Pompeo as U.S. Secretary of State is a crystal clear indication that he’s begun the process of building his war cabinet. The next steps, likely to begin over the course of 2018, is to walk away from the Iran deal. I suspect relentless war propaganda to be unleashed simultaneously as the neocon/neoliberal/mass media war-monger alliance plays its well established role in selling the American public on another pointless and destructive war.
My prior post discussed Pompeo in detail, so I don’t want to be repetitive, but to revisit: Pompeo has contempt for the First Amendment, referred to torturers as patriots, wants Edward Snowden executed and is an extreme warhawk when it comes to Iran.In other words, he’s your typical neocon lunatic who’s just a bit more rough around the edges publicly. He represents the exact opposite sort of foreign policy to what so many Trump voters thought they were getting.
Switching gears a bit, today’s piece will zero in on Trump’s other desired appointment, Gina Haspel to head the CIA. Gina’s famous for running a CIA black site in Thailand where detainees were tortured. In fact, she performed her role with such gusto she was nicknamed “Bloody Gina” by some colleagues, and also played a key role in destroying videotape evidence of the torture. Her promotion represents a bizarre way to “drain the swamp,” but I digress.
What’s most interesting and extremely disturbing about the Pompeo and Haspel appointments, is the lack of resistance from “the resistance.” If you’ve been paying attention, this won’t be surprising since the resistance has always been an unholy alliance of neocon/neoliberal war hawks, intelligence agencies and the mass media.
They don’t want to “resist” any of Trump’s genuinely bad policies, the entire purpose of this psyops of a movement is to ensure Trump continues with the insane imperial policies of his predecessors. Trump’s about to deliver in spades, and you can thank “the resistance” for paving the way for this adminisitration’s upcoming belligerence.
Here’s what I mean. From The Hill:
This puts Democrats in a potentially powerful position to swing Haspel’s confirmation.
Yet early signs suggest that the minority is prepared to offer support, despite her controversial record, fierce opposition from human rights activists and the fact that she is a Trump nominee.
The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), on Wednesday cited a “very good working relationship” with Haspel, currently the agency’s deputy director. Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), a red-state Democrat who also sits on the Intelligence panel, said he was “very much open-minded.”
Even one of the Senate’s harshest critics of “enhanced interrogation techniques” and the architect of the so-called torture report, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), signaled a surprisingly open reception to Haspel that could pull others off the fence.
“We’ve had dinner together. We have talked. Everything I know is she has been a good deputy director,” Feinstein said on Tuesday, adding, “I think, hopefully, the entire organization learned something from the so-called enhanced interrogation program.”
Feinstein in 2013 blocked Haspel’s promotion to run clandestine operations at the agency over her role in interrogations at a CIA “black site” prison and the destruction of videotapes documenting the waterboarding sessions of an al Qaeda suspect there.
Did you catch that? Feinstein blocked Haspel in 2013, but now, under Trump, she’s open to an even bigger promotion.
A few lawmakers have come out in opposition to Haspel – most prominently Paul and Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) – but it’s unclear how much influence they will wield. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday that he is not whipping votes to oppose Haspel.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet “the resistance.”
It’d be funny if it wasn’t so sad.
To be fair, Schumer does have some concerns with regard to Pompeo. He might not be belligerent enough toward Russia.
But Democrats stressed on Tuesday that their previous support for Pompeo did not automatically mean they would support him to be secretary of State.
Schumer noted he wants to know if the former House member will be tougher on Russia if he’s confirmed to be the country’s top diplomat.
You seriously can’t make this stuff up. Furthermore, don’t forget 14 Democrats supported Pompeo for CIA director back in 2016, and Democrats also supported increased surveillance powers for Trump earlier this year. I find it fascinating that when it comes to mass surveillance and torture, suddenly the Democrats don’t want to “resist.”
Meanwhile, across the Washington D.C. cesspool hordes of “respected leaders” are vigorously defending Gina Haspel using the same defense used by actual Nazi war criminals after WWII.
From The Intercept:
During the Nuremberg Trials after World War II, several Nazis, including top German generals Alfred Jodl and Wilhelm Keitel, claimed they were not guilty of the tribunal’s charges because they had been acting at the directive of their superiors.
Ever since, this justification has been popularly known as the “Nuremberg defense,” in which the accused states they were “only following orders.”
The Nuremberg judges rejected the Nuremberg defense, and both Jodl and Keitel were hanged. The United Nations International Law Commission later codified the underlying principle from Nuremberg as “the fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.”
This is likely the most famous declaration in the history of international law and is as settled as anything possibly can be.
However, many members of the Washington, D.C. elite are now stating that it, in fact, is a legitimate defense for American officials who violate international law to claim they were just following orders…
Haspel oversaw a secret “black site” in Thailand, at which prisoners were waterboarded and subjected to other severe forms of abuse. Haspel later participated in the destruction of the CIA’s videotapes of some of its torture sessions. There is informed speculation that part of the CIA’s motivation for destroying these records may have been that they showed operatives employing torture to generate false “intelligence” used to justify the invasion of Iraq.
John Kiriakou, a former CIA operative who helped capture many Al Qaeda prisoners, recently said that Haspel was known to some at the agency as “Bloody Gina” and that “Gina and people like Gina did it, I think, because they enjoyed doing it. They tortured just for the sake of torture, not for the sake of gathering information.” (In 2012, in a convoluted case, Kiriakou pleaded guilty to leaking the identity of a covert CIA officer to the press and spent a year in prison.)
One who paraphrased it is Michael Hayden, former director of both the CIA and the National Security Agency. In a Wednesday op-ed, Hayden endorsed Haspel as head of the CIA, writing that “Haspel did nothing more and nothing less than what the nation and the agency asked her to do, and she did it well.”
John Brennan, who ran the CIA under President Barack Obama, made similar remarks on Tuesday when asked about Haspel. The Bush administration had decided that its torture program was legal, said Brennan, and Haspel “tried to carry out her duties at CIA to the best of her ability, even when the CIA was asked to do some very difficult things.”
Texas Republican Rep. Will Hurd used the precise language of the Nuremberg defense during a Tuesday appearance on CNN when Wolf Blitzer asked him to respond to a statement from Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.: “The Senate must do its job in scrutinizing the record and involvement of Gina Haspel in this disgraceful program.”
Hurd, a member of the House Intelligence Committee and a former CIA operative as well, told Blitzer that “this wasn’t Gina’s idea. She was following orders. … She implemented orders and was doing her job.”
Bipartisan support of torture using a literal Nazi defense. Unfortunately, I’m not even surprised.
Now here’s the best part…
Notably, Blitzer did not have any follow-up questions for Hurd about his jarring comments.
Gotta love CNN.
Fortunately, there’s a small flicker of actual resistance to Trump’s shameless neocon pivot. It just happens to be coming from Rand Paul.
He held a press conference on the matter, which I suggest everyone watch in full.
As if all of this isn’t concerning enough, something Jeremy Scahill said in a recent Democracy Now interview really shook me. I discussed it on Twitter earlier today.
See how this works? We lose either way.
In fact, I find Cotton so dangerous, I specially singled him out in last year’s post, Expect Desperate and Insane Behavior From Government in 2018 – Part 3 (War):
While I’m already sufficiently concerned about the likelihood of another stupid escalation in the Middle East by Trump, there are milestones I’m looking out for to let me know it’s about to get really bad. At the core of any major disaster will be Senator Tom Cotton, a rabid neocon who I unequivocally believe is the most dangerous, anti-freedom person in the U.S. Congress. He reminds me of an American Mohamed bin Salman, and his elevated prominence around Trump earlier this year is what got me increasingly concerned in the first place.
If Cotton takes on a more senior role in the Trump administration, such as a rumored position as CIA director, you can bet the farm that U.S. foreign policy is about to take the most dangerous turn since George W. Bush. Tom Cotton is a neocon on steroids, and seems to genuinely love conflict and authoritarianism. To get a better sense of what sort of person he is, take a look at him taking Twitter legal counsel to task. He believes U.S. companies act as an active arm of state intelligence.
What’s going on here is crystal clear. Trump’s setting up a war cabinet because he wants to go to war, and his administration will soon be dominated by the exact same neocon lunatics his populist supporters wanted to get away from in the first place.
As the saying goes, “if voting made a difference, they’d make it illegal.”
Brace yourselves, the war sales job is imminent and it’s going to be relentless.