Saturday, April 25, 2009

Calling it Principle

Porter Goss was director of the CIA from 2004 to 2006, and is generally thought to be the worst director the CIA has ever had. He brought with him to the CIA five lickspittles from his personal staff in Congress who caused nothing but turmoil. As his third in command he selected, over the objections of professional CIA folks, the fabulous Dusty Foggo. Dusty needs no introduction to readers in San Diego.

Goss was typical of the kind of incompetent that got jobs in the Bush Administration. He was famous, as a Congressman and director, for his partisanship. He refused to support the independent 9/11 Commission, but famously said, "Somebody sends me a blue dress and some DNA, I'll have an investigation."

The very same Porter Goss offers an op-ed in today's Washington Post which begins, "... I feel our government has crossed the red line between properly protecting our national security and trying to gain partisan political advantage. We can't have a secret intelligence service if we keep giving away all the secrets." We are left to guess that he's talking about the release of the torture memos.

But he's positive "giving away all the secrets" was for partisan political advantage, because he thinks everybody lives in the same place he does. He's so certain that he repeats it at the end of his essay: "Trading security for partisan political popularity will ensure that our secrets are not secret and that our intelligence is destined to fail us."

Now let's be clear about what happened. We tortured people. We, the United States of America, tortured people. We, who at the end of World War II executed Japanese soldiers for waterboarding people, waterboarded people. Crimes were committed. There's nothing secret about it. Everybody knows it. We can be ambivalent about what should happen to the people who committed these crimes, but unless we make it absolutely clear that this is not what Americans do, it will happen again.

Goss gleefully points out (or is it a threat?) that the failures of character that led us to this place were not restricted to the Republican side of the aisle. Important Democrats knew what was going on and said nothing. These will have their reputations irreversibly tarnished, too. But Goss's little blackmail just points out the weakness of his partisanship argument.

Speaking of character, if you're familiar with Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen's novel about character, you would appreciate the PBS program, "Lost in Austen," in which a woman from the 21st Century, Amanda Price, time travels to Austen's day and fouls up everything in the novel. She had a line that reminded me of Goss's essay today.

Addressing Mr. Darcy, Miss Price says, "You don't really do guilt, do you? You do whatever the hell you want, and afterward you call it 'principle'."


Reamus said...

Well said, Semp, good post.

We do miss Foggo down here!

I am glad you read this stuff so I don't have to, it would make me ill...

Jeannelle said...

"lickspittles"! What a cool word I've not seen before.

Anonymous said...

Here's what bothers me about the breast-beating over torture, American style. Yes, we shouldn't do it, because it's morally wrong. Maybe the victims of our tortune are innocent. (And if they're not?)

But folks, we have done much, much worse in the pursuit of victory in war, even war that was not fought on our own ground. Dresden. Hiroshima. Nagasaki. Vietnamese villages. Dozens of strikes in Irag, Afganistan and Pakistan. These were carefully considered decisions to kill non-combatants in pursuit of a greater good. Old men, pregnant women, little children. We killed and maimed them by the hundreds of thousands, and who would quarrel with the decision to do so? In the present argument, we are condemning the decision to harm a handful of bad guys in pursuit if the same goal.

Somebody help me understand the outrage.

-Vexed in Virginia

troutay said...

Because we are supposed to be human beings. Because we are supposed to learn from our past. Because as Americans, we are better than that!

We are supposed to evolve!

Sorry Semp. Lost my temper