Sunday, May 21, 2006

Senate plays "Don't Spook the Spook" with Michael Hayden

Michael Hayden did a little dance for the Senate last Thursday. He'd speak . . . when he wanted to. If you followed the hearing, you may have been suprised by how often Hayden interrupted and cut off senators (often with remarks to the effect of, he wanted to add something). The spineless Congress that can't stand up to the Bully Boy can't even stand up for themselves when someone appearing before them (APPEARING BEFORE THEM) disrespects them not only via evasions but also by dismissing them as though he was conducting the interview.

It wasn't like any job interview we knew of.

"Hayden Defends Domestic Spy Program At Confirmation Hearing" (Democracy Now!):
General Michael Hayden appeared before Senate Thursday for the first day of his confirmation hearings to become the new head of the CIA. The former director of the National Security Agency repeatedly defended the legality of the NSA's secret warrant-less domestic eavesdropping program that he helped design.General Michael Hayden: "When I had to make this personal decision in early October, 2001 -- and it was a personal decision -- the math was pretty straight forward. I could not not do this… We knew that this was a serious issue, and that the steps we were taking, although convinced of their lawfulness, we were taking them in a regime that was different from the regime that existed on 10th September." General Hayden refused to answer questions during the public portion of the hearing on a number of issues including interrogation methods, secret CIA prisons and the true extent of the government's surveillance program.

C.I. shared thoughts on Thursday:

KPFA is providing live coverage on the Michael Hayden confirmation (or not) hearing for the CIA -- Larry Bensky and Mitch Jesserich are anchoring. Quick impressions?
Mike DeWine is the Joe Biden of his party (DeWine is a Republican). He demonstrated a grand love affair with his own voice this morning. Hayden needs to be probed as to the responsibilities he has to citizens. That's who they all work for.
On damage done, he stated that if the NSA is exposed (for violating the rights of citizens) all that happens is "all they lose is a frequency" but that the CIA could lose lives. We all lose a great deal when the rights of citizens are trampled on. For someone who wants to argue that what he did he was legal, it's rather surprising that he told Kit Bond (Repube Senator) that "It was a personal decision" on his part. Ron Wyden did the best job I heard. Probing him and not taking easy answers. Pat Roberts, "scrub" (to use his word of choice today), equated US national security with Israel's.Hayden kept conjuring up "October 2001" (which I'm sure lap dogs in the media will fix for him to "Sept. 11th") and wanted to whine about the NSA, "They're doing their job . . . during a difficult time." I thought he said the worst that could happen was the NSA lost a frequency? What's so difficult about that?
They should be doing their job. During a difficult time or a good one. That's what they're paid for, that's what they're hired for. Hayden can try to make the Gladys Kravitzes out as heroes but they're doing the job they were hired for. (And quite a bit more since Bully Boy's decided that laws are apparently as "quaint" as conventions.)He's really doing lousy but he's aided by the fact that Dems are doing a pretty poor job. Such as DiFi who apparently has tried to drop the genteel mask of "
miss diane" and come off like a beer commercial with remarks to the effect of "So that's all good." The "BURP" was, apparently, implied. (It's all good, DiFi.)

Elaine offered her thoughts on Saturday:

What is with this "personal decision" talk? First off, I thought the Bully Boy had already declared himself "The Decider." Is Hayden trying to usurp the Bully Boy and steal the title?Second of all, procedures and guidelines (and laws) are in place to be followed. There's no "personal decision" making. The thing is supposed to run like clockwork.
I find Hayden disgusting. Sunny was listening to the
Pacifica coverage of the hearing (Thursday) and, between sessions, I kept rushing over to hear bits and pieces. I found it very disappointing. To the point that I kept expecting someone to ask, "Do you need a break, General Hayden, to go to the bathroom?" To which he'd then reply, "I belive that would be better discussed in closing hearings this afternoon." Maybe if the questioneer was Ron Wyden (Democratic Senator from Oregon who did show some life, by the way), he'd follow up with, "Well do you think, if you needed to use the bathroom, you would need to do number one or number two?" Only to have Hayden reply, "I think we need to be very careful about the information we give out to our enemies." It was such a joke. (If Russ Feingold was present, I'm sure he did a wonderful job. He can usually be counted on. Sunny did ask me if he was there because she was impressed with one Democrat's questions, in addition to Wyden's, but I was in a session and she'd missed the name of the senator.)
did a great job with the hearings. Larry Bensky and Mitch Jesserich anchored them. The guest who impressed Sunny and I the most was Chip Pitts. We were both listening and I had an hour before the evening session was due to start. When Pitts came on (and C.I. knows Pitts but I don't before anyone thinks I'm praising Pitts just because he's a friend, I don't know him, have never met him) we agreed that was the high point and shut down the computer after he was done. (Sunny, who'd been listening all morning, said that if it weren't for the analysis and the anchors, she couldn't have made it through the hearing -- due to the lack of spirit, spine and life on the part of the Democrats.)
I'm looking at my notes right now and realizing, they're brief, that I have no idea what most of this is about and should have written something while it was fresh. But let me note that Carl Levin had at least one good question (maybe more, but I heard a brief section of his exchange with Hayden). Levin asked, "Does that mean your answer to my question is yes?" I think that perfectly captures how Ollie North-like Hayden was. Pitts noted that Dianne Feinstein made a comment he wasn't sure anyone heard. Feinstein, according to Pitts, had asked at least one question regarding Guantanamo and, at one point afterwards, Feinstein said, "He didn't answer any of them." "Them" being her questions.
I don't care for Feinstein and I don't care for the way she conducts herself in hearings. She always plays it off as though she's just 'the little lady' making comments about how she's not a lawyer so blah, blah, blah. She's a "law maker." As a member of Congress, she's a law maker. She needs to take her position a lot more seriously. And if she felt her questions weren't answered, she needed to do something more than chuckle.

To the above, we can only add, thank God for Pacifica. While NPR thinks America can't live without That Not So Fresh Air and other assorted gasbags KPFA and the Pacifica website provided live coverage.

We can wonder what makes a Senate committee so gladly accept being dismissed and dissed publicly? (Sado-masochistic desires?) We can wonder why there aren't more objections to the militarization of the CIA (that's what Hayden's confirmation will mean)?

Barbara Olshansky noticed what was going on and called it out Tuesday on KPFA's The Morning Show:

One of the things that I think is underling this type of authorization [. . .] is this notion that this presidency has, that this administration has, that the commander-in-chief powers which are supposed to be used outside the United States in a zone of miltary hostility . This president says, we can turn that power inside, into the United States, into the domestic, civilian, civil society and use that power here. And that underlies everything that this president is doing. . . What's really troubling is when you think that we're now going to appoint military people to fundamentally civilian posts. It adds even more structure to that idea that we can operate militarily inside the United States. That's something that [. . .] in the history of this country we have never abided. It's something the Framers, way back, were concerned about and it's something the courts have been really clear about and yet that is what this administration is completely -- using the military powers inside the United States to justify all of these violations.

But apparently civilian control of the government is not that important these days? And the military spying on protestors during the sixties and seventies not worth remembering, let alone remarking upon?

The mainstream press had a strange way of covering the hearing and Hayden himself but, then, when you've been a valuable resource/source for the press in the past, they probably figure you're appointment will provide them with even more information, right?

The illustration is Isaiah's latest The World Today Just Nuts and perfectly caputers the I'll-stick-my-neck-out-this-far-and-only-this-far Hayden performance. Silly Senators, thinking that their questions were worthy of answers. Silly Americans, thinking that their government owed them answers.

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