Sunday, February 10, 2013
Brennan and Panette hearings
Dona: It's time for another Congressional hearing update. Thursday morning, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Panetta is outgoing. Chuck Hagel is the nominee to be the new Secretary of Defense. Thursday afternoon, CIA Director nominee John Brennan appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Reporting on those hearings, C.I. offered "Iraq snapshot" and "Thoughts on today's Senate Intell hearing (C.I.)," Ava went with "The disgraceful Dianne Feinstein (Ava)," Wally with "Brennan likes torture (Wally)," Kat with "Brennan tries to weasel" and Ruth offered "If Leon Panetta told the truth . . .." If you thought the two hearings were unrelated, Lindsey Boerma (CBS News) provides the connection today, reporting that Senator Lindsey Graham is threatening to place a hold on the nominations of Hagel and Brennan "until the White House explains its garbled talking points following the Libya attack." Ruth, you attended both Thursday hearings and you also cover Benghazi, the Libya attack that claimed the lives of Americans Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Chris Stevens, at your site. What you do make of it?
Ruth: I applaud it, actually. He is doing something similar to what Vice President Joe Biden did in 2005 when he was Senator Joe Biden and Bully Boy Bush had nominated John Bolton to be the US Ambassador to the United Nations. I do think the administration has failed to provide answers on this. I think a number of Democrats in Congress who said 'let's wait for the report' decided, once the report was released, to change tactics and start saying, 'Let's focus on improving things.' I do not believe the American people have gotten honest answers -- all these months later. Tomorrow, it will be five months since the attacks and I do not feel we know any more than we did then. It is time for accountability.
Kat: I would just add that I support Ruth's position 100%.
Dona: I was just going to bring you in because two weeks ago you reported on another hearing, the Hagel hearing, and you focused on, as your title made clear, "Lindsay Graham."
Kat: Right. I thought he did a great job in that hearing. It played out popularly online as you were for him if you were a Republican and you were against him if you were a Democrat. I don't play that game. I've been to too many Congressional hearings to reduce them to partisan calls. Graham took Hagel's statements and asked serious questions and did so in an applause worthy manner.
Dona: Alright. Let's move over to Brennan. This hearing was not impressive, according to the press. Wally, one thing that stands out about Brennan in the hearing that conveys that?
Wally: Water boarding is when you simulate drowning. You do it to intimidate or scare someone into believing that they will drown. It's done to Geena Davis' character in Long Kiss Goodbye. That it's torture has been established. That the US government can call it that is not in doubt. But there was Brennan insisting that he could not make a ruling there, couldn't apply the term because he's not a lawyer.
Dona: He is Barack's National Security Advisor, right?
Wally: Correct. And if he can't apply torture to water boarding, exactly what advice does he provide to Barack Obama.
Dona: Good point. Ava, the hearing was unimpressive all the way around. Wally spoke of the witness, John Brennan, could you explain the problem with the Senate Committee?
Ava: Certainly. Dianne Feinstein is the Chair of the Committee. Background, Bully Boy Bush created monarch powers for the office when he declared that he had the right to indefinitely detain an American citizen. Jose Padilla would be an example of someone he tried to do that with. Barack has expanded that. He claims he has the power to order the execution of anyone -- including American citizens -- and to do so without any oversight or check on his power. Well DiFi to the rescue. Apparently having settled on one bad wig means DiFi has time to ponder and think and what she's come up with is that the Congress needs to create a court, similar to the secretive FISA Court, that would 'review' Barack. Such a secretive court would, of course, be concealed from the public so there would be no openess, no transparancy. But even worse, DiFi is saying, "Sure the president can execute anyone he wants and let's make it official by creating a court where he can get permission." This is disgusting and Dianne Feinstein's actions are unconstitutional and shameful.
Dona: Let me bring back in Ruth to talk about her post. Ruth, you were the only one reporting on Panetta's testimony.
Ruth: Right. I focused on it and specifically on how, he stated, there was not time to deploy to Benghazi after word of the attacks. He gave excuses like lack of refueling place and claiming that fighter jets do not have their weapons at the ready so those would have to be loaded -- excuse me? If there is an attack on Albany, is Mr. Panetta saying it will take hours to arm an F-16?
Dona: Right. I was also curious about the issue of the drone. That's been in dispute.
Ruth: Sure. Secretary Panetta testified, as the State Department's Charlene Lamb had last year, that a drone was overhead during the attack. Video of the attack was captured as it happened. This detail was not accurately reported on by many outlets when Ms. Lamb testified last year. It has been ignored since. So it was news that Mr. Panetta testified about it.
Dona: Kat, the hearing on Brennan provided you with what?
Kat: The knowledge that Barack really did not grab the best and brightest by any means. Brennan was better than Hagel the week before but a pet rock would have been better than Hagel. Judging him based upon a basic standard for honesty, he was evasive and embarrassing.
Dona: We are pressed for time so I have saved C.I. for last. Your thoughts regarding anything.
C.I.: Okay. Well, Brennan's avoidance of water boarding has led to whispers in DC that torture continues under Barack -- that wouldn't be surprising to most people. I think it was hilarious and telling that Feinstein worked overtime to silence the people --
C.I.: Right. She wanted to silence those who objected to The Drone War but she was more than happy to let those who promote it and push it lie. She was happy to let Brennan lie, she was happy to help him lie. Dianne Feinstein never looked worse than she did at that hearing. She was an embarrassment. Ava's anger is very real and there's a reason for it -- we sat through that hearing. Dianne Feinstein is an embarrassment. You'd have to go back to the John Roberts confirmation hearing to find Dianne making a bigger ass and fool of herself. She really should be ashamed. CODEPINK was the only one present for the hearing doing real accountability. Dianne objected to them and silenced them -- possibly due to her own shame for being so ineffectual.
Dona: Alright and that sounds like a wrap up. We're using Isaiah's "Barry O's Favorite Topic" as our illustration. And our e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.