House Intel Chair Wants Bush Torturers To Stay Around

Glenn Greenwald reports that Silvestre Reyes, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee,

said Tuesday he has recommended that President-elect Barack Obama keep the country's current national intelligence director and CIA chief in place for some time to ensure continuity in U.S. intelligence programs during the transition to a new administration. . . .

In an interview, Reyes said he believes that Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and CIA Director Michael Hayden should be kept in their posts. Reyes believes they should stay for at least six months, but said the time frame is ultimately a decision Obama must make.

Silvestre also (emphasis added)

said he [] recommended to Obama's transition team that some parts of the CIA's controversial alternative interrogation program should be allowed to continue. He declined to say what he specifically recommended, however. . . .

"There are those that believe that this particular issue has to be dealt with very carefully because there are beliefs that there are some options that need to be available," Reyes said.

"We don't want to be known for torturing people. At the same time we don't want to limit our ability to get information that's vital and critical to our national security," he added. "That's where the new administration is going to have to decide what those parameters are, what those limitations are."

There's more...

Racial Politics This Week -- A Roundup

This week's theme at the messy cross-section of race and politics in America is fear.

You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you.

It is when power is wedded to chronic fear that it becomes formidable.

-- Eric Hoffer, the Longshoreman Philosopher (1902 - 1983)

Fear of Brown People in General

* Oliver Willis and Atrios rap Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) for calling Miami a "Third World Country". Because of all the brown people. The modern GOP must sincerely want to lose all future elections in coming decades since brown people, as evidenced in the recent elections, like to vote. The Latino vote increased by 37% in the 2006 election over 2002. Read more at

* Rep. Steve "Not the Rev. Martin Luther" King (R-IA) believes that the nation's homicide rate is mostly driven by the illegal brown invasion from the South to the tune of 12 Americans a day. No actual stats to back that up. It's just a funny feeling he has deep inside. Source: CarpetBagger Report

* "Nowhere in Congress are relations between Republicans and Democrats as publicly nasty as the House Intelligence Committee,"according to CNN. Well, now there's a new sheriff in town: Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), former Border Patrol agent, Vietnam war vet and helicopter gunner. His appointment is called "historic" and "an important step" by a major Hispanic civil rights organization, National Council of La Raza.

Fear of Black People in General

* Police Brutality roils NYC, angers black bloggers -- and sickens African-Americans in general. Terrence Says compares police brutality to terrorism and also offers a good round up of bloggers, all black men, on the NYPD killing of Sean Bell. Just a question: when was the last time we heard about a white person being shot 50 times by police? When is that much force ever justified against an unarmed person? When exactly will the double standard discontinue?

Fear of Certain Specific Black People

* The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and Rep. Maxine Waters' PAC donate big dollars to Dollar Bill Jefferson in LA-02. Too bad they are afraid to support a superior candidate -- Karen Carter, who might actually work a little harder for New Orleans' recovery. Skeptical Brotha, Jack and Jill Politics, MyDD and others are among those writing about the story.

* Wingnuts try to turn Obama to Osama by using his middle name "Hussein". Expect to see more of this. Crooks and Liars has the story.

There's more...

Pelosi/Hastings: 'more joy in heaven'...

The wires all have it, so it must be true. As, for instance, Reuters at 1721 ET:

Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi, preparing her party to take control of the House from President George W. Bush's Republicans when the 110th U.S. Congress convenes on January 4, told Rep. Alcee Hastings, a Florida Democrat, of her decision during a closed-door meeting.

"I advised him that I would select someone else as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee," Pelosi said.

There's more...

Pelosi's intel committee plan unraveling?

The story so far: Pelosi hates Harman and wants to suck up to the CBC; she proposed to install Hastings as HIC chair; Hastings was a crooked judge; lots of folks have been saying Don't do it!

I've tracked the saga here since May.

All this time, there seemed to be a safe compromise candidate available: Silvestre Reyes, #3 Dem on the HIC now. I had no information on the guy - mostly because I never looked - and was happy to pencil him in as the tertium quid (or should that be deus ex machina?).

There's more...

Pelosi Makes the Right Move On Harman

It looks like Jane Harman will not become the chair of the House Intelligence committee:Because Pelosi is kicking Jane Harman off the Intelligence Committee. Harman is, of course, Jewish and very rightwing on Israel.

So now Nancy, whose views on Israel aren't very far from Harman's (although she is decidedly in favor of negotiations and the two-state solution) is a Peretz enemy. Today he actually compares Nancy to Bella Abzug (in my opinion, a compliment) which is a terrible slam coming from Peretz because Abzug was, oh the humanity, a liberal Jew who was a moderate on Israel.

Why am I telling you all this. I'm telling you this because everyone needs to know that Marty Peretz and his neocon buddies in the media are now all going to be bashing Pelosi nonstop. Pelosi will get attacked viciously for this, but it is the right move. It isn't the right move because Harman is extremely right-wing on Israel. There are two other major pressing reasons that Harman should not be the chair. The first is that Harman is under investigation for illegally trying to use AIPAC in order to become the chair:Did a Democratic member of Congress improperly enlist the support of a major pro-Israel lobbying group to try to win a top committee assignment? That's the question at the heart of an ongoing investigation by the FBI and Justice Department prosecutors, who are examining whether Rep. Jane Harman of California and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) may have violated the law in a scheme to get Harman reappointed as the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, according to knowledgeable sources in and out of the U.S. government. The second reason is that the Democratic chair of the Intelligence committee should not be supporting Bush's illegal wiretapping program. Here is Harman defending the program on Fox News last year:HUME: And outline, if you will, your concerns about those briefings.

HARMAN: All right. Well, first of all, the program we were briefed on in a very closed environment in the White House, with no staff present, on a basis that we could not discuss it with anyone, was basically a foreign collection program. I still support that program. And I think the leak of that program to The New York Times and maybe elsewhere compromises national security... Harman is a Blue Dog, but that should not disqualify anyone from holding a committee chair. She is also not a wingnut. Outside of issues relating to national security and foreign policy, where she clearly is a neocon, she is basically a run of the mill Democrat--perhaps even in the liberal mainstream. However, the credibility of the new Democratic Congress is at stake here, and we can't have Democrats illegally winning committee chairs through lobbyist influence so they can support unconstitutional wire-tapping programs on Capitol Hill and on Fox News while accusing the New York Times of treason. Harman's seat, CA-36, is not key to our majority in the House, and anyway it is a very blue seat where she survived a strong primary challenge this year from Marcy Winograd.

Democrats won this election largely on a rejection of Bush's foreign policy and on the impact of corruption / unethical behavior in several key districts. Harman, unfortunately, sports both of those negatives. She could very well have an illegal relationship with AIPAC in an attempt to increase her own influence, and she supports one of the overtly illegal portions of Bush's foreign and national security policies. Given this, I think it was not only absolutely correct for Pelosi to deny her the Intelligence chair, and to remove her from the committee altogether, but that it was almost certainly the best thing Pelosi has done over the past ten days. Democrats need to make it loud and clear that we will not have the same relationship with lobbyists that the Republican majority had, and that we are in fact willing to stand up to Bush's foreign and national security policies. This accomplishes both of those goals in one fell swoop.

Pelosi is going to get hammered by some segments of the press for doing this. I think we need to support her decision both loudly and clearly. We are not going to be able to drain the swamp all at once, but as with LA-02, this is a step in the right direction. It should be recognized and applauded.

Update: It would appear that there are serious concerns about about the potential replacements for Harman as well. That is not acceptable either. It is going to take a long time to drain this swamp. Ugh.


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