The very arrogance and presumption defining this action by the intelligence community -- increasingly opaque and beyond the control of the State Department -- help make sense of any number of otherwise bewildering features of U.S. foreign policy.
Jane Mayer of the New Yorker has posted former CIA General Counsel Stephen Preston's answers to questions submitted by Senator Mark Udall, about SSIC's secret 6000-page study on torture and the CIA's response. Senator Udall's questions are equally revealing.
If the administration has nothing to hide and insists that our drone policy is entirely legal, why not create an open and transparent process for the use of drones? It would bring the legal debate out of the shadows, a move that is desperately needed.
What is CIA Director John Brennan holding in his hands? Marcy Wheeler reports that it's the CIA's response to the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the post-9/11 CIA torture program.
The "war on terror" was built on two tiers of grief. Momentous and meaningless. Ours and theirs. The domestic politics of grief settled in for a very long haul, while perpetual war required the leaders of both major parties to keep affirming and reinforcing the two tiers of grief.
What we see is the portrait of a semi-autonomous agency, poorly led and allowed unjustifiable independence by an absentee president -- an agency that has done grave damage to the security and well-being of the United States.
Obama, who campaigned in 2008 on an anti-war platform pledging to lead America on a different course abroad, is arguably not the same president he was four years ago.
Influential members of Congress and presidential candidates have been calling for a return to "enhanced interrogation techniques" and someday in the not too distant future they may get what they want if Director Brennan and President Obama don't pay attention and act now.
Before this year -- before President Obama nominated John Brennan to head the CIA -- there was virtually no public Congressional discussion of the drone strike policy at all.
What better way to make that point than swearing on George Washington's own copy of the Constitution? Why Washington? Few American leaders have been more emphatic about not abusing the power of office.
It's become accepted wisdom that Washington has become pathologically polarized and partisan, with every new debate inevitably breaking down along party lines. That's why it was so remarkable last week when Rand Paul's old-fashioned talking filibuster scrambled the even more old-fashioned right-vs.-left way of looking at the world. The Paul-provoked debate on the confirmation of John Brennan to head the CIA in turn provoked a wider and critical debate about the use of drones -- a debate that needs to continue well beyond Brennan's confirmation. Since 2004, only 2 percent of those killed have been confirmed as militant leaders. From mid-2004 to mid-2012, between 474 and 881 civilians were killed in Pakistan. This includes 176 children. Last week's debate allowed Americans to put themselves in the position of those living under drones overseas -- imagining, even hypothetically, life under drones. And, not surprisingly, most of us didn't like it.
This week, Rand Paul mounted an old-fashioned, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington-style filibuster against President Obama's nominee to head the CIA, John Brennan. The primary issue at hand was the new-fashioned issue of drone strikes. During the marathon monologue, Paul asked, "Where is the Barack Obama of 2007?" In fact, one could also ask: where were the Democrats of 2007? Paul was joined by only one Democrat, Sen. Ron Wyden, even though if the Bush administration had acted on drones the way the Obama administration is, there would have been dozens of Democrats up in arms. Of course, the hypocrisy extends to Republicans, many of whom -- after having supported the Patriot Act, warrantless wiretapping, show-your-papers laws, and torture -- have suddenly discovered civil liberties. Brennan wound up getting confirmed but, at least in the process, the bone-headed right/left way of looking at American politics was rather spectacularly scrambled.
We are damaging ourselves, our souls, and the earth. We are dealing out death at a distance, and slowly dying inside. Freedom is hard to bear. But so is war. So is our enslavement and inner blindness.
As Clare Boothe Luce once noted, "They say that women talk too much. If you have worked in Congress you know that the filibuster was invented by men." Here then is a longwinded filibuster soundtrack for Rand Paul and all those who were part of the filibuster of John Brennan.
There was a scarcely noted but classic moment in the Senate hearings on the nomination of John Brennan, the president's counterterrorism "tsar," to become the next CIA director.
Let us remember that the measure of a democratic society is not how it treats its best, but its worst.