HELP WANTED: Obama’s Dir. of Nat. Intel.--Seeking Pro-Israel, Pro-Iran-War Bobblehead
I just read Ray McGovern’s truthout article about Dennis Blair’s having to “walk the plank” from his role as the Director of National Intelligence.
McGovern acknowledges that one factor may be the missteps involving the Christmas bomber. They have been listed in a Senate Intelligence Committee report released on May 18. More significantly, McGovern maintains, was Blair’s placement on a particular political hit list.
A powerful combination of senior CIA officials and White House functionaries influenced by the Israel lobby had been out for Blair's hide for over a year. That he crossed the CIA in trying to assert a right to appoint some CIA station chiefs abroad, for example, is by now a familiar story. And his rivalry with CIA alumnus John Brennan, now White House referent for terrorism, was an open secret. Brennan must be particularly happy at Blair's demise, since, truth be told, Brennan bears as much responsibility for Abdulmutallab being able to board his flight as Blair does.
There is another element, virtually neglected in the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM), that did Blair in. You see, Blair had a strong measure of integrity. And that can often be the kiss of death in official Washington. On substantive issues, like Iran's nuclear program, Blair did not show the malleability that is desired by those who are out to zap Iran; I believe it likely that these get-Iran, neocon hawks helped to zap Blair.
Last year, the neocons had their feathers ruffled big time by Blair's choice of independent-minded former Ambassador Chas Freeman to be chair of the National Intelligence Council (NIC), without clearing this first with White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. The NIC has purview over the preparation of National Intelligence Estimates (NIE) and the President's Daily Brief - the two premier intelligence publications.
Blair's choice of Freeman raised the ire of Washington's still-influential neoconservatives and their allies in the Obama administration because he was regarded as a "realist" on the Middle East, rather than someone who would side reflexively with Israel.
The Israel lobby and its supporters, especially the likes of Senators Schumer and Lieberman, launched a “get-Blair” campaign, a very transparent one according to McGovern.
McGovern also asserts that the job of Director of National Intelligence was hard enough, “but Blair was hampered further because he lacked the strong personal support of President Obama.” Oh really? What a shocker. Obama didn’t step forward and “hang tough” with one of his own appointees? Well, that is what they are calling “pragmatism” these days. I guess minimal drama Obama, Appearance is Everything Obama, will obligingly accept – in place of Dennis Blair – one more politically convenient YES-man or woman, but not just an Obama YES-man or woman. A “YES-Israel-and its-vast-number-of-U.S.-operative-cronies” -man or woman. That individual certainly won’t be hard to find and advance rapidly, in the pro-Israel crony Beltway bubble.
Of course, some of us, not enough, might wonder how much closer to a war with Iran this latest jettisoning of a non-kool-aid drinking, non-crony government official will take us. I know I feel like my country is pretty far along a similar garden path to the one to Iraq.
McGovern appreciates that "locking horns" with CIA Director Leon Panetta didn’t help Blair’s political situation. Blair also let himself be used to assert the President’s horrifying assumption of the right to assassinate a US citizen without due process. But McGovern holds respect for Blair in "having the integrity to withstand pressure from those wanting to exaggerate the danger that Iran could have a nuclear weapon." McGovern recognizes that our administration needs tough thinking men and women with integrity speaking sober truth to power.
Near the end of the Bush administration, McGovern contends it was Admiral Fallon and Joint Chiefs’ Chairman Mike Mullen who persuaded Bush that war with Iran was not a good idea and Israel "had to hear that". That was three years ago.
In this sense, I regret Blair's departure. For those now in charge are relative nonentities with, truth be told, sparse experience in intelligence work and little gravitas. It is doubtful they will be able to stand up against the mounting pressures to paint Iran in the most alarmist colors.
The task is complicated by the recent tripartite Iran-Turkey-Brazil deal. With Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her neocon friends and supporters already trashing this viable initiative, it will take courage to point out clearly to the president the relative merits of allowing Iran to transfer half of its low enriched uranium to Turkey and then onward for further processing.
McGovern looks back at President Carter’s appointment of Admiral Turner to direct National Intelligence. That, he believes, was an excellent choice -- a strong director with integrity having a solid, mutually respecting relationship with his President. Turner was a director “willing to put a few noses out of joint” for the sake of truth declares McGovern.
McGovern analyzes George W. Bush’s George Tenet as Director:
Two decades later, "team player" George Tenet (the team being George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld) stood this on its head. Nary a nose did timid, incurious George put out of joint.
But Tenet, who had mastered the skills of serving his "principal" as a staff aide to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman David Boren, was so well-liked in Washington that even the 9/11 Commission was reluctant to offer pointed criticism of his gross misfeasance in his community role.
It had much more to do with Tenet's reluctance to give the needed time and attention to the rest of the community and make it work together. Tenet preferred to direct his gaze upward, showing the bureaucratic skills he had learned as a Capitol Hill aide, ingratiating himself with the powerful and never putting them - or himself - in an uncomfortable situation.
McGovern speculates on Blair’s replacement:
According to press reports, the leading candidate to succeed Blair is retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James Clapper, whose record does not inspire confidence. Clapper has a well-deserved reputation for telling consumers of intelligence what they want to hear.
Retired US Army Col. Pat Lang, who held some of the most senior positions at DIA, told me Friday, "Clapper is a man who is just a walking mass of ambition."
Yeah. I guess that is what is needed. A Director of Intelligence committed to telling the administration, politicians and military leaders exactly what they want to hear. Great. With a Congress working harder for Israel, and dazzingly bipartisanly so, one might add, than for its own consituents, and a President with a strong political, not so much moral, imagination, who consistently exhibits an alarming capacity for what has been aptly called “pre-emptive compromise”, that’s what we need, one more political bobblehead to allow the neocons and neoliberal Iran war hawks a clear field for further world catastrophe.
That is just great.