Creating a new entry under the “Well don’t that beat all?” file, the former head of the CIA’s Clandestine Service, Jose Rodriguez, took to the airwaves this past Sunday night. In an interview with Lesley Stahl, Rodriguez put forth the idea that President Obama is taking on radical Islam in ways that would make predecessor President George W. Bush blush. It may surprise exactly no one to learn that Rodriguez plays for Team GOP.
Folks, I don’t know what to say anymore. The mouthpieces of this party are so used to trying to have it both ways, I sincerely believe its members are in the throes of a full-on dissociative fugue. How can Obama suffer routine hounding from birthers and other whack jobs who claim that he is a covert practitioner of the Muslim faith, yet at the same time confront lambast from critics who wish to depict him as ruthless killer of Islamic innocents?
How on Earth could Obama out-display the pitiless hubris of a flight-suit wearing Dubya standing aboard an aircraft carrier declaring a “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq? This smarmy soundbite is characterized in an apolitical Wikipedia entry as such: “While this statement did coincide with an end to the conventional phase of the war, Bush’s assertion—and the sign itself—became controversial after guerrilla warfare in Iraq increased during the Iraqi insurgency. The vast majority of casualties, both military and civilian, have occurred since the speech.”
Obama’s measured, targeted approach to the War on Terror is more ruthless than Bush’s Cowboy Diplomacy, more tasteless than a man who later admitted that his bellicose “bring ’em on” taunt to Iraqi insurgents was an error in judgment? Yes, because nothing says “I care about humanity” quite like baiting the country you’ve invaded in order to co-opt its oil reserves.
But I do not wish to misframe the debate. Rodriguez’s claims are yet another political red herring designed to obscure the abundant, wasteful ineptitude of the Bush years – you know, the ones where Osama bin Laden was hiding in plain sight. And the former CIA employee has a book to sell – Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives.
In this wondrous tome, Rodriguez argues that enhanced interrogation techniques embaced by the Bush administration after 9/11 “saved lives.” There’s just one problem: Senate Intelligence Committee Democrats are on the verge of concluding a three-year investigation of enhanced interrogation and will report that it had little to no success in eliciting vital intelligence. The Atlantic Wire noted that “With the lack of specifics in his 60 Minutes interview, supporters of torture had probably better hope there’s more in his book to make the case.”
And what does any ex-CIA official worth his salt do when posed tough questions about previous policy for which he has no good answers? Deflect. After all it’s an election year, and every opportunity must be availed to portray the man once decried as a foreign-policy newbie who’d go soft on terror as a veritable Genghis Khan.
“We don’t capture anybody any more,” Rodriguez told Stahl. “Their default option of this Administration has been to … take no prisoners … How could it be more ethical to kill people rather than capture them? I never understood that one.”
Obama the Mercenary set in relief against Dubya the Lamb. There are just no words.