Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Obama Unlikely to Radically Change Intelligence Policies

I imagine this is good news for some and horrible news for others. The Wall Street Journal reports that Obama will likely keep the intelligence policies of George Bush intact.
Mr. Obama is being advised largely by a group of intelligence professionals, including some who have supported Republicans, and centrist former officials in the Clinton administration. They say he is likely to fill key intelligence posts with pragmatists.

"He's going to take a very centrist approach to these issues," said Roger Cressey, a former counterterrorism official in the Clinton and Bush administrations. "Whenever an administration swings too far on the spectrum left or right, we end up getting ourselves in big trouble."
It is refreshing to hear that but I will note is coming form a former member of the Clinton and Bush administrations. It would be more comforting to hear it from Obama himself or from one of his many multitudes of advisers. It will be interesting to see how the far left of the Democratic Party reacts to such a policy stance.
President-elect Barack Obama is unlikely to radically overhaul controversial Bush administration intelligence policies, advisers say, an approach that is almost certain to create tension within the Democratic Party.

Civil-liberties groups were among those outraged that the White House sanctioned the use of harsh intelligence techniques -- which some consider torture -- by the Central Intelligence Agency, and expanded domestic spy powers. These groups are demanding quick action to reverse these policies.
Do they have a right to expect a reversal? One could argue yes:
On the campaign trail, Mr. Obama criticized many of President George W. Bush's counterterrorism policies. He condemned Mr. Bush for promoting "excessive secrecy, indefinite detention, warrantless wiretapping and 'enhanced interrogation techniques' like simulated drowning that qualify as torture through any careful measure of the law or appeal to human decency."

As a candidate, Mr. Obama said the CIA's interrogation program should adhere to the same rules that apply to the military, which would prohibit the use of techniques such as waterboarding. He has also said the program should be investigated.
But the indication is that he will not live up to these promises. That is more than a little disconcerting as it brings up questions about what other promises he won't live up to. But for now I will take this speculation from the WSJ as potential good news.

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