Dick Cheney, neocon wars and the politics of terror

What have we learned in recent days? We have learned that little has changed and great dangers remain after eight years of President George W. Bush and one year of President Barack Obama. We have learned that the same old tired faces come out of the woodwork with their same old tired politics and their same old tired fearmongering, led by a former vice president and his neoconservative acolytes whose enormous mistakes made a real problem dramatically worse and whose exploitation of their past mistakes has no limit.

And let’s be clear: Make no mistake, as someone who worked to protect the secret identities of CIA officers and who spent years doing meetings at CIA headquarters at Langley: Mark my words, the CIA identities leak was one of the most heinous acts in memory and did real damage to the goal of killing terrorists. Dick Cheney has no moral right to play politics with this. He is widely disliked in the intelligence community.

If solving the problem is the measure, the truth is: President Bush failed for eight years. President Obama has failed during his first year. The dots are still not connected. The problem is still not solved. The dangers remain. It is not the failure of any party or president; both parties and several presidents share responsibility.

It is high time and long overdue that Cheney end his politicization of intelligence. If he refuses, he should be put under oath, before a congressional committee, to answer for his role in the CIA leak case.

I would urge that the problem be addressed without partisanship. To this end, I would propose that President Obama bring in either former 9/11 Commission Chairman Tom Kean or former Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, both Republicans, to a hands-on role in the White House.

The problem has nothing to do with Janet Napolitano. Those who call for her removal are either shallow pundits or rabid partisans who share the quality of being uninformed about how counterterrorism works.

The problem under Bush, and now Obama, rests within the purview of the Director of National Intelligence and the failure of the national center of counterintelligence. They are at the epicenter of the funnel, where intel should come inward-bound from diverse sources, and be collated effectively and sent outward-bound. This is where information about Captain Hasan should have been collected, collated and distributed prior to the Fort Hood killings. This is where information about the Christmas bombing attempt should have been systematically distributed, but was not.

The problem is bureaucracy, turf fighting, power mongering and human nature. The solution is a hands-on, aggressive, direct White House whip-cracker who should be a Republican, to remove politics from terror, and should be full-time because of the magnitude of the mission.

If Dick Cheney insists on politicizing terror, let’s deal with him once and for all, and put him under oath. If America wants to deal with terror the effective way, let’s forget the cheap-shot talking points that focus on Napolitano and attack the roots of the problem in a professional way with a hands-on, take-charge leader by the side of the president in the White House.

There are real dangers here that must be addressed, but the partisanship, the cheap exploitation and the talking-point shallowness must end. The problem existed before Bush, during eight years of Bush, and now under a year of Obama. Let’s deal with it now. The stakes are too high to fail.

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