A President is charged with the responsibility of protecting our nation from foreign threats. This duty is particularly vital during the age of anxiety and terror we are enduring now; this duty will become even more important when (and it is no longer a question of if) Iran -- a sworn enemy of America and the number one state sponsor of terror in the world -- develops nuclear weapons.
The prospect of nuclear weapons being smuggled into America and being given to domestic terrorists is grave. Dick Morris and Eileen McGann take a look at President-elect Barack Obama's security picks and finds them wanting in today's New York Post:
PRESIDENT-elect Barack Obama's appointments to Homeland Security, the Justice Department and now the CIA indicate a virtual abandonment of the War on Terror.
As Homeland Security chief, he's named a governor whose only experience has been with the US-Mexican border. His attorney general pick, meanwhile, took the lead in pardoning FALN terrorists. Now he has rounded out his national-security and Justice Department teams by naming ultraliberals.
Leon Panetta, his choice for CIA chief, is as liberal as they come. Though originally a pro-Nixon congressman, he long ago embraced the left with the fervor of a convert and brings these values to the CIA.
James Robbins also has comments that are typical of critics of the appointment of Panetta:
His lack of intelligence background will not inspire the employees at the Agency, who have seen their institution under attack from all sides in recent years and need some breathing space. Those on the Democratic side who complained loudly about the politicization of intelligence during the Bush years will be hard-pressed to support what can only be seen as a politically inspired appointment.
Angello Codevilla, author the new book Advice to War President: A Remedial Course in Statecraft, echoes the view that this is a political choice -- but not in the way commonly assumed: to appease the left by appointing a critic of the CIA that in no way can be implicated in enabling the CIA during the Bush years. Apparently, Panetta can be seen as ensuring security in one particular area: protecting Obama from critics within the Agency:
Leon Panetta may not know very much about foreign affairs or defense matters. He is wholly unacquainted with the questions and quarrels that have roiled the US intelligence community for a half century. But, as veteran political warrior, he will do what President Obama expects of him: prevent CIA from making war upon him as it made war on George W. Bush. When Bush appointed Porter Goss as CIA director to stop that war, CIA's old boys somehow convinced Bush to fire him. Panetta's appointment however tells CIA's old boys that if they trouble the Obama team, they will be the ones fired.
The Justice Department picks also come in for criticism on national security grounds by Morris and McGann:
Over at Justice, Obama is naming four liberals to staff the agency, each determined to rein in effective intelligence-gathering.
Professor Dawn Johnsen of Indiana University Law School is to head the Office of Legal Counsel. She distinguished herself by writing a law-review article taking issue with President Bush's efforts to keep us safe. It was titled, "What's a President To Do: Interpreting the Constitution in the Wake of the Bush Administration Abuses." Presumably, she'll bring back the days of the wall between criminal and intelligence investigations, which led to our failure to examine the computer of "20th hijacker" Zacharias Moussaoui, which contained wire-fund-transfer information on the other hijackers.
No less an authority than Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe, who taught Elena Kagan, the new solicitor general, predicted that she and Johnsen would "freshly re-examine some of the positions the previous administration has taken."
Obama's other Justice appointments, David Ogden as deputy attorney general and Thomas Perrelli as associate AG, bring back Clinton/Reno Justice Department retreads. Both participated eagerly in the constraints on intelligence-gathering that left us so vulnerable on 9/11.
The Obama campaign was marked by a sense of optimism that at times verged on the delusional ("this is the moment when the oceans will stop rising"). Optimism is an American trait and has been key to our nation's growth but such sunny optimism should not blind us from the threats we still face. In this case, it may very well have.