Opinion: Author of kill list nominated to secretary of defense

Wikipedia Creative Commons Photo of Chuck Hagel
Chuck Hagel arriving at Camp Ramadi in 2008.
Photo credit: Wikipedia Creative Commons

By Daniel Burton
How about some news that has nothing to do with guns or the fiscal cliff? (Just wait–they’ll be back, I promise).

President Obama has nominated Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense, and Republicans are sharing their apprehensions, not to mention using the nomination to look at the Administration’s policies on Israel and Iran, among other things.

“I suspect that I might be able to support [him], but I’m going to look at it like everyone else,” Hatch said in a Salt Lake Tribune article. “I’ve been disturbed by the positions he’s taken. On the other hand, is he qualified and is he going to justify his positions today? We’ll just have to see.” Senator Lee was more circumspect, reserving judgment for later.

While Hagel’s more high-profile nomination is likely to garner attention from Republicans (Hagel is a former enlisted soldier and a Vietnam vet, the first to head the Department of Defense), President Obama also nominated John Brennan to head the CIA, a nomination that some speculate will draw attention from the left. Brennan is a retired CIA officer whose career put him in Riyadh during theKhobar Towers bombings, served as chief of staff to George Tenet, as executive director of the CIA, and director of the National Counterterrorism Center in 2004 and 2005. As adviser to President Obama,Brennan is given credit with oversight of the team that killed Osama bin Laden.

Hagel in Situation Room Photo credit Wikipedia
Brennan, standing second from right, in the Situation Room
during the Osama Bin Laden raid.
Photo credit: Wikipedia Creative Commons

What will likely draw the ire of the left is Brennan’s support for the interrogation tactics used during the Bush Administration, as well as his support for the drone program. In his role as counter terrorism advisor to President Obama, Brennan helped compile the lists of targets for drone attacks outside of war-zones Brennan has helped the Administration concentrate power over the drone program in the White House rather than other agencies of the federal government where more Congressional review and oversight might be possible.

Brennan has argued that America’s clandestine services have to “bat 1.000″ everyday, using the drone program to go after alleged terrorists. Should we be concerned that targets on the list might also be Americans who are due process of law before deprivation of life and limb? When no one but the White House sees who is on the kill list, it’s hard to trust that the list is in line with what we have agreed as Americans, and an international community, is the just way to carry on war and to provide for national defense.

PoliticIt contributor and PubliusOnline.com creator Daniel Burton

Daniel Burton lives in Holladay, Utah, where he practices law by day and everything else by night. You can follow him on Twitter as @publiusdb or on his blog PubliusOnline.com where he muses on books, politics and ideas. View additional posts by Daniel, here


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