Obama Rolls Out Blair, Panetta; Vows 'No Exceptions' to US Values
More important than anything Dennis Blair and Leon Panetta said at their rollout this morning as intelligence chiefs -- it's a rollout, after all, so you're not getting anything controversial -- were two things President-elect Obama said that directly repudiate the intelligence regime of the previous administration. First, among the "tough lessons" of the last eight years is "to insist on assessments based solely on facts, and not to seek information to support any ideological agenda" and to receive thorough information, "even if it's not always the information we want." (Do Obama's intelligence picks still have the support of Doug Feith and Richard Perle now?)
Second, and more important from a human-rights perspective, was what he said about torture and interrogations: "We must adhere to our values diligently and with no exceptions." No exceptions. None of this ticking-bomb crap that doesn't exist in the real world, none of these Jack Bauer distortions. Sullivan up, Krauthammer down.
Blair and Panetta reflected both of those statements in their own. Blair said he had been charged by Obama to give policymakers "timely accurate, relevant intelligence" and reflective of "different perspectives." He pledged, like Adm. Mike McConnell before him, to tell Obama "how well we now what we know, and what we don't know." Some at CIA might be upset by Blair's remark that CIA is "one of the key agencies in the intelligence community," instead of the key agency, but, you know, c'mon.