Shorter Question Everything
…While noting that Hagel “served our nation with honor in Vietnam,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in a statement: “I have serious concerns about positions Senator Hagel has taken on a range of critical national security issues in recent years, which we will fully consider in the course of his confirmation process before the Senate Armed Services Committee.”
McCain also said he has “many questions and concerns” about Brennan’s nomination, “especially what role he played in the so-called enhanced interrogation programs while serving at the CIA during the last administration, as well as his public defense of those programs.”
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) strongly denounced the nomination of Hagel, calling him “the wrong man for the job at such a pivotal time.” The second-ranking House Republican said Hagel’s “views and inflammatory statements about Israel are well outside the mainstream and raise well-founded doubts that he can be trusted to manage the special relationship the United States shares with our greatest Middle East ally.”
…Brennan, a veteran CIA analyst who rose to become deputy executive director during the first term of President George W. Bush, was also considered for the top CIA post in 2009, when Obama first took office. He was forced to withdraw from consideration after liberal groups accused him of complicity in the agency’s use of brutal interrogation measures under Bush — criticism that Brennan denounced as unfair and inaccurate.
His nomination now — after serving for four years as Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, a position which did not require Senate confirmation — could spur scrutiny of his role in escalating the CIA’s drone war and renew debate over the agency’s use of harsh methods.
• Addington to monitor executive branch overreach: David Addington, whose name became synonymous with an expansive view of executive power during President George W. Bush’s administration, is taking over the legal division of the conservative Heritage Foundation. The foundation announced Thursday that Addington, 55, a former counsel and chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, will head up Heritage’s Center for Legal and Judicial Studies starting Feb. 1. And what will Addington do, exactly, at Heritage? That’s the funny part — Orin Kerr noted that Addington “will focus on combating excessive claims of federal government power and overreaching claims of the executive branch.” For those who may have forgotten about his antics as one of Dick Cheney’s chief lieutenants, Addington was an enthusiastic proponent of “Unitary Theory of the Executive” (or “Unitary Executive Theory”) which is a philosophy that grants a president extraordinary — an extra-legal — powers, especially in matters related to national security. It’s one of the main rationales that led the Bush/Cheney team to use torture — because “criminal statutes are not read as infringing on the president’s ultimate authority” in overseeing a war, as one of the torture memos argued. Addington also participated in discussions of destroying CIA video footage of detainee torture, and was comfortable arguing the vice president’s office is not part of the executive branch.
• Secretary of State Hillary Clinton returns to work: “She was presented with a gift from her staff: protective head gear — a football helmet with the State Department logo on the side as well as a football jersey with the number 112 on it, for the number of countries the secretary visited during her four-year tenure.”
• Fox claims Obama ‘blueprint for disarming Americans’. Of course, this is based on “a leaked US Army Military Police training manual for “Civil Disturbance Operations” (PDF) dating from 2006.” Or, you know, 2 years before he was president.
• Responding to Gabby Giffords’ Friday visit to Newtown, Conn., where she met with families of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Connecticut state Rep. DebraLee Hovey (R) had a message for the former congresswoman: “Gabby Giffords stay out of my towns!” Hovey later issued an apology.
• A coalition of pro-gun groups are hoping “strike the fear of God in the gun-grabbing politicians” by organizing a “Gun Appreciation Day” just 48 hours before President Barack Obama’s second inauguration. In a Monday press release, Gun Appreciation Day (GAD) chairman Larry Ward called on “Americans nationwide to show their support for gun ownership by turning out en masse at gun stores, ranges, and shows from coast to coast” on January 19.
• A border security official in Kyrgyzstan said a hostage situation in an Uzbek enclave ended Monday following tense negotiations. Iskender Mambetaliev, the chief of staff for Kyrgyzstan’s border security guard, said a number of Kyrgyz citizens were released from the Uzbek district of Sokh following talks with Uzbek authorities. “During (Sunday’s) illegal actions by the citizens of the Republic of Uzbekistan, dozens of our citizens were captured,” he was quoted by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty as saying. Twenty citizens were freed following the talks.
• The fugitive founder of Sea Shepherd has stepped down from key roles at the militant anti-whaling group, passing the Antarctic harpoon chase mantle to a former Australian politician. Canadian Paul Watson is wanted by Interpol after skipping bail last July in Germany, where he was arrested on Costa Rican charges relating to a high-seas confrontation over shark finning in 2002. Due to a raft of legal issues he has stepped down as president of the group in the US and Australia, and as captain of flagship anti-hunt vessel the “Steve Irwin”, although he will remain with the fleet during this year’s campaign. Watson’s whereabouts had been a mystery until December, when he confirmed that he was back on board a Sea Shepherd vessel and ready for the group’s annual Southern Ocean expedition against the Japanese whaling fleet. Sea Shepherd said he would take a back seat in the chase, with Bob Brown — founder and long-time chief of Australia’s environmentally minded Greens party — to direct operations. The Steve Irwin will be captained by Indian sailor Siddharth Chakravarty, formerly the ship’s first officer, with Watson to “remain aboard to document the campaign”. “I am honoured to serve the great whales of the Southern Ocean and Sea Shepherd in this way,” said Brown, a renowned conservationist. Sea Shepherd Australia director Jeff Hansen will co-direct the campaign, and said the change in leadership was a natural evolution given the Australian chapter’s heavy involvement and the continent’s proximity to Antarctica. Hansen said Watson’s legal problems had played a part in the decision.