Archive for Mike Pompeo Senate Hearing

Vote No on Pompeo!

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , on April 13, 2018 by playthell

Senate Hearings Exposes Dangerous Constitutional Ambiguities

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s confirmation hearings for Mike Pompeo, who Donald Trump has chosen for Secretary of State, the chief diplomat of the USA, often sounded like a tower of babble as they attempted to define the Constitutional limitations on executive war making powers. The confusion centered on which branch of government has final authority to commit the nation to war, and the debate magnified the ambiguity of constitutional mandates that on the face of it seem beyond question.  For instance, the language of the Constitution places the war making power squarely in the hands of the Congress in Article I, Section 8, Clause 11.

It states: “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives…The Congress shall have power to…provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States… To declare war…To raise and support armies… To provide and maintain a navy.”  And Article II, Section 2, names the President Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. But he is empowered to order troops into combat only after the Congress has declared war: “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States…”

It is no wonder that questions regarding which branch of government has the ultimate war making authority was a major theme in the discourse between the Senators and Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo.  This was no academic exercise, as President Trump has threated to bomb Syria any day now.  Hence the Senators were anxious to know how Pompeo, as Secretary of State, would advise Devious Donald.  Especially since Trump has already stated the view that he does not need authorization from Congress to rain bombs down upon the Syrians.  However, when this question was put squarely to Pompeo by Senator Coons, a Democrat from Delaware, Mike seemed as slippery as a greased pig.

Although he looks like a Mafia enforcer from central casting with his husky physique and wise guy Joe Palooka smirk, Pompeo has a sterling academic pedigree.  He graduated first in his class at West Point – which is harder to gain entrance than Harvard – and later earned a law degree from the Harvard Law School, which Senator Coons said in a self-effacing manner he had been rejected and was forced to attend Yale. In an attempt to evade answering the Senator’s question, Pompeo used the occasion to show off his academic chops by citing a gaggle of academic debates on the War Powers question in a transparent display of obfuscation.  He concluded by saying that so many precedents have been set by Presidents ordering military strikes without consulting with Congress it was impossible to say with certainty that it was unconstitutional.

Pompeo fared no better in terms of clarity when he was asked whether he agreed with Trump that Special Counsel Robert Muller’s investigation into Russian meddling is a fraud…a “witch hunt” and should be fired.  He spouted some spurious Mumbo Jumbo about the legal issues being so complex that he couldn’t offer an opinion on the matter.  Refusing to accept that mealy mouth prattle for an answer, one Senator asked him point blank if he would stand up to the President, and even resign, if he fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Assistant A. G. Rosenstein, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, in order to stop the investigation into Russian attempts to subvert our democratic process, Pompeo said he would probably remain at his post taking care of the nation’s business, just as other Secretaries of State had done when the president they served was in trouble, he would stay steady at the wheel and guide the nation through troubled waters.  This too was an obvious dodge.

However, the most dangerous liability of Mr. Pompeo, which would preclude me from voting to confirm his nomination as Secretary of State, is the charge made by some members of the National Security establishment that he “politicized intelligence” in his recent position as head of the CIA.  This is especially dangerous because Pompeo is on record as having opposed the nuclear deal with Iran; he favored “2000 bombing raids” to destroy Iranian nuclear capability instead.  And his belief that a land invasion of North Korea is a feasible military option marks him as an unthinking fanatic.  Sixty years ago, when the North Korean communist revolutionaries had fought invading US forces to a standstill, General Douglass McArthur, conqueror of the Japanese Empire, observed: “Any American President who commits American troops to a ground war in Asia needs their head examined!”

A man who harbors such irrational beliefs and is also willing to “politicize intelligence” is dangerous.  After all, we have seen his like before, and they proved to be mid-wives to catastrophe.  Both the disastrous wars in Vietnam and Iraq was the result of politicized intelligence.  In his revelatory book “Deadly Deceits: My 25 Years in the CIA,” Ralph McGhee, one of the first CIA agents on the ground in Vietnam, provides us an inside view of how we stumbled into one of the most costly wars – in blood, treasure and social turmoil – in US history.

It all began when the CIA was persuaded to cook the intelligence product to a prescribed recipe; so instead of providing Congress and policy makers with objective information they fed them ideologically tainted propaganda.  This is the same way Dick Cheyney, Donald Rumsfeld and their fellow neo-con ideologues in the Project for a New American Century – whose policy papers directed Bush’s foreign policy after the 9/11 terrorist attack by Islamic Jihadist – convinced a clueless George Bush to invade Iraq.

I wrote an extensive analysis of the process by which they took over Bush’s Foreign policy, see: “How the Iraq War Was Spawned in a Think Tank,” on this blog.   The intelligence products they fed the Bush Administration led General Colin Powell, a highly decorated combat veteran, to disgrace himself and cut the fool before the world; giving false information in a speech before the United Nations.

Pompeo was an enthusiastic supporter of the Iraq War. And despite the fact that he is a Sunday school teacher, he is also a highly trained military officer and such a transparent coldblooded war monger he couldn’t be more obvious if he had on fatigues and bandoleros, holding an assault rifle on his lap!  When we realize that Pompeo, like virtually all of the Senators, views the world from the distorted perspective of “American Exceptionalism,” a malignant myth that holds The United States of America above other nations – strains of Deutschland Uber Allis – we have a deadly mix of militarism, nationalism and self-righteousness!

Perhaps the best measure of the impoverished state of our political discourse is revealed in the fact that the wisest and most candid voice among the august Senators was Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky.  An eccentric anti-imperialist Libertarian, Senator Paul reminded me of the great 19th century writer Mark Twain as he delivered a scathing assault on the warmongers who believe they can remold the world in their own image through the promiscuous use of military power.  Not only was Paul vehemently opposed to further American military adventures in the Middle-East, but he thinks all US troops should be pulled from Afghanistan and Iraq; he offered Trump the same advice Henry Kissinger had offered President Nixon during the protracted war in Vietnam: “Just declare victory and come home!”

Rand Paul
 
Giving Pompeo a Dose of Reality

This is also sage counsel for formulating American policy toward North Korea. Alas, this advice was infinitely more profound than anything I heard from Mike Pompeo who, despite his tough guy persona, is a spineless jelly fish when in the presence of Trump. The only sign that he has a bit of a back bone was when Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire  asked him if he agreed with Trump that our present problems with Russia are caused by the Mueller investigation, and he dissented. Pompeo also pledged to implement the sanctions imposed on Russia by Congress, which Trump has refused to do.

Yet this is the exception that proves the rule.  Many observers – this writer included – suspect that lips to posterior is his natural posture in dealing with the President, hence Pompeo is too busy genuflecting to stand up and speak candidly to Dirty Donald on critical issues.  Now is no time for unprincipled suck ups because Trump’s incompetence and amorality has thrown our nation into serious crisis. This is why Pompeo must never become our Secretary of State!  Let’s see if the Senators can muster the balls to kick this cad to the curb.

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(Click to See Mike Pompeo Stonewall Senator Mendez’s questions)

 

Honorable?

Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
April 13, 2018