Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The New Boss

From WSJ - "President-elect Barack Obama is unlikely to radically overhaul controversial Bush administration intelligence policies, advisers say, an approach that is almost certain to create tension within the Democratic Party."

Disappointing? Sure. But I mentioned yesterday this was expected: "Hopefully, Obama will put an immediate end to the most egregious examples of Bush's anti-constitutional methods. I expect some will end, and some will not, and I expect to be disappointed."

I think Obama will move ahead with the plan reported by the AP, and reposted here yesterday, to close Guantanamo quickly. The court that will try those prisoners who actually are dangerous criminals will be difficult to establish and take some wrangling. But closing Gitmo is a no-brainer quick-fix that will wipe away an icon of the Bush Administration's unconstitutional actions.

Foreclosure on Gitmo is largely symbolic next to actual intelligence reform, but that will take time. Buried in that WSJ article is also this graph: "Advisers caution that few decisions will be made until the team gets a better picture of how the Bush administration actually goes about gathering intelligence, including covert programs, and there could be a greater shift after a full review."

I think that a slow, steady shift away from Bush's policies is likely. But Obama is no knee-jerk liberal who wants to shut the operation down on day one. We've got to get used to the idea that this guy is not as liberal as we'd like to think he is. He finds third-ways. Compromises. You know what that means, right? Everyone's left unhappy. That's what a good compromiser does. So prepare to be unhappy. Just know, the other end of the spectrum will be unhappy, too.

David Kurtz makes a good point over at Talking Points Memo that I should have addressed in this post. Namely, that the WSJ article, and really any definitive talk on "what the Obama Administration WILL do" should be approached with an abundance of skepticism. That said, I do think it is unlikely that radical intelligence overhauls will come quickly and, to another of Kurtz's points at TPM, I don't think Robert Gates will, or should, remain on as Secretary of Defense. So, yes, moving forward, question everything that's not a hard-and-fast fact.

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