Thursday, March 14, 2013

John Ragosta Applauds CIA Director's Oath

March 14, 2013

Bravo for Brennan! by John Ragosta

Right-wing pundits have launched an attack against CIA Director John Brennan because he took the oath of office with a hand on George Washington's copy of the Constitution. Of course, that's not directly the problem; what they are so incensed about is that he didn't use a Bible and that the original version of the Constitution did not include the Bill of Rights. This is thin gruel for such outrage. In fact, Brennan should be applauded.

Continue reading here.


Tom Van Dyke said...

If we're going to get blatantly partisan here, "right-wing pundits" is going to have to include more than scouring personal blogs as representative of the "right-wing." You can always find some idiot somewhere making a big deal out of anything.

Since the controversy over Brennan's appointment was tied to the questionable constitutionality of the Obama Administration's policy of drone-killing American citizens without due process, a policy condemned by the left wing as well

that Brennan chose to deviate from custom and practice with an oath on a Constitution without a Bill of Rights is an irony worth a wry and rueful note at least.

Ray Soller said...

Tom, did you get reading past the first three words of John Ragosta's article? Can you suggest another handle for this group?

As far as the use of drones in a war zone is concerned, I have my own doubts, but the real question is whether Brennan is qualified for the job. You skipped over his qualifications, and how the Senate finally approved John Brennan as the new CIA Director.

If we go back to his federal oath, I ask whether the Brennan detractors have ever criticized an oath being sworn on the Bible. The last I read this holy book doesn't contain a "Bill of Rights" either.

Unfortunately, another problem with the Brennan detractors is that their criticisms went beyond the lack of a Bible and the missing Bill of Rights. It went to the use of religious innuendos. Here's what a 2/12/2013 article, Muslim Advocacy Group: There's No Evidence That John Brennan Converted to Islam, had to say on the subject.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Tom, did you get reading past the first three words of John Ragosta's article? Can you suggest another handle for this group?.

I have no disagreement with Ragosta's argument. I just think it's partisan hackery---trolling the internet for the dumbest right-wingers [or left-wingers] we can find, and then commenting on the "controversy" is a dishonest technique.

FTR: It's fine to have a point of view---left-right-or-center. You want to argue for a religious Founding or a godless Constitution, that's fine. Both arguments have merit, and we all have a POV, let's be honest. But to drag BS partisan non-issues onto the front page of our blog is far more about generating heat than light. With all due respect, RS.

A rightperson such as myself could easily craft a post about the questionable constitutionality of the Obama Admin summarily executing American citizens in defiance of the 5th Amendment guarantee of due process, and make it technically relevant to the purposes of this blog.

And indeed, it's a far more controversial and important topic than the here-today/gone-tomorrow of Brennan's oath, but I personally think it would be an abuse of the founding principles of the American Creation blog. And so, I would attempt to resist the temptation. We could turn American Creation into an exchange of partisan hackeries and look just like the rest of the internet with very little trouble atall.

JMS said...

Anybody defending or criticizing the mode and manner of John Brennan's oath of office misses the point. Professor Ragosta (whose book on the battle for religious liberty in VA I admire) also misses the point by refuting his own thesis. Mr. Brennan's actions, in both the Bush and Obama administrations, contradicts Ragosta's conclusion that "that this is a nation of laws, and not of men!" As Senator Ron Wyden asserted in response to the Obama administration’s refusals (including Brennan and Att’y Gen’l Holder) to divulge the contents of its legal guidelines for assassinating American citizens:

“For the executive branch to claim that intelligence agencies have the authority to knowingly kill American citizens but refuse to provide Congress with any and all legal opinions that explain the executive branch’s understanding of this authority represents an alarming and indefensible assertion of executive prerogative.”

One can imagine either the President or the CIA Director invoking Napoleon’s bitter retort that, “they expected me to be another Washington.” Professor Ragosta noted correctly that “George Washington defended the sovereign power of the people through their Congress.”

Unfortunately Mr. Brennan seems clueless as to how radical the Bush and Obama administration's theories of executive power have been and still are. Professor David Cole from Georgetown Law School asked the key question:

“How can we be free if our government has the power to kill us in secret?....We may think we are free to say what we want, exercise our religion and enjoy the protections of privacy, but none of those guarantees really exists if the president can order us killed in secret.”

As James Madison noted, “power is of an encroaching nature, and it ought to be effectually restrained.” A government of laws and not of men and women cannot rely on “parchment barriers” or oath-taking rituals “against the encroaching spirit of power.”