Obama Would Make a Good CIA Director in a Perry Administration
posted at 8:50 pm on August 28, 2011 by John Sexton
Now I’ll grant that the idea of progressive hope and change candidate Obama as head of the nation’s spy agency sounds strange to the ear, but news of another Al Qaeda leader’s death in Pakistan has me thinking that–whatever his failures in other important areas like the economy, foreign policy, etc.–Barack Obama has a knack for killing people abroad who threaten the US. A few highlights:
- April 2009 – In the first few months of his administration, Obama sent a team of SEALs to kill Somali pirates who’d taken a ship’s captain hostage. Three pirates were shot in the head, one was captured alive.
- August 2009 – Drones kill militant Baitullah Mehsud along with his wife and family.
- October 2009 – Abu Ayyub al-Masri an Al Qaeda explosives expert is killed in Pakistan.
- March 2010 – Hussein al-Yemeni an Al Qaeda planner is killed by a drone strike.
- May 2010 – Saeed al-Masri, Al Qaeda’s 3rd in command is killed by drone strikes.
- June 2010 – Al Qaeda leader Abu Ahmed Tarkash is killed in a drone strike.
- April 2011 – Obama authorizes a SEAL mission that kills Osama bin Laden.
- June 2011 – Suspected senior Al Qaeda operative Ilyas Kashmiri is killed in a drone strike in Pakistan.
- August 2011 – Drones kill the aforementioned Atiyah Abd al-Rahman.
Since taking office Obama’s drone strikes have reportedly killed at least 1,300 in Pakistan, most of them terrorists. This is up substantially from the number of drone strikes under President Bush. And of course the death of Osama bin Laden is all the qualification he needs. The fact that Obama is a progressive won’t make much difference running drone strikes from Langley. It hasn’t seemed to in the last three years and that’s too his credit.
There would be political advantages to having Obama in a position like this as well. Under Bush, the left threw fits over the legality of the CIA’s attempts to keep us safe. No doubt Obama’s increased drone strikes would have been seen as the work of a lawless, imperial presidency had they been undertaken by Bush. But Obama, for the most part has been given a pass because of his domestic politics. (Another case in point, the invasion of Libya which would have caused liberal heads to explode if Bush had tried it.) Rick Perry, should he win the White House, will certainly face a resurgent, anti-war left. Placing Obama in the driver’s seat of our covert military response to terrorism would help insulate Perry from those attacks.
Whatever his failings, and they are legion when it comes to getting America back to work, Barack Obama has given the CIA the kind of free reign abroad that Dick Cheney only dreamed about. Should Obama lose the 2012 election, there’s no reason he can’t continue to serve where his service will do the nation the most good.