There’s a lot of great stuff in Jane Mayer’s profile of Leon Panetta in the new New Yorker — for instance, Panetta bitchslapping Dick Cheney: "[I]t’s almost as if he’s wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point." — and since I’m still reading it, I’ll not say much about it yet. But I notice that a Joe Scarborough line from last year that was intended to insult me and my friends is now used by ostensible national-security professionals to insult Glenn Greenwald and other bloggers who opposed John Brennan’s appointment as CIA director:
A friend of Brennan’s from his C.I.A. days complained to me, “After a few Cheeto-eating people in the basement working in their underwear who write blogs voiced objections to Brennan, the Obama Administration pulled his name at the first sign of smoke, and then ruled out a whole class of people: anyone who had been at the agency during the past ten years couldn’t pass the blogger test.”
This is dumb and juvenile, for so many reasons. First, Brennan isn’t CIA director, but he’s an extremely powerful White House aide with direct access to President Obama. So how’d Brennan really do on the "blogger test"? Second, I’ve had my differences with Glenn on the question of the broader significance of Brennan’s record, and I suppose that on the merits my concerns in this post put me kind of close to saying something close to what this person says. But disrespecting Glenn, who’s a constitutional lawyer, author of multiple books and consistent architect of some of the carefullest close-reads this side of Marcy Wheeler, is a surefire way to make an argument look stupid. Glenn no more sits in his basement and blogs without knowledge of the outside world than John Brennan sat at CIA headquarters and ordered dudes tortured. Third, I know a lot of bloggers, and I know absolutely no bloggers who eat Cheetos. I’ve field tested the stuff and it’s gross.
I have expressed doubts about whether a necessary effort to end torture will end up scotching the careers of qualified and competent national-security professionals who had, at most, marginal involvement in the previous administration’s "enhanced interrogation program." And I certainly understand sticking up for your friends. But there’s something really ugly about belittling those who want to ensure that the U.S. truly doesn’t torture people any more. Extremism in opposition to torture is no vice.