Posts Tagged ‘Tom Ridge’

Why Marco Rubio Is the Future of the Republican Party

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Rubio’s comments on the Arizona law:

While I don’t believe Arizona’s policy was based on anything other than trying to get a handle on our broken borders, I think aspects of the law, especially that dealing with ‘reasonable suspicion,’ are going to put our law enforcement officers in an incredibly difficult position.  It could also unreasonably single out people who are here legally, including many American citizens.  Throughout American history and throughout this administration we have seen that when government is given an inch it takes a mile.

Other right wingers and Republicans have stood against the law — as Andrew Sullivan ably chronicles — including Karl Rove, Jeb Bush, and Tom Ridge. But none manages to finesse the issue quite so well as Rubio — who has the added advantage of being the most prominent Latino Republican in the nation. When the Republican Party has no choice but to try to woo the Hispanic vote as the demographics of the nation shift — while at the same time not alienating the overwhelmingly white populist right wing, Marco Rubio will be the answer. He will serve the same function to the party in the future as Michael Steele does now — except Rubio likely won’t be the screw-up Steele has been.

Notice how Rubio couches his opposition in populist right-wing grounds — that it would undermine the liberties of American citizens, that it puts police officers in a difficult position, that it represents encroaching government power.

It’s very well-done — and compared to the other statements by Republicans against the law — it’s masterful. This ability to position himself so well — added to his life story of how his parents escaped Communist Cuba to come to the land of opportunity — makes him a top-tier Republican presidential or vice-presidential candidate in the near-future. The fact that he’s Latino guarantees him a spot on a national ticket by 2020. I’d bet a presidential run in 2016 leads to him getting the Republican nomination for Vice President and/or lays the groundwork for his successful effort to in 2020 to get the Republican presidential nomination.

[Adapted from an image by DavidAll06 licensed under Creative Commons.]

The Rift Torture Created Between the CIA and FBI Made America Less Safe

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Tom Ridge makes a number of extraordinary statements here, but I want to highlight one:

[The Patriot Act] tore down the wall, the legal barrier, between law enforcement and intelligence. You couldn’t talk to each other. Patriot Act destroyed the wall. Very important. [Threatening to prosecute CIA interrogators now] is almost like putting up a psychological barrier…

What makes this statement so extraordinary is that the torture itself created a psychological barrier – as novice CIA interrogators and independent contractors (with no experience in interrogation) neither of whom were experts in the Arab world, Islam, or Al Qaeda took over interrogations instead of the experienced FBI hands such as Ali Soufan. Not only were the more experienced and knowledgeable interrogators subordinated to novices, but they were eventually forced to withdraw all agents from any interrogation sites due to the torture they witnessed. Soufan explained this in the Times back in April:

One of the worst consequences of the use of these harsh techniques was that it reintroduced the so-called Chinese wall between the C.I.A. and F.B.I., similar to the communications obstacles that prevented us from working together to stop the 9/11 attacks. Because the bureau would not employ these problematic techniques, our agents who knew the most about the terrorists could have no part in the investigation. An F.B.I. colleague of mine who knew more about Khalid Shaikh Mohammed than anyone in the government was not allowed to speak to him. [my emphasis]

In a recent Times op-ed, he sounded almost plaintive as he reflected on the Bush administration decisions that removed him along with all other FBI agents from being able to interrogate the highest level detainees:

Mr. Mohammed knew the location of most, if not all, of the members of Al Qaeda’s leadership council, and possibly of every covert cell around the world. One can only imagine who else we could have captured, or what attacks we might have disrupted, if Mr. Mohammed had been questioned by the experts who knew the most about him.

And as Soufan pointed out in earlier testimony to Congress, the bulk and the most important of the true information derived from Abu Zubaydah came from FBI interrogation techniques. (Soufan himself conducted the interrogations, or attempted to, as conflicting orders from Washington kept putting inexperienced CIA contractors in charge.)

Ridge’s statement is extraordinary then for its ignorance of how torture itself affected the relationship between the FBI and the CIA – how, despite the important provisions of the Patriot Act that allowed sharing of information, CIA torture effectively reinstated the wall. He gets it backwards – it is not the prosecution of torture that is creating the psychological barrier to the sharing of information; it was the the crimes of torture themselves that did.