Thursday, February 05, 2009

Obama and Renditions

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While keeping his options open on renditions (to the consternation of his supporters), Obama has kept a valuable tool for fighting terror. Just how effectively it will be used is another matter:

Many members of the Obama administration also served in the Clinton administration, which was widely seen as considering all legal ramifications of potential renditions before taking any action. As a former deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration, new Attorney General Eric Holder enjoyed a reputation for deliberating on renditions to the point of inaction — effectively vetoing such operations.

While an appearance of greater attention to the law might come as a relief to many, actors in the field do not have the luxury of endless deliberation and total consensus — they have a narrow window of opportunity in which to act on perishable intelligence. Assuming that Obama’s administration acts with deliberation and pursues consensus building (as he himself has emphasized, and has demonstrated in the bipartisan nature of his Cabinet selections), the legality of renditions might become moot if they are not agreed upon in a timely manner. There is a fine line to walk between efficiency and legality in this field, with extremes on either side being detrimental to national security.
Holder, much like Sandy Berger before him, can hold up an op to the point it can't be undertaken. The fact that Obama even left rendition on the table says that he may pull the trigger under some circumstances even if Holder will not. Another barrier could be Leon Panetta--the single worst choice to run the CIA in decades--who is notorious for being soft.

Read the post, it's worth your time.

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