On today's BradCast: Trump's unending White House chaos appears to have morphed into Trump's White House purge of not-insane top officials, beginning with his Tuesday firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, via Tweet. [Audio link follow below.]
At the same time, Trump named rightwing former Congressman and Fox "News" Tea Party flunky turned CIA Director Mike Pompeo as his nominee to take over the role of the nation's top diplomat and Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel, who oversaw torture at so-called "black site" prisons during the George W. Bush presidency, to take over Pompeo's role as CIA chief.
We're joined today by national security and civil rights journalist MARCY WHEELER of emptywheel.net to discuss all of today's alarming developments. At the center of our conversation, after discussion of why Trump off-loaded Tillerson, is whether Pompeo and Haspel will even be able to make it through the confirmation process in the U.S. Senate at all at this point, and how the entire mess, once again, highlights the shameful failure by Congressional Democrats and former President Barack Obama to demand real accountability for the war criminals at the center of Bush's torture regime.
"When people talk about how we ended up with Donald Trump, this is the problem," Wheeler argues. "We have excused things like torture for so long that it's just created the opportunity for Donald Trump. Yes, those precedents really created the way for him."
Remarkably, as discussed today, even Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein --- who spent years heroically fighting the U.S. Intelligence agencies to expose their horrific torture practices --- seems prepared to approve Haspel, for some reason, as do the former heads of those agencies --- the very same folks who claim to oppose Trump and object to his response to allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
On Haspel, Wheeler warns: "She's terrible for two reasons. One is that she's a torturer, and not just a torturer but a particularly sadistic one. But the second one is that she orchestrated both a personal and agency cover-up. And so we should expect, with her as CIA Director, to have the CIA even less in control than it is now." Yes, Haspel also oversaw the CIA's destruction of their videotapes of torture sessions.
Hard to figure out who's more furious about it all, me or Wheeler, after years of warning about precisely this day.
On Pompeo, Wheeler says: "He is much closer to Trump's views on [Russia, North Korea and Iran]. Very importantly, especially on Iran. So I think if Pompeo is confirmed, I think the chances of us going to war with Iran are significantly higher."
And, just to make my day, she warns that, should National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster be replaced, as rumored, his replacement won't even have to struggle with Senate confirmation (a road, which she predicts, may be difficult for both Haspel and Pompeo, though more so for the latter.) If McMaster is replaced by John Bolton, as some have suggested, "he gets appointed, because it's not Senate confirmed. So If Trump wants him, he's in charge of nuking North Korea."
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for some more thoughts on the removal of Tillerson (ironically enough, even though he previously served as CEO of ExxonMobil, he was decidedly not a climate change denier and actually supported the U.S. staying in the Paris Agreement) and for the latest Green News Report, in which the nation and planet continue to suffer from the perfidy of dishonest Republican climate change denialism...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)