Top CIA official: Obama “changed virtually nothing”

A new Frontline from PBS features a "revelation" that is anything but, though it offers an important added detail

Topics: Barack Obama,

Top CIA official: Obama "changed virtually nothing"John Rizzo

PBS’s Frontline is airing an examination of “Top Secret America” on September 6.  The show includes a rare and lengthy interview with 34-year-CIA-veteran John Rizzo, who is described as “the most influential lawyer in CIA history.”  PBS is promoting that interview this way:

Here is one quote they include from Rizzo:

With a notable exception of the enhanced interrogation program, the incoming Obama administration changed virtually nothing with respect to existing CIA programs and operations. Things continued. Authorities were continued that were originally granted by President Bush beginning shortly after 9/11. Those were all picked up, reviewed and endorsed by the Obama administration.

Frontline adds that while candidate Obama “promised a sweeping overhaul of the Bush administration’s war on terror” and “a top to bottom review of the threats we face and our abilities to confront them,” Rizzo explains that, in fact, Obama officials during the transition made clear to the CIA that they intended almost complete continuity.  And Rizzo was joined in this assessment today by Dick Cheney, who — as recounted by his long-time faithful stenographer, Politico‘s Mike Allen — cites this continuity to (once again) claim “vindication”; said the former Vice President, “[Obama] ultimately had to adopt many of the same policies that we had been pursuing because that was the most effective way to defend the nation.”

You Might Also Like

Obviously — other than the important added detail that this was all planned even before the inauguration — none of this is new to anyone paying even minimal attention (see Update II).  Not only civil libertarians but even right-wing ideologues eager to depict Obama as “Soft on Terror” have been forced repeatedly to acknowledge this continuity and to praise Obama for it.  Indeed, Charlie Savage observed this trend in the very first month of the Obama presidency (in response to which I objected — erroneously as it turns out — that Savage’s Bush/Obama comparisons were premature). Jack Goldsmith in The New Republic in May, 2009, made the insightful point that not only was Obama continuing these core Bush/Cheney Terrorism policies, but was actually strengthening them by, among other things, converting them from right-wing dogma into bipartisan consensus.  So none of this is new, to put it mildly.  Still – given how much Democrats once opportunistically pretended to find these policies so deeply offensive and intolerable — the more this realization spreads, the better.  Rizzo’s comments and Frontline‘s program ought to accomplish that.

Glenn Greenwald

Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Martyna Blaszczyk/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 1

    Pond de l'Archeveche - hundreds thousands of padlocks locked to a bridge by random couples, as a symbol of their eternal love. After another iconic Pont des Arts bridge was cleared of the padlocks in 2010 (as a safety measure), people started to place their love symbols on this one. Today both of the bridges are full of love locks again.

    Anders Andersson/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 2

    A bird's view of tulip fields near Voorhout in the Netherlands, photographed with a drone in April 2015.

    Aashit Desai/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 3

    Angalamman Festival is celebrated every year in a small town called Kaveripattinam in Tamil Nadu. Devotees, numbering in tens of thousands, converge in this town the day after Maha Shivratri to worship the deity Angalamman, meaning 'The Guardian God'. During the festival some of the worshippers paint their faces that personifies Goddess Kali. Other indulge in the ritual of piercing iron rods throughout their cheeks.

    Allan Gichigi/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 4

    Kit Mikai is a natural rock formation about 40m high found in Western Kenya. She goes up the rocks regularly to meditate. Kit Mikai, Kenya

    Chris Ludlow/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 5

    On a weekend trip to buffalo from Toronto we made a pit stop at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. I took this shot with my nexus 5 smartphone. I was randomly shooting the falls themselves from different viewpoints when I happened to get a pretty lucky and interesting shot of this lone seagull on patrol over the falls. I didn't even realize I had captured it in the shot until I went back through the photos a few days later

    Jassen T./National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 6

    Incredibly beautiful and extremely remote. Koehn Lake, Mojave Desert, California. Aerial Image.

    Howard Singleton/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 7

    Lucky timing! The oxpecker was originally sitting on hippo's head. I could see the hippo was going into a huge yawn (threat display?) and the oxpecker had to vacate it's perch. When I snapped the pic, the oxpecker appeared on the verge of being inhaled and was perfectly positioned between the massive gaping jaws of the hippo. The oxpecker also appears to be screeching in terror and back-pedaling to avoid being a snack!

    Abrar Mohsin/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 8

    The Yetis of Nepal - The Aghoris as they are called are marked by colorful body paint and clothes

    Madeline Crowley/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 9

    Taken from a zodiac raft on a painfully cold, rainy day

    Ian Bird/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 10

    This wave is situated right near the CBD of Sydney. Some describe it as the most dangerous wave in Australia, due to it breaking on barnacle covered rocks only a few feet deep and only ten metres from the cliff face. If you fall off you could find yourself in a life and death situation. This photo was taken 300 feet directly above the wave from a helicopter, just as the surfer is pulling into the lip of the barrel.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>