Top 10 Questions for Avril Haines, Neera Tanden and Antony Blinken, by David Swanson

Alas

Image by Jared Rodriguez / Truthout.org via Flickr

by David Swanson
Writer, Dandelion Salad
Let’s Try Democracy, Dec. 30, 2020
January 2, 2021

Before Avril Haines can become Director of National Intelligence, Senators must approve. And before that, they must ask questions. Here are some suggestions for what they should ask.

1. What are the most extreme measures that should be considered in extreme situations to protect open democratic government?

2. Would those, excuse me, would, reclaiming my time, would those measures not be more extreme than refusing to confirm for high office someone like yourself who opposes open democratic government, for example by censoring the vast majority of this Senate’s report on torture, and overruling the CIA’s own Inspector General to refuse to discipline CIA agents who hacked into the computers of the Senate Intelligence Committee to sabotage an investigation of torture, choosing instead to award medals to those criminals?

3. When should and when should not torturers be prosecuted? And when should they be supported, as you supported Gina Haspell to fail upward into the position of CIA director?

4. According to Newsweek, you used to be summoned in the middle of the night to help decide what man, woman, or child (along with anyone too close to them) ought to be blown up with a missile. According to CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou, you regularly approved of proposed drone murders. There are people in this room who have done vastly more harm to some other countries than some of the children you helped kill ever did to anyone. Which countries should have the right to use armed drones around the world and which should not, and why?

5. You co-authored the May 22, 2013, “presidential policy guidance” that claimed to justify illegal killings with missiles. You did away with the presumption of innocence, the indictment, the trial, the conviction, and the sentencing. You abolished the United Nations Charter, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, the U.S. Constitution, the War Powers Resolution, and the various national laws around the globe on murder. This whitewashing of human incineration helped largely replace the policies of incarceration and torture with that of murder. Could you please give us 30 seconds of disgusting platitudes on the topic of your respect for the rule of law?

6. A report by the CIA found its own drone program “counterproductive.” Admiral Dennis Blair, the former Director of National Intelligencesaid that while “drone attacks did help reduce the Qaeda leadership in Pakistan, they also increased hatred of America.” According to General Stanley McChrystal: “For every innocent person you kill, you create 10 new enemies.” Lt. Col. John W. Nicholson Jr., commander of the war on Afghanistan, blurted out his opposition to what he’d been doing on his last day of doing it. Gen. James E. Cartwright, the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said “We’re seeing that blowback. If you’re trying to kill your way to a solution, no matter how precise you are, you’re going to upset people even if they’re not targeted.” In the view of Sherard Cowper-Coles, Former U.K. Special Representative To Afghanistan, “For every dead Pashtun warrior, there will be 10 pledged to revenge.” We’ve seen a drone war on Yemen held up as the ultimate success, before it predictably devolved into the worst humanitarian disaster in years. How does the drone murder policy that you’ve been a part of hold up on its own terms?

7. Which is better, torture or murder?

8. Former CIA Director Mike Pompeo brags about having lied, stolen, and cheated. “We had whole courses on that,” he says. Former President Harry Truman said he’d wanted to create the Central Intelligence Agency for the same reason that George W. Bush said he’d wanted to create the director of national intelligence, in order to have a single agency reconcile conflicting information from various other agencies. “I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations,” wrote Truman, who wanted the CIA restricted to so-called “intelligence.” We’ve now had 75 years of government overthrows, election interference, arming of terrorists, kidnapping, murder, torture, lies to justify wars, bribery of foreign officials, cyber-attacks, and other sorts of “peacetime cloak and dagger,” plus open warfare waged by this unaccountable agency and its fellow secretive agencies, including through the use of drones. With vast sums of unaccounted-for money, much of it generated by off-the-books proprietary companies and illegal activities like drug smuggling, the CIA and its sister agencies spread corruption around the world. This corruption undermines the U.S. government and the rule of law. CIA attacks on foreign governments and peoples backfire against the United States time and time again. The CIA even illegally keeps secret and exploits weaknesses in U.S. companies’ technologies, hiding flaws from Apple, Google, and all of their customers. The NSA unconstitutionally spies on all of us. How does the net result of keeping these lawless agencies around do us more good than it would to hire some smart historians, scholars, diplomats, and advocates for peace?

9. You’ve supported vicious sanctions against the people of North Korea and the overthrow of their government. Which populations in the world should be punished with sanctions? What good has that practice ever done? And which nations should have the right to overthrow the governments of other nations, and why?

10. You have worked as a consultant at WestExec Advisors, a company that helps war profiteers get contracts, and serves as a revolving door for unscrupulous individuals who get rich from private money for what they do and whom they get to know in their public jobs. Is war profiteering acceptable? How would you perform your job differently in government if you anticipated being hired by a peace organization afterward?

Add more questions for Avril Haines as comments on this page.
Read Top 10 Questions for Neera Tanden. [See below]
Read Top 10 Questions for Antony Blinken. [See below]

Further reading:
Medea Benjamin: No, Joe, Don’t Roll Out the Red Carpet for Torture Enablers
Medea Benjamin and Marcy Winograd: Why Senators Must Reject Avril Haines for Intelligence
David Swanson: Drone Murder Has Been Normalized

Top 10 Questions for Neera Tanden

by David Swanson
Writer, Dandelion Salad
Let’s Try Democracy, Dec. 30, 2020
January 2, 2021

Before Neera Tanden can become Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Senators must approve. And before that, they must ask questions. Here are some suggestions for what they should ask.

1. You supported an attack on Libya that proved fraudulently marketed, illegal, and catastrophic in results, after which you argued in an email to your colleagues for trying to force Libya to pay via oil profits for the privilege of having been bombed. You wrote that this would be a good solution to a U.S. budget deficit. One of your colleagues replied that such a policy might create a financial incentive for attacking more countries. What countries, if any, would you most favor attacking and then billing for the service?

2. Reclaiming, thank you, reclaiming my time, what criteria do you think one should use if one were to select the countries most appropriate to attack and then bill for it?

3. You suggested in your email that the U.S. public would better support future wars if the wars’ victims paid for them. You hope to oversee a budget that is tipped more heavily toward militarism than most, and possibly any, other national government on earth. A majority of U.S. discretionary spending goes into militarism. You come to the job from a think tank funded, in part, by weapons companies and foreign dictatorships that do business with those weapons companies — a think tank that has taken very weapons-friendly positions, even refusing to oppose the war on Yemen. How does that qualify you to oversee the sort of conversion to peaceful practices that will be required for survival and prosperity?

4. You suggested in that same email that the alternatives to making countries pay for being bombed would be to cut Headstart or the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, or Medicaid. How do those alternatives make it onto the list of possibilities, while reducing military spending does not, reducing police and prison and border patrol and ICE and CIA and NSA spending does not, taxing corporations does not, taxing billionaires does not, taxing financial transactions does not, taxing carbon does not?

5. You spent much of your nine years running a think tank courting major corporate donors, and producing corporate-friendly policies. You instructed your staff to check whether content might offend big donors prior to publishing. You even censored major work products to appease big donors, such as deleting a report chapter on New York police abuse of Muslims after Michael Bloomberg chipped in over $1 million. You also censored criticism of the government of Israel and gave a platform in Washington to its leader. You kept much of your think tank’s funding secret, and the reasons why were pretty clear from what became public. How does this qualify you to serve the public in an open and transparent and representative government?

6. You’ve long advocated cutting Social Security, one of the most successful and popular U.S. government programs ever. Is that still your position, and why or why not?

7. You claim that you pushed, while observers say you punched, a reporter for asking Hillary Clinton about her support for the war on Iraq. Can you provide the Senate with guidelines for the sort of questions to which the proper response is physical assault? Does this question qualify? Do you, honestly, right now, want to punch me?

8. You have outraged numerous political opponents, including members of both major political parties in this Senate. Much of what you’ve already been asked about, we only know about because you outraged your own employees. You once outed an anonymous victim of sexual harassment, which shocked and outraged those involved. What qualifies you as the best person to work harmoniously with every agency in the U.S. government?

9. You sought to delegitimize the 2016 U.S. presidential election, not with serious documented complaints, but with baseless claims that the Russian government infiltrated and manipulated the vote counting. Did you believe those claims? Do you believe them now? Do you take any responsibility for the large numbers of other people who believe them now?

10. What would be one example of a situation in which you would choose to become a whistleblower?

Add more questions for Neera Tanden as comments on this page.
Read Top 10 Questions for Avril Haines. [See above]
Read Top 10 Questions for Antony Blinken. [See below]

Further reading:
Norman Solomon: Neera Tanden and Antony Blinken Personify the ‘Moderate’ Rot at the Top of the Democratic Party
Glenn Greenwald: Leaked Emails From Pro-Clinton Group Reveal Censorship of Staff on Israel, AIPAC Pandering, Warped Militarism
Glenn Greenwald: Biden Appointee Neera Tanden Spread the Conspiracy That Russian Hackers Changed Hillary’s 2016 Votes to Trump

Top 10 Questions for Antony Blinken

by David Swanson
Writer, Dandelion Salad
Let’s Try Democracy, Dec. 30, 2020
January 2, 2021

Before Antony Blinken can become Secretary of State, Senators must approve. And before that, they must ask questions. Here are some suggestions for what they should ask.

1. Second to the war on Iraq, which of the disasters you’ve helped facilitate do you most regret, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, or something else? And what have you learned that would improve your record going forward?

2. You once supported dividing Iraq into three nations. I’ve asked an Iraqi friend to draw up a plan to divide the United States up into three nations. Without yet seeing the plan, what is your initial reaction, and which state do you most hope to not end up with?

3. The trend from the Bush years to the Obama years to the Trump years is now one of moving away from ground wars in favor of air wars. This often means more killing, more injuring, more making people homeless, but an even higher percentage of that suffering on the non-U.S. side. How would you defend this trend if you were teaching children about morality?

4. Much of the U.S. public has been clamoring for an end to endless wars. President-Elect Biden has promised an end to endless wars. You’ve suggested that the endless wars shouldn’t really be actually ended. We’ve seen both President Obama and President Trump take credit for ending wars without ending them, but surely that legerdemain cannot succeed forever. Which of these wars do you support immediately and actually in the ordinary sense of the word ending: Yemen? Afghanistan? Syria? Iraq? Somalia?

5. You cofounded WestExec Advisors, a company that helps war profiteers get contracts, and serves as a revolving door for unscrupulous individuals who get rich from private money for what they do and whom they get to know in their public jobs. Is war profiteering acceptable? How would you perform your job differently in government if you anticipated being hired by a peace organization afterward?

6. The U.S. government arms 96% of the world’s most oppressive governments by its own definition. Is there any government on earth other than North Korea or Cuba that should not be sold or given deadly weapons? Do you support Congresswoman Omar’s bill to stop arming human rights abusers?

7. Should the State Department function as a marketing firm for U.S. weapons companies? What percentage of the State Department’s work should be devoted to selling weapons? Can you name a recent war that has not had U.S. weapons on both sides?

8. The U.S. and Russian governments are loaded up with nuclear weapons. The Doomsday Clock is closer to midnight than ever before. What will you do to scale back the new Cold War, re-join disarmament agreements, and move us away from nuclear apocalypse?

9. Some of my colleagues will not be satisfied until you’re as hostile toward China as toward Russia. What will you do to help them relax and think more wisely about playing around with the future of life on earth?

10. What would be one example of a situation in which you would choose to become a whistleblower?

Add more questions for Antony Blinken as comments on this page.
Read Top 10 Questions for Neera Tanden. [See above]
Read Top 10 Questions for Avril Haines. [See above]

Further reading:
Norman Solomon: Neera Tanden and Antony Blinken Personify the ‘Moderate’ Rot at the Top of the Democratic Party
David Swanson: Top 10 Reasons to Reject Blinken


David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson’s books include Leaving World War II Behind (2020), Curing Exceptionalism: What’s wrong with how we think about the United States? What can we do about it? (2018) and War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Support David’s work.


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From the archives:

Drone Murder Has Been Normalized, by David Swanson

Vijay Prashad: The Democratic Party and the War Machine

Abby Martin: Biden’s Scary Foreign Policy Picks

America’s Role as the Imperial Core is What’s Causing the Growing Misery, by Rainer Shea

I agree with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Foreign Bases, by David Swanson

NATO Craving Conflict, by Finian Cunningham

Biden’s Actions So Far Would Have Ye Olde Resistance in the Streets If He Were Republican, by David Swanson

Top 10 Reasons to Reject Antony Blinken for Secretary of State, by David Swanson

Danny Haiphong and Margaret Kimberley: Biden Could Be One Of The Most Dangerous Presidents Ever

2 thoughts on “Top 10 Questions for Avril Haines, Neera Tanden and Antony Blinken, by David Swanson

  1. Pingback: Chris Hedges: Biden Admin-Redux: Deep State, Empire and Censorship – Dandelion Salad

  2. Just one question for each of them:
    How would you sleep at night if you knew some evil psychopaths were out to get you or your family members?

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