Saturday, November 11, 2006

Who's who?

There's a lot of speculation around about the upcoming Democratic Congress, about the replacement of Rumsfeld by Gates, and the upcoming report from the Iraq Study Group (ISG). Gates is a member of the ISG, and there is some logic in concluding that he will be implementing some or all of their recommendations.
Looming behind these considerations is the role of Dick Cheney. Does the appointment of Gates mean that Cheney has lost or losing his control over Boy Blunder? Mike Whitney thinks so, but thinks that Cheney will not go quietly into that good night. Ray McGovern, on the other hand, views Gates as just a substitute for the politically damaged Rumsfeld, and that Gates' record shows that he is not one to devise and implement new policies, and that Gates will follow Cheney's lead.
Gates, like the head of the ISG, James Baker, is closely linked to Bush I. This tends to push my views toward Whitney's position.
Cheney has been working industriously over the past six years putting his people in the main institutions of power. Rumsfeld at Defense, Goss and Hayden at the CIA, Bolton at the State Department and Gonzales at the Department of Justice have all been on his team. When necessary, they have gone outside the chain of command to sabotage policies they disagree with (Bolton's hand in ruining the N. Korea negotiations in the Powell State Department being an example), and I'm sure they have installed many of their people in key positions.
Government in secret, outside the rule of law, is the hallmark of Cheney and his minions. Whether or not Gates and the ISG represents push back against this tendency is very debatable. Bush I and Gates both come out of the CIA, and their preference for secrecy in policy making is not that different from Cheney's. So, at best, a secret battle is taking place to determine who will secretly rule us. We can assume that part of this battle will be fought in the committee rooms of Congress, where we readers of entrails can speculate on who's fighting, who's winning and who's who.

Update: This NYT article: "After Rumsfeld: Bid to Reshape the Brain Trust" says that Gates will be clearing out the Rumsfeldites from the Pentagon, meaning the civilian appointees. Undoing the damage he caused in the officer corps is bound to prove much more difficult.
Update II: Mike Whitney has more on Cheney.


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