Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

June 5, 2009

Philip Mudd withdraws from Intelligence and Analysis nomination

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on June 5, 2009

Early this afternoon Philip Mudd withdrew from consideration as DHS Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis. 

Yesterday the Associated Press reported that a Senate aide had raised the possibility of Mr. Mudd being associated with “enhanced” interrogation techniques used during the last administration.

Late this afternoon the Associated Press reports,  “At issue was the extent of Mudd’s involvement in the interrogation program while he was a senior CIA official in the Bush administration. The interrogation methods have been criticized by Democratic lawmakers and Obama… As deputy director of the Office of Terrorism Analysis at the CIA, Mudd had direct knowledge of the agency’s harsh interrogation program, according to a congressional aide, who was not authorized to disclose the information and spoke on condition of anonymity.”

In recent years,  Mr. Mudd has held a senior  position with the  National Security Branch at the FBI.  Before that he served with the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Intelligence Council, and the National Security Council.  I do not know him.

Mr. Mudd may have — probably did — know of the harsh techniques being applied at Guantanamo and elsewhere.  So did I.  So did all of us who were paying attention.  Perhaps — certainly — Mr. Mudd knew of the techniques earlier than most of us.  

While brooding over what I knew, I was mostly quiet. And in this silence and delay I am no less complicit than he, and barely less than the torturers.  So where does that leave me — and you — on this late Spring day?  What should we resign?  How might we forsake redemption?

Mr. Mudd’s vita notes he has a Master of Arts in English Literature.  He is especially fond of Victorian fiction.  I do not share his taste.  But here is a poem of the period that may capture our present paradox.

When will you ever, Peace, wild wooddove, shy wings shut,
Your round me roaming end, and under be my boughs?

When, when, Peace, will you, Peace? I’ll not play hypocrite
To own my heart: I yield you do come sometimes; but
That piecemeal peace is poor peace. What pure peace allows
Alarms of wars, the daunting wars, the death of it?

O surely, reaving Peace, my Lord should leave in lieu
Some good! And so he does leave Patience exquisite,
That plumes to Peace thereafter. And when Peace here does house
He comes with work to do, he does not come to coo,
He comes to brood and sit.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

 

Related Saturday morning reports:

Washington Post

New York Times

Newsweek

The Cable  (Foreign Policy)

Daily Kos by fflambeau

Monday morning reports:

Wall Street Journal

On Monday morning the withdrawal is also featured in a few regional papers.  But a Friday afternoon story  has to have significant legs to make it into the next week.  While the Mudd resignation itself may not, the larger story clearly will, as underlined by this Sunday New York Times front-page story: US Lawyers Agreed on Legality of Brutal Tactic.

Pat Longstaff offers an especially helpful comment on the issue.  Access immediately below.

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3 Comments »

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 6, 2009 @ 5:58 am

Any trained observer looking at news on TV of escorted prisioners at Guantanamo knew from personal observation they had been abused.
In a way the problem goes back to the revision of Article 3 of the Geneva Convention when the Reagan Administration worried but took no stance on whether non-state terrorists were covered by Article 3. Since even the agency with the remotest chance of being involved with Article 3 issues was asked for its opinion by the White House someone needs to do a thorough research and history of that period at the Reagan Library or elsewhere to find out what was done and what conclusions reached. Hoping some noted scholar, legal or otherwise, ends up writing the definitive book on this history (of US and treatment of POWs generally and those of non-state actors and their torture)! What is interesting is that the judiciary may in fact not have abandoned justice but we shall have to give it more time. Interesting that the Souter departure may in part have been dictated by his desire not just for a quieter life but to avoid ruling definitively on any GWOT issue or torture. My guess is that the new nominee is totally oblivious to the future that awaits her on a Court that may live in glory or infamy depending on the judgements of history.

By the way did Hopkins live through and survive the Great War?

Comment by Philip J. Palin

June 6, 2009 @ 9:08 am

The poem does have that post-war feel to it, but Hopkins died in 1889. A short biography is available at
http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/hopkins/hopkins12.html

It seems to me that — in Hamdi and more recently in al-Marri and in other legal cases — the judicial branch has performed its role rather well. But judicial proceedings are usually narrow and almost always very time-consuming.

Philip Bobbitt and others have made the case that the most serious constitutional problem with many of the Bush administration’s anti-terror policies, such as those related to interrogation, surveillance and the status of enemy combatants, was the attempt to hide both policy making and subsequent execution of policy.

The argument goes that in our political system Mr. Bush (or Mr. Cheney, for that matter) needed to engage the Congress and the public regarding why and how prior legal restraints needed to be reexamined and adjusted.

We cannot be sure where the debate might have taken us if Mr. Cheney had been as straightforward in 2002 as he has been recently. But whatever the specific policy outcome, it would have reinforced the constitutional principle that the executive was behaving with the consent of the governed.

Instead, with the legislature, for whatever reason, mostly going along for the ride, the White House infatuated with a self-justifying theory of the unitary executive, and most of the public — like myself — quiescent, our constitutional architecture was, it seems to me, under considerable threat.

Behaving consistently with the Constitution does not ensure good or effective policy, but it does advance the potential for self-correction. A reasonably transparent engagement of the major issues, with each of the constitutional parties playing their role, facilitates the kind of deliberation that may help avoid egregious errors and, in any case, sets the foundation for picking up the pieces when we do make egregious errors… which we will inevitably do from time to time.

I am edging back into the resilience issue.

Comment by pat longstaff

June 7, 2009 @ 8:32 am

Yes, it is hard to know that one was silent in the face of danger to everyone. Most of us hope somebody else will stick their head up above the herd to sound the alarm (and draw attention to themselves). We have all been there. It is always a calculated risk and different for everyone. It’s easier when you have not much to lose. I am getting there myself and preparing to take some more risks. This means I will make more mistakes. So here is what I tell my students about to do after you have made a mistake:
1. Admit it was not want you wanted – a miscalculation or a mistake.
2. Analyze how it happened.
3. Fix what can be fixed.
4. Move on.

People who can’t do #4 become neurotics. People who go directly to #4 do not learn and will carry the job unfinished with them until they do.

As the world becomes increasingly complex there will be a lot of things that don’t turn out the way we predicted. Knowing how to handle that situation is a skill we don’t yet value – but we will. Even in government.

And, yes, I think it’s part of being resilient.

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