The Rachel Maddow Show | January 07, 2013
>>> this is a man named david addington . in order to understand who david addington is, look back only as far as this former president, george w. bush . during his eight years in office president bush set knew and really quite radical standards for the use of executive power . president bush 's view of his office is derived from something called the unitary theory of the executive, which basically amounts to i am the boss. and you're just congress or the courts or nobodys. same dif. the chief enforcer of the unitary executive theory in the george w. bush administration was of course the vice president, dick cheney . and the chief enforcer of the unitary executive theory for dick cheney was his top lawyer and later his chief of staff, david addington . whenever vice president cheney sought to expand the unreviewable power of the oval office , david addington was right there with him, and often leading the way. mr. addington wrote that it was okay for the u.s. to torture people suspected of terrorism. he argued that president bush could lock up terrorism suspects without charges or trials. it was his opinion that the president could withhold information from the public, that a wartime president should have broad powers of surveillance, and never mind what the courts said. david addington 's nickname in bush era washington, d.c. was that he was cheney 's cheney . well, now david addington , cheney 's cheney , is getting a new title. since leaving government office , he has been working for one of the top conservative think tanks in the country, the heritage foundation . now mr. addington has gotten a big promotion there. he is going to lead the foundation for legal and judicial studies, focusing apparently on president obama having too much executive power . mr. addington says the obama administration has made some, quote, questionable steps. and so the conservative movement has installed its most famous and perhaps most extreme modern advocate of unlimited executive power for the presidency as the lunch monitor watching for this presidency ex-earthing too much executive power now that bush is gone and there is a new guy in town. but hey, it appears to be new project season in washington, where if you are a certain political persuasion, being wrong never lasts long.
>> whatever else you can say about this war, let me just make my point, we don't need to refight the whole history of vietnam.
>> that is the danger of saddam.
>> it's not going to happen. it's not going to happen. this is going to be a two-month war, not an eight-year war.
>> this is going to be a two-month war, not an eight-year war. he was talking about the war that did turn out to be an eight and a half yearlong war in iraq . now bill kristol , the living, breathing symbol of wrong about national security , mr. kristol has a fresh deal going. now his new project is that he wants to stop the nomination of former senator chuck hagel as secretary of defense. president obama today chose the republican for nebraska for that job. despite having been fine with mr. hagel even as a possible vice president for george w. bush in 2000 , bill kristol is now leading the opposition to chuck hagel at defense. bill kristol , the same guy who said iraq would take two months, who said the only consequences of us bombing iran already would be good consequences, the man who thought up the sarah palin vice presidency , the one man in america who can least be the arbiter of what is reasonable in national security . that same one guy bill kristol now bought chuckhagel.com where you can go to learn that bill kristol believes that chuck hagel is not a responsible option. oh, senator hagel , may you always be blessed with comically nonself-aware enemies. it is not every nominee for secretary of defense whose foes are their own punch lines . the character of the opposition to senator hagel is now so laugh out loud ridiculous in some quarters, including most especially mr. kristol's corner, that is it now driving some of mr. hagel 's would-be critics on the left to support him. and i don't mean that figuratively. when he first heard about the nomination, for example, outgoing congressman and likely incoming temporary senator barney frank issued this rather barney frankesque statement against chuck hagel who said, quote, then senator hagel 's aggressively bigoted opposition to president clinton 's naming the first openly guy ambassador in u.s. history , he voted for fairness and there does not seem to be any effort of any apology or retraction of his attack on james hormel . to those of white house admire and respect mr. hormel, his description of aggressive can only mean that the senator strongly objected to hormel's reasoned advocacy for lgbt people . i can not think of any other minority group in the u.s. today where such a action made in 1998 would not be an obstacle to a major presidential appointment. that was last week. barney frank last week. but considering the character of the opposition to chuck hagel that has emerged in the interim, barney frank has changed his mind. mr. frank said today, quote, the attack coming out of the right, i hope he gets confirmed. this fight over check hagel as secretary of defense gives an interesting window to what going on in the right sort of devolving in some ways. an architect of wildly expanded presidential power gets sent to nip at the heels of a president over this new guy having too much power. everybody is now supposed to see bill kristol as the arbiter of reasonableness in foreign affairs be. the fight over chuck hagel also gives awes window into what is going on in the left, what is going on among democrats. does having the correct enemies outweigh all the left's other concerns about chuck haguele? will that be enough to get him confirmed in the senate and to at least lock up democratic and liberal support behind him? or do those concerns get aired in full on their own merits? joining us now is noah schactman, editor of the danger room blog, which i read every single day, even when it is to my detriment. thanks for being here.
>> thanks for having me.
>> republicans are falling in line on a purely partisan base. if republicans are falling in line and supporting chuck hagel for defense secretary because he is a republican, do you think we would be hearing lots of creative democratic opposition to him?
>> yeah, i think we would. look, this guy is not oppressive. he is not even a little bit progressive. he is with the republicans or with the sort of bush cheney era republicans on warrantless wire tapping. he was there on lesbian and guy issues. he was there even to fund a giant missile defense shield . so yeah, you'll probably hear some sniping. but this has happened. and now to use a really terrible military metaphor, battle lines have been drawn. sorry.
>> i think a lot of people are shorthanding the criticism from the left of chuck hagel as being about those anti-guy comments from 1998 . i do think that that is a specific thing. but there are broader issues about what he would be like as secretary of defense. his opposition to the iraq war after he initially supported it, his comments in favor of withdrawing from afghanistan faster than we already are. should we see that as being specifically on defense policies a more dovish agenda?
>> i don't know that he is a dove or a hawk. i think he is an old school sort of realist republican. and guess what? pretty much so is obama .
>> they're pretty much of the same character. you know, intervene here where you can, don't intervene there when you can't. and, you know, i think they have a fairly strong and fairly sort of realistic view of american power and exercising it where you can.
>> what about this idea that if the obama administration is going to oversee significant cuts to the baseline defense budget , if the pentagon is going to have to go on a diet, you can more effectively do that with a republican in charge than with a democrat in charge because democrats are less vulnerable to the wuss charge?
>> not buying it. look, there is guys like ash carter who is the current number two at the pentagon who knows how that place works inside and out, and is a nuclear freakin' physicist for real. so i think he could execute the cuts just fine too.
>> without the different levels of political liability? does it insulate hagel at all?
>> it doesn't seem like it's inside lating him right now. i'm not buying it for later in.
>> if john brennan gets confirmed to lead the cia , who do you think that would mean for that agency going forward? would you expect any inflect breezy the panetta era there?
>> i think that makes the cia maybe the most important shop in town, right? so theoretically, the director of national intelligence , jim clapper sits over the cia and the 15 other intelligence agencies . you know, it was clapper who said to david petraeus , look, bro, you got to go after his affair. it's pretty hard to imagine jim clapper saying something similar to john brennan , who has been sitting with the president in the oval office day after day , directing drone strikes, also working on cyberissues which are very important both to the president and to john brennan . it's really hard to imagine that. so i think john brennan may keep a lot of his bureaucratic power, but have the entire cia behind him too. and that makes him an extremely important player.
>> it makes it such a double sided endorsement. pick john brennan because he is so close to the president, he'll be incredibly effective as a director. also, if crew want the cia to be even more powerful than it, is this is the guy who is going to bring presidential power even to that agency.
>> fascinating stuff. noah schactman editor of danger room , thanks for being here.
>> thanks for having me.
>> appreciate it.
>>> from the brass section , from the brass section , it's not each a metaphor for the military. the actual brass section ,