Time to Kneecap the Three Amigos

Okay, this is just getting stupid.  Even after the CIA explained that Susan Rice was using intelligence-approved talking points, and briefed Senators on the fake-Benghazi scandal, the Nuevo Three Amigos (plus Amiga Nueva) are still not satisfied.  Kelly Ayotte, in an attempt to “burnish” her foreign policy cred in preparation for 2016, has announced that she will place a hold if Susan Rice is nominated as Secretary of State — the first time in US history, it appears, that this has been done to a Sec State nominee.

Enough.  President Obama should:

1)  Give Rice a recess appointment as Sec State.

2) Submit her nomination to the US Senate for regular confirmation.

3)  Get an opinion from OLC that renewing a recess appointment means that the appointee receives full salary.  (There is a very obscure and vague statute that can be read to suggest otherwise.  Writing a persuasive opinion against this reading would take a competent lawyer about a day).

4) Tell the various Amigos which orifices of their bodies they can stick their heads into. 

And by the way: the point of the “Three Amigos” was that they were a trio of ridiculous incompetents.  Yep, that’s right.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

41 thoughts on “Time to Kneecap the Three Amigos”

  1. Wow. Never heard of this Ayotte person. Too bad she didn’t introduce herself with something more substantive.

    1. She was the NH Attorney General, won against a 2 term Democratic House-Rep in the Tea Party election of 2010. We here in NH are suffering the consequences.

      1. Hmph. I would have expected more from someone with an actually substantive reso. Generally you have to know something to be an AG, I should think. Well, maybe she will get better.

        1. Well, a strong moral compass is not an absolute requirement for a successful legal career.

          And Senator Ayotte has a bit of a history of not being overly troubled by ethical concerns when it comes to furthering her ambitions.

  2. Last I heard, the office of Secretary of State was occupied by Hillary Clinton, who has not resigned nor been fired. This is no obstacle for your plan?

    1. Uh, no: if anything, newsouthzach has understated the matter. Hillary has announced that she is stepping down at the end of this year, although she might stay through Inauguration if Obama wants her to do so.

      1. On the other hand, I don’t want the Three Amigos to be selecting the next Secretary of State and I don’t think it would be a good idea to have a totally unconfirmable, perpetually “acting” Secreatry of State. It seems to me that it’s too important a job to be determined as a reaction to Republican attacks.

  3. How about we nominate her the normal way, but kill the secret / one man / cheap filibuster instead.

    1. Indeed. It seems like a bad idea to announce that you’re going to pull this carp just before the Democrats get together to plan how to reform the Senate rules on a majority vote.

  4. I think this issue is an excellent indicator for whether BHO has a new plan and new attitude for the next 4 years. I like it that the GoOPers are pushing him so early.

  5. The AVERAGE federal judge, and even moreso an appellate judge, routinely has a far greater effect on America and the day to day lives of Americans than does a secretary of state, a position that has been pushed to the periphery by the structure of the national security state and the imperial White House tendency. It is said, with more than a grain of truth, that the major difference between God and a federal judge is humility in that God doesn’t think he’s a federal judge.

    So meanwhile, we’re getting the vapors about a potential filibuster about a person who hasn’t been nominated to a position that isn’t currently vacant. Meanwhile, scores of these awesomely powerful positions, the bench from which the appellate judges and every single justice save one came from, sit empty.

    Apparently we’re back to the Obama who believes in preemptive capitulation and empty rhetoric, because any president actually interested in changing Americans’ lives for the better for a long time would do everything possible to fill every federal bench spot with a reality-based jurist, which means non-Federalist Society members.

  6. Jonathan

    Is there any chance that this is all really about McCain wanting his buddy and fellow senator Kerry to get the job?

    1. Um, not that there’s anything so wrong with Kerry, but why do people act like he’s the only possibility? I don’t get it. Especially with potential loss of a Senate seat.

  7. Yes, Rice was using the official, administration approved, talking points. The talking points which were known within hours by the White house, and within days by the public, to be BS.

    The problem the Senators have with this, is that Rice had apparently received intelligence briefings contradicting the talking points, so she KNEW they were BS even as she spewed them. Even Senators who are comfortable with the public being lied to tend to get a little ticked off when THEY get lied to. They really dislike confirming nominees they know are willing to lie to them.

    That is the problem here, and there’s no use pretending it’s a non-scandal: She knew the talking points were wrong, and used them anyway.

    1. Oh, yeah. I remember how the Republicans came down on Colin Powell like a ton of bricks. Brett, your partisanship is showing.

      And that’s even granting your factual premise, which I don’t.

    2. Brett – you assume tha the Three Amigos are telling us the truth. Did Rice really know what the DNI gave her was BS? I see no evidence of the sort – except for the unsupported cliams from these three Senators. Then again – none of them would ever lie (cough, cough).

    3. if susan rice and the administration had stuck to the talking points provided by the intelligence services in the first few days after the attacks and refused to agree with objective reality then i would concede that to be a scandal. that is not the case. they changed their official statements as they got more information. your assertion that she knew the talking points were wrong before she used them on national television is unverified and, at this point moot, because this administration, unlike the one that preceded it, is amenable to objective reality. i really don’t understand why you are still worrying this bone, there’s no meat on it.

    4. They want their pound of flesh, plain and simple. Somebody has to pay, and they’ve settled on Rice.

      When they go on about ‘worse than Watergate’ (that’s J. McCain) it gives away the game, from my POV.

      1. had apparently received intelligence briefings contradicting the talking points

        apparently is a great weasel word — prove it or don’t say it

        1. Stonewalling is designed to keep anybody from “proving it”, but I look forward to Rice testifying under oath.

          1. who is stonewalling, brett? i had lined up 3 or 4 articles to link to in order to try to get you to see reason but then i remembered that your final argument about the obama birth certificate was that to defuse a ridiculous question from the most insane among us is not to challenge the question or try to ignore it but is instead to yield to the question and to answer it in more detail than was originally asked. so i would like to know 3 things:

            1. what exactly is it you think susan rice did that was scandalous?

            2. what evidence would be required to either confirm or refute the imputation of a scandal?

            3. if that evidence were obtainable and provided to you, particularly if it refuted the imputation of scandal, would you find it possible to shut up about it?

          2. Who’s stonewalling? I’d say, the administration. Basically they’re stonewalling 100% of the time. Shipping Congressional witnesses off to distant postings, refusing to comply with subpoenas, using secret email addresses to avoid complying with FOIA and data retention rules. Most transparent administration in history? What a joke.

            1. Thought I was clear about that: She made public statements based on a set of BS “talking points” she almost certainly knew were fraudulent.

            2. The administration has to start responding to Congressional inquiries, letting people testify under oath, ceasing invocations of “executive privilege”.

            IMO, we have a Constitution which establishes legislative supremacy. It’s about time we stopped morphing into a dictatorship, and restored that supremacy. Starting with abolishing the notion that Presidents are entitled to refuse to answer questions from Congress.

          3. and is she still adhering to those talking points? has she refused to change her position despite evidence to the contrary? was her error, deliberate or not, perpetuated past the first few days of the attacks? i don’t get where the meat is in this so-called scandal over susan rice’s role over the benghazi attack. have we invaded a country based on this erroneous statement? has the administration doubled-down on the errors and uncertainties of the original intelligence briefs? when there are issues like kill-lists and civilian casualties due to drone strikes that really could amount to a scandal, for mccain et al. and you to obsess over this strikes me as the sheerest bs. i call bs on you brett. there are lots of times i disagree with your point of view and even your logic but this one is just bs. you can comment away as much as you like, i’m not feeding you anymore on this one.

        2. What public servants DO is that they say what’s in their approved speaking points. They don’t comment on them and they don’t add details from their personal knowledge. They say what is approved for them to say. This is true whether it’s a communications assistant or an ambassador. This prevent speculation and it keeps accountability where it belongs, at the elected level.

          So it is completely irrelevant whether she had some notion that there might be new information or even if she knew for sure that there was extra information. If she’s asked to tell something she knows to be a lie, she should shut up. There is no evidence here of anything that radical. The only suggestion is that the information available might have been evolving. The right thing to happen then is for the new information to be digested by the political level and updated speaking points issued to those doing the speaking. That was done in this case, so far as I can see.

          1. It’s not irrelevant to the people she lied to. Even if she, and you, regard lying as part of the job, the people being lied to, (In this case, Senators.) tend not to like it.

            If you think the fact that a public servant was lying to the public is completely irrelevant, we’ve got a difference here we’re never going to paper over.

  8. From this New Hampshire Senator – “its deeply troubling to me that someone of that important position would go on every major news network knowing that she had obviously previously reviewed other classified reports that left a different impression”. Really? The Senator knows for a fact that Ambassador Rice prior to September 16 that concluded this was terrorism. I guess we need Howard Baker (remember Watergate) and his “what did the Ambassador know and when did she know it”. These Three Amigos seem to make up facts not in evidence as they go.

  9. Can any of the conservative foot-soldiers here explain why it makes a ha’porth of difference whether the attack on the Benghazi consulate is described as terrorism (as it was by Obama) or not? For the last time, terrorism is a tactic not an ideology.

  10. Only two theories explain McCain’s actions:

    1. Doc Maddow’s theory that it is a long game to make Kerry the Secy of State in order to make an opening for Scott Brown to return in triumph to the US Senate. This plan assumes that Mass voters haven’t seen that Brown is an empty barn coat yet.
    2. McCain et. al. see this as a clue to the fact Obama, the Muslim Manchurian President, engaged in a coverup of Al Qaeda’s role in Libya, with the help of the similarly-dark-skinned UN Ambassador. That’s what every winger playing the home game believes to be the real story.

    Or, it could be that McCain is old and cranky and just being a jerk.

    1. I wondered about point 1 myself. I’d have figured that Brown would have a hard time running for Senate again — if “Elizabeth Warren isn’t really Native American!” didn’t work as a campaign theme against her, it’s hard to see it working against anyone else, and by the end he didn’t have anything else to run on. But I saw a PPP poll that had him at 52-36 approval going into the election, so I’m probably just projecting my views onto Massachussettsers.

  11. There’s more than ample evidence that Los Tres Amigos are topologically equivalent to Klein Bottles, so with all due respect, Jonathan’s point #4 in the OP is redundant.

  12. I don’t think the Three Amigos are the best analogy here. The Three Amigos, despite their incompetence, managed to inspire and lead a group of villagers to overcome an clearly evil despot who had some power over the village. You’re suggesting that Obama is an Evil Despot. You’re suggesting that a rag tag bunch of conservatives can inspire the villagers (congress?) to oust Obama-the-evil-despot. You’re suggesting that these bumbling republicans could possibly succeed despite themselves. And you’re putting the republicans in the category of basically-innocent-yet-still-naive-and-self-important.

        1. Just to be clear about this, it’s “basically innocent” part I take exception with. If you described the GOP leadership as “basically guilty as hell, yet still naive and self-important”, it would have been five for five.

          1. And now you ruin my illusion. Ah never mind, it’s so hard to get a good straight man around here.

  13. Is it possible that in the early days when they were still receiving conflicting information, the administration chose to be diplomatic rather than ranting about terrorism with the possibility of escalating the situation in a volatile region?

    1. completely possible, indeed probable, indeed almost certain. That’s why the speaking points are decided by the political people with responsibility for the content – and impact – of what is said, and the public servants deliver the message according to the instructions. It is more than appropriate, it is wise, not to be precipitous, especially in such sensitive and potentially (actually) violent circumstances.

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