Strike Two: Intelligence Policy to Stay Largely Intact
President-elect Barack Obama is unlikely to radically overhaul controversial Bush administration intelligence policies, advisers say, an approach that is almost certain to create tension within the Democratic Party.
As a candidate, Mr. Obama said the CIA's interrogation program should adhere to the same rules that apply to the military, which would prohibit the use of techniques such as waterboarding. He has also said the program should be investigated.
Yet he more recently voted for a White House-backed law to expand eavesdropping powers for the National Security Agency. Mr. Obama said he opposed providing legal immunity to telecommunications companies that aided warrantless surveillance, but ultimately voted for the bill, which included an immunity provision.
The new president could take a similar approach to revising the rules for CIA interrogations, said one current government official familiar with the transition. Upon review, Mr. Obama may decide he wants to keep the road open in certain cases for the CIA to use techniques not approved by the military, but with much greater oversight.
Unlike the above-discussed report about Obama's intentions concerning executive orders, which was confirmed by Obama transition chief John Podesta, reports like this should be taken with a hefty dose of cynicism, as they are often used by people to push a President-elect in the direction they want him to go. Still, there's no question that there will be immense pressure on Obama among his closest advisers not to follow through on the commitments he made on issues relating to executive power, and -- as the article suggests -- Obama's past support for FISA expansions and telecom immunity (after he promised he would oppose them) lends credence to these reports.