Former CIA Officer Robert Grenier has been vocal recently, advocating that “domestic extremists such as those who stormed the Capitol” on January 6 be treated as an insurgency.
“We may be witnessing the dawn of a sustained wave of violent insurgency within our own country, perpetrated by our own countrymen,” Grenier warned in a recent op-ed for The New York Times.
In 2001, Grenier was the CIA Station Chief in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He later became the CIA’s Iraq mission manager and then director of the CIA Counterterrorism Center from 2004 to 2006.
In an interview with NPR this week, Grenier explained how the country should respond to this “insurgency” based on his experiences overseas.
“I don’t want to be one to suggest that somehow the United States is going to in any way resemble Iraq or Afghanistan at the height of violence. But what I think is useful is to have some way of thinking about the problem and thinking through the elements of the solution,” Genier said.
He added, “So I think as in any insurgency situation, you have committed insurgents who are typically a relatively small proportion of the affected population. But what enables them to carry forward their program is a large number of people from whom they can draw tacit support. And that’s what I’m primarily concerned with here. I think what is most important is that we drive a wedge between those violent individuals and the people who may otherwise see them as reflecting their interests and fighting on their behalf.”
“So I think as in any insurgency situation, you have committed insurgents who are typically a relatively small proportion of the affected population. But what enables them to carry forward their program is a large number of people from whom they can draw tacit support. And that’s what I’m primarily concerned with here. I think what is most important is that we drive a wedge between those violent individuals and the people who may otherwise see them as reflecting their interests and fighting on their behalf.”
Grenier then emphasized the need for a “national conversation” to take place, saying “…it’s all of us who really need to be engaging with one another in a very sincere way, admitting what we don’t know and trying to seek out the truth together. Because without that, I think that there’s a level of distrust that is not only unfortunate for the politics in this country, but will also provide a basis for sporadic but endemic violence in this country.”
On top of adopting a “proper national tone,” Grenier argues it must be made clear to the “insurgents” that their leader lost the election. That includes the “national security imperative” to convict Donald Trump in the Senate impeachment trial.
“The fact of the matter is that the most violent elements that we are concerned about right now see former President Trump as a broadly popular and charismatic symbol. He is their charismatic leader, whether he chooses to acknowledge it or not. You know, just as I saw in the Middle East that the air went out of violent demonstrations when [Iraqi leader] Saddam Hussein was defeated and seen to be defeated, I think the same situation applies here,” he said.
“The fact of the matter is that Mr. Trump has lost. It’s very important that people see that he has lost, is a private citizen. But I think it’s extremely important that his potency as a symbol for the most violent among us is somehow addressed.”
Grenier said his thinking comes from strategies adopted by the U.S. overseas, such as in Afghanistan, where since the September 11 terrorist attacks, the country has been countering threats like al-Qaeda.
Grenier explained that “…even at the seeming height of the crisis immediately after 9/11, there really weren’t that many members of al-Qaida in Afghanistan,” adding. “And the thrust of our campaign there was, yes, to hunt down al-Qaida, but primarily to remove the supportive environment in which they were able to live and to flourish. And that meant fighting the Taliban.”
“And I think that is the heart of what we need to deal with here. Hunting down people who are criminals, that is something that which U.S. law enforcement is very well capable of doing and doing while preserving fundamental civil rights. That’s in some ways the easiest part of the problem. The difficult part of the problem is affecting the environment within which violent elements otherwise would be able to thrive.”
Follow Jennie Taer on Twitter @JennieSTaer
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Biden Administration Proposes Rule to Fortify Federal Bureaucracy Against Republican Presidency
In a strategic move, the Biden administration has unveiled a proposed rule aimed at reinforcing the left-leaning federal bureaucracy, potentially hindering future conservative policy implementations by Republican presidents. This move has raised concerns about the efficacy of democratic elections when a deep-seated bureaucracy remains largely unchanged, regardless of electoral outcomes.
Key points of the situation include:
Presidential Appointees vs. Career Bureaucrats: Of the 2.2 million federal civil workers, only 4,000 are presidential appointees. The vast majority, made up of career bureaucrats, continue in their roles from one administration to the next. This continuity is facilitated by rules that make it exceedingly difficult to discipline or replace them, resulting in a bureaucracy that tends to lean left politically.
Union Political Affiliation: A striking 95% of unionized federal employees who donate to political candidates support Democrats, according to Open Secrets, with only 5% favoring Republicans. This significant political skew among federal workers raises questions about the potential for political bias in the execution of government policies.
Obstructionism and Challenges for GOP Presidents: Some career bureaucrats have been accused of obstructing Republican presidents’ agendas, leading to policy delays and challenges. For example, during the Trump administration, career lawyers in the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division declined to challenge Yale University’s discrimination against Asian American applicants, prompting Trump to seek legal counsel from other divisions. The case was subsequently dropped when Joe Biden took office.
Biden’s Countermeasures: President Biden has taken steps to protect the bureaucracy’s status quo. In October 2020, Trump issued an executive order aiming to reclassify federal workers who make policy as at-will employees, but Biden canceled it upon taking office.
Proposed Rule and Congressional Actions: The rule unveiled by the Biden administration seeks to further impede a president’s ability to reinstate Trump’s order. Additionally, some Democrats in Congress are pushing to eliminate the president’s authority to reclassify jobs entirely. This has been referred to as an attempt to “Trump-proof the federal workforce.”
Republican Candidates’ Pledge: GOP candidates such as President Donald J Trump, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Ron DeSantis have pledged to address this issue. According to reports from Fox News, Ramaswamy has gone further, advocating for the elimination of half or more of civil service positions, emphasizing the need for accountability.
Debate on the Merit of the Civil Service: While Democrats and their media allies argue that civil service protects merit over patronage, critics contend that the system has evolved into a form of job security for federal workers with minimal accountability. Federal employees often receive higher salaries and more substantial benefits than their private-sector counterparts.
In summary, the Biden administration’s proposed rule and broader actions to protect the federal bureaucracy have sparked a debate over the role of career bureaucrats in shaping government policy.
Republican candidates are vowing to address these concerns, highlighting the need for accountability and ensuring that government agencies work in alignment with the elected president’s agenda. This ongoing debate raises important questions about the relationship between the bureaucracy and the democratic process in the United States.
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