A liberal newspaper columnist and former counsel to billionaire George Soros’ Open Societies Institute has been tapped for a key Defense Department position despite what Washington insiders have termed her “extremist,” Bush-bashing views.
Rosa Brooks will serve as principal adviser to Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy, according to a report in the Weekly Standard. In that substantial insider position, Brooks, who once famously penned that the Bush administration’s “big legal lies paved the way for some of the most shameful episodes in our history,” will have constant contact with DOD policy chief Flournoy, who reports directly to Defense Secretary Robert Gates and eyeballs every major defense department decision.
Gates, a holdover from the Bush era, hasn’t exactly embraced the controversial Brooks. One anonymous staffer characterized Brooks as an “extremist,” noting that her coming onboard was Flournoy’s doing, not his leader’s, according to a report in HumanEvents.com.
“Gates did not hire her,” the official emphasized.
In 2007, Brooks wrote: “Thanks to U.S. policies, al-Qaida has become the vast global threat the administration imagined it to be in 2001.”
That sort of attitude, along with Brooks' apparent lack of military or policy experience, has many pundits scratching their heads over the hiring.
“It is hard to think of a more inappropriate political appointment at a time when America needs a hard-headed approach to winning a global war instead of defeatist, far-left rhetoric,” wrote the U.K.’s Telegraph in an editorial. “Let’s hope this is isn’t the kind of advice the new administration takes on for the war in Afghanistan.”
“Any time you have people with extreme views on the right or left it makes people nervous here,” one senior official told Human Affairs.
In some of her more extreme published comments, Brooks: Said, “Many innocent civilians suffered in the aftermath of the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam, but it’s more accurate to attribute their suffering to the prolongation of the war itself, rather than to the U.S. withdrawal as such.” Labeled Iraq pre-war intelligence as “the Bush administration’s cooking of the intelligence books.” Praised President Obama’s “end[ing] of the war on terror” “with just a few words and strokes of his pen.” Insisted Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney “should be treated like psychotics who need treatment” Called the surge in Iraq a “feckless plan” which had “no realistic likelihood that it will lead to an enduring solution in Iraq.” Termed President Bush “our torturer in chief.” Compared the Bush administration’s legal arguments on the war on terror with Adolf Hitler’s use of political propaganda. Accused former civilian White House and Pentagon officials of being “eager to embrace the values normally exemplified by military juntas.” Said America under Bush was like “being a passenger in a car driven by a drunk driver.”
The Defense Department’s official job description says Brooks is a “principal adviser” to Flournoy to “develop cross regional planning.” The department lauds her as bringing "to the position a thorough knowledge of U.S. and foreign national security and diplomatic objectives and the ability to quickly master the broad range of issues and functional responsibilities under the purview of the under secretary.”
Brooks’ boss, Flournoy, was once a top military adviser to President Bill Clinton, and served for a time as one of the analysts at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
The U.K.’s Telegraph noted that Fluornoy will play a key role in shaping the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, as well as the wider war against al-Qaida. “She will also be a central figure in shaping U.S.-U.K. defense cooperation and Washington’s policy towards NATO.”
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