Ackerman explains why rank matters:
The point isn't just that Obama hugged Brennan. ("A close advisor... experience, vision and integrity.") Assistant to the President is the highest rank that any White House staffer can hold. Anyone with that rank has the right to walk into the Oval Office and get a sit-down with the president. At the beginning of the Bush administration, Dick Cheney fought to ensure that Scooter Libby held that rank.
Now, what'll that mean?
At a minimum, it'll mean that when Obama is unsure of something he's hearing from CIA, or from Dennis Blair as Director of National Intelligence, he'll turn to Brennan for a second or third opinion. It's way too early to know -- not that that'll stop me -- but one wonders if Brennan at the White House and Kappes at CIA might be the actual centers of power for the intelligence community.
There's no way of knowing, especially in secret areas like intelligence. That's why we elect a president, a human being, to deal with this. You either trust him or you don't. My view with Obama is going to be the same as with Bush: trust but verify. Bush broke that trust early by lying and breaking the law and violating core moral standards. Obama has done nothing yet to prompt a similar response. Au contraire. But trust is merely the beginning. The rest is vigilance and open eyes.
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