The reviews of a move of Sen. Tom Cotton to the CIA have been tough in many quarters. Take Paul Waldman in the Washington Post:
He recounts Cotton’s support of torture and of persecuting even innocent relatives of people who violate Iran sanctions.
In short, calling Cotton a “hawk” does not begin to describe how terrifying his views are. If at any time in the past few years you had asked me, “Which future Republican president would be most likely to start World War III?,” my first answer would have been “Tom Cotton” without hesitation, and I’m sure I’m not alone.
A similar tone struck in Daily Beast.
Cotton remains clueless about torture. He seems to base his beliefs on the efficacy of torture on B-movies and dog-eared Tom Clancy novels
My favorite criticism so far? Julian Assange:
Does @realDonaldTrump know that his avowed enemy neocon warmonger Bill Kristol spent a million dollars getting Tom Cotton into office? Cotton as head of CIA would embolden the neocon axis in his presidency and likely lead to Pence-Cotton in 2020.
Julian’s off on one point. Cotton would never accept the No. 2 spot.
Here’s Reason’s headline take:
The Senate would lose an authoritarian who wants to crack down on immigrants and fight the drug war. But he’s also a hawk in favor of foreign interventions.
Charles Pierce calls Cotton terrifying and dangerous.
But it’s Cotton’s elevation to the top job out in Langley that ought to scare the daylights out of the rest of the world. We’ve dealt with the bobble-throated slapdick in this shebeen ever since he came out of Arkansas in a subsequent wave of crazy to the one that produced Pompeo. Rarely has someone arrived so absolutely sure of everything he thinks he knows, and rarely has someone arrived who so holds the intellect of the people who disagree with him in such obvious contempt.
This is the guy who was the guiding force behind a letter to the leaders of Iran telling them not to conclude the nuclear deal with the previous president because a subsequent Congress—Tom Cotton, Smartest Man In The World, presiding genius—could (and probably would) revoke it. He also doesn’t think waterboarding is torture. If Cotton weren’t the most brilliant man in his mirror every morning (he went to Harvard; you probably didn’t) you’d think his reasons for believing this were incomprehensibly lame. From CNN:
“Waterboarding isn’t torture. We do waterboarding on our own soldiers in the military,” Cotton argued with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room.” Blitzer interjected, “But the US doesn’t do it anymore.” “If experienced intelligence officials come to the President of the United States and say we think this terrorist has critical information and we need to obtain it and this is the only way we can obtain it — it’s a tough call. But the presidency is a tough job. And if you’re not ready to make those tough calls, you shouldn’t seek the office. Donald Trump’s a pretty tough guy, and he’s ready to make those tough calls,” Cotton said. Blitzer reminded Cotton of his colleague Sen. John McCain, who himself was tortured as a POW during the Vietnam War, and says that torture is a violation of the Geneva Conventions and International Law. “On this one, I disagree,” Cotton said, “Anything that American troops volunteer for, and radio DJs volunteer for, is not torture. If it has to be done to save American lives, that’s a tough call.”
Nobody this arrogant, this absolutely sure of himself, should be anywhere near the head of any intelligence agency. Mike Pompeo is just an unqualified nebbish who’ll be promoted, if he is, because he climbed on board the Trump Train when everybody else was running away from it. Tom Cotton is deeply, genuinely dangerous.