that is, to agree with Obama favorite, CIA Director John Brennan on the “Russian hacking.” See comment and link below for Jeh Johnson’s stated approach to moral decisions like drone-killing – and, presumably, lying.)
December 19, 2016 (five minutes)
On April 5, 2015, Jeh Johnson told 60 Minutes host Leslie Stahl of his relief over not being Catholic (like his wife), because then he “would have to go to confession” for some of the things he had approved under pressure with a knee-jerk yes. They were discussing target-killing American citizens by drone without due process.
Well, Whew! again, for Jeh. For, while drone-killing Americans is grist for confession, so is lying – whether about “Russian hacking,” or other important things. Worse still, his Catholic wife might remind him that confession is not as easy as it looks; that it has as much to do with future as past behavior; that for his sins to be forgiven, he would have to promise to stop taking part not only in killing, but in lying as well.
The quaint phrase we Catholics use to describe what is required is a “firm purpose of amendment.” (My lawyer friends are the first to point out that this may be the main reason why, reportedly, there are so few lawyers, Catholic or not, in heaven.)
On the chance readers might think this not a fair representation of Jeh Johnson’s approach, we paste in part of his dialogue with Lesley Stahl, plus the link to the 60 Minutes segment:
from “Homeland Security” which aired on April 5, 2015:
Lesley Stahl: The homegrown [terrorist] movement … was largely inspired by this man, an American turned terrorist in Yemen, named Anwar al-Awlaki. He was killed by a drone strike like this one, one of many Johnson green-lighted when he was general counsel at the Pentagon.
Jeh Johnson: If it was a strike off what we call the hot battlefield — in other words, outside of Iraq and Afghanistan — by the military then I would have to give the legal sign-off first. And so I did that.
Lesley Stahl: At one point, you had to decide whether it was OK to kill an American, al-Awlaki.
Jeh Johnson: In any use of targeted lethal force, we’d have to conclude that it was consistent with domestic law and international law.
Lesley Stahl: Did you say it [drone killing] was not legal many times?
Jeh Johnson: Occasionally I would have to conclude that the legal authority was not there. And quickly found out that it was actually easier to say yes than it was to say no.
Lesley Stahl: Why was it easier to say yes?
Jeh Johnson: Very often when we’re asked to approve the use of targeted lethal force, it can only be in a matter of minutes.
Lesley Stahl: Right–
Jeh Johnson: And so there’s a lot of momentum to that. So to say no is like stepping in front of a 90-car freight train.
Lesley Stahl: The first time you said yes, you have said that you were very uncomfortable.
Jeh Johnson: How could somebody be comfortable with authorizing legally the use of lethal force? My view is if you become comfortable with it, then you should get out of the job.
Lesley Stahl: What you actually said was, “If I were Catholic, I would have to go to confession.”
Jeh Johnson: Yes. …