Every once in a while something happens so shocking, so inconceivable, that it threatens to remove the last bastions of confidence I have in the federal government. The appointment of Rosa Brooks, the radical left-wing Los Angeles Times columnist, as an advisor to Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michelle Fluornoy is one of those moments. And by advisor, I don’t mean someone who talks on an informal basis — I mean a full-time advisor so committed to helping formulate policy that she had to leave her position as a fire-breathing partisan columnist.
It’s frighteningly unclear what caused Brooks to receive the appointment. She’s the author of a book about civil liberties during wartime, is a law professor, and is the director of Georgetown University Law Center’s Human Rights Institute. But why was Brooks, out of the thousands of legal experts in the country, chosen to become a high-level advisor? What made her so attractive? It can’t be her admittedly impressive resume, as there surely are other equally prestigious advisors available in this country of 300 million people.
Brooks could only have been chosen for the opinions she’s voiced, so it’s fair to ask what positions she has that made her catch the eye of Fluornoy and whoever else recommended her.
Was it her attitude towards the previous administration, which she described as “local authoritarians”? On more than one occasion, she’s questioned the sanity of President Bush, hardly the tone of respect President Obama sought to bring to today’s “broken politics.” In her piece titled “Straightjacket Bush,” Brooks says that the president and vice president should “be treated like psychotics who need treatment.”
Even more alarming are her stances on important national security issues. She opposed the surge, which she says “someday the history books will have harsh words” for. She also charges the Bush administration with exaggerating the threat from al-Qaeda. “At the time, most experts say, this description of al-Qaeda simply wasn’t true. It was little more than an obscure group of extremist thugs, well financed and intermittently lethal but relatively limited in their global and regional political pull. On 9/11, they got lucky,” she writes.