Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Ultimate October Surprise

Jeremy Meyer has an intriguing piece on October surprises and specifically one involving an American getting arrested abroad for war crimes. In this hypothetical scenario, an American CIA agent (Not Agent Zero) on vacation in Europe is arrested for torture, a war crime under the Rome Treaty to establish the International Criminal Court. Sounds like something out of a spy movie, but the premise is not far fetched at all. Meyer points out that courts in Italy and Germany have already issued warrants for over 30 CIA agents.

Now, if this scenario unravels during the heat of the campaign it becomes a pivotal issue, if not the pivotal issue. The Bush Administration is most likely going to come out guns blazing. This is the primary reason they initially opposed the ICC. They did not want Americans being tried by a court they feel is a threat to national sovereignty.

With the Administration rallying Americans behind saving American agents from this foreign court, what would the candidates do?

IMHO, Obama could use this as a perfect example of how the Republicans have used this detained agent as a pawn and scapegoat to justify the torture authorized by the administration and supported by Republicans in Congress. Guantanamo Bay and the authorized use of torture have done more to degrade our standing in the world than any other foreign policy.

McCain has a unique position in this equation. He could toe the Bush line and rally support for this agent or, IMHO, he should use this as critical place to separate himself from the failed policies of the Bush administration. He could use his past experiences to highlight his vehement opposition to this torture policy which would triangulate the position a la Dick Morris.

Tell me your thoughts. This is a great example of how these campaigns must have clear and definite contingency plans for all "October surprises." So they can roll out with a clear,but nuanced position immediately. What other scenarios should they be planning for?

FYI: Here is a great article describing all the candidates positions on a grossly underreported issue, the ICC.

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