Jan 08 2013

John Brennan, Torture Advocate, Nominated to Head CIA

While the traditional MSM has been kvetching over the selection of former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense, President Barack Obama another far more controversial nomination. True to form of favoring George W. Bush’s war criminals, the president nominated his counter-terrorism advisor John Brennan to head the CIA. Brennan, who endorsed Bush’s torture program and illegal surveillance, has also been completely in charge of the president’s drone and targeted assassination programs. It was because of that and his approval of NSA illegal wire taping and the immunization of the telecommunication companies that Brennan’s nomination to head the CIA in 2009 was withdrawn by the fledgeling Obama administration. How soon, not just the media, so-called progressives have forgotten its outrage over the criminality of the Bush/Cheney regime.

John Brennan’s extremism and dishonesty rewarded with CIA Director nomination

by Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian

Obama’s top terrorism adviser goes from unconfirmable in 2008 to uncontroversial in 2013, reflecting the Obama legacy

Prior to President Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, a controversy erupted over reports that he intended to appoint John Brennan as CIA director. That controversy, in which I participated, centered around the fact that Brennan, as a Bush-era CIA official, had expressly endorsed Bush’s programs of torture (other than waterboarding) and rendition and also was a vocal advocate of immunizing lawbreaking telecoms for their role in the illegal Bush NSA eavesdropping program. As a result, Brennan withdrew his name from consideration, issuing a bitter letter blaming “strong criticism in some quarters prompted by (his) previous service with the” CIA.

This “victory” of forcing Brennan’s withdrawal proved somewhat Pyrrhic, as Obama then appointed him as his top counter-terrorism adviser, where he exerted at least as much influence as he would have had as CIA Director, if not more. In that position, Brennan last year got caught outright lying when he claimed Obama’s drone program caused no civilian deaths in Pakistan over the prior year. He also spouted complete though highly influential falsehoods to the world in the immediate aftermath of the Osama bin Laden killing, including claiming that bin Laden “engaged in a firefight” with Navy SEALS and had “used his wife as a human shield”. Brennan has also been in charge of many of Obama’s most controversial and radical policies, including “signature strikes” in Yemen – targeting people without even knowing who they are – and generally seizing the power to determine who will be marked for execution without any due process, oversight or transparency. {..}

It is a perfect illustration of the Obama legacy that a person who was untouchable as CIA chief in 2008 because of his support for Bush’s most radical policies is not only Obama’s choice for the same position now, but will encounter very little resistance. Within this change one finds one of the most significant aspects of the Obama presidency: his conversion of what were once highly contentious right-wing policies into harmonious dogma of the DC bipartisan consensus. Then again, given how the CIA operates, one could fairly argue that Brennan’s eagerness to deceive and his long record of supporting radical and unaccountable powers make him the perfect person to run that agency. It seems clear that this is Obama’s calculus.

The Seduction of John Brennan’s “Moral Rectitude”

by Marcy Wheeler, emptywheel

FWIW, having John Brennan in a position where he will be subject to Congressional oversight – rather than the oversight-free and more expansive position he’s in now – might not be an entirely bad thing. And after the DiFi-Jose Rodriguez smackdown, I’m not sad to see (CIA Acting Director Michael) Morell get passed over, because I don’t think he has sufficient independence from people like Rodriguez. {..}

So I can’t help but think the people hailing his “moral rectitude” have been seduced by an old spook. Because every story that claims Brennan has some kind of higher ethics or a plan to put order to our out-of-control CT programs is either followed-or has the proof within itself-that the moral rectitude is the PR, whereas the embrace of unchecked power seems to be backed by his actions.

This statement from the ACLU on Brennan’s nomination, expressed there concerns:

WASHINGTON – President Obama this afternoon nominated his counterterrorism advisor John Brennan to become the next director of the CIA. Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office, had the following concerns with the president’s choice to fill this critical national security post.

Despite media reports that Brennan continually raised civil liberties concerns within the White House, noted Murphy, the Senate should not move forward with his nomination until it assesses the legality of his actions in past leadership positions in the CIA during the early years of the George W. Bush administration and in his current role in the ongoing targeted killing program. [..]

“The Senate should not move forward with his nomination until all senators can assess the role of the CIA-and any role by Brennan himself-in torture, abuse, secret prisons, and extraordinary rendition during his past tenure at the CIA, as well as can review the legal authorities for the targeted killing program that he has overseen in his current position,” Murphy said. “This nomination is too important to proceed without the Senate first knowing what happened during Brennan’s tenures at the CIA and the White House, and whether all of his conduct was within the law. ”

Murphy also added that a recent Senate Intelligence Committee report could be used to determine the extent of Brennan’s role in these programs.

“To the extent these questions can be answered by the Intelligence Committee’s still-undisclosed report on the CIA’s role in torture, the Senate should use the report to determine what role Brennan had and whether his conduct was consistent with both the law and American values,” Murphy said.

Murphy remarked that the CIA can take two actions now to help restore the rule of law.

“The Senate should not move forward with the nomination of John Brennan until it is clear that he is committed to making sure that the CIA will end its targeted killing program, and agree to work with the Senate Intelligence Committee on the declassification review and disclosure of the committee’s report on the CIA’s past role in torture and abuse,” she said. “These steps would help assure all Americans that the past wrongs of the CIA have ended, and won’t be brought back.”

Brennan will most likely be confirmed by the Senate with far less “fireworks” than the Hagel nomination. I have no doubt that it will be done under the cloak of secrecy, invoking “national security”, aka, covering war crimes and the perpetrators.

1 comment

  1. TMC

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