On Brennan & Torture Commissions
Yesterday, Glenn Greenwald linked to what he describes as a "very realistic, and rather Obama-sympathetic, point of view regarding his appointments and what he intends to do." This link was to Jane Hamsher's diary "Obama and a Paucity of Progressives."
His isn't the administration I'd pick, but the proof will be in what he actually does. If for instance he sets up a panel to take on torture, opens up intelligence files and lets the public know how this horrible, malignant policy came to pass, it will go a long way towards assuring people that a choice like Brennan for CIA chief isn't just "business as usual."
I don't think it's possible for both of these to exist: CIA Director John Brennan, and a fair inquiry into torture. As I wrote here yesterday, "if you think the panel is going to be able to learn about torture, and point fingers where they belong, while Tenet's BFF and participant/witness Brennan works for Obama, you've got to be nuts. Guess who ISN'T going to get blamed in such an investigation? Considering that some in the CIA have been preparing themselves for legal battles, Brennan must be p*ssing himself with glee over having chosen the right horse."
A torture commission is NOT what we will get in exchange for Brennan. There aren't any good trade-offs in this situation. We won't get anything at all. I wrote about the implications of a Brennan selection in another diary here. And again, I link to this Mondoweiss post where Philip Weiss shows Tenet and Brennan pointing fingers together at Richard Perle for the Iraq War. The intelligence community wants to see the Bush administration as to blame for everything. If Brennan is appointed head of the CIA, I think that perspective will be given an authority it does not necessarily deserve and any torture commission will be hopelessly biased.
I tend to agree with the commenter in the Mondoweiss entry, Larry, who writes:
I am outraged by Tenet. Here was a guy whose job description was to give the President objective intelligence. The job was created to prevent the President from getting biased information. Instead Tenet played a key role in misleading the nation into war, accepted a Medal of Freedom, and now writes that he knew all along the basis for the war was phoney! Why didn't he speak out at the time and try to stop the disaster that followed? The guy has blood on his hands.
If Brennan is picked for CIA Director, there will be a lot of pressure on a Democratic Congress to confirm him. And once he is confirmed, I doubt Obama will want Brennan in a position where he resigns in disgrace.
A fair hearing of the evidence will be impossible if Brennan is ensconced in the Obama administration. Stories of a torture commission and of Brennan's appointment are both circulating. Only one of those stories can be realized. That is why it is important to write to Obama at Change.gov and to discuss this issue right now.
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