Maher Arar and John Brennan

The NYTimes Editorial Board writes today:

Mr. Arar’s ordeal began in 2002, when he was seized by federal agents as he tried to change planes on his way home to Canada from a family vacation. After being held incommunicado in solitary confinement and subjected to harsh interrogation without proper access to a lawyer, he was “rendered” to Syria, where he was tortured. He was locked up for almost a year in a dank underground cell the size of a grave before he was finally let go.

Writing about the the "in the tank for John Brennan" reporting in the Media, Glenn Greenwald writes:

None of this reporting even alludes to, let alone conveys, the central arguments against Brennan and the evidence for those arguments. Unmentioned are his emphatic advocacy for rendition and "enhanced interrogation tactics." None of the lengthy Brennan quotes defending these programs are acknowledged, despite the fact that not only bloggers, but also the much-cited psychologists' letter, emphasized those defenses (that letter complained that Brennan "supported Tenet's policies, including 'enhanced interrogations' as well as 'renditions' to torturing countries"). The seminal article on these CIA programs by The New Yorker's Jane Mayer -- who interviewed Brennan and identified him as a "supporter" of these programs despite "the moral, ethical, and legal issues" -- does not exist in the journalists' world.

Just remember this when you read these so called "journalists" - John Brennan was part of the CIA when Maher Arar was rendered to Syria for torturing and, TO THIS DAY, STILL DEFENDS extraordinary rendition and torture.

In short, if he had to do it over again, John Brennan would render Maher Arar to Syria so that he would be tortured. If that is not disqualifying, then I do not know what is.

Also understand this, that the Media is. by and large (there are notable exceptions) disqualified from having a serious discussion about any issue. This episode that Glenn describes is par for the course with "journalists."

Speaking for me only

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    From a previous Greenwald post (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Dec 08, 2008 at 08:18:57 AM EST
    Even when CBS News -- for which Brennan was serving as an intelligence analyst -- was reporting on the dreadful case of Maher Arar, the Canadian citizen whom the Bush administration abducted at JFK Airport and rendered to Sryia for 10 months to be tortured only for it to then be revealed that he had no connection whatsoever to terrorism, Brennan was defending the rendition program:

        CBS NEWS: Despite Arar's experience, this former counterterrorism official says "rendition" does have its place.

        Mr. JOHN BRENNAN (CBS News Terrorism Analyst, Former Director, National Counterterrorism Center): I think it allows us to have the option to move a person who is involved in terrorism or terrorism-related activities to a country where they can be effectively questioned or prosecuted.

    Link (5.00 / 0) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Dec 08, 2008 at 08:20:28 AM EST
    scary (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Nasarius on Mon Dec 08, 2008 at 09:07:25 AM EST
    Glenn had a few posts recently about the difference between civility and decency.

    This quote exemplifies that sort of defense of shockingly inhuman behavior in a dispassionate, reasonable, Very Serious tone:

    I think it allows us to have the option to move a person...to a country where they can be effectively questioned

    "Effectively questioned." What a nice way of saying "tortured in a manner even we -- the perpetrators of water boarding, Guantanamo Bay, etc -- are unwilling to sanction and cover up."

    In the example of to Egypt, there (none / 0) (#13)
    by oculus on Mon Dec 08, 2008 at 12:19:44 PM EST
    was also mention of having family and others close by.  Ominous.

    IIRC, some suspects were (none / 0) (#3)
    by ThatOneVoter on Mon Dec 08, 2008 at 08:35:03 AM EST
    rendered to Uzbekistan, where the government has literally "rendered" dissidents in boiling oil.

    It is really annoying (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by lilburro on Mon Dec 08, 2008 at 08:57:59 AM EST
    that the press views rejecting Brennan for his support of these policies - and make no mistake, as deputy to the no.3 guy in the CIA, and former chief of staff to the no.1 guy, Brennan knew of and had involvement with these policies - as injecting politics into the organization.  Sorry - it was Tenet who sucked up to Bush, Tenet who let the CIA become a jailer.  

    And there are other questions about Brennan.

    What is his involvement, as head of the INSA, in the CIA contracting out a ludicrous amount of its work, including interrogation?  Interrogation by contractors that has led to lawsuits?

    What would his interest be in protecting his friends from prosecution and how close was he to Tenet who he has defended on many ocassions, as he has defended Hayden?

    Too bad his name isn't John Clinton, this would be very straightforward and we'd know more than we do.

    Where is Frank Church (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by oldpro on Mon Dec 08, 2008 at 09:03:19 AM EST
    when we really need him (again)?

    That's what they're afraid of but I doubt there is reason with this congress or this president...

    As usual, Greenwald nails it.

    Greenwald's conversation with Gjelton (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by ruffian on Mon Dec 08, 2008 at 11:02:55 AM EST
    is illuminating and scary. (Transcript is at the link BTD provided) The fact that Gjelton thought that distorting Greenwald's position was acceptable 'shorthand' speaks volumes.

    Also, I don't understand how any thinking person like Gjelton can insist that Brennan's declared support for rendition does not constitute support for "enhanced interrogation techniques". Otherwise what is the point of the rendition?

    As always, thanks to Greenwals for calling them on their B.S.

    Here is another quote (none / 0) (#7)
    by lilburro on Mon Dec 08, 2008 at 09:31:09 AM EST
    make of it what you will, from Brennan's stint with CBS:

    COURIC: All right, Bob Schieffer. Bob, thanks so much. Well, all of the political back and forth may have obscured the real issue here: How far exactly can CIA interrogators go when it comes to extracting important information from suspected terrorists? We asked national security correspondent David Martin to find out. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

    DAVID MARTIN, CBS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): CIA Director Michael Hayden has briefed members of Congress on so-called stress-inducing techniques used to extract information from high-level terrorists -- tactics the president has called tough. Tactics former CIA official and now CBS News consultant John Brennan says would still be used.

    (on camera): What are the tough tactics that the CIA wants to use?

    JOHN BRENNAN, CBS NEWS TERRORISM ANALYST: Sleep deprivation, you know, long periods of standing, other types of things that will try to wear down a detainee`s resistance to questioning.

    MARTIN (voice-over): Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch says that depending on how harshly the techniques are applied, they would violate the Geneva Conventions ban on cruel treatment, which now applies to prisoners held by the CIA.

    TOM MALINOWSKI, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Extended sleep deprivation, forced standing, where a prisoner is forced to stand motionless for up to 40 hours at a time, induced hypothermia, in which a prisoner is subjected to extremely cold temperatures, and also the technique of using all of these techniques at the same time.

    MARTIN: The CIA has used its most aggressive techniques, including waterboarding, in which the prisoner is made to feel like he`s drowning, against a handful of terrorists like Khalid Shaik Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of 9/11. But Brennan says the CIA now recognizes it went too far.

    BRENNAN: I think the increasing consensus is that waterboarding and some of the more aggressive tactics like that are something that may be beyond what that line should be.

    MARTIN: But human rights activists like Malinowski argue that any technique for inducing stress ends up being cruel.

    MALINOWSKI: A little bit of cold, a little bit of discomfort isn`t going to cut it with a hardened prisoner like a Khalid Shaik Mohammed. If you apply these methods, you are always going to apply them beyond the point of a prisoner`s tolerance.


    Brennan does not like waterboarding by most accounts, but it is unclear as to what he finds appropriate - and it is well documented that extended isolation and sleep deprivation are as tortuous and painful as other techniques.

    oops (none / 0) (#8)
    by lilburro on Mon Dec 08, 2008 at 09:32:05 AM EST
    forgot my cite: CBS Evening News Sept 18 2006 you will have to register (for free) to see it.

    "And other things"??? (none / 0) (#9)
    by ThatOneVoter on Mon Dec 08, 2008 at 09:44:27 AM EST
    Could mean pretty much anything.
    Sleep deprivation is horrible, and can be fatal.

    Remember the outrage (none / 0) (#10)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon Dec 08, 2008 at 10:16:21 AM EST
    early in Bush's term when those U.S. military guys were forced down in China and held for a few weeks, and it came out that the plane's pilot was -- gasp, the horror! -- woken up at irregular intervals to be interrogated?

    These guys got very mild treatment compared to what we've been dishing out, yet there was widespread indignation and outrage, including from the Bush administrat ion, that the Geneva conventions weren't followed to the letter by the Chinese.


    In addressing your comment (none / 0) (#11)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Dec 08, 2008 at 10:23:48 AM EST
    Also understand this, that the Media is. by and large (there are notable exceptions) disqualified from having a serious discussion about any issue. This episode that Glenn describes is par for the course with "journalists."

    Early this morning CNN ran the story about the young boy enlisting the help of sports stars in an attempt to get an interview with Barack Obama.  I think the young aspiring journalist has already interviewed Joe Biden and is the poor kid who had to change hands with the microphone while Joe talked on.  CNN anchor Kiran Chetry asked the boy what question he most wanted to ask Barack Obama and when he finished telling her what that was Kiran then asked him what answer he wanted to that question, since when does the answer the journalist wants have anything to do with journalism?  So this is how an aspiring journalist in the 21st Century is mentored by one who has already made it huh?

    Ask Canada why they didn't take him (none / 0) (#14)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Dec 08, 2008 at 12:23:00 PM EST
    He is a Canadian citizen. Prior to him being sent to Syria, an immigration hearing was held and the Canadians didn't even show up.

    Should we have sent to Syria? In 20-20 hindsight, no.

    But let us not forget that the Canadians did not speak up.

    Were they wrong? It is clear they thought him a terrorist and were happy to let some one else do their job.

    DA is wrong as usual (none / 0) (#21)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Dec 08, 2008 at 06:13:48 PM EST
    On October 3 or 4, Arar is asked to fill out a form asking where he would like to be deported to. He writes that he chooses to be sent to Canada, and that he has no concerns about going there. He signs the document.

    On October 4 Arar receives a visit from Canadian consul Maureen Girvan. Arar shows her the document he has been given, and she notes the contents. He tells her he is frightened of being deported to Syria, and she reassures him that this will not happen.

    On October 5 Arar is visited by lawyer Amal Oummih. They talk for 30 minutes, and he relates his fears to her, and asks her to help. She advises him not to sign anything without her being present.

    October 6, 2002

    At 9:00 p.m. on Sunday night, guards come to take Arar from his cell, saying that his attorney is there to see him. Arar is taken to a room where about seven officials are waiting. His attorney is not there. He is told that they contacted his attorney and that "he" refused to come.

    Link to Maher's home page/lawyers.

    Anyway you slice it the Canadian government knew that they had a Canadian citizen  being held by the US. They gave him a lawyer, but...

    One more time... Canada wanted nothing to do with because they thought he was guilty, probably because he had co-signed a lease with a person on the terrorist watch list.

    Bottom line.

    Sorry about that, but sometimes bad things happen to good people.


    This has been argued in detail before... (none / 0) (#22)
    by roy on Mon Dec 08, 2008 at 06:37:24 PM EST

    Recycling saves electrons.


    Yes, it has (none / 0) (#23)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Dec 08, 2008 at 08:22:56 PM EST

    roy (none / 0) (#75)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 09:51:14 AM CST

      Roy wrote:  "America consciously kept Canada ill-informed, and America acted on its own wishes rather Canada's."

    Jim wrote: "Got proof??"

    So? (none / 0) (#26)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 08:59:52 AM EST
    What does that have to do with the facts that:

    a. The Canadian consul met with him

    b. Provided him a lawyer

    Your whole argument is typical of you sniffing all my comments and then making rambling dissertations.

    My point was, has been and will be:

    The Canadians didn't want him because of what they believed. Should we have sent him off to Syria?

    Based on 20-20 hindsight, no. But so what? If the rabbit hadn't stopped to eat the dog wouldn't have caught him. If ifs and buts were candy and nuts we all would have a merry Christmas.

    Simpler. The Left, as a group, worry too much about the happiness and safety of our enemies. That is the whole "torture" issue.


    Any information as to how Obama (none / 0) (#15)
    by oculus on Mon Dec 08, 2008 at 12:24:18 PM EST
    came to rely on Brennan on national security issues?  Is this the hand of Sunstein?  

    That is a great question (none / 0) (#16)
    by ruffian on Mon Dec 08, 2008 at 12:28:27 PM EST
    Hope someone knows.

    Interesting factoid: (none / 0) (#17)
    by oculus on Mon Dec 08, 2008 at 12:50:10 PM EST
    an employee of Brennan's company was the "breacher" of Obama passport file.  Remember the hue and cry about that?  Info at Wiki in a reference.

    No waffling on torture (none / 0) (#19)
    by MKS on Mon Dec 08, 2008 at 02:09:59 PM EST
    No torture lite....Army Field Manual across the board.....

    I'd say "golden rule" across ... (none / 0) (#20)
    by Robot Porter on Mon Dec 08, 2008 at 05:18:22 PM EST
    the board.

    That makes the position clear.  No arcane debates.  No reading into lines in the AFM.  

    "The Golden Rule" covers it in my book.