John Brennan's B.S.

The Washington Post turns in a remarkably loving portrayal of John Brennan here.  It's not all their fault though - apparently the Obama staffers love them some Brennan too. And love is blind.

Is it really too much to ask that writers actually report the full extent of John Brennan's resume? From the Post article cited:

"His remarks and his tenure -- he was chief of staff to then-CIA Director George J. Tenet from 1999 to 2001 and director of National Counterterrorism Center from 2004 to 2005 -- provoked an open complaint against his nomination as CIA director from 200 psychologists."

Really? Why not tell your readers that Brennan was D/EXDIR, no.4 in the CIA between 2001 and 2003? You know, when they decided to torture and accelerate the rendition program?  Not relevant to you that he oversaw all that?

And this is completely laughable:

"Obama aides said the president-elect accepted Brennan's assurances that he played no role in setting abusive interrogation practices at the CIA and that he had expressed some private dissent about the practices. They said Obama also
accepted the judgment of transition team advisers that Brennan was separated from any questionable practices by Global Strategies, which formally purchased Brennan's firm in 2007.

'No one has been more critical of private security contractors than Barack Obama,' said Denis McDonough, a senior foreign policy adviser to the president-elect. McDonough said transition aides looked closely at the governing structure of Brennan's company and its parent and concluded that there was no way Brennan was involved with or 'could be accountable' for the actions of Global Strategies' London-based division."

Let's think about this. Brennan says he played no role in setting the interrogation practices. Despite being no.4 in the CIA - and in the direct line of command between Operations and the Director of the CIA. Well, that is pretty creative. And expressing dissent internally? We have, again, no proof of that (unless we get a Congressional investigation) and damningly enough, he expressed SUPPORT for Bush policy - after he left the CIA! "Rendition is a vital tool." What an appallingly low bar set by the Obama administration.

It's unfortunate that the Obama transition team didn't apply its keen eye to the CIA's "governing structure." Because the CIA's governing structure puts Brennan right in the thick of things. And Global Strategies aside, it should be enough, if I interpret the Obama transition team correctly, that he was involved with a business with current contracts with the US government's intelligence agencies. From change.gov:

Close the Revolving Door on Former and Future Employers: No political appointees in the Obama-Biden administration will be permitted to work on regulations or contracts directly and substantially related to their prior employer for two years. And no political appointee will be able to lobby the executive branch after leaving government service during the remainder of the administration.

According to this source, Analysis Corp (TAC) has entered into several long-term contracts:

Last October [in 2005] TAC won a contract from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) to add its terrorist data base to that of NCTC. The FBI awarded it a $60 million, long-term contract in 2004 to provide technical support to its Terrorist Screening Center.

Here is a summary of their 2007 contracts.

And this is kind of weird - but it is the nature of the new private/public intelligence community.  Again, from the WaPo article cited:

Since the election, Brennan -- who retains all his top security clearances -- has been conducting briefings for Obama on the CIA's ongoing covert actions, and aides said he won Obama's support in those meetings as a "straight shooter" whom agency officials trust. He has "unrivaled integrity" and a "great understanding of how all the parts of official Washington are affected by intelligence," McDonough said.

Shadow intelligence community come to life, I guess. And here is another damning paragraph:

Brennan, who has been on unpaid leave from the firm, plans to resign Jan. 19 and will have no further financial ties to it, according to a transition official. Two months ago, the firm won a large five-year contract to provide "intelligence expertise and support services" to the FBI.

Obama has wantonly betrayed his principles - unless of course Brennan spends the next 22 months avoiding all contact with the FBI in his role as deputy national security adviser.  Honoring in that ascetic way the Obama principle that one must not work "on regulations or contracts directly and substantially related to their prior employer for two years."

The media will say what they will, but they are wrong, and Obama is wrong, on Brennan.

If Obama at all falters in keeping his promises regarding torture and rendition, as he has faltered in keeping his public/private lobbying promises, we'll know where to look.  We may not be able to prevent Brennan's appointment - but we can certainly try to drive him out of Washington, if Obama does not deliver on his promises.

[crossposted, in slightly altered format, at Back To Our Senses]

< Obama Can Redeem Panetta with Pat Lang as Deputy CIA Director | $700 Billion Could Pay Off EVERY Sub-Prime Mortgage >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Nice work, lilburro. (none / 0) (#1)
    by Edger on Sun Jan 11, 2009 at 08:21:37 AM EST
    I almost feel sorry for John Brennan. The public pressure must be torture for him. And for Holder and Obama.
    U.S. Code: CHAPTER 113C--TORTURE
    Summary of International and U.S. Law Prohibiting Torture and Other Ill-treatment of Persons in Custody

    International and U.S. law prohibits torture and other ill-treatment of any person in custody in all circumstances. The prohibition applies to the United States during times of peace, armed conflict, or a state of emergency. Any person, whether a U.S. national or a non-citizen, is protected. It is irrelevant whether the detainee is determined to be a prisoner-of-war, a protected person, or a so-called "security detainee" or "unlawful combatant." And the prohibition is in effect within the territory of the United States or any place anywhere U.S. authorities have control over a person. In short, the prohibition against torture and ill-treatment is absolute.
    A federal anti-torture statute (18 U.S.C. § 2340A), enacted in 1994, provides for the prosecution of a U.S. national or anyone present in the United States who, while outside the U.S., commits or attempts to commit torture.

    Torture is defined as an "act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control." A person found guilty under the act can be incarcerated for up to 20 years or receive the death penalty if the torture results in the victim's death.

    I almost feel sorry for them. There are well defined legal definitions of the word "accessory". I'll leave it to others to look it up.

    what's interesting (none / 0) (#3)
    by lilburro on Sun Jan 11, 2009 at 02:05:39 PM EST
    is that the media rarely attempts to apply the concept of command responsibility to the situation of CIA sponsored torture.  It's presented instead as a witchhunt for individual torturers and case officers.  But the international precedent is to prosecute the top - people like Brennan, Tenet, and Kappes.  

    Obama doesn't want people "looking over their shoulders and lawyering" - but it's not the little guys who should even be in that position.  The CIA command - the very top - SHOULD and SHOULD HAVE been looking over their shoulders and lawyering - determining if what they wanted to do and set as policy was truly legal and sound.  It was not.  It was their job to do that for their staff.  They failed.

    Why Obama buys so much of the CIA B.S., I don't know.  It's obvious (the Abu Omar case is the best example) that the CIA officials at the top are worried only about their skins, not their operatives'.  


    Why Obama buys so much of the CIA B.S.? (none / 0) (#4)
    by Edger on Sun Jan 11, 2009 at 02:53:31 PM EST
    Possibly CIA blackmail.

    He needs the protection of an enormous number of people shouting for prosecution as loud as they can, that by doing that are at the same time making the political blowback if he doesn't do it far and away bigger than the blowback if he does do it.

    Ford's pardon of Nixon killed Ford politically, and not prosecuting has to kill Obama politically. There has to be a political price to pay for not doing it, or he will not do it. why would he, if there is no price to pay for not doing it and the price for doing it is high.


    The press only "investigates" (none / 0) (#2)
    by andgarden on Sun Jan 11, 2009 at 01:21:03 PM EST
    people they don't like. For everyone else, they act as stenographers.