A close relationship: Brennan (seated at right) working with Obama after Hurricane Irene hit during a presidential vacation on Martha’s Vineyard (MAI / Splash News)
By MICHAEL A. WALSH
The Senate — and the nation — should think long and hard before agreeing to President Obama’s choice of veteran spook John Brennan to head the Central Intelligence Agency.
As I’ll explain below, the move would finalize the militarization of the agency — but that’s only the biggest problem.
Brennan, 57, is a careerist who spent a quarter-century with the CIA and now serves as Obama’s top counter-terrorism adviser. In his agency days, he was an architect of “enhanced interrogation” techniques and overseas “rendition” prisons — history that put him under fire from left and right when his name was floated for CIA director in 2008, forcing him to withdraw.
A contradictory careerist, actually — since he’s long publicly proclaimed his opposition to waterboarding and other coercive methods of information-gathering.
The Arabic-speaking son of Irish immigrants, Brennan’s also an unabashed supporter of the killer-drone program, which he’s called “legal, ethical and wise.” Yet he’s also publicly soft on Islamic extremism, opposing use of the term “jihadists” and even calling jihad “a legitimate tenet of Islam.”
Throughout the intelligence community, he’s regarded as an empire-building, credit-grabbing apparatchik who’ll stop at nothing to get to the top of the greasy pole. For example, as head of the agency’s Terrorism Threat Intelligence Center in 2004, Brennan actively undercut his counterparts in the IC and at the Pentagon as he lobbied to become head of the new National Counter-Terrorism Center. (He only got to be acting director for a time.)
The hot-tempered Brennan also blew the existence of — and then tried to grab the credit for — a joint British-Saudi operation that disrupted a second underwear-bomber plot originating in Yemen last spring. By making it public, he risked exposing sources and methods in the ongoing fight against al Qaeda.
Civil libertarians should also be nervous. As the nation’s top counter-terrorism officer, Brennan oversaw last year’s decision (approved by Attorney General Eric Holder) — to allow the NCTC to access the government files of any US citizen, even without probable cause that they’re involved in terrorist activities.
That’s right — despite the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, and the Federal Privacy Act of 1974, which was designed to prevent just such a thing — everything the feds know about you is now fair game for the spooks. (And they can keep it in their files for five years.)
Indeed, the ACLU has called for Brennan’s nomination to be put on hold; it also wants his role in enhanced interrogation and the drone program clarified.
On the right, Sen. Lindsey Graham has urged delay until the administration provides more details about what really happened in Benghazi last fall, when ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in a terrorist attack that Brennan ought to have seen coming.
In short, despite Brennan’s on-paper qualifications for the job, it’s a nomination that ought to be stopped — and for reasons that go far beyond one man.
Read more at New York Post
- Obama to Nominate Hamas & Hezbollah Supporter as CIA Director (counterjihadreport.com)
- Obama’s National Security Advisor (counterjihadreport.com)
- Cairo Meddler–Czar Brennan Needs to Go (counterjhadreport.com)
- Did CIA pick sanitize Obama’s passport records? (counterjihadreport.com)