Brennan Disappoints Again

2866529523CSP, by Fred Fleitz:

CIA Director John Brennan did some good in his unprecedented CIA press conference on the report released this week by Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee on the enhanced interrogation program. He defended the Agency and its employees from unfair attacks on its efforts to stop further terrorist attacks after 9/11. He disputed claims in the report that the CIA lied to Congress about the enhanced interrogation program. He noted that the Agency stayed in regular contact with Congress and the Justice Department about this program and self-reported when things went wrong. He stressed how unfair it was that the investigation failed to interview any CIA officials. Brennan also decried the investigation’s failure to consider that the enhanced interrogation program was initiated in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks when U.S. officials were fearful of further al-Qaeda terrorist attacks.

I was glad to hear Brennan say these things. However, he undermined his message by also straddling the fence on the value of the enhanced interrogation program in an attempt to win political support from congressional Democrats when he said that that although detainees subjected to enhanced interrogation produced “useful information,” he claimed the cause and effect relationship between the interrogations and obtaining useful information “is unknowable.” Senator Feinstein quickly praised these statements but added that she disagreed “that it is ‘unknowable’ whether information needed to stop terrorist attacks could be obtained from other sources.”

Last August I called for John Brennan to resign after he mishandled an incident when Democratic Senate staff improperly removed classified documents from a CIA facility during the enhanced interrogation investigation. Senator Feinstein misrepresented the CIA’s actions as spying on Congress. I suspect Brennan is trying to win back the support of Feinstein and other Senate Democrats after this incident by his comments that hedged on the value of the enhanced interrogation program.

Brennan could have served the interests of the CIA and U.S. national security better by firmly standing behind this program like former CIA Directors Goss, Tenet, and Hayden did and not engaging in a strange epistemological argument on what is “knowable.”   Goss, Tenet, and Hayden, who worked more closely on this program than Brennan, believe it is “knowable” that the enhanced interrogation program produced unique, time-sensitive intelligence on terrorism threats that could not have been obtained through other means.

This also used to be Brennan’s position. According to the Wall Street Journal, a March 2009 memo to the Senate Intelligence Committee signed by Brennan said: “CIA assesses that most, if not all, of the timely intelligence acquired from detainees in this program would not have been discovered or reported by any other means.” Brennan also didn’t make this “unknowable” argument when he presented the CIA’s rebuttal to the Senate report last year.

Brennan’s hedging on the enhanced interrogation program’s reflects an unfortunate trend toward watered-down analysis and risk aversion by CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies due to the firestorm of criticism it faced in the 2000s after intelligence failures related to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Saddam Hussein’s WMD programs. To avoid being wrong or alienating anyone in Congress, intelligence analysis since the mid -2000s on controversial issues such as Iran’s nuclear program became increasingly bland and consensus-based.   Pressure has been put on intelligence analysts and agencies to support a consensus corporate line in their analysis to avoid being wrong and attracting congressional criticism.

Intelligence officials have tried to discredit any agencies or analysts who break from the corporate line on analysis. This happened in April 2013 when Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-CO) inadvertently revealed a classified finding from a Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) report that he said “assesses with moderate confidence the North currently has nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles, however the reliability will be low.” Senior U.S. intelligence officials immediately dismissed the DIA report cited by Lamborn as an outlier as did the Obama administration. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper read a statement that said the DIA report “is not [his emphasis] an Intelligence Community assessment.”

U.S. intelligence analysis should be written the way Director William Casey insisted it be written: analysts must provide their best assessment and dare to be wrong. Intelligence analysts shouldn’t be pulling their punches because of how their work might be received by the White House or Congress. Brennan’s hedging on the value of the enhanced interrogation program is the latest indication that American intelligence analysis is being driven by political considerations and has a long way to go to return to the high standard demanded by Director Casey so it produces the incisive and bold assessments needed to protect our country in a dangerous world.

Brennan: Claim That Detainees Didn’t Provide Valuable Intel After EITs ‘Lacks Any Foundation at All’

 

PJ Media, By Bridget Johnson, December 11, 2014:

WASHINGTON — CIA Director John Brennan stepped to the podium at Langley today for a rare press conference to respond to a report accusing the agency of torture, launching into a passionate defense of the men and women who work there.

Brennan began by walking everyone back to the dark days of 9/11, and reminded all that the first combat death in Afghanistan — Johnny “Mike” Spann, killed on Nov. 25, 2001 — was CIA. Since then, he said, 20 more CIA officers “have lost their lives around the world at the hands of terrorists.”

But he also stressed that the Senate Intelligence Committee Democrats’ report, which said enhanced interrogation techniques were not effective in gleaning useful intelligence, ”lacks any foundation at all” in its conclusion.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Brennan said, “Our government and our citizens recognized the urgency of the task to find and stop al-Qaeda before it could shed the blood of more innocent men, women and children, be it in America or be it in any other corner of the world.”

The EIT program was “uncharted territory for the CIA and we were not prepared,” he added. “We had little experience housing detainees and precious few of our officers were trained interrogators… As concerns about Al Qaeda’s terrorist plans endured, a variety of these techniques were employed by CIA officers on several dozen detainees over the course of five years before they ended in December of 2007.”

“The previous administration faced agonizing choices about how to pursue al-Qaeda and prevent additional terrorist attacks against our country while facing fears of further attacks and carrying out the responsibility to prevent more catastrophic loss of life. There were no easy answers. And whatever your views are on EITs, our nation and, in particular this agency, did a lot of things right during this difficult time to keep this country strong and secure.”

Brennan said the CIA views Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) report as “flawed” in its execution, noting that CIA officers were not interviewed by committee investigators.

“In a limited number of cases, agency officers used interrogation techniques that had not been authorized, were abhorrent, and rightly should be repudiated by all. And we fell short when it came to holding some officers accountable for their mistakes,” he said. “It is vitally important to recognize, however, that the overwhelming majority of officers involved in the program at CIA carried out their responsibilities faithfully and in accordance with the legal and policy guidance they were provided. They did what they were asked to do in the service of our nation.”

Brennan stressed that detainees who were subjected to EITs did yield valuable intelligence, including in finding Osama bin Laden, but he cannot say whether it was the EITs that led the detainees to talk.

“The cause and effect relationship between the use of EITs and useful information subsequently provided by the detainee is, in my view, unknowable,” he said.

He added that the record “simply does not support the study’s inference that the agency repeatedly, systematically and intentionally misled others on the effectiveness of the program.”

“Primarily, however, the study’s contention that we repeatedly and intentionally misled the public and the rest of the U.S. government rests on the committee’s view that detainees subjected to EITs did not produce useful intelligence, a point on which we still fundamentally disagree.”

The longtime CIA veteran — who joined in 1980 and was deputy executive director when al-Qaeda struck the homeland on 9/11 – said one of the “most frustrating aspects” of the study is that it “conveys a broader view of the CIA and its officers as untrustworthy, that the institution and the workforce were willing to forego their integrity in order to preserve a program they were invested in and supposedly believed to be right.”

“This in no way comports with my experience in the CIA. While the agency has a traditional bias for action and a determined focus on achieving our mission, we take exceptional pride in providing truth to power, whether that power likes or agrees with what we believe and what we say or not and regardless of whether that power is affiliated with any particular political party.”

Feinstein was live-tweeting Brennan’s speech, responding to his statements with the hashtag #ReadTheReport.

The senator said in a statement after the speech that Brennan’s uncertainty of which techniques led to actionable intelligence substantiated her report’s claims. “This is a welcome change from the CIA’s position in the past that information was obtained as a direct result of EITs,” Feinstein said.

Yet Brennan also said: “But for someone to say that there was no intelligence of value of use that came from those detainees once they were subjected to EITs, I think that is — lacks any foundation at all.”

Feinstein disagreed that it’s “unknowable” whether the EITs led to the intelligence.

“The report shows that such information in fact was obtained through other means, both traditional CIA human intelligence and from other agencies,” she said. “…The president, Congress and other policymakers must get the facts and intelligence assessments without them being colored by policy views or an effort to hide embarrassing facts.”

“As one who received CIA briefings in 2006 and 2007 about the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques, I know that the CIA did not ‘speak truth to power,’ and that the descriptions of interrogations that were finally provided to the committee did not accurately reflect reality.”

President Obama refused to talk about Brennan today when asked at an Export Council meeting.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that Obama still has confidence in his CIA director.

“The president is pleased to have — to count him as one of the people who has been a senior member of his national security team since the very beginning of his tenure in office, and the president continues to rely on his advice to this day,” he said.

Earnest said Brennan was at the White House this morning only to participate in the president’s daily briefing. “It’s not particularly unusual for him to do that,” he added.

When asked at the CIA press conference about whether reporters will be back in the same room in several years, faced with a similarly damning report about the Obama administration’s use of drones and civilian deaths, Brennan said he couldn’t talk about current operations.

“I will tell you, though, that during my tenure at the White House, as the president’s assistant for counterterrorism, that the use of these unmanned aerial vehicles that you refer to as drones in the counterterrorism effort has done tremendous work to keep this country safe,” he said. “The ability to use these platforms and advanced technologies, it has advanced the counterterrorism mission and the U.S. military has done some wonderful things with these platforms.”

“And in terms of precision of effort, accuracy and making sure that this country, this country’s military does everything possible to minimize to the great extent possible the loss of life of noncombatants, I think there’s a lot for this country and this White House and the military to be proud of.”

FLASHBACK: Obama Administration Says Islamic Caliphate is “Feckless Delusion” That is “Never Going to Happen”

2014-07-23T200304Z_1_LYNXMPEA6M0WW_RTROPTP_3_IRAQ-SECURITY-BAGHDADIBy Katie Pavlich:

The brutal terrorist organization known as ISIS or ISIL, made up of former al Qaeda fighters, has renamed itself the Islamic State. The name “Islamic State” is self-explanatory and was chosen based on the group’s goal of establishing a caliphate by conquering as much land in the middle east and around the world as possible, beheading and killing anyone standing in their way.

Regardless of the terrorist group’s own classification and stated goals to implement and maintain an Islamist caliphate going back years, the Obama administration wasn’t worried about the “absurd” concept and had no plans to stop it from happening according to then White House Counter-Terrorism Advisor and current CIA Secretary John Brennen. From 2011:

“Our strategy is also shaped by deeper understanding of al Qaeda’s goals, strategy, and tactics over the past decade. I’m not talking about al Qaeda’s grandiose vision of global domination through a violent Islamic caliphate. That vision is absurd, and we are not going to organize our counter-terrorism policies against a feckless delusion that is never going to happen. We are not going to elevate these thugs and their murderous aspirations into something larger than they are,” Brennen said.

Watch here (15:38 to 16:07):

 

Sounds a lot like the administration treated these guys like a junior varsity team

Brennen argued the administration’s goal was to have “a deeper understanding of al Qaeda’s goals,” yet ignored the greatest goal of all: an Islamic caliphate. We’re seeing the caliphate happen now. In fact, ISIS just started issuing caliphate/Islamic State passports.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has reportedly issued Islamic State passports as the group expressed desire to expand its territory in Middle East, parts of Asia and Europe.

The group has also threatened to to raise the jihadist flag over Downing Street and the White House.

The introduction of passports by ISIS is believed to be part of the group’s ongoing campaign of psychological warfare, with experts saying that the passports are little more than a symbolic gesture.

Photos of the passports based on the black jihadist flag flown by ISIS terrorists with inscription “State of the Islamic Caliphate” at the top of the passport, were circulated on social media websites.

As another reminder, this is the same administration that argued al Qaeda was “on the run” in 2012 while it was actually spreading. These are dangerous times and the administration has done very little to show Americans they take the threats and goals of al Qaeda/ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State terrorists seriously.

Read more at Town Hall

CIA Director Brennan Should Resign

612197811By Fred Fleitz:

CIA director John Brennan did the right thing Thursday in apologizing to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) for CIA monitoring of computers being used by the committee’s staff for an investigation of the Bush-era enhanced-interrogation program. Nevertheless, heads must roll at the CIA over this scandal, including Brennan’s.

While what the CIA did was not illegal, its actions were the result of reckless decisions by agency officials in response to misconduct by SSCI staff members. The CIA should have handled this matter by raising it quietly with SSCI chairwoman Dianne Feinstein. The agency didn’t need another scandal at a time when all U.S. intelligence agencies were under fire in the aftermath of the Snowden leaks.

Brennan’s apology has been seized upon by members of Congress to make hysterical claims that the CIA spied on U.S. senators and is out of control. News reports of this controversy have been wildly inaccurate and have accused the CIA of spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee because the agency was opposed to the SSCI’s enhanced-interrogation investigation.

Unfortunately, this scandal is distracting attention from a more serious issue: how the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2014 was still working on a partisan $50 million probe of the Bush administration. The news media and Congress should be focused on the fact that this is a pointless and wasteful investigation and not on a scandal that the CIA inflicted on itself.

Contrary to media reports that Brennan apologized for CIA spying on “the Hill” or U.S. senators, this controversy concerns CIA personnel monitoring CIA computers in a CIA building that were being used by Senate staff members. The CIA did not spy on Senate-owned computers, Senate offices, or members of the Senate. The computers were made available by the CIA for the SSCI staff to review millions of classified documents related to the enhanced-interrogation program.

CIA officials decided to audit the computers being used by the SSCI staff after the agency determined that staff members violated an agreement on access to the computers by obtaining documents they were not supposed to have and removing them from a CIA facility without authorization. The CIA also made a referral to the Justice Department over the staff’s actions.

The CIA’s relations with Congress sank to their lowest level in many years after this story broke. Feinstein said in a speech on the Senate floor that the agency’s actions may have violated the separation-of-powers clause of the Constitution and the Fourth Amendment. Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) said after the incident: “I think I perceive fear of an intelligence community drunk with power, unrepentant and uninclined to relinquish power.” Representative Darryl Issa (R., Calif.) accused the CIA of possible treason.

Read more at Center for Security Policy

CIA Chief: Jihad a Product of Injustices, Economics, and Ignorance

130114101304-oconnell-brennan-story-topBy Raymond Ibrahim:

CIA director John Brennan is at it again—equivocating over the nature of jihad by evoking paradigms familiar to the West.

Last Tuesday, “during an event at the Council of Foreign Relations, Brennan was asked about the ‘war of ideas’ surrounding Islam, which the questioner said many Americans tend to equate with violence.”

The CIA chief responded by saying that al-Qaeda’s ideology is “a perverse and very corrupt interpretation of the Qur’an”; that “al-Qaeda has hijacked” Islam; that “they have really distorted the teachings of Muhammad.”

Even so, “that ideology, that agenda of al-Qaeda,” confirmed Brennan, “has gained resonance and following in many parts of the world.”

So what is the CIA chief’s explanation as to why such a “perverse and very corrupt” understanding of Islam—one that has “distorted the teachings of Muhammad”— resonates among Muslims?

He gives none—other than to say that this ideology is “fed a lot of times by, you know, political repression, by economic, you know, disenfranchisement, by, you know, lack of education and ignorance, so there—there are a number of phenomena right now that I think are fueling the fires of, you know, this ideology.”

Interestingly, if you watch the video clip of Brennan talking, you will note that he only “you knows” in the above quotation (four times) and right before it, when he says that al-Qaeda has “distorted the teachings of Muhammad, you know, for violent purposes.”

The rest of his talk is relatively smooth.

Could Brennan be self-conscious of his own equivocations—hence all these stilted “you knows” in one sentence?

Could he be aware of the Rand Corporation report on counterterrorism, prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense in 2009?   It found that “Terrorists are not particularly impoverished, uneducated, or afflicted by mental disease. Demographically, their most important characteristic is normalcy (within their environment). Terrorist leaders actually tend to come from relatively privileged backgrounds.”

At any rate, this is all déjà vu.  Back in May 2010, I closely examined Brennan’s Islamic apologetics in an article that, in light of these recent remarks of his, is as applicable today as it was nearly four years ago.  It follows:

Obama’s Top Counterterror Adviser’s Inability to Think Outside the Box Bodes Disaster

“The greatest hurdle Americans need to get over in order to properly respond to the growing threat of radical Islam is purely intellectual in nature; specifically, it is epistemological, and revolves around the abstract realm of ‘knowledge.’ Before attempting to formulate a long-term strategy to counter radical Islam, Americans must first and foremost understand Islam, particularly its laws and doctrines, the same way Muslims understand it—without giving it undue Western (liberal) interpretations. This is apparently not as simple as expected: all peoples of whatever civilizations and religions tend to assume that other peoples more or less share in their worldview, which they assume is objective, including notions of right and wrong, good and bad. …. [T]he secular, Western experience has been such that people respond with violence primarily when they feel they are politically, economically, or socially oppressed. While true that many non-Western peoples may fit into this paradigm, the fact is, the ideologies of radical Islam have the intrinsic capacity to prompt Muslims to violence and intolerance vis-à-vis the ‘other,’ irrespective of grievances…. Being able to understand all this, being able to appreciate it without any conceptual or intellectual constraints is paramount for Americans to truly understand the nature of the enemy and his ultimate goals.”

Read more

John Brennan: From Mecca to Washington

Graphic by Bosch Fawstin http://fawstin.blogspot.com/

Graphic by Bosch Fawstin
http://fawstin.blogspot.com/

Front Page, February 18, 2013, by Daniel Greenfield:

In 1853, the British explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton visited Mecca. Since Mecca was and is off limits to non-Muslims on pain of death, Burton passed himself off as a Muslim by undergoing circumcision and disguising himself as a Pashtun. “Nothing could save a European detected by the populace, or one who after pilgrimage declared himself an unbeliever,” Burton wrote.

Three hundred and fifty years earlier, the Italian adventurer Ludovico di Varthema became the first non-Muslim to enter Mecca since the Muslim conquest. Ludovico had enlisted as a mercenary and succeeded in passing as a Mamluk, one of the white slave soldiers of the Sultanate, who had been converted to Islam.  Ludovico was eventually caught out as a Christian, but escaped after a love affair with one of the Sultan’s wives.

Other Christians had visited Mecca, but always disguised as Muslims. The British cabin boy Joseph Pitts, captured by Muslim slavers and forcibly converted to Islam, visited Mecca, before managing to return home and return to his religion. Similar accounts were told by other European Christian slaves.

In 1979, hundreds of Islamists using weapons smuggled in a coffin seized the Grand Mosque of Mecca. The Saudi military, commanded by the sons of important men, rather than by competent men, proved absolutely hopeless in fighting them. So instead they turned to the French.

The French commandos of GIGN were expert at dealing with terrorist crises, but they were not Muslim and so could not be allowed into Mecca. The solution was simple. The Frenchmen underwent a rapid conversion to Islam and the siege of the Great Mosque commenced. The conversion did not take hold, but the principle remained. An infidel could not enter Mecca, even to save the House of Saud.

During his time as the CIA Station Chief in Saudi Arabia, John Brennan spoke of marveling “at the majesty of the Hajj and the devotion of those who fulfilled their duty as Muslims by making that pilgrimage.”  If Brennan did indeed visit Mecca during the Hajj, then he could have only done it by converting to Islam, like John Pitts, or pretending to have done so, like the GIGN commandos.

John Guandolo, a former FBI agent and Islam expert, has alleged that the conversion took place during Brennan’s time in Saudi Arabia. And he also alleges that this conversion has been confirmed by other American officials who were in Saudi Arabia at the time. These allegations are especially explosive as Brennan has moved up through the ranks to become Obama’s nominee to head the CIA.

Guandolo’s allegation goes beyond the question of religion. Rather he alleges that the conversion was part of an espionage recruitment process.  In an interview with Tom Trento of The United West, he said, “Mr. Brennan did convert to Islam when he served in a senior official capacity in Saudi Arabia. His conversion to Islam was the culmination of a counter-intelligence operation against him to recruit him.”

The Soviet Union recruited spies by convincing them of the virtues of Communism. Saudi Arabia might well recruit its infidel agents by convincing them of the worth of Islam. There is of course no way to know what is in Brennan’s heart. But while we may not know what Brennan believes, as John Guandolo has pointed out, we do know what he has done.

Brennan’s supposed conversion to Islam was only the third of two other points that the former FBI agent argued make him unfit for duty. The first is that Brennan has developed links with the Muslim Brotherhood and that he has brought “known leaders of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood into the government in positions to advise the US Government on counterterrorism strategy as well as the overall quote unquote War on Terror.” And the second is that Brennan reduces the War on Terror to Al Qaeda.

While Brennan did not innovate either of these two approaches, if he was indeed recruited by the Saudis, then they may be more than mere cluelessness. It’s not unusual for military and intelligence officials to visit Saudi Arabia and then leave it repeating the classic Saudi talking points about Islam as a stabilizing influence on the region and Israel as a destabilizing influence.

There are countless generals and diplomats who robotically insist that Bin Laden must not be referred to as a Muslim to diminish his influence and that the Muslim Brotherhood and other political Islamists are the only hope for countering the violent Islamism of Al Qaeda. The fundamental question is whether such disinformation is spread out of ignorance, or out of knowledge.

That is the final question that Guandolo raises about John Brennan. “The fact that foreign intelligence service operatives recruited Mr. Brennan when he was in a very sensitive and senior US Government position in a foreign country means that he is either a traitor, which I’m not saying, but that’s one of the options, and he did this all unwillingly and unknowingly ,or he did this unwittingly, which means that he is naive and does not have the ability to discern, to understand how to walk in those environments, which makes him completely unfit to be the Director of Central Intelligence.”

What is problematic in a general or a senator is even more troubling in the Director of the CIA. Military men are expected to be somewhat direct and take things as they are. But the director of an intelligence agency is expected to see threats where no one else does, to test the waters and look past the obvious. And if he cannot do that, then he is simply not qualified. And that is the larger point that John Guandolo makes.

Whether or not Brennan had a moment of submission on the road to Mecca or whether he is simply acting as a useful idiot for the people who perpetrated the attacks of September 11, he is not qualified to be the point man in the War on Terror. As the military side of the war draws to a close with a defeat in Afghanistan, the Central Intelligence Agency will take on a greater degree of importance in the fight against Islamic terrorism.

During the Cold War, the CIA was often infiltrated by the KGB, nullifying America’s intelligence capabilities in the Cold War. It would be a terrible shame if history repeated itself with Islam in the War on Terror.

Much more on John Brennan in CJR archives

CIA Head: Al-Qaeda Has ‘Perverse and Very Corrupt Interpretation of Qur’an’

John Brennan, director of the Central Intelligence Agency. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

John Brennan, director of the Central Intelligence Agency. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

By Patrick Goodenough:

(CNSNews.com) – Al-Qaeda’s ideology, built on “a perverse and very corrupt interpretation of the Qur’an,” resonates in many parts of the world, and is often fed by political repression, economic disenfranchisement and “lack of education and ignorance,” CIA Director John Brennan said on Tuesday.

During an event at the Council on Foreign Relations, Brennan was asked about the “war of ideas” surrounding Islam, which the questioner said many Americans tend to equate with violence.

In the course of his response Brennan said al-Qaeda has “a perverse and very corrupt interpretation of the Qur’an. One of the things that I’m struck with when I travel throughout the Middle East and I meet with leaders, military and civilian – these are individuals who are Qur’anic scholars themselves and they are the ones who are most annoyed at how al-Qaeda has hijacked their religion and how they have really distorted the teachings of Mohammed, you know, for violent purposes.”

“Now, quite unfortunately, though, that ideology, that agenda of al-Qaeda has gained resonance and following in many parts of the world,” he continued. “It’s fed a lot of times by, you know, political repression, by economic, you know, disenfranchisement, by, you know, lack of education and ignorance, so there – there are a number of phenomena right now that I think are fueling the fires of, you know, this ideology.”

Assertions of a link between Islamist terrorism and poverty or lack of education have been called into question by some research.

A Rand Corporation report on counterterrorism, prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense in 2009, found that, “Terrorists are not particularly impoverished, uneducated, or afflicted by mental disease. Demographically, their most important characteristic is normalcy (within their environment). Terrorist leaders actually tend to come from relatively privileged backgrounds.”

Read more at CNS News

 

Al-Qaida faction in Syria contemplating US attack, intelligence officials warn

From left: National Counterterrorism Center director Matthew Olsen, director of national intelligence James Clapper, and CIA director John Brennan. Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images

From left: National Counterterrorism Center director Matthew Olsen, director of national intelligence James Clapper, and CIA director John Brennan. Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Guardian, by :

Intelligence officials have claimed that a faction linked to al-Qaida in Syria has a desire to launch a domestic attack on the US, an assertion that underscored the growing importance of the Syrian civil war to global terrorism.

The Nusra Front, one of the jihadist factions in Syria that aligns itself with al-Qaida, “does have aspirations for attacks on the homeland”, James Clapper, the US director of national intelligence, told the Senate intelligence committee on Wednesday.

Clapper pointed to the deterioration of Syria during three years of violence – a situation he compared to the federally administered tribal areas (FATA) in Pakistan that became a haven after the 2001 US invasion of Afghanistan for the core leadership of al-Qaida.

“What’s going on there, may be in some respects a new FATA force … and the attraction of these foreign fighters is very, very worrisome,” Clapper said.

Clapper did not discuss the capabilities of the Nusra Front, which pledged loyalty to al-Qaida in April, nor another al-Qaida-centric organization in Syria, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which has recently emerged as a rival to Nusra. Neither faction has yet shown interest in attacks on the US, focusing their violence on the Bashar al-Assad regime, rival Syrian rebels, and neighboring Lebanon and Iraq.

But Clapper estimated there were more than 7,000 foreigners fighting in the Syrian carnage, coming from 50 countries, “many of them from Europe and the Mideast”. Clapper stopped short of warning that Americans were a significant component of Syrian jihadist groups, the subject of considerable speculation as Syria’s civil war has dragged on.

Clapper said approximately 26,000 Syrian combatants could be classified as “extremists”, out of an estimated 75,000 to 110,000 armed opponents of Assad. An anonymous Israeli intelligence officer recently estimated to the Associated Press that al-Qaida’s allies in Syria topped 30,000.

US intelligence had picked up indications of “training complexes” within Syria, Clapper said, “to train people to go back to their countries and conduct terrorist acts, so this is a huge concern”.

Yet Clapper, in his prepared testimony for the committee, listed cyber threats and counter-intelligence before focusing on terrorism. Among those threats were leaks from “trusted insiders with the intent to do harm”, an apparent reference to former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, whom Clapper excoriated during the hearing.

Al-Qaida’s “locus for operational planning” has dispersed around the world, Clapper said, with “some five different franchises at least in 12 countries” of particular concern, including in Yemen, Somalia, North Africa and Syria.

That dispersal is in keeping with a years-long trend in al-Qaida toward decentralization. An academic debate exists among counter-terrorism analysts concerning the control and relevance of the “core al-Qaida”, based in Pakistan, which Clapper called the “ideological center” of the terrorist organization.

Despite the focus on Syria, Clapper said al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemen-based affiliate that twice attempted unsuccessfully to bomb US aircraft in 2009 and 2010, remains the franchise with the strongest interest in attacking the US, with many of the others principally interested in more localized assaults and contests for power.

“Of all the franchises, that’s the one that poses the most immediate threat for a potential attack on the homeland,” Clapper said. “The probability of an attack now, compared to 2001 is, at least to me, is a very hard question to answer, principally because this very dispersion and diffusion of threat.”

Matthew Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said it was difficult for the US intelligence agencies – which had a 2013 budget of $67.6bn after congressionally imposed restrictions, according to officially declassified figures – to provide tactical warning of a terrorist attack domestically.

“The nature of the threat has become significantly more geographically spread out, and that challenges the community in collecting the kinds of information that would provide that kind of tactical warning,” Olsen said.

Attacks like the September assault on Nairobi’s Westgate Mall “using small arms, a small number of individuals, puts a great deal of pressure on us to provide the kind of tactical warning that would save lives under those circumstances”, Olsen said.

 

See also:

Obama ‘letting Muslim Brotherhood run anti-terror ops’

brennan_obama-340x161WND: The Obama administration allowed into government agencies Islamic groups and activists tied to the Muslim Brotherhood who now influence U.S. anti-terrorism policies and endanger the nation, charges a newly released book.

In “Impeachable Offenses: The Case to Remove Barack Obama from Office,” New York Times bestselling authors Aaron Klein and Brenda J. Elliott document Obama not only aided the rise to power of Islamic extremist groups in the Middle East but ushered likeminded extremists into the gates of the White House, with Muslim Brotherhood groups serving on important national security advisory boards.

The book further raises questions about whether the Obama administration exposed national security information to U.S. enemies through Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, who has deep personal and family associations with Islamic extremists and even terrorist organizations, according to Klein and Elliott.

Muslim planet

Klein and Elliott warn that while there are various Muslim Brotherhood factions and political branches, each share the goal of establishing a comprehensive Muslim world order by means of a long-term, multiple-stage process, with the end game, the book alleges, being a planet run according to Islamic law.

Aaron Klein’s “Impeachable Offenses: The Case to Remove Barack Obama from Office” is available now, autographed, at WND’s Superstore

In the United States, the Brotherhood quietly founded multiple organizations and networks, mostly funded by Persian Gulf states, according to “Impeachable Offenses.”

These groups seek influence by lobbying sympathetic members of Congress and infiltrating organizations aligned with various Palestinian and Islamic causes. Identifying these organizations and exposing the agendas of the activists who run them is often difficult, notes the authors, since the groups repeatedly deny ties to the Brotherhood, especially after the 9/11 attacks.

Muslim Brotherhood in the White House

Speaking in February 2010 at what became a controversial question-and-answer session with Muslim law students at New York University, current CIA director John Brennan announced the Obama administration was working to calibrate policies in the fight against terrorism that ensure Americans are “never” profiled.

At the session, Brennan stated that seeing a percentage of terrorists released by the United States return to terrorism “isn’t that bad,” since the recidivism rate for inmates in the U.S. prison system is higher.

He also criticized parts of the Bush administration’s response to 9/11 as a “reaction some people might say was over the top in some areas,” that “in an overabundance of caution, [we] implemented a number of security measures and activities that upon reflection … after the heat of the battle has died down a bit, we say they were excessive.”

While Brennan’s remarks drew scrutiny in the blogosphere and in some conservative media outlets, Klein and Elliott note that perhaps the biggest story remains untold – his controversial speech was arranged by a Muslim Brotherhood-tied group that has deep ties not only with other Brotherhood fronts but to the White House and national security agencies.

Brennan’s NYU session was organized by the Islamic Society of North America, or ISNA, according to the group’s website. ISNA, whose members asked Brennan scores of questions during the event, stated the meeting was intended to initiate a “dialogue between government officials and Muslim American leaders to explore issues of national security.”

ISNA was founded in 1981 by the Saudi-funded Muslim Students Association, which itself was founded by the Muslim Brotherhood. The two groups are still partners.

ISNA is known for its promotion of strict Saudi-style Islam in mosques throughout the U.S.

Islam scholar Stephen Schwartz describes ISNA as “one of the chief conduits through which the radical Saudi form of Islam passes into the United States.”

According to terrorism expert Steven Emerson, ISNA “is a radical group hiding under a false veneer of moderation.”

Brennan is not the only Obama official to address the radical ISNA. Klein and Elliott relate that in May 2011, Obama’s then-deputy national security adviser, Denis McDonough, was hosted by an ISNA-affiliated mosque to give a speech touted as part of a White House initiative to reach out to Muslims. McDonough is currently Obama’s chief of staff.

In another of scores of examples cited in “Impeachable Offenses,”in July 2011 Obama’s faith adviser, Eboo Patel, spoke at the main event of a three-day convention held by the Muslim Brotherhood-founded Muslim Students Association.

Patel appeared on a panel alongside Tariq Ramadan, grandson of the notorious founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Siraj Wahhaj, who was named as a possible coconspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Wahhaj has defended the convicted WTC bomb plotters and has urged the Islamic takeover of America.

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Sebastian Gorka: Counterterrorism and Threat Denial

AmericasIslamistThreat-viDr. Sebastian Gorka (Military Affairs Fellow and Director, National Security Fellows Program, Foundation for Defense of Democracies) addressed the Canter for Security Policy’s Stanton Group on Capitol Hill. The topic of his briefing was “Counterterrorism and Counterintelligence in the Second Obama Administration: Persistence of Threat Denial?”

Brennan Signals ‘Our Saudi Partners’

images (27)By Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison

When President Obama met Saudi King Abdullah in London in 2009, the former bowed low before the latter.  No American president had ever so abased himself before one of the world’s most oppressive rulers before.

Now, Mr. Obama has nominated John Brennan to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency.  Signals Intelligence, or sigint, is the science of interpreting signals sent by enemies of the United States.  With his Arabic-language skills, John Brennan ought to be good at interpreting signals.

He’s very good at sending them.  When he spoke of Jerusalem — his “most loved city in the world” — he referred to it first by its Arabic nameal Quds.  Nobody refers to Jerusalem as al Quds unless he wants to send a signal: “I agree with you.”

Every Arabic-speaking country denies the right of Israel to exist.  Every one yearns to see Jerusalem swept free of Jews and called al Quds.  When the Jordanians controlled East Jerusalem (1949-1967), they banned all the Jews from living there and from visiting Jewish holy places there.  They even desecrated thousand-year-old graves in Jewish cemeteries there.

That’s what is meant by al Quds.  When you say you love this city more than any other and give it its Arabic name, you are sending the most terrible message.  You are feeding into the Arab narrative that calls the establishment of the Jewish state Nakba — the Day of Catastrophe.

Read more at American Thinker

Robert Spencer interviews John Guandolo on John Brennan’s Islam and Muslim Brotherhood infiltration

John-Brennan-stooge-for-jihad1Jihad Watch:

John Guandolo is the former FBI agent who broke the story that Obama’s nominee for CIA director, John Brennan, converted to Islam while in Saudi Arabia — which would explain why he is so hospitable to the Muslim Brotherhood. Last Wednesday on my ABN show, I interviewed John Guandolo.

Sean Hannity interviews authors of Benghazi: The Definitive Report

coverupThe Right Scoop:

Yesterday Sean Hannity interviewed on his radio show Jack Murphy and Brandon Webb for their new book Benghazi: The Definitive Report. I’ve clipped a portion of their interview below which describes something very different than what we’ve ever heard about what led to the attack on the ‘consulate’ and the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone S. Woods.

In short there were two operations going on in Benghazi, neither of which Stevens nor the CIA [Petraeus] were made aware, that made the situation on the ground in Benghazi far more dangerous than they even knew. We already know that Stevens was concerned about security, but he didn’t even know the full story.

One of the operations was direct raids against Al-Qaeda conducted by John Brennan, Deputy National Security Advisor, that instigated blowback in the form of the attack on our ‘consulate’ in Benghazi where Stevens visited that night. But because Stevens wasn’t made aware of these unilateral raids going on in his backyard, there was no way he could have even prepared himself for blowback. Stevens likely didn’t even know why he was being attacked the night he was killed.

Read more at The Right Scoop (with audio of the interview)

From Western Journalism:

Brennan: Unfit to Be CIA Head

330x198xM6moHahe9c7Z_jpg_pagespeed_ic_qACD3l0mhw By Clare Lopez:

Trentovision.tv set off a firestorm of commentary on its February 8, 2013 show when it broke the story about CIA Director nominee John Brennan having converted to Islam while he was the CIA station chief in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

John Guandolo, a former Marine Corps platoon commander and senior FBI expert on the Muslim Brotherhood who retired in 2008, appeared via Skype with radio show host Tom Trento and reported that Brennan had been converted to Islam in a process observed by more than one U.S. official at the Riyadh Embassy that ought to have raised counterintelligence questions—but apparently didn’t.

The important take away from this startling account is actually less about a conversion/recruitment, though, and more about how Saudi and Muslim Brotherhood conditioning about Islam may have shaped Brennan’s thinking and understanding about Islam in a way that made him the perfect (even if unwitting) agent of influence whose subsequent rise within U.S. national security ranks placed him in key positions from which to direct U.S. policy on Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Much more at Radical Islam

Clare Lopez is a senior fellow at RadicalIslam.org and a strategic policy and intelligence expert with a focus on the Middle East, national defense and counterterrorism. Lopez served for 20 years as an operations officer with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Bachmann: Say No to Brennan at CIA

Bachmann-BrennanBy Michele Bachmann:

I commend the effort by Senators Graham and Inhofe to get answers from the White House about Benghazi before a confirmation vote is held for John Brennan as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Beyond mishandling Benghazi, additional items in Mr. Brennan’s background are cause for concern.

Brennan’s misunderstanding of the global jihadist threat facing America was on display during a February 2010 speech at New York University. Outlining his understanding of the War on Terror, Brennan claimed it wasn’t a war on terror at all, but a war targeted exclusively at Al-Qaeda:

They are not jihadists, for jihad is a holy struggle, an effort to purify for a legitimate purpose, and there is nothing — absolutely nothing — holy or pure or legitimate or Islamic about murdering innocent men, women and children. We are not waging a war against terrorism because terrorism is but a tactic that will never be defeated, any more than a tactics of war will. Rather, such thinking is a recipe for endless conflict…We are at war with Al Qaeda and its extremist allies, and any comment to the contrary is just inaccurate.

But the exclusive focus on Al-Qaeda as the sole enemy was rejected by none other than former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the testimony she gave to the Senate Armed Service Committee just a few weeks ago, where she warned of a “spreading jihadist threat” in North Africa, one that is growing into a “global movement.”

So it seems that Brennan’s views are extreme even within the senior levels of the Obama administration.

Brennan said as a matter of national policy we needed to reach out to the ‘moderates’ in the Hezbollah terrorist organization, a view he apparently has held for a while as evidenced by a 2006 CSPAN interview where he said that “you can’t divide the world into good and evil.” “Moderate” terrorists?

It bears mentioning that prior to 9/11, Hezbollah had killed more Americans than any other terrorist group in the world, not only the 238 Americans killed in the 1983 suicide bombing of the US Marine barracks in Beirut, but the kidnapping and death of U.S. Embassy CIA Station Chief William Buckley.

Read more at Breitbart