17 Nov 2008
The good news from last night's 60 Minutes interview is that Obama has clearly committed himself to ending the torture policy of Bush and Cheney. But that clarity will sadly be in doubt if Marc is right and John Brennan becomes the next CIA Director:
"Brennan's long association George Tenet and with the CIA during the first few years of the Bush administration may give civil liberties advocates and Congressional Democrats some pause; it is not clear to what degree Brennan participated in or was read into many of the intelligence community's controversial post 9/11 /Iraq programs, including extraordinary renditions and orders that sanctioned coercive interrogation techniques."
The plain English for "coercive interrogation techniques" is torture. And any association with Tenet, who authorized war crimes, and used the Gestapo term "enhanced interrogation techniques", taints the office. It's not change. Glenn Greenwald, meanwhile, has a very helpful update on Brennan's record. While skeptical of Brennan on torture, Larison points to this paragraph from the NYT's profile:
"As a senior adviser to Mr. Tenet in 2002, Mr. Brennan was present at the creation of the C.I.A.’s controversial detention and interrogation program, which Mr. Obama has strongly criticized. But Mr. Brennan has distanced himself from the program, and told the Washington Times last month that interrogation methods like waterboarding are 'not going to be allowed under an Obama presidency.'”
Well: waterboarding isn't even currently used under Bush any more. Talk about low expectations. And anyone close to Tenet has no place in an administration eager to restore America's moral standing. This report from CQ is also very disturbing:
"Although Obama issued a statement during the campaign supporting the idea of applying the Army field manual interrogation standard to all agencies, not just the Pentagon, a senior campaign adviser to Obama left the door open to applying another standard.
"'He [believes] torture not be allowed in any form or fashion in any part of the federal government, and he would make sure that was the case,' said John Brennan, who served under former CIA chief George J. Tenet in a variety of capacities at a time when the agency has since acknowledged it waterboarded a small number of terror suspects."
“Whether the Army field manual is comprehensive enough to cover all those tactics and techniques, that’s something I think he’d look to his national security advisers for,” Brennan said in an interview with CQ in August.
Appointing Brennan to the CIA does not mean change from Bush. That was absolutely a critical part of Obama's message. With Brennan, we get the taint of a Bush and two-facedness of a Clinton. We need to say goodbye to all that, not perpetuate its double-speak.