By Karen Greenberg

How Brennan’s CIA Nomination Could Become An Opportunity For Accountability

January 9, 2013 11:13 pm Category: Memo Pad, National News, Politics 33 Comments A+ / A-
How Brennan’s CIA Nomination Could Become An Opportunity For Accountability

President Obama must have known that choosing John Brennan to direct the CIA would be highly controversial because of his alleged tolerance of torture as a top official at the agency during the Bush administration. Among those who have spoken out over the past several days is Senator John McCain — himself a victim of torture as a war prisoner in North Vietnam — who responded to Brennan’s nomination with a clear warning:

I appreciate John Brennan’s long record of service to our nation, but I have many questions and concerns about his nomination to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, especially what role he played in the so-called enhanced interrogation programs while serving at the CIA during the last administration, as well as his public defense of those programs. I plan to examine this aspect of Mr. Brennan’s record very closely as I consider his nomination.

In coming weeks, this line of criticism will become central when Brennan faces his confirmation hearing in the Senate. But maybe we shouldn’t rush to condemn this nomination — an appointment which makes sense from the point of view of the Obama administration trying to unify its national security policy across agencies. Rather than seeing Brennan’s appointment as a surrender to post-9/11 abuses, perhaps we should ask whether it is in fact an opportunity. The nomination process for John Brennan just might help us through the national impasse on matters of transparency and accountability, which continue to prevent Congress, and the nation, from moving forward on the issue of torture — as the raging debate over Kathryn Bigelow’s controversial film Zero Dark Thirty has illustrated.

Right now, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is sitting on what is widely considered to be the most definitive report to date on the CIA’s use of enhanced interrogation techniques. On March 5, 2009, Democratic chairman Dianne Feinstein and Republican vice chairman Kit Bond announced that the committee would review the CIA detention and interrogation program. Last December, the completed report was adopted by the committee, though not yet publicly released. Reportedly, it comprises an unprecedented and staggering amount of research, with over 6,000 pages and more than 35,000 footnotes resulting from the committee’s review of more than six million pages of CIA records and other documents.

So the real story of enhanced interrogation at American hands — Senate investigators claimed to have looked at the creation of the program, the assessment of information that came from the program, the sharing of knowledge of the program with other agencies and more — is now available, or should be. While the Senate Armed Services Committee report from 2008 made some headway in revealing the details of the creation and implementation of the policy, this recent report promises much greater depth, accuracy and access to CIA information. In Feinstein’s words, this new report, adopted on a bipartisan basis, “…will settle the debate once and for all over whether our nation should ever employ coercive interrogation techniques such as those detailed in this report.”

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How Brennan’s CIA Nomination Could Become An Opportunity For Accountability Reviewed by on . President Obama must have known that choosing John Brennan to direct the CIA would be highly controversial because of his alleged tolerance of torture as a top President Obama must have known that choosing John Brennan to direct the CIA would be highly controversial because of his alleged tolerance of torture as a top Rating:

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  • Sand_Cat

    How can we have accountability when we can’t even speak the word “torture,” instead resorting to “enhanced interrogation techniques,” which amounts to surrender to the torturers.

    And of course our president continues his policy of continuing the Bush administration’s worst abuses of executive power. Brennan should be in prison, not appointed to high office in a country that executed waterboarders at the end of World War II.

    • onedonewong

      Because it wasn’t torture maybe the reason

  • http://www.facebook.com/dominick.vila.1 Dominick Vila

    Brennan’s nomination disturbs me, not because he is not qualified for the job, but because of his alleged endorsement and support of “enhanced interrogation techniques”, a lame metaphor for torture. Torture is anti-constitutional and anathema to everything the United States of America, purportedly, stands for. 9/11/01 and its aftermath was horrendous, emulating or embracing the tactics of those responsible for that tragedy and the ones that followed is just as bad. The use of torture, and that is exactly what it was, is a sad chapter in our history. The nomination of Mr. Brennan tacitly justifies that practice and suggests its continuance.
    I expect the Senators that were in office in the Bush II era to enthusiastically confirm Mr. Brennan, after all, they were complicit in what happened. I am surprised and disappointed by President Obama’s decision to nominate this man.
    Kerry, Hagel and Lew were excellent choices.

    • onedonewong

      Hardly…water boarding is used on our own troops to steel their resistance to illegal torture. enemy combatants are not covered under any treaty

  • nobsartist

    So could someone please explain how it is good for America to have someone that supported torture and spying on Americans involved in running any aspect of our government?

    Also, could someone please tell us how much money the CIA flushes down the toilet every year?

    Afterall, with all of this concern about the deficit, nobody seems to have any concern about the “secret” CIA budget.

    Maybe brennan can divulge how much money has been paid in secret to AT&T to spy on us and maybe he can provide some insight as to how the CEO (S) of AT&T managed to become the CEO’s of GM after the bailout.

    Is AT&T another “secret” branch of our government now? With the Chinese running GM, does this now mean that the Chinese also run various branches of our government?

    Is it possible that our own government conspired with the Chinese to send our manufacturing jobs to China and in effect destroying the funding for the social programs
    that the working class uses for support as a way to eliminate the “entitlements” that workers, not over paid executives pay for?

  • montanabill

    Maybe we will get some accountability for Benghazi, too.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/UHE4MJP5FHMFIEAOGEQHETUGDQ Rvn_sgt6768

      Ah Bill, the one trip pony.

      • montanabill

        Whups! Did I step on a sore toe?

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/HGC4BGWVYXV76PHZBPSPOOU5GA Independent1

          Were you asking these same kinds of questions when Bush and Cheney may well have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen where 3,000 people were killed, not 4!! When they ignored 7 explicit warnings from the CIA that ‘Bin Laden is determined to attack US soil”; and in an early July warning, it included the comment with words to the affect ” the attack may happen in days”. And despite these dire warnings , Bush so no problem on refusing to provide funding for further surveillance, and to take the entire month of August off (tying Nixon for the longest vacation ever taken by a president); and then not scheduling a meeting on terrorism until 9/6 – and actually downgrading that meeting to one with deputies only. And what happend?? 7 days later, 3,000 Americans died.

          Were you as much a phony about your outrage then as you are now?? And alot of this came to light a few months back when more Whitehouse documents were released that proved Bush and Cheney were made much more aware of an imminent attack on the Homeland, and CHOSE TO DO NOTHING!!!!!!!!

          • montanabill

            Please! They got the same information as Clinton. We are warned almost daily about some terrorist group threatening to attack US soil. That is much different than specific warnings about a specific group threatening a specific site on a ’9/11′ anniversary. I’m pretty sure you can distinguish the difference. Wise up.

  • sleepvark

    It may be useful to remember some legal and historical things. First, the international convention against torture, which the US has signed and ratified, gives universal jurisdiction over those who engage in acts of torture. So anyone who tortures or who is in charge of those who torture is liable to be tried and convicted by any court anywhere in the world. Another consideration is that after WWII, we hanged around 900 or so Japanese soldiers who were found guilty of torturing, even just waterboarding our POW’s. This could be used to infer that under our law, Torture is a capital offense.
    We seem a little hesitant to prosecute those like bush, cheney and rumsfeld who were in charge when so much of this stuff went on, do it in our name. And there may be difficulties if these guys ever travel overseas if they accidentally end up in a jurisdiction willing to do the job of prosecuting them for these actions.
    So why perpetuate the torture protocol in our government agencies? We stand a good chance of suffering major embarrassment when our high level officials can’t travel without being arrested for various crimes.
    And what about our reputation for fair dealing in the world.
    What about doing the right thing, even when it is a little inconvenient.
    It makes no sense to elevate people who condone torture.

    • http://www.facebook.com/dominick.vila.1 Dominick Vila

      That is the reason George W. Bush had to cancel his fundraiser in Switzerland a couple of years ago when European citizens were calling for his arrest and prosecution. Needless to say, he did the right thing cancelling the trip. Had he been arrested we would have intervened immediately and a major crisis would have ensued.

      • onedonewong

        Utter nonsense

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/HGC4BGWVYXV76PHZBPSPOOU5GA Independent1

          What garbage!!! Bush and Cheney deserve to be in jail for so many willful acts of treason that it’s beyond comprhension why they’re not. Even just for willfully disregarding 7 outright warnings from the CIA between 5/1/01 till 8/6/01 that al Qaeda (Bin Laden) was planning an imminent attack on our country. Because there was nothing in it for them, like starting an unwarranted war with Iraq based on lies, distortions and fear, they did nothing to try and stop the attack of 9/11 from happening!! Nothing!! They so frustrated the CIA counterinelligence people warning them of the attack, that a number of them were so ashamed they wanted to transfer out of thir unit because they thought they might be blamed for not having done enough to spur Bush and Cheney to DO SOMETHING!! But Bush and Cheney refused to provide the funding they needed to continue with more surveillance efforts; and although there’s no way to prove that had Bush and Chaney done something, the 9/11 attack might have been prevented, their total dereliction of duty in disregarding the warnings deserve punishment!! As does starting an unwarranted war based on lies, distortions and fear!!! And that doesn’t even cover promoting torture, and profiting from all the fraudulent charges Haliburton and other defense related companies that recevied no bid contracts from the Whitehouse during the war extorted from the government with their overcharging on virtually everything they did in support of the war. Are you so naive you think they really started the Iraq war without a profit motive????

          • onedonewong

            And you over look the fact that Clinton REFUSED to take Binladin when offered up by Sudan that would have prevented 9/11. The CIA was so castrated by Clinton in the 90′s that No On took their intel as actionable. DOD was forced to rely on on Israel and the brits for any and all intelligence in the middle east.
            If ,and I say If because the CIA was n empty suit being starved for $$$, had warned of a threat how did that differ from the daily threats that are detected every day. After 9/11 the CIA recorded over 1000 threats that never manifested itself. The fact that their could be a threat with no particulars would have required drafting EVERY american to prevent it.
            Sorry W inherited a CIA and intelligence operation that was totally dysfunctional having had their budget cut by 60% by Clinton. The military was a hollow force also due to Clintons “peace dividend”
            The war was APPROVED by Congress something that barak and clinton never did.Torture?? Enhanced interrogation of enemy combatants is not torture.
            Are you so obtuse that you think a military man W would have other a profit motive for war???? What was his gain??
            The only money hungry thugs that have ever occupied the WH were LBJ, Clinton and barak

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/GCXB2EABXANRR2IK7QHS3TAPOU ROBERT C HASTINGS

        I, for one, would have done everything in my meager power to see that we DID NOT intervene, as I think would have many other loyal and patriotic Americans. There is so much squawk about Obama’s lack of patriotism, and yet Bush and the others in his administration are still out there, making their opinions known, as if they had been exonerated. They have yet to pay for their sins.

      • http://www.facebook.com/fern.woodfork Fern Woodfork

        I Hope To See Bush And Cheney Go To Jail But I Wouldn’t Count On It!!! And I Totally Agree With You Dominick!!!

    • onedonewong

      The international convention ONLY applies to uniformed military. Enemy combatants NOT in uniform aren’t covered and can be HUNG on the battlefield without trial. Only someone totally unfamiliar with the Geneva Convention and international law would speak so foolishly.
      As the CIA has said as well as DIA the information obtained thru duress was instrumental in stopping further attacks and capturing high vale targets.

      • sleepvark

        Such a rich field of endeavor. Where to start.
        Vocabulary. Long Dong Silver was hung. Criminals are hanged, as in “hanged by the neck until dead.”
        Veracity. Applies only to uniformed military? I sense a little confusion on someone’s part. Only the entertainers at faux news would make such an assertion without the benefit of actual research. This convention would certainly apply to actions by entities such as the gestapo (GEheim STaats POlizei, or secret state police), which, though they wore very pretty uniforms, were not part of the German military. I might also point out Article 10 section one which states “Each State Party shall ensure that education and information regarding the prohibition against torture are fully included in the training of law enforcement personnel, civil or military, medical personnel, public officials and other persons who may be involved in the custody, interrogation or treatment of any individual subjected to any form of arrest, detention or imprisonment.” No discernable restriction to the activities of uniformed military listed here, or anywhere else for that matter.
        Duplicity. It must be terrible to live in so much fear that one would accept the false idea that actionable intel was achieved using torture. Utter BS. You don’t get actionable intel from sources that will say anything just to stop the pain. Torture produces temporary agreement, not the truth. Think Galileo’s whispered “but it still moves . . .” My work as a military interrogator confirms this. Trust me when I tell you that it would not take 30 seconds for me to get you to agree to anything I wanted if you were under my direct control. But the truth would be irrelevant. Only my power over you and my will to apply it without limits would be relevant. Any decent human being will utterly reject the diminution of restraint to such an extent, especially if it’s the truth that is being sought. A straightforward, upright, honorable and humane approach will take you so much further in any endeavor. Only the pusillanimous and weak minded will feel compelled to go with torture, since the only logical reason for engaging in torture is the fact that one enjoys doing it.
        I for one will not let such fears and pusillanimity guide my actions. I know where I stand. Do you?

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/GCXB2EABXANRR2IK7QHS3TAPOU ROBERT C HASTINGS

          Thank you, for raising the level of this forum with your intelligent and factual comments.

        • onedonewong

          Guess in your world of Ebonics you never took up the conjugation of a verb. Even when you sound up your statement a 3rd grader would know its not right. So at least i know your level of mental acuity.
          No the convention did not apply to the gestapo, obviously you have never read it.
          Brain dead to think that actionable intelligence wasn’t gathered, even the CIA official that worked with the movie makers stated to them that the intelligence saved many lives and led to the capture of high value targets. The fact that the State Run Media refuses to discuss the facts or follow the information lets dupes like yourself think otherwise.
          As a military member trust me folks like you would cry and pee your pants when faced with actual combat. The fact that you were never able to coerce intelligence from some one is a reflection of your talent and not the technique. If a straight forward honorable approach approach will take you much further?? Barak got re elected I rest my case

          • sleepvark

            I would be interested to know about the source of your lofty perspective. I would guess that you are a divorced white male with some college and military experience.

          • onedonewong

            did you read my post?? I said I was military

          • sleepvark

            I must have missed that reference, tho I have noticed that you do involve yourself in extensive blog contributions. How do you have so much time? Are you retired?

          • onedonewong

            I work for the federal govt as a civilian. we have plenty of free time so I use it on blogs or playing video games on the computer

          • sleepvark

            Are you still affiliated with the military as a reservist?

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/GCXB2EABXANRR2IK7QHS3TAPOU ROBERT C HASTINGS

        And if you actually believe one word of what you said, I have some prime real estate in the depths of the Everglades, with thousands of your own, personal pythons and boas.

        • onedonewong

          The fact that your too stupid to do a modicum of research reflects on your IQ not mine

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/GCXB2EABXANRR2IK7QHS3TAPOU ROBERT C HASTINGS

      Henry Kissinger is still considered liable to prosecution as a war criminal. As you indicate, so should Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the other Neocons who supported their push to American hegemony. Bush’s Attorney General issued opinions that torture, as it was being employed at various US bases around the world, was legal and acceptable. Bush refused to become a signatory to the international treaty establishing the International Criminal Court,fearing that he and his cohorts, as well as the agents who carried out his torture orders, would be open to prosecution, as well they should be.

  • bchrista

    I am not a supporter of anyone who santions torture or any of the other methods for extracting information from prisoners but we must draw a line somewhere out people have been tortured and mained in country all over the world and for a long time we didn’t do doodoly shit about it, we did some complaining and warning the persons responsible but that was it, it still happens and we don’t do jackshit about it, now I don’t care for George Bush but if his tactics provided any information that saved the life of any of our troops I will turn my head and look the other way, that old shit about turn the other cheek is bullshit too many religious persons and regular people have been slaughtered and presenting the other cheek didn’t save them. I am sorry guys if you feel i’m an asshole so be it, I love my country, the good old United States of America and any one that hurts her people are in my book Personna Non Grata and may God have mercy on their Souls because I wouldn’t, The worst thing that religion ever installed in our people was to forgive those who trangressed against us and to turn the other cheek that’s why we had Pearl Harbor, 9-11 and a lot of people commiting crimes against us because they don’t respect us they get a repremand or something worded a little harsher and told that if they continue we will come after then we give them all the information they need to ne ready no other country in the world does this, that is the foley of an open society prewarn your enemy that’s like a boxer telling his oponnent hey I am going to throw a right cross. People I’m sorry but the time of having a conscious is passe and we are living in a brutily cruel world and there is no change in the forseeable future, as for Bush, Cheney Rumsfeld and the rest of his boys they did a lot things that pissed off a lot of leaders the world over and that’s why they want to get their hands on that group

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/QK5H46ENKLKM6YS7TH47DPROGU leartis

    People please give us a break with this torture crap! They (and I speak in the broadest sense of whom ever they were ) bombed the Trade Center, and you all screamed for action. But when action is taken, you cry about what it takes to get the proper answers. What did you think; we would get what we wanted by saying, please? That is not how it works! They cut our heads off, televise it, and celebrate; and, you cowards cry about how our people go by stopping the next reason for their little celebrations. YOU ALL MAKE ME SICK!!!!

  • dmr69

    As we move forward from an election of, left and right to black and white and brown to red and blue to tea party to GOP to fiscal cliff to all this other “BULLSHIT” of why we are where we are, is becoming an excuse for everybody to keep BITCHING about whatever we can complain about. We elected our choice, let him do his job regardless of what we might think. He (Obama) our P.O.T.U.S. We voted and won, we the people should give him the benifit of choice. His choice, “our delimma” if you want to make or interpete as such. I believe we should just roll with it and let him do his thing. Afterall, we gave him that confidence to do what he needs to do. Let him choose his Cabinet so he can give us what we voted for. Let’s give him a chance and not get critical at the start of his 2nd. term as far as his pick’s of what he belieives should complete his final term as P.O.T.U.S. I’m sure he has a plan in hand. I trust our President, whatever he decide’s we can live and adjust to those decision’s. It beat’s the hell out of “IF THE OTHER GUY WON”. Think about it.

  • http://twitter.com/GargrayGary Gary Graves

    What we were doing interrogation techniques is torture, Brennan knowes this, it might be conclusive of getting things straight.

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