Lest I be accused of being reflexively anti-Obama, let me note for the record that I endorse his choice of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense and could give a shit about John Kerry as Secretary of State. But, when it comes to naming John Brennan to head the CIA, this is a proposal that must be killed. Brennan is the worst possible choice for the CIA.
Brennan’s fundamental weakness is that he has never eschewed kissing the ass and tonguing the balls of a superior. In fact, the word, “Brennan,” should be a synonym for sycophant. Brennan embodies every disturbing, disgusting attribute of an obsequious bureaucrat who will prostrate himself before any superior in order to gain acceptance.
When George W. Bush was running the show, John Brennan was cheerleader par excellence for water boarding. John was just a back bencher at that time, but he certainly reassured George W. Tenant and John McLaughlin (Tenant’s Deputy), that they were right in their view that Saddam Hussein had wmds that he did not in fact have. At no point did Brennan stand up and threaten to resign if they did not tell the truth. Nope. He went along with the crowd. He was (and is) a go along, get along kind of guy.
To understand Brennan you must appreciate how he wormed his way up the the CIA food chain.
Brennan is in part a creation of Bob Gates. Gates, as the Director of the CIA back in the early 1990s, pressed to use personnel from the Directorate of Intelligence in positions of authority in the Directorate of Operations. In other words, he wanted to put some analysts in charge of actual spy operations overseas. Did not matter that they were totally unqualified for such a position by virtue of experience. Gates was keen on promoting careerists without worrying about the consequences on tradecraft. Beneficiaries of Gates’ initiative included my old boss from the Middle American Caribbean Division (Marty R.) and Dave Cohen (who subsequently did a stint as the Deputy Director of Operations at the CIA) and Johnny Brennan.
Brennan was named as the guy in charge of CIA spy operations in Saudi Arabia in 1996 even though he had no experience–ZERO EXPERIENCE–as a CIA field officer. While this happened subsequent to Gates, it was a continuation of Gates’ legacy at CIA. A guy with no field experience was put in charge of CIA spy operations in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
And how did that work out? I know first hand from a buddy who was on the ground in Saudi Arabia at that time that Brennan went along with the Saudi insistence that the CIA not–I REPEAT NOT–collect any intelligence on terrorist targets or activities. It should be no surprise, therefore, that a group linked to Al Qeada carried out the June 1996 terrorist attack against Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. That attack killed 19 Americans and we were caught flat footed.
Did Brennan get punished or held accountable? Hell, no. As is typical of Washington, he was promoted. This is an old CIA principle–fuck ups get ahead.
So come 9-11 and the aftermath. Brennan, who claims to be something of an expert on the Middle East, remained deaf, dumb and mute as the Bush Administration worked frantically to gin up a case to invade Iraq. Brennan could have served the interest of the people of the United States if he had stood up and challenged the bullshit case for going to war with Iraq. But he did not. He encouraged it.
Per CNS News:
From 1999 to 2001, he served as chief of staff to George Tenet, who served as CIA director in both the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. Brennan and Tenet both spoke to the 9/11 Commission during the 2004 hearings investigating intelligence failures that allowed the attack to occur.
Brennan was promoted to deputy executive director of the CIA, a role he held from 2001 to 2003. It was during that period that the Bush administration launched the war in Iraq on the belief that the country had weapons of mass destruction.
In March 2003, Tenet named Brennan as director of the new Terrorist Threat Integration Center. The TTIC was designed to be a clearinghouse for all foreign and domestic terrorism analysis to assure coordination among various federal agencies.
As I described in an previous post, Brennan completely failed as the Director of TTIC when he neglected to double check the data delivered to the Department of State in January 2004 describing the number of terrorist attacks for 2003. He left out a month and one half of date. That error led to the spectacle of then Secretary of State Colin Powell touting the decline in terrorism, only then having to make the rounds on the Sunday new shows a month later apologizing for the false information. Terrorism had actually increased. That debacle occurred thanks to John Brennan’s incompetence.
Brennan opted out of being presented for nomination in 2009. Instead, he became Obama’s number one guy for terrorism in the National Security Council. But once again, the toadiness of Brennan overcame any instinct to conduct himselfe as a professional intelligence officer. This is the quintessential Brennan. A true intelligence professional is prepared to tell the political principal uncomfortable truths. A toady like Brennan does just the opposite–he tells the politician what he thinks the politician wants to hear.
In 2007, when Bush was still President and waterboarding was okay, Brennan offered up his version of political fellatio on Bush:
In an interview on the CBS Early Show on Nov. 2, 2007, reporter Harry Smith asked Brennan, “The president has gone on record so many times saying the United States does not torture. If we acknowledge that this kind of activity goes on, you know, what does that mean, exactly, I guess?”
Brennan answered, “Well, the CIA has acknowledged that it has detained about 100 terrorists since 9/11, and about a third of them have been subjected to what the CIA refers to as enhanced interrogation tactics, and only a small proportion of those have in fact been subjected to the most serious types of enhanced procedures.”
Smith followed, “And you say some of this has born fruit.”
Brennan answered, “There has been a lot of information that has come out from these interrogation procedures that the agency has in fact used against the real hard-core terrorists. It has saved lives. And let’s not forget, these are hardened terrorists who have been responsible for 9/11, who have shown no remorse at all for the deaths of 3,000 innocents.”
Of course, that was when Bush was in charge. But when Obama took over? A new tune from Brennan:
This is the critical point that disqualifies Brennan from heading up the CIA. The Director of the CIA is supposed to be the Dutch Uncle–he’s the guy (or gal) who tells the President uncomfortable truths without worrying about the political consequences. That is not Brennan. Brennan would be better off as a National Security Advisor. That position rewards someone willing to kiss the President’s ass. A CIA Director, at least in theory, is the person who should be willing to tell the President he is wrong if necessary. Brennan, the consummate ass kisser, is incapable of doing that.
If Brennan is named to head the CIA, his appointment will mark the nail in the coffin of the CIA. The CIA will now be fully a political organization incapable of telling the President the truth. Such a development augers ill for the future of the American Republic.