Posts Tagged ‘John Brennan’

Why would you believe John Brennan or the CIA?

May 31, 2019

The intelligence community – after two solid decades of PR disasters, from 9/11 to Iraq to Abu Ghriab to Gitmo – has rebounded in the public’s eye since 2016, cleverly re-packaging itself as serving on the front lines of the anti-Trump resistance.

It’s even managed to turn the invention of the term “deep state” to its advantage, having media pals use it to make any accusation of investigatory overreach, leaking, and/or meddling in domestic politics sound like Trumpian conspiracy theory.

But these people are not saviors of democracy. They’re the same scoundrels we rightfully learned to despise in the Bush and Obama years for lying about everything from torture to rendition to drone assassination to warrantless surveillance.


The intelligence community needs a house-cleaning by Matt Taibbi for Untitledgate.

Dr. King’s dream vs. Obama’s drones

January 23, 2013


In October 2011, 16-year-old Tariq Aziz attended a gathering in Islamabad where he was taught how to use a video camera so he could document the drones that were constantly circling over his Pakistani village, terrorizing and killing his family and neighbors. Two days later, when Aziz was driving with his 12-year-old cousin to a village near his home in Waziristan to pick up his aunt, his car was struck by a Hellfire missile.  With the push of a button by a pilot at a US base thousands of miles away, both boys were instantly vaporized—only a few chunks of flesh remained.

Afterwards, the US government refused to acknowledge the boys’ deaths or explain why they were targeted. Why should they? This is a covert program where no one is held accountable for their actions.

via People to People Blog.

Tariq Aziz had as much right to live on this earth as Trayvon Martin or the children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Murder is murder, whether it is committed with a firearm or a killer missile, or whether by someone acting alone or acting under cloak of governmental authority.

John Brennan, who was President Obama’s chief adviser in drawing up his drone kill lists, is now the President’s nominee to head the Central Intelligence Agency.   Ron Wyden, the Democratic Senator from Oregon, has written to Brennan and to the heads of other government agencies requesting information on the legal justification for the drone killings.  He also requested a list of countries in which the U.S. government is conducting drone killings.  So far he has gotten no response.  The information Wyden requested is hardly a matter of national security—unless you regard the people of the United States as an enemy.

Barack Obama was sworn in to his second term as President of the United States using Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s bible.  Dr. King in 1967 called the United States the leading purveyor of violence in the world today.  Honoring the legacy of Dr. King would mean a dedication to peace and social justice.  It means more racially-integrated killer strike forces.

For his second term, President Obama apparently has made a decision to stand up to the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party, which is a good thing.  But he continues to be a champion of the real holders of power in this country, especially the secret military-intelligence establishment and the Wall Street financial establishment.

Click on John Brennan vs. Sixteen-Year-Old for the source of the quote on the People-to-People Blog.

Click on Senate hearing for killer-drones master for more by Nat Hentoff.

Click on US military says Martin Luther King would be proud of its weapons and MLK’s vehement condemnations of US militarism are more relevant than ever for more from Glenn Greenwald.

President Obama and the Pentagon budget

January 15, 2013

Double click to enlarge.

Give President Obama credit where credit is due.  He is making a good-faith effort to reduce the federal budget deficit, including reducing the Pentagon budget.  Ross Douthat wrote a good article in Sunday’s New York Times about Obama’s goals.

As both his critics and admirers argue, the nomination of Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense last week tells us something important about Barack Obama’s approach to foreign policy.  But so does the man who was nominated alongside Hagel, to far less controversy and attention: John Brennan, now head of the White House’s counterterrorism efforts, and soon to be the director of the C.I.A.

Ross Douthat

Ross Douthat

Both men were intimately involved in foreign policy debates during George W. Bush’s administration, but had very different public profiles.  As a C.I.A. official, Brennan publicly defended some of Bush’s most controversial counterterrorism policies, including the “rendition” of terror suspects for interrogation in foreign countries.  As a senator, Hagel was one of the few prominent Republicans to (eventually) turn against the war in Iraq.  Now it’s fitting that Obama has nominated them together, because his foreign policy has basically synthesized their respective Bush-era perspectives.

Like the once-hawkish Hagel, Obama has largely rejected Bush’s strategic vision of America as the agent of a sweeping transformation of the Middle East, and retreated from the military commitments that this revolutionary vision required.  And with this retreat has come a willingness to make substantial cuts in the Pentagon’s budget — cuts that Hagel will be expected to oversee.

But the Brennan nomination crystallizes the ways in which Obama has also cemented and expanded the Bush approach to counterterrorism.  Yes, waterboarding is no longer with us, but in its place we have a far-flung drone campaign — overseen and defended by Brennan — that deals death, even to American citizens, on the say-so of the president and a secret administration “nominations” process. … …

To the extent that it’s possible to define an “Obama Doctrine,” then, it’s basically the Hagel-Brennan two-step.  Fewer boots on the ground, but lots of drones in the air. Assassination, yes; nation-building, no.  An imperial presidency with a less-imperial global footprint.

via The Obama Synthesis.

I’d like to add that military spending should be sufficient to allow the armed forces to carry out their mission.  The requirement is necessarily going to be much more if the mission is to dominate the globe as the world’s only military superpower than if it is to defend the homeland from attack and protect American citizens.

What is President Obama’s concept of the military’s mission?  As near as I can tell, he wants to wind down the war in Afghanistan as he did the one in Iraq, and he does not intend to invade any new countries, but he retains the option of using covert action and flying killer drones to attack America’s enemies, real and perceived.  I’d guess that this is what the American public would want him to do.

I am reminded of the Eisenhower administration, which reduced Pentagon spending, ended the Korean War and refrained from intervening in Vietnam, but used the CIA to overthrow the governments of Iran and Guatemala and threatened America’s Communist adversaries with “massive retaliation” with nuclear weapons, as a cost-saving alternative to use of ground troops.

President Eisenhower in the end met with Nikita Khrushchev, and all the Presidents after him also held summit meetings until Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev ended the Cold War.  I wish, but do not expect, that President Obama would do the same with the rulers of Iran.  He would need much greater moral courage than President Eisenhower did, because he would not be able to count on the bipartisan support that Eisenhower received.

I expect President Obama will continue to wage economic warfare, covert warfare and cyber warfare against Iran, while refraining from invading with troops or bombing from the air.

Click on The Obama Synthesis for Ross Douthat’s full article.

Click on What Chuck Hagel needs to know for analysis by Brad Plumer in the Washington Post, and the source of the chart.