Town Hall Meeting

17 Nov 2008

Continuity, Not Change

The guy leading Obama’s intelligence transition team is apparently John Brennan. He says that rendition (also known as kidnapping) is not only useful but okay. We gotta nip these things in the bud if we really get “change we need” rather than this same old crap.

John Brennan Likes Extraordinary Rendition

Check out this excerpt from the interview:

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to excerpts from a December 2005 interview with John Brennan, the former CIA official now leading Obama’s intelligence transition. Brennan was interviewed by Margaret Warner on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer about his views on the Bush administration’s practice of extraordinary rendition.

MARGARET WARNER: So, was Secretary Rice correct today when she called it a vital tool in combating terrorism?

JOHN BRENNAN: I think it’s an absolutely vital tool. I have been intimately familiar now for the past decade with the cases of rendition that the US government has been involved in, and I can say, without a doubt, that it has been very successful as far as producing intelligence that has saved lives.

MARGARET WARNER: So is it—are you saying both—in two ways, both in getting terrorists off the streets and also in the interrogation?

JOHN BRENNAN: Yes. The rendition is the practice or the process of rendering somebody from one place to another place. It is moving them. And US government will frequently facilitate that movement from a country to another.

MARGARET WARNER: Why would you not, if this—if you have a suspect who’s a danger to the United States, keep him in the United States’ custody? Is it because we want another country to do the dirty work?

JOHN BRENNAN: No, I don’t think that’s it at all. Also, I think it’s rather arrogant to think that we’re the only country that respects human rights. I think that we have a lot of assurances from these countries that we hand over terrorists to that they will in fact respect human rights. And there are different ways to gain those assurances. But also, let’s say an individual goes to Egypt, because they’re an Egyptian citizen, and the Egyptians then have a longer history, in terms of dealing with them, and they have family members and others that they can bring in, in fact, to be part of the whole interrogation process.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s John Brennan, who heads up the transition team on intelligence. Mel Goodman?

MELVIN GOODMAN: Well, John Brennan is being completely dishonest there. All of the operational people I’ve talked to know that the people who were turned over to the Arab intelligence services—and remember, this is Egypt, this is Syria, this is Jordan, this is Saudi Arabia—that all of these foreign intelligence services commit torture and abuse. Now, if any of these suspects had anything to say to us that was of any utility, we would have kept them. We would have controlled these people. They would have become our sources and our assets. When we turned them over, we were turning over people who we felt had very little to offer, and we were turning over them to them, to the Arab liaison services for torture and abuse.

John Brennan has defended the warrantless eavesdropping. John Brennan has basically defended all of the violations that were committed at the CIA in the run-up to the war and in the postwar period. So the signal this sends to CIA employees who tried to get it right—and there were a few who tried to get it right—is the worst kind of signal. And if this is Obama’s judgment about a national security team, it’s very reminiscent of what Bill Clinton did in 1993, when he appointed people such as Jim Woolsey and Les Aspin and Warren Christopher and Tony Lake to the national security positions, and all of them had to be removed before the first term was over. So this is very disquieting, what
we’re learning now.

AMY GOODMAN: In fact, NPR attributed Obama’s reversal on FISA and telecom immunity to the fact that he was relying on the advice of John Brennan, an emphatic supporter of these policies.

MELVIN GOODMAN: Well, then you have to wonder who he’s relying on, in terms of advice, to keep Bob Gates at the Pentagon, which I think is another example of continuity and not change. You mean to tell me that there are no Democrats who are qualified to become the Secretary of Defense? Bob Gates has supported all of the policies that Obama said he was going to look at very carefully and seemed to oppose: expansion of NATO, bringing Georgia and Ukraine into NATO, deployment of missiles in Poland, deployment of radars in the Czech Republic, the continued acquisition of a national missile defense, which is the most expensive item in the Pentagon’s procurement project, an item that we’ve spent over $500 billion on in the last forty years. This is—again, this is not change; this is continuity.

UPDATE
Brennan is now “Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism.” Sigh.

No Responses to “Continuity, Not Change”

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