Mr. Brennan’s nomination will be announced at 1 p.m. along with that of Chuck Hagel, the former maverick Republican senator from Nebraska, whom the president has chosen for secretary of defense, said the spokesman, Thomas Vietor. [New York Times]
CRITICIZED AND kept out of the directorship in Obama’s first term, progressives rallied against John Brennan because of his presence when water boarding was part of U.S. policy, as well as his advocacy for black sites and being part of the so-called old order of the Cheney crowd. But at least Brennan has a human sized ego and has never been close to the pedestal David Petraeus enjoyed in the media or in political circles. There’s little doubt in my mind that Mr. Brennan will able to keep his pants up.
What we’re seeing in the news of this nomination, as well as Chuck Hagel’s, is what a second term means. Pres. Obama is now getting exactly the people he wants in the cabinet, because he’s got nothing to lose.
John Brennan is a leading advocate for drone strikes, his speech last year on “drone ethics” lays this out fully.
Targeted strikes are wise. Remotely piloted aircraft, in particular, can be a wise choice because of geography, with their ability to fly hundreds of miles over the most treacherous terrain, strike their targets with astonishing precision and then return to base. They can be a wise choice because of time, when windows of opportunity can close quickly and there just may be only minutes to act.
They can be a wise choice because they dramatically reduce the danger to US personnel, even eliminating the danger altogether. Yet they are also a wise choice because they dramatically reduce the danger to innocent civilians, especially considered against massive ordinance that can cause injury and death far beyond their intended target.
President Obama believes strongly in the effectiveness and importance of drones, which is where this policy starts.
It is a perfect illustration of the Obama legacy that a person who was untouchable as CIA chief in 2008 because of his support for Bush’s most radical policies is not only Obama’s choice for the same position now, but will encounter very little resistance. Within this change one finds one of the most significant aspects of the Obama presidency: his conversion of what were once highly contentious right-wing policies into harmonious dogma of the DC bipartisan consensus. Then again, given how the CIA operates, one could fairly argue that Brennan’s eagerness to deceive and his long record of supporting radical and unaccountable powers make him the perfect person to run that agency. It seems clear that this is Obama’s calculus. – Glenn Greenwald
An article by Peter Baker in the New York Times is a good place to start if you know little about John Brennan.
Most of those people, of course, were in the moderate camp inside the Bush administration, not the Cheney cadre, or like Brennan they present themselves as simply career professionals who followed orders or who even quietly dissented from the most extreme policies of the last eight years. “I was somebody who did oppose waterboarding,” Brennan told me. “I opposed different aspects of the enhanced interrogation program. But there were some aspects of it that I concurred with.” For instance, he offered, “if you grab somebody by the lapels, and you say, Oh, my goodness, you’ve violated their rights as a person, well, I’m not going to go that far.”
Time and circumstances have changed as well. “Four years ago, I would have said — and I did say — the agency’s detention program needed to continue,” Brennan said, referring to the secret “black site” overseas prisons run by the C.I.A. “There have been a lot of developments and changes, so the things I might have advocated three or four years ago, because of the changed conditions, because of a new administration, whatever, I wouldn’t necessarily advocate them now at all. I’ve changed my views.”
But again, the nomination of Brennan says more about President Obama, who obviously is feeling much less constrained by outside voices than in his first term.
There is no other candidate who would know the Central Intelligence Agency better than John Brennan.