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Thursday, 21 February 2013 11:48

John Brennan Was Number Two at the Bush/Cheney CIA During Renditions, Enhanced Interrogations, and the Iraq War

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT southtower75  Brennan Was Number 2 at CIA During 9/11 and Iraq War

Given that we are coming up on the tenth anniversary of the Iraq War, it is worth noting that President Obama's CIA chief nominee, John Brennan, was a Bush/Cheney man at the top level of the intelligence agency during the post 9/11 period. BuzzFlash at Truthout doesn't usually resort to quoting Wikipedia, but it has a good summary of his service for Bush/Cheney and the get-along-to-go-along George Tenet at the CIA:

In 1999 he was appointed chief of staff to George Tenet, then-Director of the CIA. Brennan became deputy executive director of the CIA in March 2001. He was director of the newly created Terrorist Threat Integration Center from 2003 to 2004, an office that sifted through and compiled information for President Bush's daily top secret intelligence briefings and employed the services of analysts from a dozen U.S. agencies and entities. One of the controversies in his career involves the distribution of intelligence to the Bush White House that helped lead to an "Orange Terror Alert", over Christmas 2003. The intelligence, which purported to list terror targets, was highly controversial within the CIA and was later discredited. An Obama administration official does not dispute that Brennan distributed the intelligence during the Bush era but said Brennan passed it along because that was his job.  His last post within the Intelligence Community was as director of the National Counterterrorism Center in 2004 and 2005, which incorporated information on terrorist activities across U.S. agencies.

Remember, this was at a time that Cheney, as vice president, was taking unprecedented trips to CIA headquarters in Virginia to muscle the intelligence officers there to create facts to fit the propaganda justification for invading Iraq. There is no indication that Brennan objected or tried to keep the agency independent of the coercion.

More than that, Brennan was a cheerleader for torture and rendition, as Glenn Greenwald noted back in 2008, when he expressed concern about Brennan's role as a national security advisor in the Obama White House:

It simply is noteworthy of comment and cause for concern — though far from conclusive about what Obama will do — that Obama’s transition chief for intelligence policy, John Brennan, was an ardent supporter of torture and one of the most emphatic advocates of FISA expansions and telecom immunity.

These are just some more reasons, along with so many others (including the Brennan managed presidential to-kill list and his avid support of drone attacks), to see his appointment as head of the CIA as ominous.

For example, in an op-ed piece posted on The Hill earlier this month, it was pointed out that the CIA has become a full-throttled backer of paramilitary expeditions.  That does not bode well for a CIA under Brennan.

The author of the commentary, Philip Louhaus, asks:

Earlier this week, a Justice Department White Paper was leaked to NBC news that reveals the administration’s legal justifications for the “targeted killings” of Americans thought to pose loosely-defined “imminent threats” to the United States. Because the paper revealed a startling level of comfort within the Obama administration over so-called “Title 50,” or covert, operations, and because, if confirmed, Brennan will lead the CIA during a time of unprecedented fiscal austerity, Thursday’s hearing presents an important opportunity to discuss an age-old question: Should the nation’s premier intelligence agency also carry out covert paramilitary missions?

The now disgraced General Petraeus, whose position Brennan will be filling, bragged of transforming the CIA into a paramilitary force, according to The Hill commentary.

Historically, the United States has used paramilitary forces as means of minimizing official US military death tolls or of conducting covert armed action that often results in the deaths of large numbers of civilians.  Robert Parry of Consortium News writes about how, under the Reagan administration, tens and tens of thousands of civilians, including US citizens, were killed in Latin America during the Reagan-backed efforts to kill any political or indigenous uprisings, or just murder poor people because they might potentially be sympathetic to armed groups seeking economic justice.

In a February 21st article, "How Reagan Promoted Genocide," Parry reports that "a newly discovered document reveals that President Reagan and his national security team in 1981 approved Guatemala’s extermination of both leftist guerrillas and their 'civilian support mechanisms," a green light that opened a path to genocide against hundreds of Mayan villages."

In enabling these massacres, the US used both local armies and paramilitaries -- as it still does in nations such as Colombia and Afghanistan.  The death toll of innocents and guerillas was staggering as it was in Kissinger-supported Operation Condor in the southern cone nations of South America.  In Guatemala, the slaughter was due to a revolt against the rule of the nation – and the concentration of wealth – in the hands of a few plutocrats and generals.  The uprising there started when the CIA overthrew a democratically elected reform government in the '50s, as Parry records: "The Reagan administration expressed no problem with killing civilians if they were considered supporters of the guerrillas who had been fighting against the country’s ruling oligarchs and generals since the 1950s when the CIA organized the overthrow of Guatemala’s reformist President Jacobo Arbenz."

In his pre-Senate Intelliegence Committee hearing questionnaire, Brennan was asked about the growing paramilitary thrust of the CIA. He responded in writing:

Question 7: What role do you see for the CIA in paramilitary-style intelligence activity or covert actions?

Brennan: The CIA, a successor to the Office of Strategic Services, has a long history of carrying out paramilitary style intelligence activities and must continue to be able to provide the President with this option should he want to employ it to accomplish critical national security objectives.

Louhaus asks a fundamental question that should be of concern to those concerned about national security:

Rather than ask how he will continue to expand the CIA’s paramilitary forces, we should ask of Brennan how he plans to coordinate with the Commander of USSOCOM to ensure that Special Forces troops have access to the very best intelligence available. Rather than bolster its own paramilitary capabilities, perhaps the CIA, which is famously protective of its information, should find better ways to get essential intelligence to those who need it.

Isn't that what an intelligence agency is for, rather than doing the dirty work of empire and overthrowing governments and killing civilians undercover in order to assure open markets for the United States?

See also: "John Brennan Doesn't Rule Out Targeting Americans for Assassination in United States" ;
and "Stuff It Dick (Cheney)!" .