Did John Brennan’s Leak Hypocrisy Catch Up to Him?

In his interview with Jason Leopold in May 2010, Jon Kiriakou explained how his book got approved by the CIA Publication Review Board. He describes someone who–given the mention of the transition team and the seniority at CIA–must be John Brennan, advising him to wait to resubmit his book until after the Obama Administration cleaned out the CIA.

Kiriakou: I called a very senior CIA officer, former CIA officer, who was very quietly supportive of me.

Leopold: Can you identify that person?

Kiriakou: I can’t, unfortunately. But he said, ‘I’m on the Obama transition team. We’re going to win this election next week. And we’re going to be making wholesale changes over there. Everybody’s gonna go. So make your changes and don’t resubmit until I tell you to.’ A week later Obama wins. About six weeks pass, Director Hayden resigns. Several people a layer or two, three layers beneath him also resign, My friend calls me back and says ‘resubmit it.’ This is immediately after Panetta is named Director. I resubmitted it. A week later, I got a one page letter saying ‘the book is cleared in its entirety.’

So not only was this guy who appears identical to John Brennan “quietly supportive
of Kiriakou,” but this John Brennan lookalike also played a key role in getting Kiriakou’s book approved.

Which is mighty interesting, because John Brennan was also centrally involved in this investigation, particularly in the hiring of Pat Fitzgerald in March 2010 to respond to CIA’s demand for IIPA charges.

According to the officials, the dispute centered on discussions for a interagency memorandum that was to be used in briefing President Obama and senior administration officials on the photographs found in Cuba.

Justice officials did not share the CIA’s security concerns about the risks posed to CIA interrogators and opposed language on the matter that was contained in the draft memorandum. The memo was being prepared for White House National Security Council aide John Brennan, who was to use it to brief the president.

The CIA insisted on keeping its language describing the case and wanted the memorandum sent forward in that form.

That resulted in the meeting and ultimately to Mr. Vieira withdrawing from the probe.

Now, I’m not suggesting that Kiriakou was targeted just to get back at John Brennan.

But I am saying that it is–at the very least–ironic that a world class leak hypocrite would be supportive of the guy who got nabbed in this investigation.

On the one hand, after all, Brennan had an antagonistic role with at least one of the whistleblowers the Obama Administration has targeted.

Yet, at the same time, he’s a noted leaker himself, such as for the breathless account of the Osama bin Laden targeting, and, more recently, providing on the record details that the Administration had declared a state secret.

The CIA got their IIPA charge. I’m not sure whether Kiriakou is the guy everyone thought they’d get.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

4 replies
  1. Bob Schacht says:

    …About six weeks pass, Director Hayden resigns. Several people a layer or two, three layers beneath him also resign…,

    Is this “wholesale changes”? According to the Wikipedia, the top level of the CIA, currently, is David H. Petraeus[6], Director Michael Morell[7], and Deputy Director V. Sue Bromley[8], Associate Deputy Director.
    Petraeus is obviously an Obama appointee. Morell was appointed by Obama, but not until 2010. He succeeded Steven Kappes, director of the notorious extraordinary rendition program for Bush & Cheney. Bromley is an Obama appointee who succeeded another Obama appointee, Stephanie O’Sullivan, who was appointed in December, 2009. She was preceded by another Obama appointee, David Gompert, who was appointed in November 2009. He was preceded by Donald MacLean Kerr, Jr., a Bush appointee.

    I don’t know who Brennan was referring to, but it’s not easy to identify the people he says Obama appointed to those top levels within the first several months. Now, admittedly, IIRC there was another organizational change or two since 2008, but I wonder who Brennan had in mind?

    Factoid: Did you know that the HQ of the CIA is in the George Bush Center for Intelligence? No wonder the CIA is a mess.

    Bob in AZ

  2. scribe says:

    Go see my comment on the adjacent thread.

    I suspect Brennan was the place the CI and criminal sides of the house came together, and he likely knew exactly who was feeding Shane and the detainees’ lawyers, what, and when.

    Why he did this is something still obscure. One cannot rule out ego, payback, and internal politics at CIA. One can also not rule out covering his own tracks as a part of the torture and warrantless wiretap programs.

    But, conrary to what EW may have opined yesterday, I suspect there are people beyond Kiriakou that Fitz may have looked at or who he may be working to get by rolling Kiriakou. At least now, if the suppositions in the main post are accurate (i.e., that Brennan was behind Kiriakou’s re-submission to the PRB), Kiriakou has ample reason to roll on Brennan.

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