The Seduction of John Brennan’s “Moral Rectitude”


As has been floated over the last few days, Obama will reportedly appoint John Brennan CIA Director later today.

FWIW, having John Brennan in a position where he will be subject to Congressional oversight–rather than the oversight-free and more expansive position he’s in now–might not be an entirely bad thing. And after the DiFi-Jose Rodriguez smackdown, I’m not sad to see Morell get passed over, because I don’t think he has sufficient independence from people like Rodriguez.

Nevertheless, this appointment no doubt will lead to (already has) a bunch of people suggesting John Brennan will bring new order to the drone program.

I’m actually far more worried about Brennan’s control over other programs, particularly profiling Americans (though NCTC owns much of that task now). Remember, in addition to having ties to torture, Brennan was in charge of profiling for Dick Cheney’s illegal wiretap program. And he’s the guy who decided it’d be great to give the NCTC unfettered access to any federal database. This man loves data mining, and we should expect to see more of it from the CIA.

But I’m amused that people believe–based on anonymous claims by Brennan supporters–that he’ll bring order to the drone program. Such belief, it seems to me, overlooks Brennan’s actions in favor of anonymous comments.

Brennan was purportedly putting more order to the program. Until Mitt lost, and then he stalled that effort and broke what rules are said to govern the program.

Brennan was purportedly opposed to signature strikes. Until he approved them for use in Yemen.

Brennan has had control over all aspects of the drone program for 8 months. But the drone program is, if anything, accelerating again.

And remember, Brennan is a liar. A proven liar on this and a number of other issues. As well as a key instigator for the self-interested leaking the Administration would criminally punish coming from others. He spends a great deal of energy telling useful but not factually accurate stories to spin the Administration’s counterterrorism programs.

So I can’t help but think the people hailing his “moral rectitude” have been seduced by an old spook. Because every story that claims Brennan has some kind of higher ethics or a plan to put order to our out-of-control CT programs is either followed–or has the proof within itself–that the moral rectitude is the PR, whereas the embrace of unchecked power seems to be backed by his actions.

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6 Responses to The Seduction of John Brennan’s “Moral Rectitude”

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Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz RT @Popehat: .@ggreenwald My guess is that @chriscuomo knows less about the Constitution than the average Juggalo.
bmaz RT @Popehat: Ass. You are a disgrace to Fordham Law School, which only admitted you because of your famous father.
emptywheel Kind of odd writing abt McConnell, douchebag trying to expand spying, 7 years after writing abt (Mike) McConnell, douchebag expanding spying
emptywheel @Dymaxion Transparency: person spends months reading reports, boosters ignore what person discovers bc might slow push for more transparency
emptywheel @Dymaxion Which is why I keep coming back to fact we're legislating on bill while IC sits on IG report abt that provision. Classic bad faith
emptywheel @lib_ertarian_ And remember some sub-apps can be low margin even if appliance as whole is not. @matthew_d_green
emptywheel @lib_ertarian_ At least in auto industry I can assure you that it's that move fr high to low margin apps that drives cheap @matthew_d_green
emptywheel @lib_ertarian_ What's the margin on dishwashers? esp as production moving back to US? @matthew_d_green
emptywheel @Dymaxion Not saying ending dragnet isn't laudable. Just that boosters are ignoring how useful USAF is for IC, weakening negotiating stance.
emptywheel @Dymaxion Dragnet! And transparency the IC will blow off.
emptywheel Oh! Also forgot! Under new system, metadata will be shared FAR more broadly, plus agencies will do back door searches on it. @emptywheel
emptywheel And make it easier to get expansive Internet collection quickly (which is majority of Section 215 orders) @emptywheel
January 2013
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