John Brennan’s Rules: John Brennan Doesn’t Have to Play by the Rules

While I’m happy about the news that John Brennan, the Moral Rectitude Drone Assassination Czar, managed to finish his Drone Rules before he left to become CIA Director, I laughed my ass off when I read this.

U.S. officials said the effort to draft the playbook was nearly derailed late last year by disagreements among the State Department, the CIA and the Pentagon on the criteria for lethal strikes and other issues. Granting the CIA a temporary exemption for its Pakistan operations was described as a compromise that allowed officials to move forward with other parts of the playbook.

The decision to allow the CIA strikes to continue was driven in part by concern that the window for weakening al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan is beginning to close, with plans to pull most U.S. troops out of neighboring Afghanistan over the next two years. CIA drones are flown out of bases in Afghanistan.

“There’s a sense that you put the pedal to the metal now, especially given the impending” withdrawal, said a former U.S. official involved in discussions of the playbook. The CIA exception is expected to be in effect for “less than two years but more than one,” the former official said, although he noted that any decision to close the carve-out “will undoubtedly be predicated on facts on the ground.”

Sure enough, writing a rule book that included a giant exemption was premised on the notion that the Moral Rectitude Drone Assassination Czar doesn’t need rules.

Officials said concerns about the CIA exemption were allayed to some extent by Obama’s decision to nominate Brennan, the principal author of the playbook, to run the CIA.

So glad we’re sending a guy who already can’t play by his own rules to run the Agency. Just what the CIA needs!

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.

9 replies
  1. Mr.Murder says:

    Done to harden resistance and inspire more against us. Pakistan is verging upon failed nukular state. Mission Accomplished. Anything to jusitfy continued presence and line out a row of client states for containment purposes.

  2. Frank33 says:

    The decision to allow the CIA strikes to continue was driven in part by concern that the window for weakening al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan is beginning to close

    For eleven years, the Generals and the Spymasters have failed to “weaken” the mythical “al Qaeda” and the ISI sponsored Taliban. The war profiteers promise that in two more years we will have “Mission Accomplished”.

    The CIA and Brennan are far larger terrorists than Al Qaeda could imagine. Brennan and the CIA fail because that is the plan. Permanent failures produces a permanent National Securty State. These murderers will either continue the Afghan disaster or they will cook up another war against some other poverty stricken country.

  3. orionATL says:

    OT

    one of the more important steps president obama is taking on gun control:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/federal-scientists-can-again-research-gun-violence/2013/01/17/19d959fc-60e5-11e2-b05a-605528f6b712_story.html?hpid=z9

    also:

    http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1487470#qundefined

    the suppression of public health research on gun violence by nra allies in congress was one of the first contemporary witch hunts against science.

  4. what constitution says:

    Oh, good, we’ll write down some “rules” for droning — except we of course won’t apply them to Pakistan. Guess that’s ’cause we’re at war with Pakistan, for starters, so no need to worry about sovereignty or international law, right? Oh, wait.

    Waiting for the article describing the psychological profile and goals of those propounding the growing psychological profile being marketed by the Obama Administration under the brand “John Brennan.” Let’s see, this is The One who can be trusted unilaterally designating Who Lives and Who Dies — a concept anathema to every principle of Justice following from Magna Carta so they better come up with something palatable to sell it. Where else has that cropped up recently? Well, Star Wars was cool and Star Wars has a following. And look, Star Wars already has been successfully invoked, but the Bush Administration got off on a poor footing by allowing Cheney to be “tagged” with the Darth Vader moniker, and it is perceived that it took the Bush Administration too much time and trouble to go through the process of trying to divert the focus on Cheney from “dark side” to “what’s necessary”. But don’t worry, enough of The People still bought in to it that Obama felt no need to actually change policies.

    So Obama still wants somebody to be able to ignore law and history in favor of unilateral expediency — but it would be so, so much “nicer” if that guy could do it “For Good”. Bright idea: set Brennan up as Obi Wan and run the propaganda over drone illegality along the lines of “defeating the Dark Side” instead of “Embracing the Dark Side.” In the words of Billy Crystal, “see what I did there?”

    They’ve been working an obvious and silly PR nonsense marketing campaign over Brennan for a long time, and it’s gotten openly shameless in the past few months. Having people “leak” characterizations like “Moral Rectitude” and the like is more than absurd when juxtaposed against unilateral unchallengeable secret execution orders in a society that possesses a Constitution and Bill of Rights that looks like the ones in the glass case at the National Archives, so somebody’s got to come up with a way to deflect attention via a clever and hypnotic propaganda campaign.

    Brennan’s actual historical analogs are more akin to Rasputin or maybe Robespierre, and the “fictional” analog is more akin to Grima Wormtongue, Saruman’s minion in Theoden’s court — but if they can proceed in getting him designated “Obi Wan”, look how far they can run with that. Indeed, great answer to the “petition to build a Death Star,” WH. The press loved it. Get some more Brennan references out there quick. Carry on. Let’s see if a propaganda campaign can in fact succeed in converting the actions of Dick Cheney from recognized as embodying “The Dark Side” to, instead, the “embodiment of ‘The Force'”. That would appear to be the current plan.

  5. rg says:

    @what constitution: Good response; stimulated me to this:

    “Hey Moses, I’m over here, in the burning bush; thanks for coming up here.
    Look, I,m not happy with the humans and don’t want to do another flood. This time I’m thinking I need a set of verbal rules for them to follow. Not too many, clear and concise, for the simple minds. Where I want to start is with all the intra-species killing going on-these folk are brutes. I want you to help out with the language that your people will easily memorize and take to heart. I’m thinking something short and strong, like “Thou shalt not murder” or something like that.

    Now I’ve got a little problem with this I hope you can help iron out. You see, I’ve got some agents (callem “angels”) that I’ve sent down there in the heavy mountains to do some selected killing too. Now I need to find a way to keep this rule from applying to them, at least for now, and at least in that particular area. I can’t afford to look hypocritical, bad for popularity and credibility. Further I may want to extend the time frame for this activity, and maybe extend the boundaries to other areas, as needed; and hell, I may even want to extend the job to other agents, like health care workers. The more I think this through, the thornier it gets; I do appreciate your helping out. This may take a while, before its gets carved into stone, so to speak. After we get that one, I want to move on to stealing and, a big one is getting a grip on all the fornication, what with the relatives and the animals, etc…”

  6. Peterr says:

    John Brennan’s Rules: John Brennan Doesn’t Have to Play by the Rules

    In other breaking news, the sun is setting in the west as we speak, and Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.

  7. Peterr says:

    “There’s a sense that you put the pedal to the metal now, especially given the impending” withdrawal, said a former U.S. official involved in discussions of the playbook. The CIA exception is expected to be in effect for “less than two years but more than one,” the former official said, although he noted that any decision to close the carve-out “will undoubtedly be predicated on facts on the ground.”

    That carve-out will be closed around the same time as Gitmo.

  8. mlnw says:

    At his unveiling of the targeted assassination drones program at the Northwestern University Law School in March, 2012, A-G Holder maintained that due process didn’t require a judicial process, claiming that Congressional oversight of the program would provide the requisite process. Yet, the CIA has consistently withheld from Congress the legal memoranda and protocols of the program, thereby preventing Congress from fulfilling its oversight responsibility.

    I cannot understand why Wyden and the other Senators who are seeking this information are not raising that issue, as opposed to the more touchy-feely one of comity and cooperation. Even if the Senate Select Intelligence Committee and Judiciary Committee would not issue subpoenas- after all, there are more Senators on those Committees willing to go along with the program than not- Wyden and his colleagues could still initiate a suit in Federal Court, on the issue of adequacy of oversight, could they not?

    Unfortunately, there are no prospective or listed targets who can come forward and sue on the lack of due process, whatever the standard might be, since the list is secret and cannot be disclosed without breaking the law. To steal a phrase from the title of the 1990 documentary by Pierre Leduc (a documentary on the Reagan Administration’s effort to restrict the public showing of “If You Love This Planet”), the targeted assassination drones program is truly “an unguided tour to the twilight zone”.

  9. GKJames says:

    Always rewarding for those scrubbed, anemic-looking suit-and-tie guys in Washington to prove the point yet again: The thousands killed and maimed in far-away places are stage props for the perpetual Wank Fest on Potomac’s shores. It’s never been about Afghans (or the Iraqis or Lebanese or Vietnamese or even Grenadans before them). We invaded because the times and, in this case, the collective post-9/11 tumescence, demanded a show to mask the fear of impotence.

    Ever since, the drama’s been between constituents who desperately need the mayhem for affirmation of legitimacy and career advancement, and those who recognize the folly but don’t have the guts to stop the madness. Enter the likes of Brennan, whose (self-anointed) job is to smear across the polity layers of what he calls law and morality and rules, and what humans know as shit.

    They kill because they can. And because they’re immune to the consequences. And because the public — riveted (at least this week) by the morality play surrounding a doping bike rider — likes that or can’t be bothered given that the blood flows thousands of miles away. The blather about rulebooks means something only to the wankers.

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