Maybe John Brennan Didn’t Want to Talk about CIA Lying to Congress?

Mark Udall just released word that John Brennan failed to connect the dots do his homework before meeting with Udall about his CIA confirmation.

Mark Udall, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said he is “deeply disappointed” that CIA nominee John Brennan was unprepared to discuss the Intelligence Committee’s recent report on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program. Udall and Senators Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Ron Wyden (R-Ore.) met with Brennan today after asking him to review the committee’s findings, which were based on a documentary review of more than 6 million pages of CIA and other records, and raises critical questions about intelligence operations and oversight.

“I was deeply disappointed today during my meeting with John Brennan. A few weeks ago, I had asked that he be prepared to discuss at today’s meeting the findings of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s comprehensive study on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation program. Not only was he not prepared to discuss the important findings, but he hadn’t reviewed the report at all,” Udall said. “Brennan promised today to review the findings before the Intelligence Committee’s confirmation hearing next Thursday. I intend to hold him to that promise, and I hope Mr. Brennan will be more forthcoming in his testimony next week. I understand that he may not see it in his or the CIA’s interests to criticize the very agency that he hopes to lead, but I see this as an opportunity for Mr. Brennan to correct the record, institute the necessary reforms and help restore the CIA’s reputation for integrity and analytical rigor.” [my emphasis]

Take a close look at the bolded language in Udall’s statement.

Udall’s meeting with Brennan was also attended by Carl Levin and Ron Wyden.

We know that Ron Wyden has two significant concerns about the torture report.

I am particularly interested in getting your reaction to the report’s revelation that the CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information about its interrogation program to the White House, the Justice Department, and Congress, and your view on what steps should be taken to correct inaccurate statements that were made to the public.

The CIA has made inaccurate statements to the public–something that seems to be echoed in Udall’s interest in Brennan “correct[ing] the record.”

And that CIA provided inaccurate information lied about the torture program to the White House, the Justice Department, and Congress. Udall’s suggestion that Brennan might not want to criticize the agency, his suggestion that CIA needs to restore its integrity, and his mention of oversight (which, after all, is impossible if CIA insists on lying) all seem to parallel Wyden’s concerns about CIA’s lies to everyone who was supposed to be overseeing it.

So maybe it’s just that Brennan failed to do his homework.

Or maybe it’s that Brennan, a serial liar, intends to dodge all questions about CIA’s own lying to its overseers.

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.

14 replies
  1. Jim White says:

    I guess I’ve just been around that Shit Square guy too long. On the Twitter machine, I’ve been going on about how I find it incredibly unlikely that Brennan actually will face any of these “tough questions” that are being put out either here or in the Hosenball story in the previous post. The pattern is just all too familiar. Some of us will get really excited that this time, for sure, the right thing will be done and we will veer once again away from the Dark Side. We’ve been closer than this to getting it done before and it never happened then, so I just don’t see it now.

    I really doubt the questions will be asked, but even if they are, the Serial Liar will just blow smoke or even claim he can’t answer because it’s secret.

    And then he will be confirmed by 90+ Senators who will choose to “Look Forward”. They will pose their questions, whether only to the press as today or even to Brennan, but they won’t follow up when he blows off any real answer and then they will just suddenly become Patriots with their “Yes” votes.

  2. joanneleon says:

    @Jim White:

    I really doubt the questions will be asked, but even if they are, the Serial Liar will just blow smoke or even claim he can’t answer because it’s secret.

    Or why wouldn’t serial liar just serially lie again?

  3. emptywheel says:

    @earlofhuntingdon: You’re so quaintly old-fashioned!

    DOJ made sure, with its treatment of Scott Bloch, to make that law inoperative. Convenient, the way the Executive Branch can make the Executive Branch immune.

  4. DonS says:

    @Jim White:

    You forgot the part where some of our fine Senators grumble, bluster and haruumph before they self-righteously shitcan their barely perceptible consciences, again.

    Oh, and include some very important extended remarks for the Congressional Record for later bloviating.

  5. What Constitution? says:

    @Jim White: I dunno, Mr. White– But I’m concerned you’re sounding dangerously like the inimitable Chuck Todd here, suggesting as to how it’s a “view from 30,000 feet” to be asking for somebody to conduct an honest hearing with a demand for honest answers, perhaps in furtherance of the elusive commitment to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” I’ll concede it’s a longshot, perhaps, but who knows when it might happen. Somebody should be conducting themselves as if our Constitution mattered, as if Congress had a role to play, as if our elected officials and their nominees for important positions should be held to a standard of acting in accordance with the principles we profess to be governed by. So I’ll go with the assumption you’re not really suggesting that there’s no purpose in trying to get people like John Brennan scrutinized over things like John Brennan has done in furtherance of policies illegal when posited by Bush and equally or more illegal when extended by Obama; yeah, that’s it, you’re snarking us and don’t really mean to suggest that you don’t mean to demand some responsible action from the folks in the Senate who may have been reading this last few weeks of questions about Brennan and might possibly be poised to act like maybe they’ll do something of note about it. Right?

    Jeez, I just read that back. What a pollyanna I am. Still, I can’t begin to tell you how much I’d like to see a hearing on John Brennan — a man whose potential nomination to head of CIA had to be pulled because he was “too controversial” four years ago, but is now magically put up as if a saint and to a chorus of “not even an issue” from our beloved Media Pundit Class — and I’d like that hearing to focus on what the hell this guy has been doing, how they think it’s remotely justifiable, and, ahem, whether Jeh Johnson didn’t have a good point in suggesting we might be approaching a time in which America might perform a gut-check on the rationality, morality, legal permissability and sanity of our unchecked international and domestic policies under the guise of the “War on Terra.” Brennan’s confirmation hearing implicates all of these things — unless, or course, it doesn’t for some reason. Like, for instance, everybody who might appreciate such a result assuring everybody else that it won’t occur.

  6. Arbusto says:

    I think Brennan’s just a faint to open the way for John Poindexter so the CIA, NSA and DoD can better integrate, operate and co-ordinate total information awareness with Google.

  7. jo6pac says:

    @DonS: So true and it’s a good thing that nothing is changing because just think how confused the so called enemy would be. Oh that’s right the enemy is Ameirka govt. How sad it has become this.

    Thanks to everyone here.

    On another note Go 9ers

  8. Jeffrey Kaye says:

    Hm. I’d say Udall is providing Brennan the script to get him through the Committee. “Restore the CIA’s integrity”… don’t make me laugh. Of course, Brennan may not comply, exactly.

    Enough of this kabuki. At the end, the CIA is free to do it’s thing, n’est pas?

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    @emptywheel: That’s me: quaint, old-fashioned, but still workable. It defines most of what passes for machinery, architecture and business methods in Jolly Olde.

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