John Brennan Decimates the Logic of Drone Program

John Brennan will be confirmed as CIA Director.

But along the way he has utterly decimated the drone program’s legitimacy.

Twice in his confirmation hearing, he insisted he was not a lawyer. Most notably, Carl Levin went to some length to try to get Brennan to admit waterboarding was torture. Brennan said that he thought it was reprehensible, but he repeatedly stopped short of saying it was torture because “I’m not a lawyer.” Over and over again, he is not a lawyer.

He is, however, almost certainly, the “informed, high-level official of the US government who [determines] that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States.” That person not only determines whether capture would be “feasible” and what “imminent” means. But he decides whether killing the person would be “consistent with law of war principles.”

In other words, this man, who can’t (or refuses to) say whether waterboarding is torture because he is not a lawyer, is entrusted every Tuesday to make far more difficult legal decisions, both on the subjective feasible and imminent questions, but also on specific international laws.

In other words, according to the guy who has been acting as judge and jury for the last four years, the guy who has been acting as judge and jury is completely incompetent to act as judge and jury.

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16 Responses to John Brennan Decimates the Logic of Drone Program

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Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz @TheBradBlog @billmon1 In some civil circumstances, yes, but very far from all. As to criminal, the remedy is pretty much political.
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bmaz @stephenlemons @FredDuVal Just saw independent as, presumably dark funded, on Duval "releasing terrorists". Pukeworthy.
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bmaz @erinscafe The furry picture should lead all reports though.
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bmaz @billmon1 @TheBradBlog Ooof. Hope you have enough coffee and/or bourbon.
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bmaz @billmon1 @TheBradBlog Sure. But that is exactly why the patina of "legality" is so illusory in this discussion.
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bmaz @billmon1 @TheBradBlog And that applies to torture, extrajudicial killing, banksters, illegal surveillance, and a whole host of issues.
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bmaz @billmon1 @TheBradBlog The problem, as with so much is the political acts that beget such use/nonuse of discretion.
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bmaz @billmon1 @TheBradBlog Right. Failure to prosecute/hold accountable for Senate incursion is technically legal as prosecutorial discretion.
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bmaz RT @WSJ: At 79, Jerry Lee Lewis just released his 41st studio album. Listen here: http://t.co/rAJMtCwvpX http://t.co/IVJYFJ10VM
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bmaz RT @AntonioFrench: Bob McCulloch and Attorney General Holder should be launching investigations into who is leaking this info. Police? Atto…
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bmaz @mtracey @billmon1 As SSCI Chair, it was her duty to make the case, and she did, lack of vocal support from others, and non-SSCI depressing
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February 2013
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