5 Questions John Brennan Dodged in His CIA Confirmation Hearing

Picture: White House (PD)

Between Dianne Feinstein’s adulation of the drone program (and her lies that civilian deaths were in the single digits) and the Republican filibuster of Chuck Hagel (based on his non-existent relationship with the non-existent “Friends of Hamas”), there actually was a confirmation hearing this past week from our lazy, incompetent Congress. John Brennan, who some may remember was blocked in 2008 due to the objections of civil libertarians, is on schedule to become President Barack Obama’s newest right-wing torture-happy appointee to the head of the CIA. He will continue to perpetuate myths of national security and intelligence work, the merits of extreme rendition and shady intervention in foreign affairs.

Mother Jones‘ Adam Serwer has compiled a great list of the unanswered questions of accountability and transparency in this hearing, what has now become a hallmark of the Bush/Obama era and will certainly be the norm during Brennan’s tenure.

via Mother Jones by :

Did torture lead to the capture of Osama bin Laden?

Feinstein began the hearing by asking whether Brennan had read the Senate intelligence committee’s recently completed investigation into coercive interrogation techniques used by the Bush administration. After Brennan said he had read the 300-page summary of the report, Feinstein asked whether torture led to the operation to kill Osama bin Laden. Brennan never actually said yes or no, simply saying that he looked “forward to hearing from the CIA on that and coming back to this committee and giving you my full and honest views.”

Did torture work?

Under questioning by Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Brennan admitted to being undecided on whether torture worked, while saying he opposed it on moral grounds. Brennan said that while he was at the CIA, he was under the impression that torture worked, but that the Senate intelligence committee report made him question that. “I don’t know what the truth is,” Brennan said.

Will Brennan reduce the CIA’s paramilitary role?

At the beginning of her questioning, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) noted dryly that she had been “jerked around” by every CIA director she’d known as a legislator, with the exception of Leon Panetta. Brennan assured her “truthfulness is a value that was inculcated in me in my home in New Jersey.” But when Mikulski brought up about the CIA’s increasing role in paramilitary operations, describing that as “mission creep” and asking whether Brennan would steer the Agency back towards its more traditional intelligence-gathering role, Brennan said only that he would “take a look at the allocation of that mission,” before saying that the CIA “should not be involved in traditional military activities.” But Mikulski was talking about paramilitary activities such as drone strikes. No one actually accused the CIA of engaging in “traditional military activities.”

Is waterboarding torture?

Asked whether waterboarding was torture, Brennan gave the same kind of answer Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) gave when asked the age of the Earth: He lacks the expertise to answer the question. Namely, Brennan said, he’s not a lawyer and therefore can’t say whether waterboarding is torture, because that would suggest that the CIA had committed a crime. Pressed on the fact that Attorney General Eric Holder had called waterboarding torture, Brennan alluded to the Bush-era torture memos saying that it wasn’t. “I’ve read a lot of legal opinions,” Brennan said. Despite not being a lawyer, however, Brennan has been perfectly happy to defend the administration’s targeted-killing program as legal—including in the hearing itself, when he said that Obama had insisted that the government make sure “any actions we take are legally grounded.”

Do American citizens have a right to know when they might be killed on suspicion of terrorism?

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who has led congressional efforts to compel the Obama administration to disclose more information about targeted killing, pressed Brennan on whether or not the United States was obligated to offer an American citizen suspected of joining Al Qaeda an opportunity to surrender before killing him or her. Brennan said “any member of Al Qaeda, whether it be a US citizen or non-US citizen, needs to know that they have the right to surrender anytime anywhere throughout the world, and they can do so before that organization is destroyed.” That doesn’t address the core of Wyden’s question, however. Brennan never revealed how the US determines someone has joined Al Qaeda. Brennan also never explained how someone who wasn’t actually a member of Al Qaeda might inform the US government of that fact before being killed by a Hellfire missile. “Our Constitution fortunately gives the president significant power to protect our country in dangerous times,” Wyden said, “but it is not unfettered power.”


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20 Comments on "5 Questions John Brennan Dodged in His CIA Confirmation Hearing"

  1. SoruhFrake | Feb 19, 2013 at 3:59 pm |

    Dear Disinfo, I tried using your contact form but I always get an error, but I was wondering if I could submit an article I wrote myself?

    Here is the link: http://catharsiopa.com/?p=1773

    It’s free to share, just a little thought from another continent 🙂

    • BuzzCoastin | Feb 19, 2013 at 7:55 pm |

      nice link
      but I suspect the sheeple like being watched
      it makes them feel loved and safe

      • SoruhFrake | Feb 19, 2013 at 9:33 pm |

        Haha, but honestly I think if even a few hundred in every country started doing this it would have an effect.
        Take a break if you’re a toker, if not great, gather some friends, send each other sms about wanting to buy/sell/smoke/use “insert drug of choice”, make up fake messages with locations and times (for fun can always go look if after a couple of days some of the spots have become patrol zones, they’re listening!Great Job!) Do this per sms, over FB, over whatever media on the web there is.

        Do the same to create fake terror plans if you wish. If they ever do confront one personally, then it is your chance to finally make your voice heard for being harassed for writing fiction, for being deprived of your privacy, for any reason you can think of.

        I’m sure if people documented their experience and posted it on the web, more and more will wake up to the truth of how little privacy we really do have.

        Their use of these spying measures and it’s success is only guaranteed if most of their hits are actually based on fact. If they start getting positive hits showing up in increasing number and realize that most of them are fakes, their system becomes useless.

        • BuzzCoastin | Feb 19, 2013 at 9:46 pm |

          I once made the mistake of confronting Pig malfeasance head-on
          I had evidence of armed pigs coercing underage girls to party with them
          it didn’t go well
          Pigs defend Pigs against non-pig attackers
          the guy who went to the Pigs with the charges was arrested
          plus the sheeple tend to support the pigs based the Pigs side of the story
          eventually the Pigs stiffled the noise
          and went back to Pig bizmess as usual

          your idea
          Do the same to create fake terror plans if you wish.
          is even crazier

          • SoruhFrake | Feb 19, 2013 at 10:37 pm |

            My idea was merely to fill our phone and message conversations with random fiction that would happen in an alternate reality of our world a.k.a in our imagination. Why? So that the conversation are no longer credible for the use of monitoring the activity of common people in hopes of arresting a oh-so-criminal toker etc.

          • BuzzCoastin | Feb 19, 2013 at 10:41 pm |

            your idea of random fiction
            is Uncle Homeland’s idea of aiding terrorism (see the NDAA)
            there are better ways to sabotage Uncle Homeland snooping
            than by playing into a trap constructed by terror fiction

          • SoruhFrake | Feb 19, 2013 at 10:45 pm |

            I said forget the terror part, I’m sure you’re creative enough to find all kinds of minor breaches of law that would need more than just a message to get you in trouble. If you make up a fake drug deal and you ain’t got nothing when they come, they aren’t going to do anything.

            The part of doing the same with fake terror threats was the least serious of my examples, here in Europe, terrorism, at least where I am, isn’t a problem or an issue..

          • SoruhFrake | Feb 19, 2013 at 10:47 pm |

            And second of all, I don’t mean sending these messages publicly where everyone can read them and panic. I am talking about what we send privately between good friends, sms, private messages,private chat.

          • BuzzCoastin | Feb 19, 2013 at 10:48 pm |

            > If you make up a fake drug deal and you ain’t got nothing when they come, they aren’t going to do anything.

            let me know how it goes when the Pigs show up
            they never plant evidence or
            use physical intimidation to obtain confessions
            so I agree, it’s a brilliant plan
            (I also hope your white, you have a 10 time advantage of not being arrested than if you were Black or other minority.)

          • SoruhFrake | Feb 19, 2013 at 10:49 pm |

            In the states maybe, here luckily things aren’t as inhumane as across the pond in the states with you guys.

          • BuzzCoastin | Feb 19, 2013 at 10:58 pm |

            I agree, it’s a little better in the EU & UK
            but not much
            and Uncle Homeland is working hard to get the EU inline
            with the American Pig Bizmess

            Sweden and England have already shown through Assange
            that Uncle Homeland calls the shots

          • SoruhFrake | Feb 20, 2013 at 6:29 am |

            You see what tires me both here in Luxembourg and from reading this here now, is that everyone is relatively a pussy. I am well aware that such actions are dangerous, but I’m also aware of the fact that if we just sit on our asses and let them keep doing what they want, we’ll probably end up in concentration camps anyway in a couple of years.

            Why is everyone scared of actually pissing them off? Why is everyone only able to write a few articles on how we’re fucked but nobody ever does anything about it, nor does anyone propose any solutions that have an impact.

            All the revolutionaries of the past have always said what they had to say and they fought for what they believed in even if it meant that they could possibly die or be inconvenienced. Sorry to say but if the world really saw it’s own power and realized that this mess we’re in could be turned around in a matter of days if people stopped being chickens and stopped being afraid of their pigs and politicians and started doing whatever they believed that could make those pigs and politicians powerless.

            All we do is sit and whine and when someone comes up with something, the first thing that’s mentioned is the dangers involved and how we should just let our fingers from it.
            If you don’t like making fake messages etc, then start stalking the police and take pictures of them wherever they are. Just to let them know that we’re watching too.
            I have been kicked out of 2 schools for writing and distributing protest letters that go against the school system here in Luxembourg, some in the school said keep it down or you won’t get into university, you won’t have a future. But I did, surprisingly not many of the students actually supported me, just everyone was in awe and wonder that the letter was good, fuckers that complain all day about how they get fucked but when you give them the chance to speak out about it, they all just got a big fat stick up their ass preventing them from saying anything, but in the end I had a group of very open -minded teachers still defending my point of view. I failed those years, since many teachers did use their power to grade me as they saw fitting.

            I quit the only way to success known in Luxembourg, namely following the strict pattern of what to do in school and make sure you are numbed down enough so that if they asked you, you would even be ready to try grazing on a field like a cow.

            Maybe I got into university a little later than them, but I finished my education over distance learning, I got into university this year and while the past few years I went through all sorts of miseries due to having said my opinion, it takes time to reap the fruits that were of benefit from acting on what I think regardless of who is in power and what might happen to me.

            People get killed everyday despite never talking out against the government or the pigs, and honestly I prefer dying having lived my life with doing only what I am okay with and not pretending that I am against their total annihilation of privacy and freedom and then whenever one can do something make up excuses as to why not to do it cause it might pose a danger to me?….

            We are living such a easy life, despite the hardships that exist those hardships are nothing compared to what human beings have suffered throughout history. America is the new Hitler, the whole rest of the world not doing anything is like the Germans in WW2 do nothing see nothing, maybe do 1 or 2 protests to fight for gay marriage laws or whatever. Stop fighting for petty laws to be voted and realize that there is only one problem and that is the government, do what you can against them, cause if we don’t then even if none of you did anything, you’re opinions will mark you as the new “jews” and it’ll be our turn for concentration camps.

          • SoruhFrake | Feb 20, 2013 at 6:36 am |

            I agree, it’s a little better in the EU & UK
            but not much
            and Uncle Homeland is working hard to get the EU inline
            with the American Pig Bizmess

            Well while americans have proven to be brainwashed by Hollywood and games into being obedient workers of the government with warning labels glued on every object that you buy, including in American cars the sun blocker which carries a safety warning that you might jab it into your forehead if it isn’t tilted right.

            You guys have been conditioned into fear, hot cups of coffee that need to be labeled hot…..
            Sorry to say the EU is not going in the direction of the US, at least what concerns the majority of the population. They might help you guys out in war and try to make Europe into a agenda that follows in the US their footsteps, but it wont’ work, European people are luckily not 1 nationality but many and that is starting to surface, whereas america is divided due to the lack of identity your people possess. Patriotism rules the minds over there, while here thankfully it is people having lived normal lives until the past 10 years where things started only slowly to move into stricter conditions.

            There is no situation to fear ever, unless you’re facing your own death. We make these guys powerful by actually not daring to do anything. You guys had aron schwartz that shit surprised me to see someone in america risk his life like that, but if people actually supported him and didn’t let him fight all alone, then I’m sure you guys would have had him around longer.

        • Hadrian999 | Feb 19, 2013 at 9:48 pm |

          the fbi makes fake terror plans all the time, look how it usually turns out for the fake terrorist

        • Just wondering if the total volume of all the data they collect doesn’t render the system useless. Seriously, if you are spying on everyone, how the hell do you separate “signal” from “noise?”
          Also, I really love the idea of fucking with the spooks by putting out fake messages. Unfortunately, this is NOT a wise move in the land of fat and stupid. Unless you are lily white, rich, command and army of attorneys and have no criminal record, you’re just asking for a one way ticket to the US Gulag Archipelago.

          • “Unless you are lily white, rich, command and army of attorneys and have no criminal record”

            According to the “Justice” Dept, “substantial support” of terrorism remains tantalizingly undefined. The thing about getting disappeared without any trial ever, is that none of the stuff you mentioned matters.

  2. InfvoCuernos | Feb 19, 2013 at 7:03 pm |

    So this guy is being less than forthcoming with his answers? Maybe the senate should waterboard him to get to the truth. Na, they reserve that for the little people without power. I wonder how long until LAPD starts their own waterboarding program.

    • Bluebird_of_Fastidiousness | Feb 20, 2013 at 2:48 pm |

      I vote for rendition to a small village in Waziristan. Preferably one with a very good doctor.

  3. BuzzCoastin | Feb 19, 2013 at 7:52 pm |

    “our lazy, incompetent Congress”

    the impersonal pronoun is incorrectly used there
    it should read “their lazy, incompetent, on the take Congress”

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