It’s been a long while, but four years ago, John Brennan was considered by the Obama/Biden transition team for a leading intelligence agency post, before he withdrew his name from consideration. At the time, several prominent progressive writers noted Brennan’s association with Bush/Cheney-era controversies, which would have made his nomination more problematic.
In the ensuing years, Brennan nevertheless joined President Obama’s White House team, becoming the president chief advisor on counter-terrorism. Today, Obama introduced him as his choice to lead the CIA.
Brennan worked at the CIA for 25 years, including a stint as station chief in Saudi Arabia. He also served as chief of staff to then CIA Director George Tenet from 1999 to 2001, when he was named the agency’s deputy executive director. […]
As Brennan has been involved in major national security issues since 9/11, he should be able “to hit the ground running” at the CIA, one official told NBC News.
If confirmed, Brennan will succeed retired general David Petraeus, who resigned amid a scandal over an extramarital affair with his biographer.
The White House is circulating talking points on Brennan’s qualifications, but the questions for many skeptics on the left are no less important now than they were in 2008 – either he supported the Bush/Cheney team’s most offensive intelligence-gathering policies, including “enhanced interrogation techniques,” a euphemism for torture, or he didn’t.
I suspect – or more accurately, I hope – this will be explored in more detail as the confirmation process unfolds, but I should note that Brennan said in 2008 that he always opposed torture and communicated his concerns privately during the Bush era to his CIA colleagues, while also questioning the legality of several CIA interrogation methods.
In his 2008 letter to Obama, Brennan argued at the time, “It has been immaterial to the critics that I have been a strong opponent of many of the policies of the Bush administration such as the pre-emptive war in Iraq and coercive interrogation tactics, to include waterboarding.” Brennan also emphasized he was “not involved in the decision-making process” during the previous administration.