FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Why CIA Director John Brennan Must Resign

by MELVIN A. GOODMAN

CIA director John Brennan has become an embarrassment to President Barack Obama and should resign immediately.  Brennan has clearly worn out his welcome with the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), and recent history tells us that when a CIA director is found in the crosshairs of the committee it is time to go.  In the 1980s, CIA director William Casey was found to be lying to the committee on Iran-Contra, and even such Republican members of the committee as Senator Barry Goldwater wanted his resignation.  In the 1990s, CIA director Jim Woolsey angered SSCI chairman Dennis DeConcini (D-AZ) and other key members of the committee, and the Clinton administration persuaded Woolsey to resign.  Brennan’s resignation would allow the Obama administration to release a sanitized version of the SSCI’s report on CIA detention and rendition policy and thus avoid a prolonged battle with the Congress over this issue.

The fact that Brennan has crossed swords with the chairman of the committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who was an advocate for Brennan and the CIA at his confirmation hearing last year is more than enough reason for Brennan to go.  Feinstein has been an advocate for the intelligence committee during her stewardship, defending the massive surveillance of the National Security Agency, the use of the drone and targeted assassinations by the Central Intelligence Agency, and the implementation of the Patriot Act by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  There has never been a chairman of the SSCI more supportive of the intelligence community until now.

Brennan never should have been appointed CIA director in the first place.  During his campaign for the presidency in 2007-2008, Barack Obama spoke out against the militarization and politicization of the intelligence community, and indicated that an Obama administration would demand more transparency in the community and an end to intelligence abuses.  Even before his election, however, Obama appointed an intelligence advisory staff that was headed by former associates of George Tenet, whose failed stewardship of the CIA included phony intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq War and the cover-up of intelligence failures for 9/11.  Tenet’s deputy, John McLaughlin, who supported CIA programs of renditions and detentions, was part of the advisory group.

Immediately after the election, Obama appointed one of Tenet’s proteges, John Brennan, to head the transition team at CIA.  Brennan, as Tenet’s chief of staff, was part of the corruption and cover-up at CIA.  He was slated to become Obama’s director at CIA, but Brennan removed his name from consideration when it became clear that he would have serious difficulty in the confirmation process because of his support for CIA detentions and renditions. Like Robert Gates, who had to withdraw his nomination in 1987 because of his dissembling over Iran-Contra, but then laundered his credentials to become confirmed four years later, Brennan too laundered his credentials for a successful bid to become CIA director in 2013.

It should not be forgotten that, during the Tenet era at CIA, Brennan was the chief of staff and deputy executive director under George Tenet, and provided no opposition to decisions to conduct torture and abuse of suspected terrorists and to render suspected individuals to foreign intelligence services that conducted their own torture and abuse.  Brennan had risen through the analytic ranks at the CIA, and should have been aware that analytic standards were being ignored at the Agency.  Brennan was also an active defender of the program of warrantless eavesdropping, implemented at the National Security Agency under the leadership of one of Tenet’s successors, General Michael Hayden, then director of NSA.

President Obama will not be able to change the culture of the intelligence community and restore the moral compass of the CIA unless there is a full understanding and repudiation of the operational crimes of the post-9/11 era.  If the president wants to roll back the misdeeds of the Bush administration, restore the rule of law at the CIA, and create the change that Americans want, he should not be relying for advice on the senior officials who endorsed the shameful acts of the past.  The resignation of John Brennan and the release of the Senate intelligence committee’s report would be a good place to start.

Melvin A. Goodman, a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy.  He is the author of the recently published National Insecurity: The Cost of American Militarism (City Lights Publishers)and the forthcoming “The Path to Dissent: The Story of a CIA Whistleblower” (City Lights Publisher). Goodman is a former CIA analyst and a professor of international relations at the National War College.

 

 

Melvin A. Goodman is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and a professor of government at Johns Hopkins University.  A former CIA analyst, Goodman is the author of “Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA,” “National Insecurity: The Cost of American Militarism,” and the forthcoming “The Path to Dissent: A Whistleblower at CIA” (City Lights Publishers, 2015).  Goodman is the national security columnist for counterpunch.org.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
September 23, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Meaning of the Trump Surge
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: More Pricks Than Kicks
Mike Whitney
Oh, Say Can You See the Carnage? Why Stand for a Country That Can Gun You Down in Cold Blood?
Chris Welzenbach
The Diminution of Chris Hayes
Vincent Emanuele
The Riots Will Continue
Rob Urie
A Scam Too Far
Pepe Escobar
Les Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes, Obfuscation and Propaganda in Syria
Timothy Braatz
The Quarterback and the Propaganda
Sheldon Richman
Obama Rewards Israel’s Bad Behavior
Libby Lunstrum - Patrick Bond
Militarizing Game Parks and Marketing Wildlife are Unsustainable Strategies
Andy Thayer
More Cops Will Worsen, Not Help, Chicago’s Violence Problem
Louis Yako
Can Westerners Help Refugees from War-torn Countries?
David Rosen
Rudy Giuliani & Trump’s Possible Cabinet
Joyce Nelson
TISA and the Privatization of Public Services
Pete Dolack
Global Warming Will Accelerate as Oceans Reach Limits of Remediation
Franklin Lamb
34 Years After the Sabra-Shatila Massacre
Cesar Chelala
How One Man Held off Nuclear War
Norman Pollack
Sovereign Immunity, War Crimes, and Compensation to 9/11 Families
Lamont Lilly
Standing Rock Stakes Claim for Sovereignty: Eyewitness Report From North Dakota
Barbara G. Ellis
A Sandernista Priority: Push Bernie’s Planks!
Hiroyuki Hamada
How Do We Dream the Dream of Peace Together?
Russell Mokhiber
From Rags and Robes to Speedos and Thongs: Why Trump is Crushing Clinton in WV
Julian Vigo
Living La Vida Loca
Aidan O'Brien
Where is Europe’s Duterte? 
Abel Cohen
Russia’s Improbable Role in Everything
Ron Jacobs
A Change Has Gotta’ Come
Uri Avnery
Shimon Peres and the Saga of Sisyphus
Graham Peebles
Ethiopian’s Crying out for Freedom and Justice
Robert Koehler
Stop the Killing
Thomas Knapp
Election 2016: Of Dog Legs and “Debates”
Yves Engler
The Media’s Biased Perspective
Victor Grossman
Omens From Berlin
Christopher Brauchli
Wells Fargo as Metaphor for the Trump Campaign
Nyla Ali Khan
War of Words Between India and Pakistan at the United Nations
Tom Barnard
Block the Bunker! Historic Victory Against Police Boondoggle in Seattle
James Rothenberg
Bullshit Recognition as Survival Tactic
Ed Rampell
A Tale of Billionaires & Ballot Bandits
Kristine Mattis
Persnickety Publishing Pet-Peeves
Charles R. Larson
Review: Helen Dewitt’s “The Last Samurai”
David Yearsley
Torture Chamber Music
September 22, 2016
Dave Lindorff
Wells Fargo’s Stumpf Leads the Way
Stan Cox
If There’s a World War II-Style Climate Mobilization, It has to Go All the Way—and Then Some
Binoy Kampmark
Source Betrayed: the Washington Post and Edward Snowden
John W. Whitehead
Wards of the Nanny State
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail