Saturday, November 22, 2008

The 'Trouble' with Brennan

Glenn Greenwald is angry about Obama's proposed nomination of John O. Brennan for CIA Chief:
Still, Brennan has been and continues to be an extremely important adviser for Obama on intelligence issues. His views on past administration conduct are, in many important instances, clearly disturbing and bear watching.
He lists several instances where Brennan defended enhanced interrogation and secret sites. But in this Charlie Rose interview (along with Scott Shane from the Times and Tyler Drumheller) he seems detached enough from Iraq, and importantly Dick Cheney, to suit some lefty needs, despite his defense of former boss George Tenet.

By the way, Drumheller seems a real piece of work, at one point telling Rose that Tenet knew the WMDs weren't there but didn't have the nerve to tell Bush, then later that he thought Tenet believed there were WMDs. Which was it? If your memory no longer serves Mr. Drumheller was the one who claimed to have raised a flag about the intelligence Curveball was providing the German BND service, intel that ended up in Colin Powell's UN speech. Tenet, in his book, roundly disputed his narrative.

But as to Brennan, the lefty criticism seems directed at his unwillingness to harshly condemn "torture" and other efforts Bush used to keep terrorists from killing Americans. Apparently, such a person doesn't represent the change liberals needed in DC, perhaps preferring someone more like Drumheller or even John Kerry to head the CIA and confirm their Bush-era fantaspiracies. But Brennan might possibly indicate how reality sometimes trumps ideology when it comes to practical political survival.

As Rummy once famously said, 'we don't know what we don't know'. On page 193 of Ken Timmerman's book "Shadow Warriors" he recounts a conversation between Undersecretary of Defense John Shaw and Bill Gertz of the Washington Times regarding Saddam's WMDs, specifically the strange assignment of several Russian generals to Iraq in the months before the war. It has long been rumored that Russian Spetsnaz troops helped move anything sensitive with Russian fingerprints out of Iraq and into Syria before the invasion, oddly alluded to (offhand) by Joe the VP in his 2007 interview with Tim Russert. Perhaps Brennan knows something about all of this?

Whatever the case, he knows a lot more than the silly conventional wisdom that floats around the blogosphere about Bushitler. For instance, here's what Tenet writes in his book regarding an encounter between Brennan, who speaks Arabic, and a member of the Iranian MOIS intelligence, page 124:
John walked up to his car, knocked on the window, and said, "Hello, I'm from the U.S. Embassy and I've got something to tell you." As John tells the story, the guy got out of his car, claimed that Iran was a peace-loving country, then jumped back in the car and sped away. Just being seen with some of our people might cause MOIS officers to fall under suspicion with their own agency. The cold pitches undoubtedly ruined some careers, and maybe even lives, but also occasionally paid off in actual intelligence dividends. It couldn't happen to a nastier bunch of people.
By the way, if the name sounds familiar it's because Brennan's company, the Analysis Corp (sounds itself like a dummy CIA front company) was involved in some shenanigans regarding access of Obama's passport, a highly entertaining comedy act affectionately referred to as Passportgate, which spun up right in the middle of Reverend Wright-gate. Imagine that.

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