Friday, December 12, 2014

Feinstein "Surprised" by CIA Director Brennan Statement

John Brennan, delivering
2012 Fordham Commencement address
Senator Diane Feinstein responded - with some surprise - to the carefully couched statement today by CIA Director John O. Brennan in response to the Senate Intelligence Committee's release of part of its `Torture Report'.  As one who is Jesuit educated I was not surprised by his acknowledgement that much was deplorable.  Brennan is a 1977 Fordham College graduate and an Arabist, not an Islamophobe.  Speaking at the 2012 university commencement as many stood silently in protest Brennan recalled his study of politics and ethics - that he absorbed the ecumenical message of theology teacher Father Rushmore - respect for the world's religions and the importance of learning how they agree and how they differ.  Philosophy professor John Bangia introduced him to Aristotle, Aquinas, and Kant.  He therefore denounces as "abhorrent" certain "techniques that had not been authorized" and endorses the "President's decision to prohibit the use of EIT's" (the euphemistic acronym for torture).   
But Brennan does not admit that much of what was `authorized' in the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel "torture memos" was in fact unlawful. I understand that as a long-time intelligence officer (he was Deputy Director on 9/11) he acts to defend the institution.  He nonetheless falls short in the most important way.  Unlike Senator McCain's stirring statement, Brennan's acknowledgement of "mistakes" is not enough.  He does not muster the candor say that crimes were committed that went unpunished.  Nor does he say that not only the United States Code but our treaty obligations were violated or that legislation is needed to codify President Obama's Executive Order.  Since CIA favorite  Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.) will now replace Feinstein as leader of the Senate Committee I am less than reassured.  The "tough guy" mentality is too deeply embedded in to many minds to have any reason for optimism as the resurgent GOP takes power in both houses of Congress.
- gwc
Feinstein Response to CIA Director on Detention, Interrogation Program - Press Releases - News Room - United States Senator Dianne Feinstein
CIA Director Brennan’s comments were not what I expected. They showed that CIA leadership is prepared to prevent this from ever happening again—which is all-important.
“I watched today’s press conference closely and agree with many of the things Director Brennan said. He discussed the context of the detention and interrogation program that started shortly after the horrific attacks on 9/11, as well as the vital work being done by the CIA workforce. He is right on both counts.
“Director Brennan also acknowledged that the CIA was not prepared to effectively manage this program when it started and that many mistakes were made as it was implemented. I believe that the Intelligence Committee’s report demonstrates these facts beyond dispute, and I am pleased the director announced some of the reforms that have been and will be implemented at the CIA.
“Perhaps most importantly, Director Brennan stated that the CIA has ‘not concluded that it was the use of EITs within that program that allowed us to obtain useful information from detainees subjected to them.’ This is a welcome change from the CIA’s position in the past that information was obtained as a direct result of EITs.
“I disagree that it is ‘unknowable’ whether information needed to stop terrorist attacks could be obtained from other sources. The report shows that such information in fact was obtained through other means, both traditional CIA human intelligence and from other agencies. Nonetheless, it is an important development that Director Brennan does not attribute counterterrorism successes to coercive interrogations.
“Finally, I agree with Director Brennan that the CIA must ‘speak truth to power.’ The president, Congress and other policymakers must get the facts and intelligence assessments without them being colored by policy views or an effort to hide embarrassing facts.

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