President Obama’s determination to keep his Middle East outreach agenda alive, no matter how at odds with reality, continues. Yesterday, John Brennan, Deputy National Security Adviser for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, was nominated to head the CIA, replacing scandal-scarred David Petraeus. “John knows what our national security demands,” Obama announced.
“John has an invaluable perspective on the forces, the history, the culture, the politics, economics, the desire for human dignity driving so much of the changes in today’s world…He knows the risks that our intelligence professionals face every day.”
At best, the 25-year CIA veteran’s record is a mixed bag. At worst, he becomes another link in the administration’s efforts to normalize relations with Islamic terrorists.
Brennan was considered to run the CIA after the president was elected for the first time in 2008. But he withdrew his name from consideration after critics derided his support for the Bush administration’s enhanced interrogation techniques, a charge he denied. “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 wrote at the time.
In 2009, Brennan came under fire again, as the result of the colossal intelligence failure that allowed terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to board Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day 2009, during which he attempted to detonate an underwear bomb. Abdulmutallab was able to board the fight despite several red flags, including intercepted conversations between Abdulmutallab and American terror cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a British visa rejection, and a warning from his own father, who went to the U.S. embassy in Abuja, where he told officials of receiving a letter in which his son talked about “sacrificing himself.”
After calls for his resignation, Brennan responded to the criticism in a USA Today editorial. “Politically motivated criticism and unfounded fear-mongering only serve the goals of al-Qaeda,” he wrote. “Terrorists are not 100-feet tall. Nor do they deserve the abject fear they seek to instill.” One suspects those on board Flight 253 might disagree. Yet Brennan doubled down, and insisted on treating Abdulmutallab as a criminal, rather than an enemy combatant, contending that it is “naive to think that transferring Abdulmutallab to military custody would have caused an outpouring of information. There is little difference between military and civilian custody, other than an interrogator with a uniform. The suspect gets access to a lawyer, and interrogation rules are nearly identical,” Brennan contended.
Brennan further cemented his soft-on-terror credentials only days later in a February 13, 2010 speech at New York University law school’s Islamic Center. In front of a largely Muslim audience, he called for trying 9/11 terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a civilian court. “We are trying to push this forward as best we can, but we also need non-obstruction from certain forces in our government,” he contended. “There are stiff winds delaying us from bringing this man to justice.” Those stiff winds came from the Obama administration itself, which rejected a guilty plea from KSM in 2008, in order to try him in civilian court.
During the same speech, Brennan endorsed the administration’s determination to delete words like “jihadist” and “war on terror” from its lexicon. “They are not jihadists, for jihad is a holy struggle, an effort to purify for a legitimate purpose, and there is nothing–absolutely nothing–holy or pure or legitimate or Islamic about murdering innocent men, women and children,” Brennan insisted. “We are not waging a war against terrorism because terrorism is but a tactic that will never be defeated, any more than a tactics of war will.” In another telling moment, Brennan’s first referred to Jerusalem as al-Quds, which is its Arabic name. “In all my travels the city I have come to love most is al-Quds, Jerusalem, where three great faiths come together,” he said.
During the question and answer period, Brennan contended that a 20 percent recidivism rate for terrorists released from Guantanamo Bay prison “isn’t that bad” when compared to the American penal system. “People sometimes use that figure, 20 percent, say ‘Oh my goodness, one out of five detainees returned to some type of extremist activity,’” Brennan said. “You know, the American penal system, the recidivism rate is up to something about 50 percent or so, as far as return to crime. Twenty percent isn’t that bad.” That Brennan could compare one-in-five hardcore terrorists returning to the task of waging war against the West with regular criminals of all kinds, demonstrates either a monumental level of naiveté, or a disingenuousness bordering on delusion.
In another speech given in May 2010 at the Nixon Center, Brennan upped the ante yet again, asserting that that “violent extremists” are victims of “political, economic and social forces.” Reuters reveals additional comments Brennan made, following his return from Lebanon:
“Hezbollah is a very interesting organization,” Brennan told a Washington conference, citing its evolution from “purely a terrorist organization” to a militia to an organization that now has members within the parliament and the cabinet. “There is certainly the elements of Hezbollah that are truly a concern to us what they’re doing. And what we need to do is to find ways to diminish their influence within the organization and to try to build up the more moderate elements,” Brennan said.”
Again, one might be forgiven for wondering what constitutes a “moderate” in an organization that has carried out a series of worldwide terror attacks over the course of decades, yearns for Israel’s annihilation and, prior to 9/11, was responsible for killing more Americans than any other terrorist organization in the world.
Unfortunately, Brennan’s infatuation with outreach is not limited to Hezbollah. In 2010, columnist Patrick Poole revealed that Hamas operative Kifah Mustapha was given a guided tour of the “National Counterterrorism Center and other secure government facilities, including the FBI’s training center at Quantico.” Mustapha was an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land foundation case, during which his colleagues were convicted of funding Hamas, yet another U.S.-designated terrorist organization. Center for Security Policy chief Frank Gaffney, a former Reagan administration official, demanded Brennan’s resignation as a result. “The FBI gave a guided tour of one of our most sensitive counter-terrorism facilities to a known Hamas operative,” Gaffney said. “It is clear that the cluelessness fostered by Mr. Brennan is causing an empowering of the wrong sorts of Muslims in America and endangering the American people.”
Brennan penchant for revealing America’s secrets continued in 2012. When the United States thwarted another would-be underwear bomber last May, Brennan inadvertently revealed we had a double-agent working on the case when he briefed former counter-terrorism advisors who subsequently got work as TV commentators. He told them that the bomber was never a threat because America had “inside control” of the situation. The former advisors reached the inexorable conclusion shortly thereafter. May was also the month Judicial Watch finally obtained documents, via a Freedom of Information Act, from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA,) revealing that Brennan and Defense Department officials disclosed to Hollywood filmmakers the identity of the SEAL Team Six operator and commander involved in taking out Osama Bin Laden. A transcript of a meeting held July 14, 2011, reveals that “documents seemingly reference John O. Brennan, Chief Counterterrorism Advisor to President Obama and Denis McDonough, who serves as President Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor.”
“These documents, which took nine months and a federal lawsuit to disgorge from the Obama administration, show that politically-connected film makers were giving extraordinary and secret access to bin Laden raid information, including the identity of a Seal Team Six leader,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “It is both ironic and hypocritical that the Obama administration stonewalled Judicial Watch’s pursuit of the bin Laden death photos, citing national security concerns, yet seemed willing to share intimate details regarding the raid to help Hollywood filmmakers release a movie ‘perfectly timed to give a home-stretch boost’ to the Obama campaign.”
All of the above suggests that John Brennan is, at the least, an extremely dubious pick to head the CIA. But a story by Associated Press columnist Kimberly Dozier entitled, “Who Will US Drones Target? Who Will Decide?” paints an even more disturbing picture of Brennan, who she contends has “seized the lead in guiding the debate on which terror leaders will be targeted for drone attacks or raids, establishing a new procedure to vet both military and CIA targets. The move concentrates power over the use of lethal U.S. force outside war zones at the White House,” she writes. She further noted that while some intelligence officials are comfortable with the new process, others expressed concern about “how easy it has become to kill someone.”
PJ Media’s Patrick Poole puts it more directly: “John Brennan is the man under whom President Obama has consolidated the unprecedented power of assassination. He directly controls and oversees all aspects of the program that had been previously divided between the Pentagon, the CIA, and other officials,” he writes.
A soft-on-terror approach, combined with an appetite for unprecedented powers, makes John Brennan a perfect fit for a president with the same proclivities. So does a dubious mixture of incompetence and arrogance. It remains to be seen whether the Senate thinks such qualities work for the nation as a whole. Since the Senate is controlled by Democrats, one suspects that Brennan’s confirmation will be little more than a formality.
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