CIA Boss, War Criminal Brennan Has to Go

Yesterday, CIA Director John Brennan held a press conference at the agency’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia. He was responding to the release of the Senate’s report on CIA abuse of prisoners in the war against Al Qaeda, et. al. The fact that he declined to rule out the use of torture in future is most unsettling. It is unsettling to the point that President Obama should fire him before the close of business today.

During the period of CIA torture of prisoners, Mr. Brennan was deputy CIA executive officer. That means that he carries just as much guilt as anyone else in the agency. Like any good bureaucrat, though, guilt and innocence of individuals is irrelevant to retaining whatever positive reputation an agency may have.

His press conference was full of the typical institutional double-talk that deflects scrutiny from the paper-pushers and those who were only following orders (Ich habe nur Befehle befolgt in the original Nuremberg Defense). This journal supports Senator Udall’s call for a purge of the CIA and the rest of the national security community to remove any and all personnel who participated even as observers in torturing prisoners. Director Brennan’s attempt at muddying the waters yesterday demonstrated why.

First off, he used euphemism rather than plain language. This is the refuge of every bureaucrat, to dress up the language so as to remove the sting. In his forty-minutes of blathering, not once did he use the word “torture.” Instead, he referred to the events as “enhanced interrogation techniques” and even “EIT,” proving how comfortable he is with the term.

Second, he blamed a few bad apples. “In a limited number of cases, agency officers used interrogation techniques that had not been authorized, were abhorrent and rightly should be repudiated by all,” he said. “And we fell short when it came to holding some officers accountable for their mistakes.” However, “The overwhelming majority of officers involved in the program at CIA carried out their responsibilities faithfully. … They did what they were asked to do in the service of our nation.” No, sir. No one who was part of the program who did not resign on day one did anything a true American patriot would accept. Those who did not speak up are just as culpable and evil as those who relished inflicting the pain.

Third, he stated that circumstances were so brand, spanking new that there was no easy roadmap to follow. “We were not prepared, had little experience housing detainees, and precious few of our officers were trained interrogators.” Yet no one in the agency thought to hand over such responsibilities to those who did? Even so, wouldn’t one’s moral compass suggest that mistreating prisoners was wrong? If one has no experience housing prisoners, it is still perfectly apparent that blasting loud music at them 24-hours a day while they are chained in uncomfortable positions in cold rooms is unacceptable.

And then, he proved that he still has too few moral qualms to continue in national service. “We are not contemplating at all getting back into the detention program using any of those EITs. So I defer to the policymakers in future times when there is going to be the need to be able to ensure that this country stays safe if we face a similar type of crisis.” He might have worded that better as, “If ordered to torture prisoners again, I’d do as I was told.”

The disgrace only grows while this war criminal continues at Langley.