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A Chat With Counterterrorism Chief John Brennan

By       Message Medea Benjamin     Permalink
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What he really meant was, "Oh sh*t." For it was at that moment I realized he was indeed John Brennan, and he realized that I knew exactly who he was.

 

"How did you know where I live?," the spy-extraordinaire asked. I was suddenly nervous, knowing this was a man who put people on kill lists. Thinking quickly, I told him I had friends in the neighborhood who gave me his address.

 

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He asked for a business card, and I ran back to get one from the car--where Tighe was waiting. We exchange looks, OMG!

 

When I went back and handed the card to Brennan, he glanced at it and muttered, "Ah, CODEPINK. I thought that's who you were."  The last time we met I was being dragged out of the Woodrow Wilson Center by a 300-pound security man while yelling "I love my country! You're making us less safe. Shame on you Mr. Brennan."

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I knew I didn't have much time so I starting talking fast--telling him I had just returned from a  delegation to Pakistan meeting with drone victims, how heartbroken I was to hear their stories, how terrible it is that these drone attacks are causing so much suffering to innocent people and turning the entire Pakistani population against us.

 

He insisted that it wasn't true, that we weren't harming civilians. "But we met with people who lost their children, their fathers, their loved ones--we have photos of little children"." I wanted to say so much more. I wanted to tell him about the journalist Karim Khan who lost his son and brother or about 16-year-old Tariq Aziz, who was killed when trying to document drone strikes. I wanted to talk to him about the  statistics provided by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism that say conservative estimates of civilian casualties add up over 1,000.

 

"It's just not true," he repeated, dismissively. "You are being manipulated."

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By this time, the woman who joined him at the door had become very agitated. "You shouldn't be coming to our house on a Sunday. We rarely get to see him as it is. You should talk to him in an appropriate place."

 

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Medea Benjamin is the cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace and author of Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the US-Saudi Connection. 


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