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Talk About Politicizing Intelligence! Meet John Brennan, CIA Chief Designee

By       Message Russ Baker     Permalink
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The bare details of the Somali raid, aka Pirates of the Arabian Sea, immediately suggest that something more was going on. What was this American woman doing in such a crazily dangerous place? Charity work, OK, but it is hardly standard procedure for the US military to launch such a risky and expensive operation -- moreover, three months after the abduction occurred -- because one civilian in purportedly declining health has been kidnapped abroad.

Was it simply a coincidence this operation came early in the election year, literally just as Obama was delivering his 2012 State of the Union Address? The media, unsurprisingly, did not ask questions but played up the derring-do of the operation and the decisiveness of the Commander-in-chief. Again, we see Brennan at the helm when an opportunistic military adventure unfolds. Is the timing of this operation a legitimate question for his confirmation hearing?

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Even back when Obama was merely a presidential hopeful, Brennan showed up at the nexus of intelligence work and image issues. In March, 2008, around the time that rumors and speculation about Obama's country of birth began circulating, the State department revealed that the passport records of presidential candidates Obama, McCain and Clinton had been breached. Subsequent reporting by the Washington Times  revealed that those accessing the records were actually government contract employees from two private firms. One worked for The Analysis Corporation, a Virginia company run at the time by Brennan -- who was also then an advisor to the Obama campaign.

As happens often in cases of malfeasance, the person working for Brennan's company was described as a lone wolf, and "disciplined" -- but not fired. Because the matter was laid to rest before the "birther" controversy took wing, no connection between the breach and the issue was made. In retrospect, though, since McCain's and Clinton's place of birth were not in doubt, it is reasonable to wonder whether these improper accesses -- which were never explained -- were to find out what government records revealed about Obama, and that the searches on the other candidates were conducted to supply that old staple of the spying game, "cover."

Flash forward four years. We do not yet understand what role if any Brennan might have played in the still mysterious affair that brought down David Petraeus, the man Brennan replaces at CIA. If you don't think there are power struggles going on that determine, for example, which adulterous relationships in high places come to light and which don't -- then you don't know Washington very well.

Unfortunately, it will take a quantum leap in America's investigative journalistic energy (what we're about) to generate the kind of heat that might be felt by the Brennans of the world -- or their bosses. But why waste the opportunity to grill one of the key players in our ever-expanding security establishment?

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May We Ask A Single Question of Our Protectors?

The Senate hearings on Brennan's nomination at CIA will likely focus only on bite-sized, partisan controversies like the death of America's ambassador to Libya. We're not likely to witness Brennan opening up about the highly delicate topics of recent vintage discussed above. But why not at least broaden the inquiry to quiz Brennan on current policy toward murky security matters that are still unresolved decades later? A good place to start: the long-overdue declassification of documents that American citizens need to inform themselves about their own history.

As we previously reported, the CIA has been refusing to release records on the assassination of John F. Kennedy. And the new person in charge of declassification at the National Records and Archives Administration is a former CIA counterterrorism officer. In this, the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's death, might Brennan be compelled to do the right thing -- and release all of the records in what the government still says was nothing more than the doings of a "lone nut?"

Surely, this is a nonpartisan issue. Who wouldn't feel comfortable asking their Senator if he or she would push for prompt attention to this shared national concern?

We may not have access to information we need to understand what is being done, right now, in our names. But perhaps we can find out what went on half a century ago. Maybe then we can begin coming to terms with our past as prologue to the strange state of American democracy circa 2013.

See GRAPHIC info here.

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Author, investigative journalist, editor-in-chief at WhoWhatWhy.com

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