Two of Obama's foreign policy team took to Capitol Hill today -- Leon Panetta, Obama's retiring Secretary of Defense, and John Brennan, Obama's counter-terrorism adviser and would-be successor to the disgraced General Petreaus. Panetta faced questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee regarding the 9-11 Benghazi terror attack while Brennan appeared before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for consideration of his nomination to head the CIA.
With both hearings likely to be provocative, the Brennan questioning was of special interest to see how -- if at all -- the Senators would address the questionable foreign policy philosophy and practices Brennan has espoused. Specifically, his advocacy for "advanced interrogation techniques."
The Guardian UK, proving again it is superior to most US news media outlets, has this excellent discussion of Brennan's bad practices.
"John Brennan's bunker is a soundproofed, windowless suite in the White House basement where, as one senator put it, Barack Obama's counter-terrorism chief 'decides each day who he's going to execute.'
"Behind guarded doors, Brennan -- the 'priestly figure' nominated by Obama to be the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency -- draws together the lists of suspected terrorists for assassination by drone in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. They are signed off by the president on what have become known darkly as 'kill list Tuesdays.'
"It's an unprecedented role for a US president devised by an official who wields greater influence on White House security policy than more senior officials.
"Brennan was at the forefront of molding Obama the election candidate, who in 2008 denounced the CIA's hand in abductions and torture at secret foreign sites under the Bush administration, into Obama the president, who has overseen the rapid expansion of the CIA's legally questionable war by drone.
"Brennan's part is all the more striking because four years ago he was forced to withdraw from contention as CIA director over his role in justifying the agency's abuses under George W Bush.
"'It's fair to say that John Brennan has been instrumental in getting Obama to where his thinking is today on counter-terrorism,' said a former senior intelligence official who declined to be named. 'Brennan helped the president to understand he could not turn away from the things that need to be done against the terrorists, and then he helped construct the legal and moral framework so that they sat comfortably with the president's commitments.'
"Another former senior intelligence official, Mark Lowenthal, an assistant director of the CIA appointed shortly after the 9/11 attacks and vice-chairman of the National Intelligence Council in the Bush administration, said it was Brennan that Obama looked to on security policy. 'The president needs someone he can trust deeply and Obama has found an unusually close connection with Brennan. One of the things presidents really value is having somebody down the hall who they call on and rely on and not question why they're there.
"'Everybody wants something from the president. To find one of those few people who only want to be there to serve you is valuable. Clearly Brennan will be missed in the White House. I'm hard put to believe that whoever replaces Brennan will have the same level of intimacy.'
"That role is returning to haunt Brennan as agitated senators threaten to turn his nomination hearing into an examination of the drone policy he forged and, most particularly, the White House's refusal to release the detailed legal justification for the killing of US citizens in strikes by the unmanned aircrafts."
So... Read the article -- if you have the stomach...