It was a deeply disappointing decision made by NBC last month to hire former CIA director John Brennan to serve as a national security and intelligence analyst.
It appears that either NBC overlooked a number of the very controversial and distressing aspects of Brennan's career, or they just didn't care.
In hiring Brennan, NBC is taking on board an individual who has been implicated in what many consider to have been illegal programs carried out by the Bush and Obama administrations in prosecuting the war on terror ---- namely the use of alleged torture techniques in interrogating terror suspects and the use of drone missiles to carry out "extra-judicial assassinations" of suspected terror leaders around the world.
Brennan is also someone whose honesty has come into question during investigations by Congress about the counterterror programs and, more recently, about the controversial and much criticized "Russian dossier." That document, prepared by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, helped trigger the Special Counsel probe into possible collusion between the presidential election campaign of Donald Trump and the Russian government prior to the 2016 election, which Trump won. The investigation, depending on its findings, could lead to Trump's impeachment.
During the administration of George W. Bush, Brennan was a top counterterrorism official and senior official at the CIA. Critics charge that he endorsed the CIA use of "enhanced terror interrogation" techniques in questioning terrorism suspects --- including waterboarding and other brutal practices. Waterboarding is considered torture, which is banned under international law.
It was also reported that Brennan had many suspects picked up and taken through the "extroardinary rendition" program to "black sites" --- countries such as Egypt and Syria, where security officials in those countries would carry out torture to extract information for the U.S.
Administration legal officials put out memos saying that the interrogation techniques carried out by the CIA fell within the law and denied torture was taking place. For his part, Brennan said that while he was aware of the harsh interrogation tactics, he was not the one who suggested them in the first place and in some cases opposed the practices.
In 2014 the Senate intelligence committee did a major investigation of Bush-era interrogation methods and produced a scathing 6,000 page report criticizing the CIA's program. In the words of the New York Times story on the report, "the CIA's interrogation techniques were more brutal and employed more extensively than the agency portrayed;" that the interrogation program was "mismanaged and not subject to adequate oversight;" and that the CIA "misled members of Congress and the White House about the effectiveness and extent of the brutal interrogation techniques."
At the time that the Senate was investigating the CIA for its possible role in torture, Brennan had risen to director of the agency, following his nomination by Obama and confirmation by Congress. According to former CIA analyst and writer Ray McGovern, Brennan was furious over the Senate investigation and worked actively to stop the report from being released. At Brennan's behest, agency personnel spied on the Senate committee that was doing the investigation and hacked into staff computers to find out what was being found.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, chairwoman of the committee, was so angered by the CIA tactics that she took to the floor of the Senate to blast the agency and its director.
Although President Obama tried to block release of the report, eventually the report was made public, due to the determined efforts of former Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo.
As CIA director, Brennan developed the targeted assassination program, in which terror suspects are killed by drone missiles. Brennan worked closely with Obama to draw up kill-lists of people who needed to be taken out. Thousands of people have been killed in drone strikes, which have hit Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Iraq.