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John Brennan accuses the previous administration of promoting a 'global war'

Original post made by OUCH!!, Amberwood/Wood Meadows, on Aug 6, 2009

Obama's counter-terrorism advisor denounces Bush-era policies
John Brennan accuses the previous administration of promoting a 'global war' mind-set that served only to 'validate Al Qaeda's twisted worldview.'
By Greg Miller
11:35 AM PDT, August 6, 2009
Reporting from Washington -- President Obama's counter-terrorism chief rebuked the Bush administration repeatedly today in a speech designed to make the case for an expanded approach to fighting Islamic extremism, just weeks before the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

In his first public appearance as White House counter-terrorism advisor, John Brennan said the Bush administration's policies had been an affront to American values, undermined the nation's security and fostered a "global war" mind-set that served only to "validate Al Qaeda's twisted worldview."

Top of the Ticket: The Times politics..."Rather than looking at allies and other nations through the narrow prism of terrorism -- whether they are with us or against us -- the administration is now engaging other countries and people across a broader range of areas," Brennan said.

The sharp language is likely to extend the war of words between the Obama administration and conservative critics such as former Vice President Dick Cheney, who has carried out an unusually high-profile campaign accusing the new administration of abandoning methods that had made the country safe.

Brennan's speech was the latest in a series of addresses by senior Obama administration figures in recent weeks outlining the president's national security agenda. Brennan emphasized the argument that the United States must move beyond using the CIA and the military to attack Al Qaeda and must work to expand economic and educational opportunities across the Muslim world.

"We cannot shoot ourselves out of this challenge," Brennan said. "If we fail to confront the broader political, economic and social conditions in which extremists thrive, then there will always be another recruit in the pipeline, another attack coming downstream."

Brennan presented what he described as a multitiered approach, including using the U.S. military to train the security forces of allied countries, supporting democratic reforms and directing billions of dollars in aid to impoverished regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

But even while seeking to advance the Obama administration's agenda, Brennan often struck a defensive tone. At one point, he decried "the inflammatory rhetoric, hyperbole and intellectual narrowness that has often characterized the debate over the president's national security policies."

Brennan had been a casualty of criticism from the left as Obama was assembling his leadership team. Widely considered a leading candidate to run the CIA under Obama, Brennan, who had spent most of his career in the agency, was forced to withdraw in the face of criticism that he was too closely tied to the harsh tactics employed by the Bush administration.

Brennan complained at the time that his critics were misinformed. Today he denounced the CIA's use of waterboarding and other measures. Such methods, he said, serve only as "a recruitment bonanza for terrorists, increase the determination of our enemies and decrease the willingness of other nations to cooperate with us."

Comments (2)

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Posted by question
a resident of Carlton Oaks
on Aug 7, 2009 at 8:40 am

Brennan was President Bush's counter-terrorism chief, was he not?

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Posted by Brennan
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 7, 2009 at 8:42 am

« The Invisible Primary, 8/6 | Main | Hurtling Toward 2010, 8/8 »

Aug 6 2009, 6:36 pm by Marc Ambinder

Here's What John Brennan Knew....
The Washington Independent notes that White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan refused to say whether he knew about the controversial post 9-11 domestic surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency. In one way, it doesn't really matter, at least to President Obama, who presumably knows the answer and was comfortable enough to install Brennan as his chief homeland security adviser. But the public has a right to know the background of the guy advising the president on such sensitive stuff, and there is an interesting disparity in the level of culpability that we tend to ascribe to former Bush administration officials. (Brennan will say that he was never a Bush guy... always a CIA guy...just like when he was a CIA briefer for Bill Clinton.) So, here's the answer, as best as I can tell: senior intelligence officials with direct knowledge of Brennan's role confirm that, indeed, as head of the National Counterterrorism Center (and of its earlier incarnation, called TTIC), he was privy to both the NSA's "take" -- the raw product -- and the mechanisms used to collect it. The NCTC cross-checked NSA information with everything else collected by the intelligence community and prepared threat assessments.

Before TTIC and NCTC, when Brennan was deputy executive director of the CIA, he was, in essence, the senior manager for analysis and production. He did not plan or supervise operations; he played no role in authorizing or conducting the "enhanced interrogations" that were tantamount to torture. But his job was to manage the analytic process, one aspect of which was to determine the significance of the information gleaned from those sessions. I don't find it surprising -- indeed, it would have been malpractice -- for CIA not to have played a role in selecting the targets for the NSA's domestic collection, so Brennan, by default, participated.

To me, what was most striking about Brennan's remarks today were that he challenged the public's notions of what the programs themselves entailed, although he did not provide the details. We know that modified versions of at least five domestic collection programs are operational today; we've heard next to nothing from any Obama administration official about whether their campaign-era perception of the NSA programs comported with the reality they found once in office. The only thing I've been able to glean is that the President is fascinated by the details the NSA manages to place in his PDB. But all Presidents are fascinated with the NSA.

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