On Thursday, John Brennan, the White House deputy national security advisor for homeland security and counterterrorism, will come before the Senate to interview for one of the most powerful jobs in the world: director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Brennan's nomination is by no means a fait accompli.
Brennan, who served in the top echelons of the CIA during the key early years of the Bush administration, still has many questions he hasn't answered regarding the agency's role in torture, indefinite detention and kidnapping during his time there. And he has at least as many questions to answer about his role running the killing program in the Obama White House.
Today, the ACLU and a coalition of other human rights and religious organizations sent a letter (.pdf) to Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) urging both senators to ask Brennan tough and probing questions regarding any role he had in the CIA's interrogation, detention and extraordinary rendition practices.
After then-President-Elect Obama passed over Brennan for CIA director four years ago because of torture concerns, Brennan protested that he opposed the agency's torture program during the Bush administration and had no decision-making authority when the United States plunged into the torture abyss. That may be so, but according to Reuters, the Senate Intelligence Committee's 6,000 page report on the CIA torture program shows that Brennan knew intimate details of the program. Complicity isn't only attained by setting policy or issuing orders; one can be complicit by carrying out orders as well. Here is where the Senate can set the record straight regarding Brennan's role in the United States government's lawless embrace of the dark side.
Regardless of his 2008 statement of moral objections to torture tactics, Sens. Feinstein and Chambliss should ask Brennan whether he helped develop, carry out, advise on, or implement policies that that included torture, abuse, extraordinary rendition, and secret prisons. In the past, other members of the intelligence community, such as Bush nominees for CIA general counsel and for deputy attorney general, had their nominations denied or withdrawn because of their roles in CIA interrogation, detention and extraordinary rendition practices.
John Brennan should be held to the same standard.
Read the full letter here.
Information on the ACLU's work on accountability for torture can be found at: www.aclu.org/national-security/torture