Senators Should Dissect Brennan’s Role in Targeted Killing & Torture Programs

February 6, 2013 6:17 pm

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Confirmation Hearing on John Brennan for CIA Director Provides Opportunity to Examine Brennan’s Role in Harmful Programs

February 06, 2013


WASHINGTON – At Thursday’s confirmation hearing of John Brennan to lead the CIA, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee should push for more details about the U.S. government’s targeted killing program and his role in its development and implementation, the American Civil Liberties Union said today. These issues, raised anew by the leak of a government white paper, are on top of the longstanding concerns about what role Brennan may have played in torture, extraordinary rendition, and secret prisons during his tenure at the CIA.

“No one should be satisfied with a 16-page summary white paper instead of the 50-plus page original Justice Department opinion. The senators should ask John Brennan what is in the more than 30 missing pages of analysis – which was apparently significant enough that the Obama administration went to the trouble of writing a new shorter memo instead of simply releasing the original memo,” said ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel Christopher Anders. “Brennan has been something of a Forrest Gump of toxic national security policies, having been in the room when everything from torture to the killing of an American citizen was being debated. Senators should not be legislating in the dark, and they should not vote on his nomination until all Americans know whether the decisions Brennan made at CIA headquarters and in his White House office comply with our laws and uphold basic American values.”

Brennan, the White House advisor on homeland security and counterterrorism, has repeatedly been described in the press as an architect of the Obama administration’s expansive killing program. This week NBC News released a Justice Department white paper that summarizes a secret memo outlining the government’s framework for targeting and killing American citizens suspected of terrorism far from any battlefield and without due process, judicial review, or any “clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.” The ACLU said the white paper is a chilling document that demands a complete explanation from Brennan, as well as the full release of the original Office of Legal Counsel memo supporting the extrajudicial killing of an American citizen.

“The Senate has to get to the bottom of the killing program. Under Brennan’s leadership, the killing program has left in its wake three dead American citizens, thousands of others dead across two continents, and an abandonment of the rule of law. The widespread killing of people far from any battlefield, based only on the orders of a high-level official, not only endangers American values – it creates a more dangerous world,” said Anders.

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