Brennan And The War On Terror

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, gave a speech at Harvard Law School entitled “Strengthening our Security by Adhering to our Values and Laws.” According to Marty Lederman, “it is the most comprehensive single statement of the Obama Administration’s policies and practices with respect to al Qaeda and other terrorist threats.”

Many supporters of the previous administration, including Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Yoo, would have us believe the Obama administration is continuing policies from the Bush administration. They perceive this continuation as a vindication of their policy choices. Their understandable desire for vindication makes suspect their claims of continuation. In many crucial areas, these claims are false.

Regarding Guantánamo Bay, Brennan notes a significant departure from the Bush administration:

The prison at Guantánamo Bay undermines our national security, and our nation will be more secure the day when that prison is finally and responsibly closed.  For all of the reasons mentioned above, we will not send more individuals to the prison at Guantánamo.

Regarding torture:

Consistent with our laws and our values, the President unequivocally banned torture and other abusive interrogation techniques, rejecting the claim that these are effective means of interrogation.

On using the courts:

It’s also been suggested that prosecuting terrorists in our federal courts somehow impedes the collection of intelligence.  A long record of experience, however, proves otherwise.

Our federal courts are time-tested, have unquestioned legitimacy, and, at least for the foreseeable future, are capable of producing a more predictable and sustainable result than military commissions.

In short, our Article III courts are not only our single most effective tool for prosecuting, convicting, and sentencing suspected terrorists—they are a proven tool for gathering intelligence and preventing attacks.

On issuing Miranda warnings:

Claims that Miranda warnings undermine intelligence collection ignore decades of experience to the contrary.

As Juliette Kayyem wrote:

It has simply not been more of the same. The CIA’s “black sites”–secret prisons in other countries–are closed.  Enhanced interrogation is outlawed.  The laws of war have been restored.  Guantanamo remains open not because Obama wants it that way, but because Congress has barred the expenditure of funds to bring its prisoners to the United States for trial.

There has been a significant departure from the Bush administration policies in another notable area: the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Bush famously said: “You know, I just don’t spend that much time on [bin Laden] … to be honest with you.” Least we forget, it was Bush who disbanded the CIA unit, known as Alec Station, whose mission was to hunt down bin Laden.

It was the Obama administration that put forward the effort to find bin Laden. Now the members of the Bush administration are engaged in a pathetic attempt to diminish Obama’s success by trying to claim some of the credit.

H/T: Opinio Juris.

73 thoughts on “Brennan And The War On Terror

  1. Sometimes you think that you have heard it all but, well you decide.Came across this by accident.

    “After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Bush waged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that have forged a military so skilled that it carried out a complicated covert raid with only a minor complication. Public tolerance for military operations over the past decade has shifted to the degree that a mission carried out deep inside a sovereign country has raised little domestic protest.”

    http://www.chequerboard.org/2011/05/the-bush-administration-and-the-killing-of-osama-bin-laden/

  2. Is this a distinction without a difference…..

    On using the courts:
    It’s also been suggested that prosecuting terrorists in our federal courts somehow impedes the collection of intelligence. A long record of experience, however, proves otherwise.…

    This one where the distinction without a difference comes to mind….Look at Manning….He has not been tried….he is still being held…The Noriega decision comes to mind from the George the First Administration….The 4th Amendment has no Applicability outside of the US….Please define “A Long record of Experience”….From what I understand is there are still interrogation sites used throughout the world….They do not bring them to the US as there are right that supposedly attach…

    Our federal courts are time-tested, have unquestioned legitimacy, and, at least for the foreseeable future, are capable of producing a more predictable and sustainable result than military commissions.

    When the Federal Courts are an Arm of the ART I office…the answer is YES….The Military Courts have very little rights…The have a 99.9% conviction rate….You don’t read about the proceedings…I wonder why…..


    In short, our Article III courts are not only our single most effective tool for prosecuting, convicting, and sentencing suspected terrorists—they are a proven tool for gathering intelligence and preventing attacks.

    I do not agree that they are the single most effective tool….In my experience they have proved to be a tool….

  3. Regarding Guantánamo Bay, Brennan notes a significant departure from the Bush administration:

    The prison at Guantánamo Bay undermines our national security, and our nation will be more secure the day when that prison is finally and responsibly closed. For all of the reasons mentioned above, we will not send more individuals to the prison at Guantánamo.

    Do you think closing this base will make Trade with Cuba possible? Exactly how does it undermine National Security….

    Ok, Bush said that he would not send more prisoners to Cuba….I think I recall that….

    But, I think that Obama is complying with the Sct decisions….

    The Bush administration’s efforts to try prisoners at the base before military tribunals was blocked by a series of Supreme court rulings responding to challenges brought by prisoners. Harsh interrogation tactics — including sleep deprivation, shackling in stress positions and prolonged exposure to cold temperatures — drew global condemnation.

    Of the 779 people who have been detained at the United States military prison at Guantánamo, 600 have been transferred and 171 remain, according to an ongoing analysis by The New York Times and NPR. In addition, seven detainees died while in custody.
    ****
    What has happened to those transferred…..
    ………………….
    Military intelligence officials, in assessments of detainees written between February 2002 and January 2009, evaluated their histories and provided glimpses of the tensions between captors and captives. What began as a jury-rigged experiment after the 2001 terrorist attacks now seems like an enduring American institution, and files leaked to the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks and made available to The New York Times show why, by laying bare the patchwork and contradictory evidence that in many cases would never have stood up in criminal court or a military tribunal.
    *******

    Jury rigging….Oh my….

    If you can believe the NY TIMES…

    http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/guantanamobaynavalbasecuba/index.html

    Regarding torture:

    Consistent with our laws and our values, the President unequivocally banned torture and other abusive interrogation techniques, rejecting the claim that these are effective means of interrogation.

    It isn’t easy to justify torture. It does, after all, violate centuries’ worth of human rights norms and international and domestic law. It has famously been used by the Nazis and Stalin, Saddam Hussein and Kim Il-Sung—not really the kinds of folk we usually strive to emulate. And as professor Darius Rejali explains in his superb Torture and Democracy, it also doesn’t work, at least not as a means of extracting useful information. It doesn’t work because, among other things, torture leads to false confessions, because interrogators are not skilled at detecting false confessions, and because tortured prisoners are inclined to misremember and misstate what information they do know. You would think that having decided to permit torture, in the face of all these legal, moral, and practical objections, those members of the Bush administration who did so could assemble a coherent defense: We tortured because it works; we tortured because nothing else worked better. We tortured because after careful consideration, it was worth the moral price we paid. But as Congress begins the painful process of tracing the origins of the government’s abusive interrogation program, its members are now confronted by the last refuge of torturers everywhere: We tortured with the very best of intentions.

    http://www.slate.com/id/2193892/

  4. Thank you, Nal. Although I still demand prosecution of all those who took part in the Bush/Cheney torture program, it is good to see the misinformation to which SwM refers kicked back to the republicans where it belongs.

  5. I am looking for the U.S. attorney with guts to look at the United State of Vermont and how they decided that if the former heads of the previous criminal enterprise posing as a Presidency entered their jurisdiction, they are to be arrested on suspicion of war crimes.

    GWB admitted on national television he gave the order to torture. This isn’t a political argument, as it never has been. It’s a war crime.

    Until America has its Nuremberg, its future is collapse. We must unite and show the world how we deal with murderers and thieves. Because right now the consequences are nothing.

    Nothing at all.

    Is there NO one out there with some effing guts?

  6. Blouise,

    It would be appropriate for all involved in the systematic dissemination of the constitution to be held accountable…..

    If there is misinformation out there regarding the present use of torture…On whose watch is that responsible….Why when the facts stare them in the face did they not try and correct it? Because people believe what they want to believe….

    Sometime people don’t let truth get in the way of logic and/or facts…

  7. In July, Scott Horton in Harper’s wrote the following based in part on Jeremy Scahill’s reporting in The Nation.

    http://harpers.org/archive/2011/07/hbc-90008152

    President Obama pledged when he signed his executive order that the United States would win the struggle against terrorism “in a manner that is consistent with our values and our ideals.” The latest report from Mogadishu shows that his order has instead been interpreted very narrowly, leaving CIA proxy-prison regimes in place. The result is a considerable gap between the values Obama articulated on the campaign trail and in his speeches, and those of the nation’s clandestine services under his leadership.

  8. Anonymously Yours,

    (September 18, 2011 at 9:44 am)

    Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski is in general a more independent source for this type of information, and I provide a video of his comments on the issue of the direction the US is taking (taking presidents along for the ride).

    His comments are in stark contrast to Brennan, who is a political mouthpiece as required to hold a position in any White House.

  9. Dredd,

    I am mobile now. I will look at the video and respond… Thanks…. You know I was almost certain to vote against the other person running… With what has transpired here of late I am thinking more about a third party canidate…. If not voting GOP….. It depends….

    Unlike Texas, the president does have a voice and can control DOJ. The AG in Texas is independent of the governor and elected…/

  10. I’m not entirely convinced that Obama is trying to protect Bush/Cheney … I strongly suspect he is protecting the individuals within the CIA who actually carried out the torture.

    Somewhere, at some time, the question “Why is he protecting them?” will be answered.

  11. Blouise, they got Pinochet ‘ere the end, and Milosevic died in the Hague.

    W’s continuing liberty in Dallas makes a mockery of us all.

  12. Blouise,
    you could be right about who Obama is trying to protect, but how does society gain from any criminal being tried for crimes in the Past? Society gains by the fact that the rule of law is being followed in all cases, not just the ones that do not pertain to powerful people.
    David,
    Great article. While I agree with some of what Brennan is saying, President Obama did not fulfill his promise to end torture because he has failed to even attempt to follow the law in prosecuting all of those involved in torture. When Cheney writes in his confession, I mean book, that waterboarding is not torture, all of Society is harmed.

  13. If we’ve learned one thing over the past 11 years, it’s that the system of congressional oversight over the nation’s defense and intelligence services simply does not exist in any recognizable form. So the question then becomes, how can we trust anything Brennan, or anyone else in the administration connected with intelligence policy, says? And the answer is that we cannot, and should not. Talk, as Obama has proven over the past three years, is cheap.

  14. Blouise1, September 18, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    I’m not entirely convinced that Obama is trying to protect Bush/Cheney … I strongly suspect he is protecting the individuals within the CIA who actually carried out the torture.

    Somewhere, at some time, the question “Why is he protecting them?” will be answered.
    ————————————
    Maybe he’s trying to protect the American Citizen who actually MUST have a modicum of faith in their government in order to continue being the food and fodder of the banks and corporations who ultimately take everything on the table leaving them nothing. Or, and I believe this, he or those close to him have been threatened eother overtly or by suggestion with violence and intimidation. His flip was way to quick. He just stopped dead and snd the next day was spouting ‘politics as usual’ The machinary that is suppose to protect from corruption is corrupt. Greedy Bullies stole the car, crashed it, and are holding us hostage. It is that simple. There is even a ransome. It is underwritten into the economy and it was paid to Wall St., the AutoNation Corporations, the private outsourced Military Corporations and it continues….

  15. Ex Democratic Senator Bob Graham, who was on the Intelligence Committee through the Bush years has written two books. The second link is to a novel, which he has said was written to get around Government Secrecy Laws.

    http://www.amazon.com/Intelligence-Matters-Arabia-Failure-AMericas/dp/1400063523

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/159315660X/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=1400063523&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=0XDHEAQFXXFNBR8BYEME

  16. AY:

    You should know by now you can not make a statement like this and no one who has been here for awhile will pick up and not question .

    “I am mobile now”
    Feel me ?

  17. RAM,

    You are 100% correct and I’m going to repeat part of your post for emphasis:

    ” … how can we trust anything Brennan, or anyone else in the administration connected with intelligence policy, says? And the answer is that we cannot, and should not.

  18. Anonymously Yours 1, September 18, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Dredd,

    I am mobile now. I will look at the video and respond… Thanks
    ===================================

    The video is at the bottom of the post … no need to read the entire post … the video is standalone …

  19. Mike Spindell 1, September 18, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    Ex Democratic Senator Bob Graham, who was on the Intelligence Committee through the Bush years
    =============================================

    I have a video of him being interviewed on The Dylan Ratigan Show, MSNBC …. Link … scroll to the bottom for just the video of Graham’s statement in accord with what you say ….

  20. Too little. Too late.

    Both Bush, Cheney, Yoo and Bybee (among others) ought to all be in prison by now.

    To be abundantly clear, I don’t want the guys who carried out the orders. Some people are too stupid or too sadistic to say “no” to an illegal order like that. I want the guys who ordered and provided cover for those who ordered torture in the first place to face justice. This is an issue that “rots from the head”.

  21. Gene, what is your theory as to why 50 U.S. Attorneys are able to ignore what Vermont has done? How is such a unanimously blind eye turned toward this, and the disappearance of trillions of dollars? How can such a disconnect occur in an information age?

    Or, as a dear friend asked me just yesterday, how can the greatest country on earth be brought to its knees internally and not one arrest has been made, nor one grand jury sat?

    “The media” are not responsible for upholding the law. All I see is extreme cowardice, and I would really like to know why.

  22. OHHHHHHH…..You all don’t sound like you are supporting the Office of the current President…..That means that you all are probably GOP Operatives…..

    ROFLMAO…..

  23. I am still trying to figure out How closing the base in Cuba will somehow or another help national security….Did I miss something….Do Cuban come here and plant Jalapenos…or something….

    If they think just closing the base in Cuba will help….they better hope more details are not released from Libya describing the various torture chambers that were allowed….or Germany….or any other place…..maybe…there are more that have not been disclosed yet….as I see it…..more will be revealed….

  24. AY, I support THE Office of the President.

    The name of the current occupant, by all accounts, is O’ccomplice.

    No perp-walks, no jobs make Homer something-something….

  25. James….

    That is an interesting irony…..Just like the AG from NY not willing to sign off on the criminal aspect of the Financial Markets….So what did they do….well….they have 49 AGs on board so they created a vacancy for the one that was creating the most noise….

    They may not escape civil liability…but they will escape criminal prosecution….the civil liability is dischargeable in bankruptcy but not Fraud…so even if they agree to pay it they can escape liability…..I wonder why this option was not made available to Bernie Madoff….

  26. Blouise,

    “I’m not entirely convinced that Obama is trying to protect Bush/Cheney … I strongly suspect he is protecting the individuals within the CIA who actually carried out the torture.”

    “Somewhere, at some time, the question “Why is he protecting them?” will be answered.”

    It seems to me that Obama is protecting the expansion of executive powers.

  27. Why didn’t they prosecute the previous administration? Pure political calculus. They knew that if they prosecuted the President, Vice President and several other White House officials that it would be used as a huge political cudgle to beat the entire Democratic party. Despite the unambiguous crimes that were committed, the ever disingenuous Republicans would have been out tearfully decrying the “partisan” attack on those “who honorably protected America from terrorism!” It would have been political suicide for the Democratic party.

    That said, sometimes one needs to put their nation ahead of partisan interests.

    Also speaking of domestic politics… The current political news is that the president’s progressive base is disenchanted with his centrist approach…. These words from Brennan seem like appropriately timed political salve – I doubt that there will be much action to match them. If nothing else, it just proves that the Obama administration really does know better, as they carry on doing what they’re doing. (or fail to do what they know they should.)

  28. tomdarch, I agree. Obama made the choice to go after independents and let the progressive base down. The independents are not with him and the base might not turn out. So now the administration is making some of the right moves but a lot depends on Europe. Perry will probably scare the base into voting but Romney not so much.

  29. Tom,

    You best be careful….someone might mistake you for a GOP operative….

    I will say that if Obama had not abandoned his base he would be in a much better position presently…Since he did he will suffer the election consequences…George the First did that and he only served one term…Bill Clinton for all of his own personal issues never forgot the people that put him into office….

    I read the links and still do not understand what he is attempting to accomplish…I think it is too late for some of the “swing” voter that put him in office to realign them…I may be wrong….But, I do not think so….

  30. Don’t take Tom as a republican at all. He is not advocating for republican candidates. He gives an accurate portrait of Obama’s shortcomings which I already agreed with.

  31. Geeze….and I wonder why so many MEN are unhappy with Obama….and when MEN are unhappy…they tend to look around…..for something better

  32. I knew when I voted for Obama that there wasn’t much “there” there. I didn’t project my progressive fantasies on his fairly empty, milquetoast shell. I don’t feel particularly abandoned, but in contrast, I’m understanding just how good a politician Bill Clinton was.

    Anyway – back to my point about words vs. deeds in the domestic political sphere. No more black site prisons, true, just a larger prison on the US Bagram airbase in Afghanistan:
    http://www.salon.com/news/afghanistan/index.html?story=/opinion/greenwald/2011/09/19/bagram

    Yep. Quite the “drawdown” in Afghanistan – we’re building a bigger, better $25 to $100 million dollar “white site” prison to house GWOT prisoners not just from Afghanistan, but Guantanamo-style, from around the world, potentially including US citizens.

  33. “It seems to me that Obama is protecting the expansion of executive powers.” (gbk)

    Yep, that too … the more power the executive holds, the more power the CIA wields. It’s a lovely partnership serving American’s best interests … perpetual war.

  34. I wasn’t even for Obama originally but would never entertain the idea of voting for any of the current republican candidates. He is all we have unless one wants Perry. Obama will beat Perry with women and minorities. Perry is leading among white men.

  35. gbk,

    You are free to ignore and not read any post you want….deal? I do not recall having any interaction with you…but we can correspond if you wish….Your call…

  36. AY,

    Thanks for letting me know I can ignore things – should make tomorrow much more productive.

    Your currently incessant digs at SM over multiple threads and many weeks — such as this one in this thread:

    “You best be careful….someone might mistake you for a GOP operative….”

    needs to die a humble death.

  37. gbk,

    I am free to post as I wish…You are free to ignore them…deal…..I expressed my honest opinion and was called a Republican… and someone else does the same….I figure it is fair warning….In case you are not aware…this is a site that is in defense of the 1st Amendment….until told not to post by the owners, operator of the site…I’ll do it…Ok…

    Gotta a problem with this….then email the professor…

  38. rafflaw,

    That was gbk’s thought and I agreed … if George Washington had felt that way we’d probably be living under a monarchy today. These guys just don’t get it.

  39. AY,

    “I am free to post as I wish…”

    I know this, AY.

    “You are free to ignore them…”

    I know this also, AY.

    “I expressed my honest opinion and was called a Republican…”

    I know this too, AY. I’ve read that thread many times.

    “In case you are not aware…this is a site that is in defense of the 1st Amendment….until told not to post by the owners, operator of the site…I’ll do it…Ok…”

    I never called for censorship AY. I’m just asking you to give up your vendetta against SM, simply because in the large scheme of things your thoroughly chewed bone is detrimental to discourse.

  40. No Vendetta…really….Honestly….I have no feelings one way or the other….except to warn others of a possible conflict…

    gbk, I am unsure if we have ever had discourse before…I wish you the best…

    But in the words that I heard so well…I do want to…or I don’t feel like it….seem to come to mind…so…thank you for your input…Just read what you want….and ignore the rest…

  41. AY,

    “But in the words that I heard so well…I do want to…or I don’t feel like it….seem to come to mind…so…thank you for your input…Just read what you want….and ignore the rest…”

    Aww, false compliments seem to be the only I can garner.

    AY, you should recognize that your digs at SM are now starting to make me, and possibly others, ignore your posts. Is this what you really want?

  42. Oh now, Woosty. AY’s not a bot.

    You all play nice or the Boogie Man will get you. I have his e-mail address. Don’t make me use it!

  43. Gene,

    No need…I read it…Thought it was funny…Not offensive…But hey..what can I say… That one was funny though….I smirked when I read it…

    I think wootsy should get someone to show him/her how to play the fine piece of history…The Henry Ford Museum might be interested in that…

  44. If you judge people by what they say, Obama and Brennan are the kinds of liberal leaders this country, and this world, needs.

    If you judge people by the things they do, Obama is a conservative who regularly destroys the lives of innocent people.

  45. Found this in the net looking for something else…..

    It appears from one source I read white men intend white men make up less than 30 percent of the numbers that vote….but 49% of the women intend to vote against Obama……The questions I have is why has he not been doing some of this stuff all along?

    Now Obama is doing what he should have been doing all along and here is the link:

    OBAMA RERUN

    http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/obama-rerun

  46. I will note I do not know what the political leanings of the article is or is not….I am sure…I will be told…

  47. Really, in the latest Rasmussen poll, a republican leaning poll, Perry trails Obama by fifteen percent among women voters.

  48. With Romney the gap is ten points. Some more democratic leaning polls show a larger gap. Women are paying attention and are generally hurt more by the cuts in services.

Comments are closed.