Roll Call has just reported: “The Senate Intelligence Committee is all but certain to vote Feb. 28 on the nomination of John O. Brennan to lead the CIA, and the panel’s chairwoman predicted the committee would vote to support him. … Feinstein said she still was not sure if the committee would receive some of the additional legal memos the panel was seeking prior to Thursday’s vote. These memos lay out the legal justification for the targeted killings — such as with armed drones — of U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism.”
Talks begin today in Kazakhstan on Iran’s nuclear program. On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on drones (see below).
A group of intelligence veterans have sent a memorandum to Sen. Feinstein. It states:
We write to urge you to ensure due diligence regarding John Brennan’s fitness to become CIA director before you make the next-to-the-worst mistake of your tenure on the Senate Intelligence Committee by endorsing Brennan. Your worst — perhaps you will now agree — was your vote to authorize war on Iraq. With your vote in October 2002 on Iraq, you oddly parted company with most of your Democratic colleagues on the committee, including chairman Bob Graham. They saw through the flimsy intelligence. …
Brennan Now Taking Aim at Iran? This recent history is highly relevant because, at the time, John Brennan had a ringside seat for this unconscionable charade as it was being acted out. … Of still more importance are recent signs that Mr. Brennan intends to ape his discredited mentor, former CIA Director George Tenet, by slanting intelligence to “justify” an even more catastrophic attack — this time, on Iran. …
Former CIA colleagues who served under Brennan before and during the Iraq war tell us that, since he was such a close confidant of Tenet, Brennan almost certainly knew chapter and verse about the deliberate corruption of the intelligence on Iraq. … It is not too late for you to look into what role John Brennan played in these key events. …
First, please find out what evidence John Brennan is relying upon for his assertion that Iran is “bent on pursuing nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missile delivery systems.” Does he know something others should know? Or are we beginning to see the makings of another consequential hoax?
Second, please look closely into the role Brennan played at his mentor’s side, as George Tenet corrupted the intelligence process to service White House lust for war on Iraq. See what you can find out. Under Tenet, CIA analysts were instructed to conjure up faux intelligence — later described as “uncorroborated, contradicted, or even non-existent,” by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, your predecessor as chair of the Intelligence Committee. Did Tenet keep Brennan in this fraudulent loop (as CIA’s torture aficionados did for their enterprise)? If so, the fact that Brennan did not blow the whistle is enough, in our view, to remove him from consideration as CIA director.
You began Brennan’s confirmation hearing by stating that the number of civilian deaths caused by U.S. drone strikes each year has “typically been in the single digits.” This brought to mind the extraordinary public claim Mr. Brennan made on June 29, 2011, that “nearly for the past year there hasn’t been a single collateral death” as a result of CIA drone strikes in Pakistan.
Could Brennan have forgotten the widely reported drone strike just three months earlier (on March 17) that killed 42 Pakistanis, most of them civilians? Could he have forgotten the strong protest that the Pakistani government lodged decrying those killings in the town of Datta Khel?
[On Feb. 20], Sen. Lindsey Graham publicly put at 4,700 the total number of those killed by U.S. drone strikes in the past decade. This is the first time a United States official has provided a casualty figure for U.S. drone attacks. Interestingly, Graham’s estimate is very close to the high side of the estimated range given by the UK-based Bureau for Investigative Journalism for “total reported killed”in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia: 4,756.
What does John Brennan say about these inconsistencies? Have you checked back with those who told you the annual kill-rate for civilians has “typically been in the single digits?” We suggest that you ask Mr. Brennan to try to resolve these discrepancies before your committee takes further action on his nomination.
See the full statement.
Some signers are available for interviews:
Ray McGovern [email]
U.S. Army Infantry/Intelligence Officer, Directorate of Intelligence, CIA, retired
McGovern also recently wrote the piece “Eyes Wide Shut on the Iraq War.”
Coleen Rowley [email]
Former Special Agent and Minneapolis Division Counsel, FBI
Rowley also just wrote the piece “Senators Must Not Let John Brennan Dodge Serious Legal Questions,” which states: “This coming Wednesday, Feb. 27, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on “Drones and the War On Terror: When Can the U.S. Target Alleged American Terrorists Overseas?” Unfortunately, besides being framed in a completely leading way, the only witnesses that will testify — all four — were drawn from the same Lawfare blog. Lawfare founder Benjamin Wittes even gloats about it. Have you ever heard of a congressional hearing that calls all of its ‘experts’ from one certain pro-war agenda-driven blog?!”
Larry Johnson [email]
Directorate of Intelligence, CIA; Department of State; consultant, Department of Defense
Other signatories to the memorandum:
Phil Giraldi, Directorate of Operations, CIA, retired
Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D., retired Lt. Col., USAF
David MacMichael, Ph.D, CIA & National Intelligence Council (NIC) analyst
Tom Maertens, Foreign Service Officer and NSC Director for Non-Proliferation
Elizabeth Murray, former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East, NIC
Ann Wright, Col., U.S. Army Reserve (ret.), former Foreign Service Officer, Department of State