Yesterday Greenwald wrote:
Obama's transition chief for intelligence policy, John Brennan, was an ardent supporter of torture and one of the most emphatic advocates of FISA expansions and telecom immunity.
Today James Gordon Meek writes:
Much speculation centers on John Brennan, a highly respected retired CIA official who stood up the National Counterterrorism Center in 2004 and is advising the President-Elect. Among many things Democrats like about the softspoken Brennan are his anti-torture views.
They both can't be right.
Greenwald links to an article by Jane Mayer to support his claim. Here's the part on Brennan:
Among the few C.I.A. officials who knew the details of the detention and interrogation program, there was a tense debate about where to draw the line in terms of treatment. John Brennan, Tenet’s former chief of staff, said, “It all comes down to individual moral barometers.”
And here's part of a 2006 interview with Brennan:
...there is a question about how aggressive you want to be against terrorism in terms of, what does it mean to take the gloves off? There was a real debate within the agency, including today, about what are the minimum standards that you want to stoop to and beyond where you're not going to go, because we don't want to stoop to using the same types of standards that terrorists use. We are in this business, whether it be intelligence or the government, to protect freedom, democracy and liberty, not to violate that.
When it comes to individuals who are determined to destroy our nation, though, we have to make sure that we take every possible measure. It's a tough ethical question, and it's a question that really needs to be aired more publicly. The issue of the reported domestic spying -- these are very healthy debates that need to take place. They can't be stifled, because I think that we as a country and a society have to determine what is it we want to do, whether it be eavesdropping, whether it be taking actions against individuals who are either known or suspected to be terrorists. What length do we want to go to? What measures do we want to use? What tactics do we want to use?
Hopefully, that "dark side" is not going to be something that's going to forever tarnish the image of the United States abroad and that we're going to look back on this time and regret some of the things that we did, because it is not in keeping with our values...
Sometimes there are actions that we are forced to take, but there need to be boundaries beyond which we are going to recognize that we're not going to go because we still are Americans, and we are supposed to be representing something to people in this country and overseas. So the dark side has its limits.
Your call. But I'd say that "ardent supporter of torture" is a stretch.
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