CIA Nominee John Brennan Had Detailed Knowledge of Bush-Era Torture

The lack of controversy about Brennan's nomination exemplifies the continuity in Bush-Obama policies

While serving as deputy executive director of the CIA under the Bush administration, President Obama’s nominee for CIA chief and current counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan “had detailed, contemporaneous knowledge” of the use of torture on detainees in US prisons, Reuters reports.

Obama attempted to nominate John Brennan as Director of the CIA back at the beginning of his first term, but faced backlash because of Brennan’s rumored complicity in the Bush administration’s torture and rendition programs – something Obama had campaigned against.

So Obama made Brennan his counter-terrorism adviser instead, where the appointment was less controversial but substantively no different. From this position, Brennan spearheaded the secret, extra-legal drone wars in Pakistan, Yemen and beyond.

Brennan claims he voiced opposition to the Bush-era torture and rendition practices while they were underway. But “the official records,” Reuters reports, “which include raw CIA operational message traffic that remains classified, are silent on whether he opposed the techniques while at the spy agency.”

The Guardian‘s Glenn Greenwald writes that Brennan “had expressly endorsed Bush’s programs of torture (other than waterboarding) and rendition and also was a vocal advocate of immunizing lawbreaking telecoms for their role in the illegal Bush NSA eavesdropping program.”

Brennan’s Senate confirmation hearings will begin soon. But the lack of controversy about Brennan’s appointment in Obama’s second term exemplifies the great continuity between Bush and Obama policies on such issues of national security and civil liberties.

Author: John Glaser

John Glaser writes for