By Wayne William Cipriano
John Brennan has been nominated by President Obama to head the CIA. There are good arguments for giving the President wide latitude in choosing his subordinates. He selects Cabinet members, for example with two functions in mind. The first is carrying out his policies. The other is to serve as “Spear Catchers”.
Evaluating how Cabinet members are running their various departments, each with some degree of transparency, is possible by citizens or our representatives examining budgets, interviewing employees, overlooking operations, considering results. “Spear Catchers” resign when their departments’ misbehavior becomes public. They accept “full responsibility” and protect the President from the repercussions of such misbehavior.
CIA is different. For the most part secret, as it must be, its operations, budget, employees, objectives, results are usually hidden. So secret that at times even the President of the United States has been deemed incapable or unwilling to embrace the exigencies and has been kept out of the CIA operational loop.
Because of the danger such a powerful and secret entity can present, it is essential that it be led by an extraordinary person – trustworthy, honest, reliable, and possessing the old-fashioned and absolutely required characteristics of integrity and honor – which of course all boils down to doing the right thing when nobody is looking.
John Brennan, along with his fellow monsters Dick Cheney, John Yu, etc., vociferously, publicly, and repeatedly announced his support of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (that’s Nazi-speak for torture) and Rendition (that’s Nazi-speak for sending your prisoners elsewhere to be tortured, because you can’t torture them locally). When the President he wished to serve (Bush, the Younger) supported torture (both the do-it-yourself variety and the farm-it-out type) Mr. Brennan was all for it. Now, when he wishes to serve a President (Obama) who opposes torture, Mr. Brennan makes clear his “awakening” to the error of torture.
We do not refuse to torture because we find it ineffective. Putting headphones on a prisoner and playing a constant rotation of Zydego music and the Dixie Chicks, is not torture (you may disagree). Torture, for example, is using a ballpein hammer, pliers, a lighter, a screwdriver and a wood rasp to elicit information. Torture is doing what it takes. For me, just show me a dental drill and I’ll tell you anything. ANYTHING! Torture works, always. It’s just a matter of time.
We don’t use torture for the same reason we don’t procreate with our children nor eat each other. It’s wrong. Eschewing torture gives us a moral high ground. It gives to our people held by THEM the small comfort that the country they defend and protect would not do what is being done to them. Torture engenders worldwide condemnation. Refusing to use torture removes it as a reason for THEM to use it on our people. And since everyone know torture works so well, our decision to forbid it proves that RIGHT is most important to the United States; that the ends do not necessarily justify the means. Torture costs much more than it’s worth, sometimes in the short run, always in the long.
The variability of Mr. Brennan’s moral compass, shown by his public statements on torture leads us to suspect his ‘real beliefs’, if any.
Yes, in matters of public service the President should be able to choose his deputies and his “Spear Catchers”. But in positions of secrecy, with little or no oversight by citizens or elected representatives (including the President himself on occasion), the Director of CIA must be a person of unquestioned probity –– much more important than loyalty to a political party, previous experience, contributions given or promised, personal amiability, even competency. Those who operate within our government in such secrecy almost without supervision must be our very best!
Not John Brennan.