Obama’s intelligence policy
November 16, 2008 2 Comments
While Barack Obama’s progressive supporters are busy celebrating, government insiders are cautioning against any premature ideas that the new President-elect is likely to implement any meaningful change in policy. Intelligence is no exception. A recent report in the Wall Street Journal states that “Obama is unlikely to radically overhaul controversial Bush administration intelligence policies”.
Moreover, Obama’s intelligence transition team is said to be composed largely of what observers call “pragmatists”, i.e. mostly officials “who have supported Republicans, and centrist former officials in the Clinton administration”. These “centrist pragmatists” include John Brennan, former head of the National Counterterrorism Center and supporter of so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques”. Another member of the team is no other than Jami Miscik, “the fastest-rising woman in the history of the CIA”, who later left the Agency to join Lehman Brothers. Prior to leaving the CIA, Miscik became known for defending the CIA’s politicized (and suspiciously inaccurate) report titled “Iraq and al-Qaida: Assessing a Murky Relationship”, which helped the Bush Administration put forward the fictitious connection between Saddam Hussein and the al-Qaeda.
Notably, Brennan once publicly defended the practice of extraordinary rendition (i.e. the transfer of prisoners held by the CIA to countries that routinely practice torture during interrogation) as an “absolutely vital tool” with which he had “been intimately familiar [...] over the past decade”. He is now said to be “a potential candidate for a top intelligence post” under Barack Obama.
Administration appointments aside, it is interesting to see what passes for “centrist pragmatism” in today’s US intelligence environment. If career officials who support extraordinary rendition and the extralegal use of torture are described as moderate “centrist pragmatists”, then what are hardliners like? [IA]