Thursday, November 20, 2008

RENDITION ADVOCATE LEADING OBAMA'S REVIEW OF INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES

Democracy Now - John Brennan and Jami Miscik, both former intelligence officials under George Tenet, are leading Barack Obama's review of intelligence agencies and helping make recommendations to the new administration. Brennan has supported warrantless wiretapping and extraordinary rendition, and Miscik was involved with the politicized intelligence alleging weapons of mass destruction in the lead-up to the war on Iraq. We speak with former CIA analyst Melvin Goodman and Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights. . .

MELVIN GOODMAN: John Brennan was deputy executive secretary to George Tenet during the worst violations during the CIA period in the run-up to the Iraq war, so he sat there at Tenet's knee when they passed judgment on torture and abuse, on extraordinary renditions, on black sites, on secret prisons. He was part of all of that decision making.

Jami Miscik was the Deputy Director for Intelligence during the run-up to the Iraq war. So she went along with the phony intelligence estimate of October 2002, the phony white paper that was prepared by Paul Pillar in October 2002. She helped with the drafting of the speech that Colin Powell gave to the United Nations [in] 2003, which made the phony case for war to the international community.

So, when George Tenet said, "slam dunk, we can provide all the intelligence you need," . . . to the President in December of 2002, it was people like Jami Miscik and John Brennan who were part of the team who provided that phony intelligence. So what I think people at the CIA are worried about-and I've talked to many of them over the weekend-is that there will never be any accountability for these violations and some of the unconscionable acts committed at the CIA, which essentially amount to war crimes, when you're talking about torture and abuse and secret prisons. So, where are we, in terms of change? This sounds like more continuity.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to excerpts from a December 2005 interview with John Brennan, the former CIA official now leading Obama's intelligence transition. Brennan was interviewed by Margaret Warner on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer about his views on the Bush administration's practice of extraordinary rendition.

MARGARET WARNER: So, was Secretary Rice correct today when she called it a vital tool in combating terrorism?

JOHN BRENNAN: I think it's an absolutely vital tool. I have been intimately familiar now for the past decade with the cases of rendition that the US government has been involved in, and I can say, without a doubt, that it has been very successful as far as producing intelligence that has saved lives. . .

AMY GOODMAN: That's John Brennan, who heads up the transition team on intelligence. Mel Goodman?

MELVIN GOODMAN: Well, John Brennan is being completely dishonest there. All of the operational people I've talked to know that the people who were turned over to the Arab intelligence services-and remember, this is Egypt, this is Syria, this is Jordan, this is Saudi Arabia-that all of these foreign intelligence services commit torture and abuse. Now, if any of these suspects had anything to say to us that was of any utility, we would have kept them. We would have controlled these people. They would have become our sources and our assets. When we turned them over, we were turning over people who we felt had very little to offer, and we were turning over them to them, to the Arab liaison services for torture and abuse.

John Brennan has defended the warrantless eavesdropping. John Brennan has basically defended all of the violations that were committed at the CIA in the run-up to the war and in the postwar period. So the signal this sends to CIA employees who tried to get it right-and there were a few who tried to get it right-is the worst kind of signal. And if this is Obama's judgment about a national security team, it's very reminiscent of what Bill Clinton did in 1993, when he appointed people such as Jim Woolsey and Les Aspin and Warren Christopher and Tony Lake to the national security positions, and all of them had to be removed before the first term was over. So this is very disquieting, what we're learning now.

AMY GOODMAN: In fact, NPR attributed Obama's reversal on FISA and telecom immunity to the fact that he was relying on the advice of John Brennan, an emphatic supporter of these policies. . .

.AMY GOODMAN: Michael Ratner, as you listen to John Brennan, again, heading up the transition team on intelligence, your thoughts?

MICHAEL RATNER: Well, it's extremely, extremely disturbing. When you read Jane Mayer's book, the worst and most onerous chapter is the chapter on what the CIA did to people in secret sites, from small coffins to waterboarding. John Brennan was there at the time. To hear him say that this stuff works is really-or that it's very important to do is really remarkable. . .

AMY GOODMAN: And Jamie Miscik, Mel Goodman, talk about her significance.

MELVIN GOODMAN: Jami Miscik was the Deputy Director-she was the Deputy Director of Intelligence during the run-up to the war and in the immediate postwar period. That was a period of politicized intelligence. That was a period of the corruption of the process. . .

She was part of the slam-dunk team that George Tenet was so proud of that prepared a phony-not only that phony estimate, but the speech that Colin Powell gave, that outrageous speech with twenty-eight allegations, all of them false, prepared in February of 2003, which was the case to the international community. Hundreds of millions of people heard that phony speech, and it's still an embarrassment to Colin Powell to this very day. She was part of the team that allowed George Bush to go before this country in January of 2003 in a State of the Union address and use a fabricated intelligence report to say that Iraq was getting enriched uranium from a West African country. Jami Miscik was a part of all of this.

And a lot of us were very pleased when Porter Goss actually fired Jami Miscik. My guess is he probably fired her for the wrong reasons and not the right reasons, but we were glad to see her go.

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