Brennan’s bromides

The Obama administration national security apparatus has to leave a knowledgeable man feeling a little queasy. You’ve got national security advisor Susan Rice, a knave or a fool with credibility somewhere south of zero. You’ve got assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor for strategic communications Ben Rhodes. What is this man doing here?

You’ve got Secretary of State John Kerry, the man whom Obama has entrusted to bring home the bacon in negotiations with his counterpart from Iran. Who will represent the United States?

You’ve got Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. He seems to be in over his head as he occasionally blurts out the truth. That’s a distinction with a difference in this crowd.

You’ve got Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, an apparently serious man.

You’ve got Valerie Jarrett, the woman with her finger in every pot. What is she doing here? Even former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates found her tough to take in matters involving national security.

And you’ve got CIA Director John Brennan. In their recent Wall Street Journal column on the need for a CIA Team B on Iran, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Kevin Carroll open with a recitation of some of Brennan’s greatest hits, here denominated “gaffes”:

Many of CIA Director John Brennan’s gaffes over the years have raised eyebrows, but none has suggested the need for a legislative remedy—until the one he launched at Harvard last week.

His past indiscretions have included, in 2010 when he was a counterterrorism adviser at the White House, referring to Jerusalem by its Arabic name, “al Quds”; referring to the “moderate” elements in Hezbollah, the Iran surrogate in Lebanon and a group the U.S. designates a terrorist organization; and insisting that our enemies should not be called “jihadists” because jihad is “a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam.”

There was also the time in 2010 when he derided the notion of a war on terrorism or terror because “terrorism is but a tactic” and “terror is a state of mind.”

In the clip below, Brennan refers to Jerusalem as “al Quds.” I had forgotten about this. In this and each of the other statements cited Brennan seems to be speaking from a perspective deeply sympathetic to those from whom he is charged to keep us safe. What is he doing here?

Mukasey and Carroll use the statements above as the predicate of an examination of Brennan’s latest and perhaps greatest hit:

[I]n an interview last week at Harvard’s Institute for Politics, Mr. Brennan said that anyone who both knew the facts surrounding the Obama administration’s “framework” agreement regarding the Iranian nuclear program, and said that it “provides a pathway for Iran to a bomb,” was being “wholly disingenuous.”

Mukasey and Carroll comment: “That was foolish, insofar as it applied to many serious-minded people in and out of government, but it was also dangerous.”

Mukasey and Carroll write with considerable tact. Obama and his national security team are clearly willing to say anything in a bad cause. In Brennan’s case, however, the man appears to harbor deep personal belief in the statements Mukasey and Carroll call “gaffes.”


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