By Phil Giraldi, a former counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer with the CIA. Originally published at the Unz Review. Republished with permission of the author.
Former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director John Brennan, a Barack Obama friend and protégé as well as a current paid contributor for NBC and MSNBC, has blasted President Donald Trump for congratulating President Vladimir Putin over his victory in recent Russian national elections. He said that the U.S. President is “afraid of the president of Russia” and that the Kremlin “may have something on him personally. The fact that he has had this fawning attitude toward Mr. Putin …continues to say to me that he does have something to fear and something very serious to fear.”
It is an indication of how low we have sunk as a nation that a possible war criminal like Brennan can feel free to use his former official status as a bully pulpit to claim that someone is a foreign spy without any real pushback or objection from the talking heads and billionaire manipulators that unfortunately run our country. If Trump is actually being blackmailed, as Brennan implies, what evidence is there for that? One might reasonably conclude that Brennan and his associates are actually angry because Trump has had the temerity to try to improve relations with Russia.
It is ironic that when President Trump does something right he gets assailed by the same crowd that piles on when he does something stupid, leading to the conclusion that unless The Donald is attacking another country, when he is lauded as becoming truly presidential, he cannot ever win with the inside the Beltway Establishment crowd. Brennan and a supporting cast of dissimulating former intelligence chiefs opposed Trump from the git-go and were perfectly willing to make things up to support Hillary and the status quo that she represented. It was, of course, a status quo that greatly and personally benefited that ex-government crowd which by now might well be described as the proverbial Deep State.
The claim that Trump is a Russian agent is not a new one since it is an easy mark to allege something that you don’t have to prove. During the campaign, one was frequently confronted on the television by the humorless stare of the malignant Michael Morell, former acting CIA Director, who wrote in a mind numbing August 2016 op-ed how he was proud to support Hillary Clinton because of her “commitment to our nation’s security: her belief that America is an exceptional nation that must lead in the world for the country to remain secure and prosperous; her understanding that diplomacy can be effective only if the country is perceived as willing and able to use force if necessary; and her capacity to make the most difficult decision of all: whether to put young American women and men in harm’s way.” Per Morell, she was a “proponent of a more aggressive approach [in Syria], one that might have prevented the Islamic State from gaining a foothold…”
But Morell saved his finest vitriol for Donald Trump, observing how Vladimir Putin, a wily ex-career intelligence officer “trained to identify vulnerabilities in an individual and to exploit them” obtained the services of one fairly obscure American businessman named Trump without even physically meeting him. Morell, given his broad experience as an analyst and desk jockey, notes, “In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.” An “unwitting agent” is a contradiction in terms, but one wouldn’t expect Morell to know that. Nor would John Brennan, who was also an analyst and desk jockey before he was elevated by an equally witless President Barack Obama.
So Morell is by his own words clearly an idiot, which explains a lot about what is wrong with CIA and is probably why he is now a consultant with CBS News instead of serving as Agency Director under the beneficent gaze of President Hillary Clinton.
Well, Trump’s fractured foreign policy aside, I have some real problems with folks like Michael Morell and John Brennan throwing stones. Both can be reasonably described as war criminals due to what they did during the war on terror and also as major subverters of the Constitution of the United States that has emerged as part of the saga of the 2016 election, the outcome of which, ironically, is being blamed on the Russians.
Back in 2013 John Brennan, then Obama’s counter-terrorism advisor, had a difficult time with the Senate Intelligence Committee explaining some things that he did when he was still working at CIA. He was predictably attacked by some senators concerned over the expanding drone program, which he supervised; over CIA torture; for the kill lists that he helped manage; and regarding the pervasive government secrecy, which he surely condoned to cover up the questionable nature of the assassination lists and the drones. Not at all surprisingly, he was forced to defend the policies of the administration that he was then serving in, claiming that the United States is “at war with al-Qaeda.” But he did cite his basic disagreement with the former CIA interrogation policies and expressed his surprise at learning that enhanced interrogation, which he refused to label torture because he is “no lawyer,” had not provided any unique or actionable information. He claimed that he had only “raised serious questions” in his own mind on the interrogation issue after reading the 525 page summary of the 6,000 page report prepared by the Senate Intelligence Committee which detailed the failure of the Agency program. Brennan’s reaction, however, suggested at a minimum that he had read only the rebuttal material produced by CIA that had deliberately inflated the value of the intelligence produced.
Surprisingly the subject of rendition, which Brennan must surely have been involved with while at CIA, hardly surfaced though two other interesting snippets emerged from the questioning. One was his confirmation that the government has its own secret list of innocent civilians killed by drones while at the same time contradicting himself by maintaining that the program does not actually exist and that if even if it did exist such fatalities do not occur. And more directly relevant to Brennan himself, Senator John D. Rockefeller provided an insight into the classified sections of the Senate report on CIA torture, mentioning that the enhanced interrogation program was both “managed incompetently” and “corrupted by personnel with pecuniary conflicts of interest.” One would certainly like to learn more about the presumed contractors who profited corruptly from waterboarding and one would like to know if they were in any way punished, an interesting sidebar as Brennan has a number of times spoken about the need for accountability.
Brennan was not questioned at all about the conflict of interest or ethical issues raised by the revolving door that he benefited from when he left CIA as Deputy Executive Director in 2005 and joined a British-owned company called The Analysis Corporation (TAC) where he was named CEO. He made almost certainly some millions of dollars when the Agency and other federal agencies awarded TAC contracts to develop biometrics and set up systems to manage the government’s various watch lists before rejoining the government with a full bank account to help him along his way. Brennan also reportedly knew how to return a favor, giving his former boss at CIA George Tenet a compensated advisory position in his company and also hosting in 2007 a book signing for Tenet’s At the Center of the Storm. The by-invitation-only event included six hundred current and former intelligence officers, some of whom waited for hours to have Tenet sign copies of the book, which were provided by TAC.
Brennan certainly knew how to feather his nest and reward his friends, but the area that is still murky relates to what exactly he was up to in 2016 when he was CIA Director and also quite possibly working hard to help Hillary get elected. He was still at it well after Trump got elected and assumed office. In May 2017, his testimony before Congress was headlined in a Washington Post front page featured article as Brennan’s explosive testimony just made it harder for the GOP to protect Trump. The article stated that Brennan during the 2016 campaign “reviewed intelligence that showed ‘contacts and interaction’ between Russian actors and people associated with the Trump campaign.” Politico was also in on the chase in an article entitled Brennan: Russia may have successfully recruited Trump campaign aides.
The precise money quote by Brennan that the two articles chiefly rely on is “I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and US persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals. It raised questions in my mind whether or not Russia was able to gain the co-operation of those individuals.”
The testimony inevitably raises some questions about just what Brennan was actually up to. First of all, the CIA is not supposed to keep tabs on American citizens and tracking the activities of known associates of a presidential candidate should have sent warning bells off, yet Brennan clearly persisted in following the trail. What Brennan did not describe, because it was “classified,” was how he came upon the information in the first place. We know from Politico and other sources that it came from foreign intelligence services, including the British, Dutch and Estonians, and there has to be a strong suspicion that the forwarding of at least some of that information might have been sought or possibly inspired by Brennan unofficially in the first place. But whatever the provenance of the intelligence, it is clear that Brennan then used that information to request an FBI investigation into a possible Russian operation directed against potential key advisers if Trump were to somehow get nominated and elected, which admittedly was a longshot at the time. That is how Russiagate began.
So, Mr. Brennan, for all his bluster and scarcely concealed anger, has a lot of baggage, to include his possible role in coordinating with other elements in the national security agencies as well as with overseas parties to get their candidate Hillary Clinton elected. Brennan should be thoroughly investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, to include subpoenaing all records at CIA relating to the Trump inquiries before requiring testimony under oath of Brennan himself with possible legal consequences if he is caught lying.