On Wednesday November 9th, the World Affairs Council of Houston held a public conversation with John Brennan, former director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. The conversation was essentially an hour of friendly dialogue between Brennan and Stephen B. Slick, a member of CIA’s clandestine service for 28 years and later as the Director for Intelligence Programs and Senior Director for Intelligence Programs and Reform for the National Security Council.
According to their website, “the World Affairs Council of Greater Houston is a member of the World Affairs Councils of America, a national organization with chapters in more than 95 U.S. cities. The councils were first established in the U.S. at the end of World War I as a result of America’s increased role on the international stage. The need for U.S. citizens to be informed about international affairs became more apparent after World War II, and yet again after the Cold War.”
Essentially, the WAC operates as a voice for the military industrial complex and intelligence community. Interested parties pay yearly dues for access to events like the meeting with John Brennan so they can feel informed about the world. The WAC – Houston is known for bringing neoconservatives from the Bush administration to Houston for tea and softball questions of little merit. Also, over the summer WAC – Houston held a conversation with well-known fearmonger and advocate of untested injections, Dr. Peter Hotez.
I encourage more research of the World Affairs Council, their funding, and their events.
I attended the WAC event with the intention of asking Brennan for a short interview to drill him on a number of consequential decisions he was involved with. As is typical of the WAC events, audience members do not get to ask questions directly. Rather, attendees are instructed to write down questions on note cards and submit them to the staff so they can decide what to ask and what to ignore.
As you might imagine, it is very rare for difficult or controversial questions to be asked of the guest speakers. Because of this I contemplated interrupting the event and loudly calling out John Brennan for his crimes. I opted against this tactic because the 250 people in attendance — including high school students — were largely, if not completely, in Brennan’s fan club. Instead, I waited until the event was over and walked right up to Brennan as he walked towards the elevators.
Confronting a War Criminal
As I walked up to the former CIA Director I asked, “how do you respond to the claims that your decisions under the Bush and Obama administrations led to unnecessary torture?”. This was a direct reference to Brennan’s role under the Bush administration and his new role under the Obama administration. In a 2013 opinion piece published in the NY Times, Glenn Greenwald wrote:
“President Obama has expended extraordinary efforts to protect from accountability all Bush-era officials responsible for torture, rendition and warrantless eavesdropping, programs that numerous human rights groups have insisted constitute war crimes and violations of U.S. criminal law.
The president’s nomination on Monday of John O. Brennan, a Bush-era C.I.A. official, to head the C.I.A. illustrates how complete this disturbing process now is. In late 2008, when Brennan was rumored to be Obama’s leading choice as C.I.A. director, a major controversy erupted because of Brennan’s overt support for Bush’s programs of rendition and torture.
Brennan’s pro-torture-and-rendition views were clear and amply documented. In 2007, Jane Mayer of The New Yorker described Brennan as a supporter of the “C.I.A.’s interrogation and detention program.”
In a Dec. 5, 2005, ‘NewsHour with Jim Lehrer’ appearance, Brennan admitted he was ‘intimately familiar now over the past decade with the cases of rendition” — the practice used by the Bush administration to abduct terrorism suspects and send them to other countries to be tortured — and praised rendition as “an absolutely vital tool.'”
In fact, Brennan was not only responsible for approving the torture of suspected terrorist — many of whom have never been charged with a crime — but he also played a role in spying on the Senators who were investigating the Obama administration’s torture and lied about it for several months.
Brennan did not appear interested in answering for his record on torture so I went to my next topic: his role in Obama’s drone program and kill list, known as the “disposition matrix”. I told Brennan, “you said ya’ll strive not to have any civilian deaths (under the drone program), but the documents leaked by Snowden show another story, show the disposition matrix was not as accurate as you represented it.”
In 2012, Foreign Policy wrote of Brennan’s role in the drone program in an article titled The Seven Deadly Sins of John Brennan:
“Whereas George W. Bush’s administration never discussed any aspects of its targeted-killing policies, Barack Obama’s administration has been marginally more forthcoming, beginning with its first official acknowledgment of the practice of targeted killings by drones in a speech this April by Brennan.”
The speech referred to was a talk Brennan gave at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars titled “The Ethics and Efficacy of the President’s Counterterrorism Strategy”. This speech on “drone ethics” was the first public acknowledgement of the secret drone assassination program by the Obama administration. After the speech CNN called Brennan Obama’s “Drone Warrior”. In 2013, documents proved Brennan had lied publicly when he claimed there were zero civilian deaths from drones.
Regarding the disposition matrix, aka the Presidential Kill List, John Brennan has often been described as the architect of the program. In October 2012, The Washington Post reported:
“In his windowless White House office, presidential counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan is compiling the rules for a war the Obama administration believes will far outlast its own time in office, whether that is just a few more months or four more years.
The “playbook,” as Brennan calls it, will lay out the administration’s evolving procedures for the targeted killings that have come to define its fight against al-Qaeda and its affiliates. It will cover the selection and approval of targets from the “disposition matrix,” the designation of who should pull the trigger when a killing is warranted, and the legal authorities the administration thinks sanction its actions in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and beyond.
A burly 25-year CIA veteran with a stern public demeanor, Brennan is the principal architect of a policy that has transformed counterterrorism from a conventional fight centered in Afghanistan to a high-tech global effort to track down and eliminate perceived enemies one by one.“
Wired called Brennan “Obama’s single most important adviser for shaping the campaign of drone strikes and commando raids that have become the centerpiece of the president’s national security strategy.” After Brennan’s appointment to Director of the CIA there was even concern from some of the media that his statements on the scope of the War on Terror could mean that drones might eventually target Americans on American soil.
I continued to question Brennan about his record, asking, “What do you say to the critics who still care about America not being the police of the world and not doing rendition and torture and kidnapping Americans?”.
“What about the people who have had to sue the US government because they have been tortured? the people who have permanent rectal damage because of the torture that you approved? The people who have permanent shoulder damage because they have been tortured by the U.S. government under your decisions?”
With these statements Brennan finally chose to respond, stating, “I would get your facts straight cause everything you said is wrong.” Brennan then ignored the rest of my statements as he made his way to the elevator.
As I told John Brennan, no, my facts are not wrong. The lawsuits against the U.S. government for torture, rendition (aka kidnapping), and other abuse are all public record. I wrote an article in 2015 — 7 years ago — discussing these lawsuits against the U.S. government for rendition and torture. In 2017 I reported on the lawsuits attempting to compel former CIA officials to testify about their roles in torture. In 2019 I wrote about the individuals who suffered “rectal feeding” at the hands of U.S. government officials acting under the direction of John Brennan. Even the psychologists who worked with the CIA to develop the torture program were able to secure a secret deal to avoid prosecution.
By this point in the interaction Brennan quickly shuffled into an elevator and counted the seconds until the door closed in my face. A crowd had gathered and I was now being filmed by at least one student. I chose to make my true feelings perfectly understood as I shouted, “You’re a war criminal, Brennan! You’re a war criminal! And the students need to know that. You approve torture — mass surveillance of Americans. And he continues to spread propaganda.”
Over the last few years John Brennan has become a literal corporate media propagandist and enemy of Donald Trump — a move which made him a hero to much of the left who previously despised him. In his position as media consultant he played a role in spreading now debunked stories about Trump.
Brennan is also suspected of potentially being involved in the death of journalist Michael Hastings who was working on a story about Brennan at the time of his unusual single car wreck and explosion. After Hastings’ death, Wikileaks noted that hidden within the so-called Global Intelligence Files was an email from an employee of Stratfor, a private intelligence firm whose emails were hacked in the late 2010’s. The email states, “Brennan is behind the witch hunts of investigative journalists learning information from inside the beltway sources.”
Additionally, in 2016, while speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations, John Brennan recommended the use of hazardous technologies known as geoengineering. Specifically, he called for a type of geoengineering known as stratospheric aerosol injection, or SAI, which involves spraying aerosols out of planes in an attempt to block the sun. This practice has been studied over the last two decades and has been found to be an unstable and potentially dangerous solution.
I could go on about Brennan’s record, but I think it’s obvious at this point. John O. Brennan is a dangerous war criminal and liar who should not be welcomed into any major city in the U.S. without being questioned on his decades-long record of lies and deceit.