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article imageOp-Ed: President-elect Obama's Intel Team Raises Questions

By Sadiq Green     Nov 17, 2008 in Politics
John Brennan and Jami Miscik, two former intelligence officials helping to make intelligence recommendations for the incoming Obama administration may raise some serious questions. Both served in CIA under George Tenet and have controversial pasts.
Brennan has supported warrant-less 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.
John Brennan was deputy executive secretary to George Tenet during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq . In that capacity, he likely sat side by side by Tenet and was part of the decision making while they passed judgment on torture, extraordinary renditions, black sites and secret prisons. John Brennan has defended the warrant-less eavesdropping. John Brennan has defended all of the violations that were committed at the CIA in the run-up to the war and in the postwar period.
If this is Obama’s final judgment about a national security team, it may eventually become reminiscent of Bill Clinton's initial intelligence team in 1993, when he appointed people such as Jim Woolsey, Les Aspin, Warren Christopher and Tony Lake to the national security positions, holdovers from the George H.W. Bush years. All of them were removed before the first term was over.
Jami Miscik was the Deputy Director for Intelligence during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. This period was rampant with the politicizing of intelligence. During this period period, from August 2002 until February 2003, there was a consistent corruption of the intelligence process. That was a period when all analytic trade craft, all of the rules of analytic trade craft were ignored. She likely went along with the phony intelligence estimate - the 'white paper' - that was prepared by Paul Pillar in October 2002. That paper violated the CIA charter, because it took classified material and then declassified it and sent to the Congress only days before the vote on the authorization to use force in Iraq in October 2002.
When George Tenet told President Bush in December of 2002, "It's a slam dunk, we can provide all the intelligence you need,” it was people like Jami Miscik and John Brennan who were part of the team who provided that phony intelligence. She Miscik was complicit in allowing President 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.
Miscik helped to draft the outrageous speech that Colin Powell gave to the United Nations in February of 2003, that made the phony case for war to the international community. That speech was wrought with twenty-eight allegations of Saddam Hussein's ongoing nuclear and biological weapons programs that were later revealed as false. Millions of people worldwide heard that phony speech, and it’s still an embarrassment to Colin Powell to this day.
Miscik was forced to resign by Tenet's replacement at CIA Porter Goss, but now Barack Obama turns around and includes Jami Miscik and John Brennan in the intelligence transition process? Also, you have to look at people such as Tenet's former deputy, John McLaughlin who also acts as an Obama intelligence advisor. There is Rob Richer, an operations advisor who was the deputy to Jose Rodriguez, who is now being investigated by the Justice Department for the illegal destruction of torture tapes.
It has to raise questions as to who is the President-elect relying on for advice on the Washington community? We know he’s only been in Washington for two years, there obviously are things he needs to learn about national security, the CIA and the intelligence community. But he may be learning from the wrong people.
This begs another question: will ever be any accountability for those violations committed at CIA, which essentially amount to war crimes, in relation to torture, abuse and secret prisons? Is this what Obama deems as change? In this instance this is more like continuity. No one in the entire Bush administration, has been held accountable for the phony intelligence and Geneva convention violations, and with these key people helping to shape policy for the new administration, it appears no one will. Brennan has even been rumored to be named as Barack Obama's Director of Central Intelligence.
Then there is this talk about keeping Bob Gates at the Pentagon. While Gates has done a much better job than Rumsfeld, and has not been a political figure, I see retaining him as another example of continuity and not change. Bob Gates has supported all of the policies that Obama said he was going to look at very carefully and seemed to oppose, from the expansion of NATO, to bringing Georgia and Ukraine into NATO, to deployment of missiles in Poland, to deployment of radars in the Czech Republic and the continued acquisition of a national missile defense. But really, are there no Democrats or Republicans who are qualified to become the Secretary of Defense?
While some in the mainstream media, blogosphere and here on DJ have been harping about some of the Clinton administration folks Barack Obama has brought in to run his transition, the real danger is having these holdovers from the Bush administration in these key intelligence positions. Lets see if the chorus of protest are as loud as they should be in this instance.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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