Tuesday, November 13, 2012

John Brennan and torture: will media erase his past?

John Brennan, currently the President's counter-terrorism advisor (Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism), is apparently in the running for CIA director to replace Petraeus -- or at least someone is trial ballooning it all over the press. But wait, Brennan is the guy who they wanted to be CIA Director the first time. And after Glenn Greenwald pointed out how Brennan had embraced some Bush Administration torture and rendition policies, the nomination stopped, and they gave him a position that didn't require Senate confirmation. (Note: Brennan didn't support all Bush administration bad policies, but his support of rendition and some torture is the important point).

So how are the papers telling this story in their mentions of Brennan now?

Here's the Washington Post on Tuesday's front page:
He was the top contender to lead the agency when Obama was elected in 2008, but he withdrew under criticism, which he deemed unfair, of his role in intelligence excesses in the administration of George W. Bush. Although that challenge is now seen as behind him, officials said he has not indicated whether he would like to be considered again to head the agency where he spent 25 years.
And the New York Times over the weekend:
Mr. Brennan was considered for C.I.A. director before Mr. Obama’s term began but withdrew amid criticism from some of the president’s liberal supporters.
USA Today is at least a touch better:
Brennan carries some political baggage that could make Senate confirmation difficult. He withdrew his name from consideration for a top intelligence position in 2008 because of his alleged links to "enhanced interrogation techniques" while an official at the CIA.
Yes, these articles weren't focused on Brennan, and the possibility of his nomination now was just a small piece of them. But the papers need to find far, far different wording to briefly describe his past support of torture. Spade is a spade, etc.


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