The last public news on John Brennan, Barack Obama’s pick to head the CIA, was weeks ago, when his public confirmation hearing was held.
In short, Code Pink made fools of themselves, Brennan lied, committee chair Dianne Feinstein lied and made a fool of herself, and there was posturing all around.
In other words, all went according to script. For a CIA Director, there is a second, classified, confirmation hearing. For all we know, that was a nude BBQ held in an unused supply closet at the Capital. No one tells us anything. We’re just the citizens.
But today, after enough of a delay that any dust up over Brennan’s evasive non-answers at his public hearing have died down, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted 12-3 to send his confirmation forward to the entire Senate. The odds that Brennan won’t soon be running the CIA are effectively nil.
The committee’s confirmation vote was itself classified. (Go on, tell me again how we’re all thriving under the most transparent administration ever.) However, Feinstein did say that no Democrats voted against confirming Brennan. If that’s true, it’s one on the most disheartening things I’ve heard this week, as it means Ron Wyden, long time friend to civil liberties and privacy concerns, gave in.
As you many recall, the sticking point with Brennan was that the White House would not release OLC reports regarding targeted drone assassinations to the Senate Intelligence Committee members, even though they are all cleared and hold a job where it is specifically within their portfolio to perform oversight of the CIA. Wyden, among others, threatened to block Brennan’s nomination if those documents were not provided.
Earlier today, according to Feinstein, an agreement was reached under which the White House will provide all OLC opinions and DOJ document related to drone strikes to committee members. First, if anyone deserves to be taken out by drone, it’s politicians who use the passive voice. Secondly, the Obama Administration’s promise to turn over those documents is a far cry from actually producing them.
Now that Brennan has his confirmation vote, it’s not all that certain the White House has any reason to keep its end of the bargain. Worse, that the Senate Intelligence Committee was willing to confirm Brennan without reading or even possessing all those supposedly vital documents makes it painfully clear that all the noise over releasing necessary OLC opinions to the committee was so much grandstanding.
It’s not clear to me what good those reports and opinions will do now that Brennan is in anyway. Worst of all, the Senate has acquiesced to the Executive, yet again, demonstrating that, if the White House wants to withhold documents that Congress is entitled to see, Congress will bargain. Shame on them. When they should be standing up for the rule of law, they are instead allowing Obama to change the rules as he likes.
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