Saturday, February 9, 2013

How a killer by remote control was branded a defender of American values

 Al Jazeera English carried an acerbic article about Obama's choice  of  the man who is going to lead the CIA. From torturer to specialist of the targeted killings programme to leader of the secret service. An interesting career. But at least the 3000 people that the USA has killed in this way and the expanding network of drone bases around the world are now widely discussed in the press:
 The timing couldn't have been coincidental. Just as a previously secret memo to Congress from the US Department of Justice's Office of Legal Council was released by NBC News and picked up by every major media outlet, the process of rebranding President Obama's pick to head the CIA, John Brennan, from enabler of torture and mastermind of the drone assassination, to a crusader for peace and civil rights began in earnest.
This is the second time Brennan has been nominated for the Directorship of the CIA by Obama. His first nomination, back in 2009, was scuttled because of his alleged involvement in the Bush Administration's torture program. He remained at the core of the President's intelligence and counter-terrorism coterie, however, serving as his Advisor for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security. In this capacity, according to the President, he “developed and has overseen our comprehensive counterterrorism strategy -- a collaborative effort across the government, including intelligence and defence and homeland security, and law enforcement agencies.”
As far as Obama is concerned, the strategy Brennan has designed and executed—including widening the use of drones for assassinations and continuing the extraordinary rendition program, has not only helped to “embed our efforts in a strong legal framework” but reflects a deep level of integrity and commitment “to the values that define us as Americans.”
Brennan, a twenty-five year veteran of the CIA, is routinely described as someone who well knows the Arab/Muslim world. He is “fluent” in Arabic, and even wrote an MA thesis on Human Rights in Egypt.
Interestingly, however, he argued that there is no such thing as “absolute human rights” that would be applicable to Egyptians, for example, which is why he supported censorship of the media and abuses of power, this at a time—the late Sadat era, when Egypt clearly was at a tipping point, as evidence by the assassination of Sadat soon thereafter. Such a rationale clearly has little room for supporting democracy, particularly if democracy contradicts US policies.
Not only does this attitude reflect US support for Sadat and then Mubarak, but it accounts for the untrammelled support for even more corrupt and venal client states like Saudi Arabia, where Brennan in fact served as station chief for several years, and where it now turns out--Surprise! Surprise!--that the US is operating a secret drone base.

Continue reading .. 

Read also: Where the Drones Are, Mapping the launch pads for Obama's secret wars, by Micah Zenko and Emma Welch, about the expansion of the drone programme in the last few years.

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