In the Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf lays out both the reasons why President Obama should fire CIA director John Brennan, and the reasons why it would be dangerous for him to do so. Essentially, they’ve both been doing some really shady stuff, regarding both the US Constitution and international law, which they’ve both been covering up and lying about. Firing Brennan could bring more of these activities into the light, which would hurt Obama’s reputation. However, what we already know about Obama should eviscerate any shred of respectability he might have in anyone’s mind.
Brennan is currently under fire for bugging the computers of the Senate committee tasked with investigating the legality of CIA “enhanced interrogation” techniques. The CIA was mining Senators’ computers and emails to gather information on the investigation so they could begin working to discredit their reports. Brennan also lied to the Senate Intelligence Committee about it, saying, “That's just beyond the scope of reason in terms of what we would do.”
Now he’s apologized, weeks ahead of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report. It’s expected to be a scathing indictment of the CIA, showing that they exaggerated the effectiveness of enhanced interrogation techniques to the public, fed journalists fake “leaks” and lied to members of Congress, downplaying the brutality of their information extraction practices and the extent to which they used them.
Now several Senators and even the New York Times editorial board is calling for his resignation. As Friedersdorf points out, Brennan's CIA “broke laws and undermined the separation of powers core to our democracy.”
While firing Brennan would be the best thing for the American people, it would also open up the possibility that he would start talking. He could talk about Obama’s secret drone killing program.
The President has repeatedly illegally used the state secrets justification to prevent information about extrajudicial killings from coming out into the public. Even Congress isn’t properly briefed on who Obama is killing or why. Obama blocked the release of a memo on the justification for killing two American citizens without trial, even though upon its eventual releaseit became clear that the information posed no threat to US safety. So the President is trampling on the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution and then refusing to acknowledge it or explain what the legal justification might be.
The latest abuse of the state secrets privilege is Obama’s DOJ refusing to explain why they’re refusing to allow a PhD student back into the US. And what was the reason both for the refusal to let Rahinah Ibrahim back in the country and for refusing to acknowledge why she wasn’t allowed? An FBI agent had checked the wrong box. The “state secret” was a coverup for incompetence.
The entire drone war in Pakistan could only be legal if the country consented to the killings, and there’s little evidence it has, and public statements indicate it hasn’t.
NSA spying has far exceeded its legal and Constitutional bounds and President Obama has lied about both the scope of the spying and what he knew and when. Trade alliances with allies such as Germany are in jeopardy because of NSA spying, and along with them billions of dollars in economic growth.
In fact, as NSA director James Clapper has repeatedly lied to Congress, with zero reproach from the Obama Administration, the only way anyone knows anything about just how far illegal NSA wiretapping and surveillance of American citizens who have not been accused of any crimes has gone is due to whistleblowers like Edward Snowden. And how has the Obama Administration, the “most transparent administration in history” dealt with these heroic individuals, the only check against lying and law-breaking government agencies? The Administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers than any administration in US history.
I guess what I don’t get is what in the world John Brennan could reveal about President Obama which could possibly tarnish his reputation any further. He’s literally trampling on the Constitution, killing citizens without trial, disregarding the Fourth Amendment and allowing his goons to lie about it with zero consequences. And that’s what we know about! Fire John Brennan, Obama. You can’t get any lower.