John O. Brennan: Architect of Obama’s plans for permanent war

The Washington Post reports: In his windowless White House office, presidential counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan is compiling the rules for a war the Obama administration believes will far outlast its own time in office, whether that is just a few more months or four more years.

The “playbook,” as Brennan calls it, will lay out the administration’s evolving procedures for the targeted killings that have come to define its fight against al-Qaeda and its affiliates. It will cover the selection and approval of targets from the “disposition matrix,” the designation of who should pull the trigger when a killing is warranted, and the legal authorities the administration thinks sanction its actions in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and beyond.

“What we’re trying to do right now is to have a set of standards, a set of criteria, and have a decision-making process that will govern our counterterrorism actions — we’re talking about direct action, lethal action — so that irrespective of the venue where they’re taking place, we have a high confidence that they’re being done for the right reasons in the right way,” Brennan said in a lengthy interview at the end of August.

A burly 25-year CIA veteran with a stern public demeanor, Brennan is the principal architect of a policy that has transformed counterterrorism from a conventional fight centered in Afghanistan to a high-tech global effort to track down and eliminate perceived enemies one by one.

What was once a disparate collection of tactics — drone strikes by the CIA and the military, overhead surveillance, deployment of small Special Forces ground units at far-flung bases, and distribution of military and economic aid to threatened governments — has become a White House-centered strategy with Brennan at its core.

Four years ago, Brennan felt compelled to withdraw from consideration as President Obama’s first CIA director because of what he regarded as unfair criticism of his role in counterterrorism practices as an intelligence official during the George W. Bush administration. Instead, he stepped into a job in the Obama administration with greater responsibility and influence.

Brennan is leading efforts to curtail the CIA’s primary responsibility for targeted killings. Over opposition from the agency, he has argued that it should focus on intelligence activities and leave lethal action to its more traditional home in the military, where the law requires greater transparency. Still, during Brennan’s tenure, the CIA has carried out hundreds of drone strikes in Pakistan and opened a new base for armed drones in the Arabian Peninsula.

Although he insists that all agencies have the opportunity to weigh in on decisions, making differing perspectives available to the Oval Office, Brennan wields enormous power in shaping decisions on “kill” lists and the allocation of armed drones, the war’s signature weapon.

When operations are proposed in Yemen, Somalia or elsewhere, it is Brennan alone who takes the recommendations to Obama for a final sign-off.

As the war against al-Qaeda and related groups moves to new locations and new threats, Brennan and other senior officials describe the playbook as an effort to constrain the deployment of drones by future administrations as much as it provides a framework for their expanded use in what has become the United States’ permanent war. [Continue reading...]

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Comments

  1. DE Teodoru says:

    Mediocrity Brennan does what he thinks fits his cartoon mind of how the nation whose motto throughout its history has been: “THERE’S A SUCKER BORN EVERY MINUTE” should do to hide the faciest that its corpoRATe execs are greedily eating the nation from within. EU is militarizing to dump NATO for a Gaullist “from the Atlantic to the Urals” European union that includes Russia. China lives on tech transfusion from Russia. EU will make Mideast its own oil pan and will break loose from American hold. The Bush era mortgage frauds that destroyed European economies has sealed the deal: break with America, join with Russia. Anti-Americanism has been fed by disgust and disillusion with Romney/Obama type leaders, one small step above Bush. As the world congeals, it will be America alone trying to fake greatness through drone-flights bravado. We’ve degenerated as a nation to Bible-babble replacing the aspirations of the Founders.
    Clinton–>Bush–>Obama–>maybe Romney next because white America prefer to blame “that nigger” than admit that it is an intellectually decerebrate nation. Brannon is just another of the military microcephalics Obama left in charge while he went out perpetually campaigning as the “me, me, me…I, I, I” President. In the 60s it looked like America would take mankind to the edge of the universe….now Bible-babblers are taking it, like the Dodo bird, flying in ever concentric circles until it flies up its own asshole. I pity our innocent American kids who deserve better than Brennan mediocrity. Still, Obama is by far the lesser of evils relative to Romney/Ryan….at least Obama can learn.