How dumb is CIA Director John Brennan? About average for an Obama appointee. The best presidents have a certain fearlessness about hiring smart, dangerous people. Lincoln’s cabinet was not a friendly collection, it was the best people he could find. Stanton, his Secretary of War, a serious political rival. FDR’s appointed Republican Henry Stimson who got things done and could be trusted. Kennedy hired his brother against much advice, and admitted the jealous and hawkish Dean Acheson the inner circle during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Also called his bluff and ignored him.
Obama seems to prefer a supportive yes to risky exchanges, and he likes bureaucrats who behave themselves, like Brennan. With the exception of Mrs. Clinton, sponsor of Secretary Nuland and the Ukraine fubar, his cabinet has been politically correct, obedient and mediocre. There have been screw-up’s naturally, like the bargain-basement Canadian-built website for Obamacare. Getting rid of Secretary Sebelius would have sent an important message, but that didn’t happen.
Brennan – whose agency is hugely tech-driven – is another technically challenged bureaucrat living in the last century, qualified on paper to be in charge of the CIA but confused in this one. He’s not just non-tech, he lacks common sense. Trey Gowdy rages at Mrs. Clinton, but there’s no interest in Brennan’s truly mindless use of e-mail.
Brennan also ignored the obvious: any information about him, personal or professional, should be secret. Any spook knows this. Personal information reveals connections, concerns, motives, location, likely events, and when they may happen. Added to other information, it offers a useful picture to our enemies. Why is this man exposing anything at all on blatantly insecure commercial email? My son would say WTF?! with justification. Brennan seems to feel so secure that it doesn’t even occur to him what a juicy target he would be. Secure enough to publicly scold his teen-age hacker.
Lack of self-awareness is the giveaway add-on – a mindless hissy fit when it became known that a high school kid had hacked in his personal account, not once but repeatedly. Repeatedly means that Mr. Brennan has that special ability to deny a problem and move it up from snafu to fubar. As a total non-tech, even I knew something was wrong the second time my email got weird. I also knew that having an outraged hissy-fit would only reveal my limitations, as Brennan revealed his. Running a tech-driven agency where a tech named Ed Snowden revealed countless embarrassing tech facts about US intelligence tech, Brennan doesn’t get it about email. He doesn’t even know enough to have someone close by to make sure he doesn’t step in it.
Who is John Brennan? He came into view with his 2012 claim regarding drones – that US counter-terrorism operations had not resulted in "a single collateral death" because of the "precision of the capabilities that we’ve been able to develop." Walking that back, he then claimed we lacked information about civilian deaths.
“Lying SOB” may be fighting words in your neighborhood bar, but not in Brennan’s world, where they qualify you to move from post to post as an administrator, away from the hands-on worlds of espionage and email. Brennan was once a station chief, but rose to be an intelligence briefer for Bill Clinton, Chief of Staff to CIA Head George Tenet, and director of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center which compiled information for President Bush's intelligence briefings.
During this period came a controversy about intelligence he delivered to Bush regarding an Orange Terror Alert in 2003 that served the political end of whipping up paranoia and patriotism and justifying our Iraq invasion. Brennan subsequently left the government, and after a period in the private sector, he emerged as an Obama favorite in various roles: counterterrorism and foreign policy expert, Deputy National Security Advisor, and then CIA director. Despite his acceptance of waterboarding, an Obama no-no.
Brennan’s email gaffe is the shiny tip of an enormous iceberg, and his splenetic public response to this embarrassment tells the rest of the story. The man is out of touch with everything that matters except his career. As with Secretaries Clinton and Sebelius, the last option was admitting he had his head stuck in that notoriously dark place.
Privileged is Privileged. Brennan is a member of the inner circle, and these heads do not roll easily. Washington, Lincoln, the Roosevelts, Eisenhower and Kennedy didn’t hire people like this. They weren’t afraid of smart.