Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Sullivan are both concerned about John Brennan, the Obama adviser quoted in that CQ article because he seems to have been a supporter of torture in the past. At the very least, Brennan has defended both "enhanced interrogation" and "extraordinary rendition" (sample quote from Greenwald: "There [has] been a lot of information that has come out from these interrogation procedures that the agency has in fact used against the real hard-core terrorists. It has saved lives.") Yet speaking in his capacity as an adviser for Obama, he said that Obama “[believes] torture [should] not be allowed in any form or fashion in any part of the federal government, and he would make sure that was the case. ... Whether the Army field manual is comprehensive enough to cover all those tactics and techniques, that’s something I think he’d look to his national security advisers for."

This is why I wasn't completely mollified by Obama's statement on 60 Minutes. Hopefully Brennan's position on such matters has come to match Obama's, and his statement to CQ wasn't an instance of self-serving doublespeak, because Marc Ambinder reports that Brennan is a candidate to be the next director of the CIA. Part of the reason why torture still occurred even after the changes in the Army Field Manual is because the CIA wasn't forced to comply with those regulations. The problem isn't whether Army Field Manual isn't comprehensive, but rather that other parts of our intelligence apparatus are entitled to ignore it, and Brennan's above statement avoided taking a clear position on whether Obama would compel the CIA to adhere to those standards. The pertinent question, both to Brennan and Obama, is whether they would support legislation designed to do just that.

If Brennan remains a supporter of torture and extraordinary rendition, giving him such a position would say more about Obama's intentions on the subject than any number of interviews with the media.

--A. Serwer

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