Obama taps torture advocate to be head of CIA
To understand why Brennan should not even be considered as an appropriate choice to head the CIA by a Democratic president, one can start with a PBS Newshour debate about the Bush administration's policy of extraordinary rendition—that is, detaining suspected terrorists and delivering them to other countries without due process. Brennan strongly defended the practice:
I think it's an absolutely vital tool. I have been intimately familiar now over the past decade with the cases of rendition that the U.S. Government has been involved in. And I can say without a doubt that it has been very successful as far as producing intelligence that has saved lives.
Despite Brennan's assurance that the government would carefully supervise the process to ensure against abuses, however, the extraordinary-rendition program was a human rights catastrophe and of dubious value in combating terrorist threats. As Jane Mayer of The New Yorker wrote in her book, The Dark Side, "The extraordinary rendition program produced a file of confessions from prisoners claiming to have suffered unimaginable torment." Moreover, much of the intelligence gathered from what Brennan asserted as a "vital program" proved to be "demonstrably false."
The arbitrary detention and torture of legitimate suspects is bad enough, but it's even worse than that. The lack of due process in the extraordinary-rendition program Brennan defended inevitably led to the rendition and torture of people who were clearly innocent. One of the most egregious examples of this is Maher Arar, the Canadian engineer who was detained by the CIA without being charged at JFK airport and rendered to Syria. Predictably, Arar was held and tortured for nearly a year in one of Syria's worst prisons. And, as will tend to happen when people can be indefinitely detained at the unchecked whim of the executive branch, he was also entirely innocent. We do not need a director of the CIA who defended a program that was this disastrous on every level.