John Brennan: The Insubordinate Spook
Larry Thornberry
by

One would think that by now John Brennan would have been in Washington long enough to know that the nation’s foreign policy is set by the president of the United States, not by the director of the CIA. And it’s the director’s job to find out what our enemies and our potential enemies are up to, not to snipe at the commander-in-chief, or at the person about to become commander-in-chief.

On the most recent Fox News Sunday, Brennan went way above his pay grade and beyond his job description when he lectured the president-elect on how he should conduct his job when in office. He tore into Donald Trump for his tweets about Russia and his complaints about someone or some people in the secret squirrel business dumping scurrilous and unfounded accusations about Trump into the public trough, there for eager and gullible journalists to roll and snuffle in. To the surprise of no one, these dung beetles rose to the bait. Thus the dreary and destructive tabloid snit storm we’re all too familiar with by now.

“Spontaneity is not something that protects national security interests, and so therefore when he (the president) speaks or when he reacts, just make sure he understands that the implications and impact on the United States can be profound,” Brennan lectured superfluously on Sunday.

A case can be made that Trump’s tendency to shoot from the lip on sensitive subjects after slight reflection holds certain dangers. But if it does, it’s the job of Kellyanne Conway, or someone else on the Trump team, to remind the Donald of it. It’s not John Brennan’s job. And how about the overseas impact on the United States when folks who wish us ill know that government bureaucrats are sniping at the president-elect?

Adding error to presumptuousness and insubordination, Brennan added, “I think Mr. Trump has to understand that absolving Russia of various actions that it has taken in the past number of years is a road that he, I think, needs to be very careful about moving down.”

Of course anyone paying the slightest attention to what Trump has said on the matter of Russia knows he has no intention of letting that country off the hook for its very real offenses. Either Brennan reads well below grade level (I doubt this very much), or he’s being partisan, obtuse, and spiteful here. This is classic straw-man stuff, and I’m sure Brennan knows it.

Trump was rightfully angry about the spooks’ malodorous gossip dump. Save for the gratuitous Nazi reference (both sides in the political wars should avoid these – they almost always overstate the case and are needlessly offensive), Trump’s comments about rogue and political government bureaucrats are justified. And Brennan’s defense of his agency’s action is lame: “There is no basis for Mr. Trump to point fingers at the intelligence community for leaking information that was already available publicly.”

There’s so much wrong with this it’s hard to know where to start.

Yes, the information was “available publicly,” but had been ignored (as malicious gossip should be) until given the impetus and imprimatur of what we have learned to call “the intelligence community.” This community (why is everything a community these days?) clearly includes among its able and honest practitioners a toxic number of political partisans at its highest levels.

And back to the original point about job descriptions, Brennan has been with the CIA way too long not to know that his job, and his agency’s job, is to gather information and share it with the president, not to leak it to the press. And certainly not to make stuff up for its destructive political value.

The charge, for which there is considerable evidence, is that the Russians have engaged in mischief with the intent of delegitimizing, or at least inconveniencing, our political processes. That the Russkies did this intending to help Donald Trump become president has been asserted, but not backed up by either evidence or common sense.

It would take more Deep Thinking than the Reptilian Vladimir Putin and his merry men are capable of to conclude that Russia would have an easier time of it with President Trump rather than with President Hillary Clinton. But as for blighting our political processes, the Russians haven’t done nearly as good a job of this as has John Brennan and his partisan spooks.

Larry Thornberry
Larry Thornberry
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Larry Thornberry is a writer in Tampa.
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