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Chuck Hagel
Administration officials say President Obama will announce two nominations today: former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense and counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan to direct the Central Intelligence Agency. That continues, as Hunter writes, "the long tradition of Democratic presidents putting Republicans in the top Pentagon position for no clear reason.

You might remember John Brennan from 2009, when he was reported to be President Barack Obama's first choice to head up the CIA, then this:

Brennan, a veteran CIA analyst who rose to become deputy executive director of the agency during the first term of President George W. Bush, was among those considered for the top CIA job when Obama took office in 2009.

But he again came under political fire from liberals who accused him of complicity in the agency’s use of brutal interrogation measures under Bush. Spooked by the criticism—which Brennan denounced as unfair and inaccurate—Obama quickly backtracked.

Brennan was then named counterterrorism adviser, a position that didn't require Senate confirmation or oversight. There, he's been integral in the drone program, and providing misinformation about the collateral damage of those strikes: civilian deaths.
White House counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan said in June 2011 that over the previous year there had not been a single collateral death from drone strikes. (Brennan later amended that to say there was no “credible evidence” of such deaths.)

Yet there is ample evidence of, as one example, a March 2011 CIA drone attack in Pakistan killing some 50 people, including tribal elders, who were gathered for a tribal conclave. In fact, the U.K.-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism has exhaustively documented the deaths of 482 to 849 Pakistani civilians, including 175 children, in CIA drone strikes since 2004.

He's also, as Marcy Wheeler points out, a big proponent of data mining and was "in charge of profiling for Dick Cheney’s illegal wiretap program." This is a guy who has no problem whatsoever being on the "dark side" of the law.

There are a few upsides to these nominations. In the case of Hagel, the neocons hate him, despite the fact that he's a Republican. The intra-party fight over his nomination will be another point of fissure among Republicans. The Hagel confirmation is controversial, and Republicans will fight over it, but he's still likely to be confirmed. In the case of Brennan, again as Marcy says, at least as CIA director he'll be subject to congressional oversight, something he's been free from for the past four years.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 07:34 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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