President-Elect Donald J. Trump has vowed to dismantle the nuclear deal with Iran, which he has labeled “the worst deal ever negotiated.” His chosen guy to head the Central Intelligence Agency come next year, Rep. Mike Pompeo, tweeted in November: “I look forward to rolling back this disastrous deal with the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.”
But the current CIA director, John Brennan, said Wednesday that this is a bad idea. In an interview posted on the BBC’s website, he also warned that the Trump administration should be wary of Russian promises, said that Syria and Russia’s killing of civilians is “outrageous,” and once again decried waterboarding:
"I think it would be disastrous," Mr Brennan told the BBC. "First of all, for one administration to tear up an agreement that a previous administration made would be unprecedented."
He said such a move would risk strengthening hardliners in Iran and risk other states pursuing nuclear programmes in response to a renewed Iranian effort. "I think it would be the height of folly if the next administration were to tear up that agreement," he said. [...]
Mr. Brennan warned that the use of waterboarding would be rejected by most officers at the C.I.A. “Without a doubt, the C.I.A. really took some body blows as a result of its experiences,” he told the BBC. “I think the overwhelming majority of C.I.A. officers would not want to get back into that business.”
John Brennan is a professional prevaricator, having lied to the American people five years ago when he incredibly claimed U.S. drone strikes had not killed a single civilian, and nearly three years ago when he lied about snooping on Senate Intelligence Committee computers. He should have been fired then.
But then he should never have been hired in the first place.
This is, after all, a guy who enthusiastically backed the extraordinary rendition program that grabbed terror suspects off the streets of other nations and spirited them off to secret prisons where many were tortured under President George Bush. And then he criticized the program under President Barack Obama. Was that a change of heart or a change of convenience? He’s the kind of fellow whose answer to such a question can never fully be trusted.
So siding with him is likely to produce hives for anyone on the left. But, whether he actually believes what he says about the Iran deal and waterboarding, Brennan’s public positions on these matters are ones every president and every CIA director should adopt.
Foolishly in the case of Iran and disgracefully in the case of torture, this isn’t the way Trump and Pompeo view things. This may be nothing more than chest-pounding political macho. But it wouldn’t be the first time that braggadocio cost lives.