May 20, 2024

Obama Adviser Favors Telecom Immunity; Barack Demurs

ABC’s Justin Rood reports that John Brennan, Barack Obama’s intelligence adviser, has gone on-record as being strongly in favor of granting immunity to telecoms that provided information to the national security apparatus in advance of a new law granting them that authority.

"I do believe strongly that [telecoms] should be granted that immunity," former CIA official John Brennan told National Journal reporter Shane Harris in the interview.  "They were told to [cooperate] by the appropriate authorities that were operating in a legal context."

"I know people are concerned about that, but I do believe that’s the right thing to do," added Brennan, who is an intelligence and foreign policy adviser to Obama.

That wasn’t just a personal opinion, Brennan made clear to Harris. "My advice, to whoever is coming in [to the White House], is they need to spend some time learning, understanding what’s out there, identifying those key issues," including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, he said — the law at the heart of the immunity debate.

"They need to make sure they do their homework, and it’s not just going to be knee-jerk responses," Brennan said of the presidential hopefuls.

That’s absolutely right, regardless of what certain writers at Salon, et al, believe.  Glen Greenwald’s knee jerk reflex is so automatic and so violent that it’s a wonder he can still walk with this issue not yet laid to rest.

And no, Glen, it has nothing to do with my being a closet Nazi.  It’s simple justice.  These companies did what they had to do in the midst of a national security crisis, the size and scope of which no one understood fully.  It’s foolish to look back now and second-guess them.

Now, if Democrats want to open a full-scale investigation of the administration ala Iran-Contra, more power to them.  There would be a purpose to ordering a probe of those officials who ordered the illegal wiretaps and data transfer.  But that is not going to happen because most Dems recognize that there is still a serious security situation today.  Going after the telecoms is akin to killing the messenger.

So what does Obama think about Brennan’s position?  Not much:

Last month, Obama voted to strip language in an intelligence bill that would have granted to Verizon, AT&T and other companies the immunity Brennan favored.  The firms have been identified in lawsuits as having cooperated with a National Security Agency program to intercept phone calls and other communications data within the United States.

What does Obama think? "Sen. Obama welcomes a variety of views, but his position on FISA is clear. He and Brennan differ," said campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor.

Barack Obama knows better than his own intelligence advisor.  Right.  Just the chap I want answering that 3:00 AM phone call in the White House.  Small wonder that most Democratic voters in Florida want Hillary to pick up the phone.


Marc is a software developer, writer, and part-time political know-it-all who currently resides in Texas in the good ol' U.S.A.

View all posts by marc →