The president had considered naming Mr. Brennan to head the CIA when he took office in 2009. But some human rights advocates protested, claiming that as a top agency official under President George W. Bush, Mr. Brennan had supported, or at least had failed to stop, the use of interrogation techniques like waterboarding that are widely considered to be torture. Mr. Brennan denied those accusations but withdrew from consideration, and Mr. Obama gave him the advisory position, which did not require Senate confirmation.
That Brennan was a supporter of torture is not a claim or an accusation, though–it’s a matter of public record. As we pointed out after Brennan’s name was withdrawn in 2009, here’s what he had to say to CBS News in 2007 (Early Show, 11/2/07):
The CIA has acknowledged that it has detained about 100 terrorists since 9/11, and about a third of them have been subjected to what the CIA refers to as enhanced interrogation tactics, and only a small proportion of those have in fact been subjected to the most serious types of enhanced procedures…. There have been a lot of information that has come out from these interrogation procedures that the agency has in fact used against the real hard-core terrorists. It has saved lives. And let’s not forget, these are hardened terrorists who have been responsible for 9/11, who have shown no remorse at all for the deaths of 3,000 innocents.
If the words “support” and “torture” have any meaning, then Brennan is supporting torture there. This is another example of how in order to be an “objective” reporter, you have to deny that there’s any such thing as objective reality.
There’s a news article in the Washington Post today that really captures that paper’s view of the way the world works, and how it ought to work. Headlined “After Earthquake, Japan Can’t Agree on the Future of Nuclear Power,” Chico Harlan’s piece begins:
The hulking system that once guided Japan’s pro-nuclear-power stance worked just fine when everybody moved in lockstep. But in the wake of a nuclear accident that changed the way this country thinks about energy, the system has proved ill-suited for resolving conflict. Its very size and complexity have become a problem.
And what exactly is that problem?
Nearly a year after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi facility, Japanese decision-makers cannot agree on how to safeguard their reactors against future disasters, or even whether to operate them at all.
Some experts say this indecision reflects the Japanese tendency to search for, and sometimes depend on, consensus–even when none is likely to emerge. The nation’s system for nuclear decision-making requires the agreement of thousands of officials. Most bureaucrats and politicians in Tokyo want Japan to recommit to nuclear power, but they have been thwarted by a powerful minority–reformists and regional governors.
The obstruction by this “powerful minority,” the Post goes on to say, has “heavy consequences”: “record financial losses for major power companies and economy-stunting electricity shortages.” The story warns that “Japan, once the world’s third-largest nuclear consumer, could be nuclear-free, if it is unable to win approval from local communities to restart the idled units.”
Then, after musing about the “elaborate network of hand-holding” that used to govern Japan’s nuclear infrastructure, Harlan slips in a fact that changes everything:
Since the March 11 accident, just enough has changed to stall that cooperation. Two-thirds of Japanese oppose atomic power. Politicians in areas that host nuclear plants are rethinking the facilities; they hold veto power over any restart. A few vocal skeptics have emerged in the government, and in the aftermath of the accident, Japan has created at least a dozen commissions and task forces for energy-related issues.
So when the pro-nuclear goals of “most bureaucrats and politicians” are “thwarted by a powerful minority,” that’s a sign of the dysfunctional Japanese system, with its “tendency to search for, and sometimes depend on, consensus.” The fact that this “minority” actually represents the large majority of the Japanese public who oppose the technology that has rendered substantial parts of their country uninhabitable–well, that’s just another roadblock that the establishment is going to have to overcome.