John Brennan as CIA chief would serve his own interests, not America’s

France’s recent interventions in Mali and Somalia underscore the accelerating ability of Al-Qaeda-in-the-Islamic-Mahgreb (AQIM) and its Africa-based allies to threaten the continent’s nation-states, as well as access to natural resources—oil, strategic minerals, and uranium—that are essential to the French, U.S., and other Western economies. The growing power and geographical reach of AQIM mirrors the growth of all components of Al-Qaeda and other Islamist groups, save possibly the central component in Afghanistan-Pakistan. The bottom line here is that sixteen years after Al-Qaeda and its allies began their religious war, the United States and the West confront an Islamist enemy that is larger, better armed, smarter, and far more geographically dispersed than ever before.

Michael Scheuer
Michael Scheuer

Now, that paragraph merits a fuller and more data-supported explanation, but for now, let’s look at one of the men—John Brennan—who for nearly 15 years has ensured both that the above-described growth in the Islamists’ power has occurred, and that most Americans have no idea that a still-growing part of the Muslim world is at war with the United States.

This month, President Obama nominated John Brennan to be the next CIA chief. Mr. Brennan was a longtime Agency officer and held a number of senior appointments there. He also has held a number of senior positions outside the Agency in the nation’s national security apparatus. One might argue that all of these positions were based on Mr. Brennan’s unvarying willingness to say “Yes, my genius leader” to anything his boss of the moment said was a good idea. It also has been said that he was thoroughly detested inside the Agency while working for DCI George Tenet—primarily because his first question on the proposal of a covert operation to protect Americans was always was “How will this impact on Director Tenet’s reputation”—and for fully supporting the CIA’s overwhelmingly successful rendition program while Messrs. Clinton and Bush were in power, and then damning the Agency for the program and helping to destroy it when he snuggled up to President Obama and his consistently anti-CIA party. Indeed, there was a popular joke inside CIA in the 1990’s which ran something like: “Question: Why is George Tenet never photographed from behind? Answer: Because they have not found a way to dislodge John Brennan’s nose.”

Now, it surely would be unfair to deny any nominee a job because of how people reacted to his performance as professional sycophant or because of off-color humor made at his expense. But there are at least four substantive reasons to deny Mr. Brennan the job of heading the CIA. The following are those reasons, and one would think that if the Senate does not ask him about them, it will have failed to do its job.

1) 1996: When, in December, 1995, the Agency set up a unit to dismantle al-Qaeda and capture or help the U.S. military kill Osama bin Laden, one of that unit’s first actions was to ask Mr. Brennan—who was then what George Tenet has described as “CIA’s senior officer on the Arabian Peninsula”—to secure from the Saudi intelligence service some very basic information and documents about bin Laden. The Saudis did not respond, and so the bin Laden unit sent frequent messages to Mr. Brennan asking him to secure the data. When we finally received a response from Mr. Brennan, it was to tell us that he would no longer pass the bin Laden unit’s requests to the Saudis because they were annoyed by them. DCI George Tenet backed Mr. Brennan’s decision, and when I resigned from CIA in November 2004, the Saudis had not delivered the requested data.

Comment: I speak on this from firsthand experience, as I was the chief of the bin Laden unit at the time. The messages from Mr. Brennan refusing to push the Saudis on bin Laden are in the archives of several government agencies, but, more important, they are in the archive of the 9/11 Commission. (NB: I know the documents are there because I supplied them to the Commission.)  In the latter archive, the messages have been fully redacted to protect the CIA sources and methods and so ought to be easily available to the Senators and to the media via a Freedom of Information request.

2) May, 1998: For most of the year between May, 1997, and May, 1998, the bin Laden unit—with fine support from too few other Intelligence Community agencies—prepared an operation to capture Osama bin Laden using CIA assets. During the preparatory work, none of the bin Laden’s unit’s bin-Laden-specific information requests to the Saudis were answered, and given Mr. Brennan’s above-noted attitude, the unit was not ever sure the requests were passed to the Saudi intelligence service. Just before the capture operation was to be attempted, Mr. Brennan convinced Wyche Fowler—then U.S. ambassador in Riyadh—and DCI George Tenet that the U.S. government should cancel the capture operation. Although the Saudis had yet to lift a finger to assist U.S. efforts to counter bin Laden and al-Qaeda, and because it is the merest commonsense to know that Afghans never obey orders from any foreigner, Mr. Brennan, Ambassador Fowler, and DCI Tenet all assured then-National Security Adviser, Mr. Sandy Berger, that the capture operation should be canceled. Mr. Berger cancelled the operation, only to demand—through his assistant for terrorism Richard Clarke—that the operation immediately be restarted 75 days later when bin Laden’s al-Qaeda destroyed the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Tanzania.

Comment: I also speak on this issue from first-hand experience, as I was the chief of the bin Laden unit at the time, and also traveled in early May 1998, with DCI Tenet and the then-chief of CIA’s Near East Division to hear Mr. Brennan explain why this ludicrous reliance on the thoroughly unhelpful and often obstructive Saudis was a better way to protect Americans than by using CIA’s capabilities. Again, however, it is more important to note that the papers documenting this entire episode—including notes from Mr. Brennan, Ambassador Fowler, and DCI Tenet to Mr. Berger urging the cancellation of the capture operation—are in the archives of several government agencies, but, more important, they are in the archive of the 9/11 Commission. (NB: I know the documents are there because I supplied them to the Commission.) The latter archive the messages have been fully redacted to protect the CIA sources and methods and so ought to be easily available to the Senators and to the media via a Freedom of Information request.

3) May, 2010: In a speech at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), John Brennan told Americans it is incorrect to attribute the words “jihad” or “jihadists” to the war being waged on America by bin Laden, al-Qaeda, and their allies.  In the Obama administration, Mr. Brennan explained, we refuse to “describe our enemy as ‘jihadists’ or ‘Islamists’ because jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one’s community….” Brennan said it would be “counterproductive” for the United States to use the term, as it would “play into the false perception” that the “murderers” leading war against the West are doing so in the name of a “holy cause. Moreover, describing our enemy in religious terms would lend credence to the lie propagated by Al Qaeda and its affiliates to justify terrorism—that the United States is somehow at war against Islam.” Bearing out Mr. Brennan’s testimony about the Obama administration’s position are a host of government documents—including Ambassador Susan Rice’s talking points on the recent death of four U.S. officials in Benghazi, Libya—which refer to al-Qaeda or other Islamist militants not as “Muslims” or “Islamists” but in the Orwellian and deceiving term “Violent Extremists.” And, not surprisingly, the Committee on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) last week validated that Messrs. Brennan and Obama are following its orders by claiming that the word “Islamist is a stealth slur. It exists as a piece of coded language.”

Comment: No one expects clarity or complete honesty from a politician, but when a senior U.S. bureaucrat speaks in public to Americans—who are, after all, his/her employer—about their nation’s national security, one has a right to expect that the speaker at least be in honesty’s ballpark. Mr. Brennan’s words above are—when considered objectively—as close as it is possible to come to a complete lie. Far more than 90-percent of the references to “jihad” in the Koran and the Hadith—the verified collection of the Prophet Mohammad’s sayings and practices—are martial in nature, and the one Hadith that provided the basis for Mr. Brennan’s lie has never been verified, is not included in the authoritative/verified Hadith collections, and is mainly used to mislead Americans by such apologists for militant Islam as the leaders of CAIR, the Muslim Brotherhood, and academics like Georgetown’s Professor John Esposito.  The Senate, one would think, should ask Mr. Brennan to explain his lie, as well as to explain why the administrations he has served as a senior adviser—those of Mr. Clinton, Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama—have completely ignored the words spoken and written by Osama bin Laden and other Islamist leaders, even though there is a remarkably high correlation between the motivations and intentions they express and the actions they take in their religious war against America and its allies. A Senator might even find it appropriate to remind Mr. Brennan that the United States made a mistake similar to his in the 1920s when it ignored the motivations, intentions, and prescriptions for actions found in the words of former corporal in the Kaiser’s army.

4) 2013: Since May, 2011, when Osama bin Laden was marvelously killed through cooperation between the CIA and the U.S. Navy Seals, Mr. Brennan has consistently told Americas that the Obama administration’s policies have yielded a substantial reduction in the power, reach, and capabilities of al-Qaeda and its Islamist allies. To be fair, President Obama and Republican leaders repeatedly have said the same thing; most recently, President Obama said as much as he met Afghan President Karzai to finalize plans for America’s abject defeat in Afghanistan and the Taliban’s return to power in Kabul.

Comment: During his confirmation hearings, the Senators should display two maps for Mr. Brennan. The maps should be simple and clear political maps of the world—no rivers or mountains to make viewing arduous. One should represent September 2001, and the other should represent Spring 2013. The one for 2001 will show al-Qaeda and its allies overwhelmingly domiciled in their Afghanistan stronghold, along with a scattering of small cells around the world. The map for 2013, on the other hand, will show al-Qaeda and other Islamists still active in Afghanistan, but also has having established other large enclaves—where training, arms caches, and operational planning can be easily accommodated—in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Palestine, across North Africa, Nigeria, and, as noted above, in northern Mali. Given that even a cursory comparison of the maps will show the Senators and all Americans that the post-9/11 al-Qaeda-Islamist movement has grown significantly in numbers and geographical reach, Mr. Brennan might reasonably be asked to explain why he, as well as the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations he served, have invariably misled Americans by asserting that the Islamist threat is receding.

The foregoing four points, I think, provide firm substantive ground on which to evaluate Mr. Brennan’s fitness to be chief of the CIA, and will allow his reputation for servile toadyism and deception to be left aside. I would also add that there are at least three children who deserve to hear Mr. Brennan’s answers. Let me explain.

In late 1995, I interviewed and hired a young Agency officer to work in the bin Laden unit. Over the next decade-plus, she and her colleagues in the unit and overseas succeeded in defining the motivations and leadership ability of Osama bin Laden; the organizational structure of al-Qaeda and its ties to other Islamist groups; al-Qaeda’s highly lethal intentions and capabilities; and provided the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations with at least 12 chances (May-1998-May, 2011) to capture or kill bin Laden—only the 12th of which was taken.

Over these years, the young woman I hired performed brilliantly, while having had three beautiful children who are now motherless because their Moma was killed by al-Qaeda at Khowst, Afghanistan, in December 2008, still trying to find Osama bin Laden after all the other chances she helped deliver to U.S. presidents were ignored. Those three children, as well as the mothers, children, wives, parents, husbands, and fathers of those intelligence officers and military personnel who have been killed and maimed in the war against al-Qaeda and Islamism deserve to hear Mr. Brennan explain those of his actions that helped keep bin Laden alive to kill so many Americans, as well as why he and his political masters have consistently lied to all Americans about the threat they face from the growing Islamist movement. I trust that those three motherless children—and the deceased CIA officer who bore them—will be front and center in the minds of the Senators when they question Mr. Brennan.

Forget what you think you know about the Israel-Palestine conflict

Michael Scheuer

Michael F. Scheuer is a former CIA intelligence officer, American blogger, historian, foreign policy critic, and political analyst. 

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  • rayriaz

    I think all anti occupation forces in muslim countries that are opposing U.S. and western interventions are called ai-Qaeda.

  • Bourne to Keep America Safe

    Once again the brave men and woman who work to keep
    our country safe speak out!
    Thank you fellow America Patriot Michael Scheuer

    Thank you FPJ for finding the best articles to post
    on your great website

    • C Ward

      Jews and their megaphones in our media will continue to serve THEIR interests at the expense of ours.

      This is no proud American. This is a proud Jew tarnishing the reputation of yet another Muslim.

      yawn…. it’s over Tel Aviv. Americans are fully awake.

  • steve

    “Most Recently, President Osama…”

  • alexa

    There are a few significant typos: on more than one occasion, “Obama” is replaced with “Osama.” If you want this article to be taken seriously, please fix these horrible typos!

    • The typos have been corrected, thanks.

      • archie_leech

        Not trying to be snarky — but one year later, and there are still typos. Here’s a pretty bad one:

        “4) 2013: Since May, 2001, when Osama bin Laden was marvelously killed…”

        It’s 2011 … right?

    • a free bird

      When the text is sent through spelling check, MS Word does not recognize the “most powerful man”, therefore, MS word replaces “Obama” with “osama”.

      Many believe the names are interchangeable, because of his brutal foreign policy such as targeted killings, “humanitarian” attack, bombing, terrorism, and cyber attack, Torture, killing babies through illegal sanctions, Drone killings, and economic strangulation.
      You may not hit the “change” button if you want to keep the name of the assassin.

  • Hey, Michael Scheuer, I think you are getting it figured out. Why indeed were all your efforts to get bin Laden obstructed? Because John Brennan was bin Laden’s minder and protector at that time. Bin Laden was always a CIA asset. In the years before 9/11, when you were head of Alec Station, he was being carefully cultivated as the the patsy to take the fall for 9/11. Of course, he had nothing to do with the actual operation and none of those “hijackers” could fly a plane, which were remote controlled, and the towers were demolished with planted explosives – military grade thermite, to be precise. Now Brennan is going to be head of the CIA under a President who in my view is 100% complicit with this crime and has taken the destruction of our freedoms even farther than Bush did. Keep up the good work!

    Unfortunately, what you and all the other posters here are failing to take into account is that the person who did this was not a member of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, which is a fiercely non-political scientific association that requires high qualifications for membership (although anyone can sign their petition). It now has 1700 such highly qualified signatories. It is led by Richard Gage, AIA – a man of impeccable character and sterling qualifications. The senior people in AE, I refer to senior physicists, chemists, architects and engineers, have proved beyond the shadow of a reasonable doubt that World Trade Center 1, 2 and 7 were demolished with explosives. The evidence is overwhelming. Their “marginalization” is what the government with its control over the media does to all inconvenient truth-tellers and whistleblowers. This incident was very, very obviously a government action to discredit the Architects and Engineers. Most of the people on this thread are sheep. Wake up, sheep! You are about to go over a cliff! For those of you whose slumber is not too deep, here is a video by my physicist David Chandler. It’s Physics 101 – how to use your eyes.

    • Samuel Burke

      Excellent post Tony, I guess Michael Scheuer might find it hard to believe that his team that targeted Osama was an operation within an operation and, the reason why he was never allowed to destroy or capture his target.

      what were the Israelis’ doing videotaping the demolition of the towers and celebrating the job well done by another team within the Osama operation.

      building seven is the elephant in the room.

      • archie_leech

        Scheuer would laugh at you idiots. Do you honestly think he hasn’t heard that crap before?

    • michael singer

      i went to the bing site and was told it could not be found. Could you please direct me to this information.

  • Sorry, I got two related posts combined in my last post. The last paragraph was referring to an incident where some old bag scrawled “AE911” on a painting of Liberty in the Louvre. Somehow it never occurs to people that these sorts of incidents are sponsored by intelligence agencies to discredit their targets, in this case Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth. ( This is how the real enemies of our country operate. I have come to believe that Michael Scheuer is an honest guy who even now may not realize what a nest of snakes he was dealing with.

  • ArtieSade

    Some great personal, and otherwise unattainable insight into Brennan’s character and history. Specifically his role, or perhaps lack thereof, in the 12 opportunities Scheuer and his Alec team gave to kill or capture bin Laden, which Scheuer’s spoken at length about on Antiwar Radio with Scott Horton.

    I had to watch the Zero Dark Thirty movie just to see how problematic and propagandistic it was. The CIA officer in the movie was portrayed to be somewhat like the field officer Scheuer described. I wondered if it was the same woman? Jessica Chastain, the Hollywood actress who played the CIA officer was on Jon Stewart’s show and suggested that the actual person the role was based on was still alive.

    In any case, if Brennan’s just a politicized lapdog as has been suggested elsewhere (sometimes he likes drones, sometimes he thinks they’re bad), who’s really running the drone wars?

    • archie_leech

      He’s referring to the agent that was killed by the car bomb in a meeting at a U.S. base in Afghanistan. It really happened *and* was a large part of that movie. She was a co-worker and friend of Chastain’s character in the film. Are you sure you watched Zero Dark Thirty?

  • Claudia LeFevre-Lowry

    The only thing that gives me pause about this article is Schurer’s often anti-Semitic rants about our ally Israel.

    • Well, if someone rants against another government
      are they considered anti-semitic?
      We have many ally’s who serve their own best interest
      and in more than one case this has hindered or hurt the USA. Nothing Against Israel but Mr. Scheuer
      tells it like it is. We never had the opportunity
      to sit in his seat or walk in his shoes.

      Life in the CIA is not like on the big screen with
      Matt Damon, or Robert Redford.
      On another note our ally Israel spits on and beats
      Messanic Jews. Do you have any other comment ?

    • I challenge you to produce evidence to support your accusation of anti-Semitism.

      • reason1984

        There is no evidence. Mr. Scheuer states facts, and apologizes to no one.

  • reason1984

    Thank you for your service sir.

  • Jack

    Mr. Scheuer, you make reference to “..the Hadith—the verified collection of the Prophet Mohammad’s sayings and practices…”

    Which Hadith is this? Verified by whom? Certainly not yourself or Osama bin Laden. There is no central authority in Islam. There are many Hadiths. One would hope a CIA expert would know better. As to Ms. Matthews, why was she meeting an ‘asset’ at all. They are not one’s equal – they are assets. You should have taught her better than that.

  • b2020

    This would have been more effective if kept to items 1 and 2. Item 3 is of little value, but Item 4 says more about Scheuer than Brennan. Scheuer is disingenious here: His 2013 map omits Libya, Egypt and Syria, all of which – the first most clearly – illustrate that a US foreign policy of intervention has fostered the growth of al-Qaeda franchise, which in turn is an opportunistic outcrop of a larger pushback. The incompetence or dishonesty of Brennnan does as little to worsen this dynamics as its absence would do to improve it – a more efficient broken foreign policy will simply blunder more thoroughly.

    Scheuer is disingenious by necessity – he supports the policies that Brennan claims to support, even as he criticizes the person and/or implementation. His justified criticism of an apparatchik like Brennan would have more relevance if he took the time to reflect that if the policies and objectives of US foreign policy facilitate the rise of the Brennan’s of the world, and if the Brennan’s of the world have no hesitation in adopting said policies and objectives, then maybe the policies and objectives themselves are inherently dysfunctional and corrupt. Whatever damage Brennan might have done and might do to foreign nations and US objectives in other countries, it pales in comparison to the damage that Brennan – or Obama, or Bush – have caused domestically. The failure to prevent 9/11, and the inability to resolve Amerithrax are two examples that should matter even to those who refuse to reconsider a self-defeating foreign policy that is poisonous to any open society in its illegality and unconstitutionality.

  • revengex

    jhon brennan is muslim!!
    so HE WILL kill obama