Why doesn't Obama have the same steely nerve as JFK? If he had, he would have handed CIA Director John Brennan his head on a platter instead of opining about what "a tough job" these guys have, and we need to show some compassion for them - and leave out harsh judgments. Sorry, Obama, you may do that but not citizens who respect the Constitution as you should!
The fact this guy's spook organization - now as out of control as the NSA under his watch (he late the lying James Clapper off last year) - could spy on Senate staffers when the Senate is charged with their oversight is an abomination and affront to everyone. This is especially as the spying involved the Senate's investigation into CIA rendition and torture.
If it had been JFK under whose watch this had occurred, Brennan and likely half his senior staffers would now be taking a hike. But Obama seems to let everything pass, even when the evidence comes out in blinding fireballs of what the spooks are doing.
John F. Kennedy was put on notice from the moment he took office that the CIA believed they were ruling the roost. Without Kennedy's knowledge or oversight, the clandestine services under Richard Bissell had mounted an assassination program to target Fidel Castro. Specifically, the program operated under 'CIA Staff D', a SIGINT or signals intelligence operation run in concert with the National Security Agency or NSA. As pointed out by Peter Dale Scott (Deep Politics Quarterly, Jan. 1994): “In 1961, when William Harvey headed Staff D, he was assigned the task of developing the CIA Assassinations Project, ZR/Rifle”
With the Bay of Pigs invasion, JFK was further played, as Ike was with the 1960 U-2 fiasco. JFK, however, retaliated by firing Allen Dulles, and his deputy Gen. Charles Cabell. (Recall that Cabell's brother, Earl, was Mayor of Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963) JFK also vowed to "smash the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds" so furious was he at the level of CIA treachery. JFK went further by emulating Ike in setting up a Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board - the express purpose of which was to bring the CIA under the control of the President. Kennedy addressed the group on May 15, 1961 and informed them he was "undertaking a total reassessment of U.S. covert action policies and programs".
Kennedy went further, creating a Defense Intelligence Agency, responsible to him, and soon mandating all overflights of Cuba be done by the Strategic Air Command, not the CIA. He also defined a list of directives on what the CIA could and could not, do.
Of course, this stuck in the CIA's craw - bit time - and the shit really hit the fan after they instigated the coup on the Diems in November, 1963. In an early September, 1963 meeting Kennedy was informed by a David Bell of AID (a CIA cover organization) that the funds from the Commodity Import Aid Program had “already been cut off”, essentially assuring a coup would ensue with the Diem government in South Vietnam. (James Douglass, 2008,, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, Orbis Books, p. 192. )
Kennedy was evidently livid and directly asked Bell who had told him to do that, to which Bell replied, “No one” (ibid.). The will to power disclosed here indicates the CIA felt it more powerful than Kennedy’s government or his decision-making. If they felt that way, there is nothing that they wouldn’t do to prevent the President from getting in their way. JFK made bold moves to cut the run amuck spooks off at the knees, but the coup went through, and then they took out JFK on Nov. 22, 1963.
Perhaps all of this backstory explains why Obama is playing nice with the whole national security state, including the torturing CIA as well as the mass surveilling NSA.
While Obama yesterday in a news conference did strongly criticize the CIA saying he could understand why the agency used its controversial "enhanced interrogation techniques" after 9/11, conceding "We tortured some folks", he didn't go far enough in exacting costs to the agency. He employed great rhetoric on how the agency "crossed the line" and he condemned torture, he then undermined all his remarks and moral courage by insisting we ordinary citizens "not feel too sanctimonious" - adding that he believed the spooks responsible were "acting under intense stress and fear".
Please, Mr. President! Don't treat us like puerile idiots. It's not a case of "sanctimony" when we hold the spooks (and YOU!) up to constitutional standards. It's our discernment that this isn't a fascist state (yet) and we expect our officials and the security apparatus that proposes to keep us safe to follow the rules. Those rules are most specifically established in the Constitution itself, which one of my ancestors fought to make a reality during the War of Independence. So don't tell a guy with such ancestors not to be "sanctimonious" over a bunch committing misdeeds you yourself earlier condemned.
But this is typical Obama, and we've seen it before when he gave a pass to the NSA in its overbearing spying, including on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as Brazil's President., Dilma Rousseff.
Giving a pass for torture is one thing, but Obama overstepped the bounds of legal propriety by not holding these fiends to account when he let Brennan remain on his perch - even after lying about spying on the Senate. There is simply NO justification for the actions of Central Intelligence Agency officials who intentionally and surreptitiously hacked into a computer network used by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Worse, Brennan lying his ass off about it afterwards and declaring it never, ever could have happened.
Only a nitwit on the Constitution or historical fool would fail to see Brennan's Agency's antics are a breach of the separation of powers (as Sen. Mark Udall noted) and not merely a crime. Hence, those who perpetrated - as well as those under whose watch it took place - have violated their oaths to protect and defend the Constitution as well as the trust of citizens. Worse, those who did it certainly knew it so are doubly accountable. IF it had happened under JFK, he'd have handed them all their proverbial heads.
But Obama gives them a pass, and this is a guy who supposedly had been a Constitutional law professor.
Given all this, the take of the Denver Post's editors is applicable:
"Heads should roll, starting with CIA Director John O. Brennan. And it shouldn't end with the firings of those who should have known better."
Brennan especially needs to be sent packing after his March outburst where he put on his indignant face and warned that no one should accuse his agency about improper snooping. At the time, I felt he did protest too much, and thus there was much to hide, at least as much as NSA top spook James Clapper a year earlier - who insisted to the Senate Intelligence Committee that his bunch would never, ever do mass surveillance on Americans.
Oh no, perish the thought! The spooks are totally on our side and doing their best.
The Denver Post again (Editorial, Aug. 1):
"It makes us wonder about Brennan's character and competence. If he didn't know CIA employees were improperly searching computers used by congressional staffers.
At the very least he should have found out before denouncing the possibility."
Again, let's bear in mind that Brennan's extraordinary apology was induced after the CIA Inspector General found that the Agency's personnel had improperly monitored computers set aside by Senate staff.
In many ways this CIA Inspector general's report reminded me of the one released on the Bay of Pigs invasion - and how it cleared JFK and blamed the Agency instead.
As per a Baltimore Sun piece ('Internal Probe Blamed Bay of Pigs Fiasco on CIA', p. 6A, Feb. 22, 1998), it was noted:
"The 150-page report, released after sitting in the CIA Director's safe for nearly three decades, blames the disastrous attempt to oust Fidel Castro not on President John F. Kennedy's failure to call airstrikes, but on the agency itself.
The CIA's ignorance, incompetence, and arrogance toward the 1,400 exiles it trained and equipped to mount the invasion was responsible for the fiasco, said the report, obtained by the Associated Press yesterday.
The document criticized almost every aspect of the CIA's handling of the invasion: misinforming Kennedy administration officials, planning poorly, using faulty intelligence and conducting an overt military operation beyond 'agency responsibility as well as agency capability'."
Some things never change. Unfortunately, other things and people do. Kennedy didn't tolerate the Bay of Pigs engineers - firing CIA Chief Alan Dulles as well as his second, Cabell.
If Obama wants to walk in the steps of JFK, as opposed to being a wimp, then he needs to do what Kennedy did.
At the very least, he needs to stop making stupid statements, like:
“I have full confidence in John Brennan"
“Keep in mind though that John Brennan was the person who called for the [inspector general] report and he’s already stood-up a task force to ensure that lessons are learned and mistakes are resolved.”
Not good enough, Mr. Prez! His head still needs to roll and I think you know it! At the very least he's shown himself incompetent and his character questionable. You would be impeached for less so don't make light of it.
We, the citizens, expect you to act - even if it might mean taking some "T".
Clapper kept his job after his lying before the Senate, this should not be a repeat! Show the same respect for the Constitution as when you taught it, sir!