Lawrence Wilkerson: John Brennan claims Iran pushing towards a nuclear weapon; ignores National Intelligence Estimate which concluded Iran was not
PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay in Baltimore. And welcome to this week’s edition of The Wilkerson Report with Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, who now joins us from Williamsburg, Virginia.
Larry was the former chief of staff for U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. He’s currently an adjunct professor of government at the College of William & Mary. And he’s a regular here.
Thanks for joining us, Larry.
COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON, FMR. CHIEF OF STAFF TO COLIN POWELL: Thanks, Paul.
JAY: So what are you working on this week? What caught your attention?
WILKERSON: John Brennan’s confirmation hearing, and in particular his comments, very short in his prepared testimony, more so throughout, but his comments about Iran. They strike me as being not unlike those comments made by those in the intelligence community who were more politicized, George Tenet prominently so, with regard to Iraq back in 2002. It seems like the intelligence community has changed its mind, according to John Brennan, who is not even the director yet and no longer believes Iran has not made a decision to weaponize; it has made that decision, at least the way I read his testimony.
JAY: And he doesn’t give any evidence for it. But he’s even contradictoring what Joe Biden said during the election campaign, who was very clear in saying that all the intelligence says that they have not made such a decision.
WILKERSON: I think that’s true. I think probably it was advantageous on his part, because he knows that some of the more strident members of Congress, some of whom he has to depend on to confirm him, their views are pretty close-minded about this, and they are looking for, quote, regime change in Iran, unquote, by any means. And so he’s appealing to them by stating it so apparently categorically.
JAY: So what does it tell us about his boss? President Obama appoints Hagel, Chuck Hagel, who clearly doesn’t think that. Joe Biden doesn’t think that. But then he appoints Brennan that talks this way. I mean, is he trying to get different voices around the table or all different forms of posturing?
WILKERSON: I hope that’s the reason. You know, I could insinuateâ€”and I will right nowâ€”that this is kind of like J. Edgar Hoover. You know, J. Edgar Hoover had so much on so many presidents and ministers of state that he could hardly be fired. Well, Brennan has accumulated quite a portfolio in that regard, particularly as regards Benghazi and as regards drone strikes and so forth. And so one can hardly have him on the outside pissing in, as Lyndon Johnson used to say. One wants him on the inside, regardless.
JAY: Now, most of the attention on Brennan was about drone strikes. He’s been sitting with President Obama deciding who to kill, and his appointment there seems to be a sort of aâ€”almost a codification of that policy. And I don’t know whether Brennan will continue to sit with President Obama on that score or is he going to have some decision-making power himself at CIA.
WILKERSON: Could be. And I’m very alarmed by what I hear are sort of Iranâ€“Contra-like, Bud McFarlane, Admiral Poindexter, Ollie North type operations out of the White House. The last time I checked, by law, the White House, the NSC staff in particular, or someone like John Brennan, is not supposed to be operationalized, that is, they’re not supposed to be running operations in the field, regardless of presidential findings that might change that. I think what I’m hearing is probably accurate. And as I said, I think he probably had a lot to do with Benghazi, and maybe even some of the things he did might ought to be looked into quite closely by the oversight committees in the Congress, if not others.
JAY: In terms of developing even more of an imperial presidency, one of the Republican senators at his confirmation hearing asked him: is he going to be the CIA’s representative to the White House, or the White House’s representative to the CIA? What’s the importance of that distinction?
WILKERSON: Well, that’s an excellent question, because the CIA as it was conceived and as it has been when it operated in its best way should be distanced from the White House quite a bit. George Tenet, for example, got way too close to George W. Bush. You could say that Bill Clinton pushed the CIA director away too much.
But there has to be a happy balance. One can’t be too close to the president, because one becomes then an acolyte and a disciple of what the president wants to do, and instead of giving him the real intelligence, such as it is, one gives him the things that feed his policy desires. And that’s usually bad.
JAY: Alright. Thanks very much for joining us, Larry.
WILKERSON: Thank you for having me, Paul.
JAY: Thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.
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