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John Brennan and a Long Overdue Discussion

By New York Times, New York Times - February 8, 2013

John Brennan’s confirmation hearing as director of the Central Intelligence Agency has forced a long overdue discussion of some of the most controversial aspects of the Obama administration’s counterterrorism policy, including the killing of American citizens suspected of terrorism. Unfortunately, on Thursday, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee didn’t always ask the right questions and the nominee’s answers were frequently unsatisfying. 

Take Mr. Brennan’s refusal to describe the waterboarding of terrorism suspects as torture. Under questioning, he said the practice, instituted by President George W. Bush, was reprehensible. He promised that, if confirmed, waterboarding would never been reinstituted on his watch. It was incomprehensible that he did not acknowledge the obvious truth — as Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. and a former C.I.A. director, Leon Panetta, had — that waterboarding is purely and simply torture. 

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