Michael Reagan: John Brennan—A Warning

In his book The New Reagan Revolution, Michael Reagan warns about John Owen Brennan, the man President Obama has selected to head the Central Intelligence Agency. On pages 283-284, Reagan writes:

“One of the most disturbing of President Obama’s appointments is John O. Brennan, Deputy National Security Adviser for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. On January 3, 2010, Brennan appeared on CNN’s State of the Union to discuss the Christmas day terror-bomb attempt aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253. On the Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight, Nigerian terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to detonate plastic explosives concealed in his underwear, but he was restrained by a Dutch passenger.

“Brennan admitted that ‘the system didn’t work’ . . . [and] added that there was ‘no smoking gun piece of intelligence’ to indicate that Abdulmutallab was plotting an attack. Host Gloria Borger reminded Brennan that the underwear bomber’s own father had repeatedly warned the U.S. embassy in Nigeria that Abdulmutallab was plotting with terrorists. ‘That’s not a needle in a haystack,’ she said. ‘With all due respect, it sounds an awful lot like . . . pre-9/11.’

“Borger is right. Barack Obama has returned us to a pre-9/11 mindset. Someone should remind Brennan that the intelligence community can’t afford to wait for a ‘smoking gun piece of intelligence.’ By the time the gun is smoking, the victims are dead. Brennan needs to understand that his job is to keep the gun from going off.

“On the same show, Borger interviewed former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer. From 1996 to 1999, Scheuer headed the Osama bin Laden unit at the CIA. Borger asked Scheuer to comment on the suicide attack against Forward Operating Base Chapman on December 30, 2009, which killed seven CIA operatives.

“Scheuer replied that the most demoralizing aspect of the attack was that ‘one of the officers who got killed had arranged an operation in 1998 that would have killed or captured Osama bin Laden. And [John] Brennan was instrumental in preventing that operation from occurring. Instead he said the Americans should trust the Saudis to take care of bin Laden. So it’s a painful—it’s a painful death, but more importantly it’s a death that didn’t need to occur had Mr. Clinton, Mr. Brennan, [then-CIA director] George Tenet, and [then-National Security Advisor Sandy] Berger had the courage to try to defend Americans.’

“Now that is a stinging indictment of John Brennan. Scheuer says that John O. Brennan aborted a 1998 plan that would have killed or captured Osama bin Laden. Brennan actually saved Osama bin Laden’s life.

“Scheuer went on to say that the Clinton Administration passed up at least ten opportunities to kill or capture Osama bin Laden. As a result, we got to see what a ‘smoking gun piece of intelligence’ looks like. It looks like the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.”

Michael Reagan, The New Reagan Revolution (New York: Thomas Dunne, 2011), 283-284.