Cotton Names Democrats Who Supported Brennan for CIA in 2013, Despite His Senior Position During Bush Administration

May 9, 2018

Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) reminded Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday of their votes in favor of John Brennan to be Barack Obama's second CIA Director, noting his "senior manager" position within the agency during the usage of enhanced interrogation techniques.

The George W. Bush-era tactics are under fresh scrutiny during the confirmation process for Gina Haspel, President Donald Trump's nominee to be the next CIA Director. Haspel, a career intelligence officer, ran a CIA black site in Thailand where enhanced interrogation methods were employed, leading to heavy Democratic criticism of her nomination.

Cotton brought up Brennan's history as a way of pointing out hypocrisy among Democrats during Haspel's confirmation hearing. Shortly before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, Brennan became deputy executive director of the CIA, which Haspel described as the No. 4 position in the agency.

Cotton then reeled off a list of current members of the committee who voted to confirm Brennan in 2013, including Democratic Sens. Mark Warner (Va.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Ron Wyden (Ore.), Martin Heinrich (N.M.), and Joe Manchin (W. Va.), as well as Independent Sen. Angus King (Maine), who caucuses with the Democrats.

Cotton's point appeared to be Democrats supported Brennan in 2013 and knew about his tenure during the Bush administration, while Haspel was being held more responsible for those interrogation methods despite being further down the totem pole.

Brennan, a sharp critic of the Trump administration, has said Haspel deserves the job, calling her a "very competent professional" who carried out her responsibilities consistent with the agency's legal authorities at the time.

Haspel told the committee she would not restart the controversial interrogation program, which has been criticized as torture.