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Journalist Warns About Ex-Intelligence Officials in Media

Former CIA Director John Brennan in 2013. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP)

Former intelligence officers are joining mainstream news networks as analysts with increasing frequency—a pattern that threatens the independence of the American press, warns journalist Caitlin Johnstone, who writes at Consortium News:

More and more of the outlets from which Americans get their information are being filled not just with garden variety establishment loyalists, but with longstanding members of the U.S. intelligence community. These men got to their positions of power within these deeply sociopathic institutions based on their willingness to facilitate any depravity in order to advance the secret agendas of the U.S. power establishment, and now they’re being paraded in front of mainstream Americans on cable news on a daily basis. The words of these “experts” are consistently taken and reported on by smaller news outlets in print and online media in a way that seeds their authoritative assertions throughout public consciousness.

A recent example is John Brennan, who was CIA director from 2013 to 2017 and who joined NBC News and MSNBC this month as a senior national security and intelligence analyst. Glenn Greenwald wrote a 2013 article in The Guardian about Brennan, who in 2008 had withdrawn his name for consideration for CIA director because of an outpouring of “strong criticism:”

Brennan, as a Bush-era CIA official, had expressly endorsed Bush’s programs of torture (other than waterboarding) and rendition and also was a vocal advocate of immunizing lawbreaking telecoms for their role in the illegal Bush NSA eavesdropping program. …

Brennan last year got caught outright lying when he claimed Obama’s drone program caused no civilian deaths in Pakistan over the prior year. He also spouted complete though highly influential falsehoods to the world in the immediate aftermath of the Osama bin Laden killing, including claiming that bin Laden “engaged in a firefight” with Navy SEALS and had “used his wife as a human shield”. Brennan has also been in charge of many of Obama’s most controversial and radical policies, including “signature strikes” in Yemen – targeting people without even knowing who they are – and generally seizing the power to determine who will be marked for execution without any due process, oversight or transparency.

Johnstone points out that Brennan also has played a key role in the “Russia-gate” narrative “that has been used to manufacture public consent for new world-threatening cold war escalations,” and warns her audience to “expect a consistent fountain of lies to pour from his mouth on NBC, and expect them to all prop up this exploitative power establishment and advance its geopolitical agendas.”

The Real News names other former U.S. intelligence officers who can be seen on television and points out that these hires are not always friendly to journalists. Michael Hayden, who was the director of both the CIA and the National Security Agency, was hired as a CNN national security analyst, though he has likened Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald to the devil and joked about wanting to put whistleblower Edward Snowden on a kill list. Others include John Kirby, a retired admiral and a former spokesman for the State Department, and Lisa Monaco, who was Homeland Security adviser under President Obama. CNN also hired Phil Mudd, former deputy director of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center, as an analyst.

Johnstone concludes:

Time and again you see connections between the plutocratic class which effectively owns America’s elected government, the intelligence and defense agencies which operate behind thick veils of secrecy in the name of “national security” to advance agendas which have nothing to do with the wishes of the electorate, and the mass media machine which is used to manufacture the consent of the people to be governed by this exploitative power structure.

Emily Wells
​Emily Wells is an Ear to the Ground blogger at Truthdig. As a journalist, she began as a crime reporter at the Pulitzer-winning daily newspaper, The Press-Enterprise...
Emily Wells

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