Wednesday, February 3, 2021
Former CIA Director John O. Brennan is an angry man, and his anger mismanagement issues emerge not in the preface to his memoir but in its title, which reads Undaunted: My Fight Against America’s Enemies, at Home and Abroad. The CIA is an executive branch organization focused on foreign intelligence, intentionally headquartered across the Potomac in McLean, Virginia, separated from the White House, State Department, Congress, and all the other policy and partisan bodies. So, who are a CIA director’s domestic enemies—terrorist sleeper cells? Russian illegals? Shady companies aiding Iran’s nuclear procurement efforts? These would be valid targets for joint FBI-CIA attention, and probably anger too.
Four hundred pages later, the reader finds that Brennan’s list contains none of these but it is long, and he exhausts his thesaurus of abusive language against them: Arlen Specter, Richard Grenell, Devin Nunes, Lindsey Graham, Donald Rumsfeld, Michael Pompeo, Trey Gowdy, Michael Scheuer, and Gina Haspel (on and off; she didn’t invite him to CIA holiday parties), and the CIA’s Directorate of Operations generally. Pride of place goes, of course, to Donald Trump. Before Brennan has even met the newly elected Trump, but is en route to brief him in early January 2017, he records that the “mere thought” of the meeting “jarred my very soul.” Brennan’s meetings with, say, Yasser Arafat evince no such dread, and in fact are recounted pretty jauntily.