Obama Adviser Calls for Retroactive Immunity

Please make this stop. Think Progress reports the bad news:

One of Obama’s advisers on intelligence and foreign policy advisers, however, is someone who “strongly” supports telecomm immunity. John Brennan is a former CIA official and the current chairman of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance. In a new National Journal interview, Brennan makes it clear that he agrees with the Bush administration on the issue of immunity:

There is this great debate over whether or not the telecom companies should in fact be given immunity for their agreement to provide support and cooperate with the government after 9/11. I do believe strongly that they should be granted that immunity, because they were told to do so by the appropriate authorities that were operating in a legal context, and so I think that’s important. And I know people are concerned about that, but I do believe that’s the right thing to do. I do believe the Senate version of the FISA bill addresses the issues appropriately.

This is much, much more offensive than an ad hominem attack on a candidate. Anti-American, anti-Constitution policy positions like this do not belong in the Democratic Party, let alone associated with one of our presidential candidates.

Think Progress notes that this is not where Obama is on retroactive immunity and Obama’s stance is strengthened by receiving the endorsement of Chris Dodd, who has lead the fight against retroactive immunity. It’s safe to say that Obama disagrees with Brennan. But please, can we not find advisers to Democratic leaders that understand the rule of law? And who won’t casually assert that the telecoms “were told to do so by the appropriate authorities that were operating in a legal context” when it’s just not true?

2 thoughts on “Obama Adviser Calls for Retroactive Immunity

  1. If you go to the ABC source, you’ll see the quote from Brennan gets even more interesting, specifically:

    That wasn’t just a personal opinion, Brennan made clear to Harris. “My advice, to whoever is coming in [to the White House], is they need to spend some time learning, understanding what’s out there, identifying those key issues,” including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, he said — the law at the heart of the immunity debate.

    “They need to make sure they do their homework, and it’s not just going to be knee-jerk responses,” Brennan said of the presidential hopefuls.

    He is basically saying Obama is ignorant about the issue (“needs to spend some time learning; need to make sure they do their homework”), and is making “knee-jerk” reponses.

    Pretty unusual when a top advisor ends up publicly belittling the candidate like that. And he’s still the advisor. Maybe this is another NAFTA type situation where Obama didn’t really oppose immunity. Like many of the other opponents, he was just taking that position for its effect on the gullible.


  2. Interesting, thanks for pointing out the extended quotes DaMav. I’m not sure that I’d characterize Brennan as a “top adviser,” though. I’ve never heard of him before and if I remember correctly, the Obama campaign actually cites having about 400 advisers on policy issues. That’s fairly normal for a campaign of Obama’s stature, as most any issue position is vetted by numerous people at the top of the field in question.

    I think the Obama campaign’s response is interesting as well, and echoes what I was saying in the post about Obama himself.

    What does Obama think? “Sen. Obama welcomes a variety of views, but his position on FISA is clear. He and Brennan differ,” said campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor.


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