Barack Obama has resolutely opposed giving American telecommunications companies immunity from lawsuits for their work with the NSA, under Department of Justice assurances of legality, to assist in surveillance. He voted against the bipartisan Senate FISA reform bill that Democratic House leadership has stalled. Now Obama’s national-security advisor has gone public in opposing Obama on the key national security issue:
In a new interview with National Journal magazine, an intelligence adviser to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign broke with his candidate’s position opposing retroactive legal protection for telecommunications companies being sued for cooperating with a dubious U.S. government domestic surveillance program.
“I do believe strongly that [telecoms] should be granted that immunity,” former CIA official John Brennan told National Journal reporter Shane Harris in the interview. “They were told to [cooperate] by the appropriate authorities that were operating in a legal context.”
Disagreement on policy points occur between candidates and their advisers, although open breaks on major issues are somewhat rare. However, Brennan goes farther than just mere disagreement:
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.
Brennan isn’t just some guy who did a couple of years at Langley and then wrote a book. He headed the National Counterterrorism Center, which coordinated efforts between the CIA, FBI, and other law-enforcement and intel agencies. He understands how to conduct counterintelligence and the resources needed for its success.
This statement will underscore the lack of seasoning that Obama would bring to the White House. Obama’s own policy adviser describes Obama’s position as one that lacks understanding and/or ignorant, as well as “knee-jerk”. It also points up another aspect of Obama on telecom immunity: for a man who claims he will forge bipartisan solutions, Obama seems determined to sabotage this bipartisan effort led by the man who endorses him as “brilliant”, Jay Rockefeller.
We can take from this that Obama is a naive, knee-jerk liberal who hasn’t done his homework on counterterrorism. And we apparently can quote the Obama campaign on that.