Transcript: Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s Q&A on the nomination of John Brennan as CIA Director

Transcribed & edited by Jenny Jiang

Partial transcript of Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s Q&A on the nomination of White House Counter-Terrorism Adviser John Brennan as the next CIA Director. The Senate Intelligence Committee hearing was held on Feb. 7, 2013:

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.):
…In my office, you and I discussed this committee’s landmark report on this program. You do understand that this took 6 years to write – not just 6,000 pages but 6 years to write. Perhaps longer. 30,000 footnotes.

Why did we do this? We did this because we heard nothing from the intelligence agency. We had no way of being briefed. They would not tell us what was going on so we had to do our own investigation and we’re pretty good at it!

And when you read those first 350 pages, you told me that you were shocked at some of what you read. You did not know that. And that, to me, is shocking. But not to condemn anybody but when you said that, that has to be fixed, changed forever. There never can be that kind of situation again where we have to tell you what’s going wrong in your agency and, thus, demoralizing some of the people in your agency who want to be relieved of the burden, the taint of bad techniques in interrogation. They suffer from that. And yet, nobody would talk with us about that. We had to get that information on our own…

I’m also very aware that this is all very crucial to the President’s authority not just on the more modern question of the day about drones, but you know that that determination is made by one person and one person alone.

And if there’s a breakdown in protocol, if there’s a breakdown in the line of command in reacting and therefore…this detention and interrogation program, I’ve got to say the people who ran it were ignorant of the topic, executed by personnel without relevant experience, managed incompetently by senior officials who did not pay attention to crucial details, and corrupted by personnel with pecuniary conflicts of interests. It was sold to the policymakers – the White House, the Department of Justice, the Congress – with grossly inflated claims of professionals who have effected this so-called “lives saved.” It was a low point in our history and this document, this book, should change that forever…

How do you cross referencing of the EIT [Enhanced Interrogation Techniques] disaster and the future of the drone and the decisions that only the President, of course, can authorize that but the decision is sometimes passed down and has to be passed down in a very accurate manner and there have to be a protocol, which is exact – more exact than even the interrogation techniques…But the drones are going to grow – there’s going to be more and more of that warfare not just by us but by other countries, including perhaps by people within our own country. So the protocol of that insofar as it would refer to
a particular agency is going to have to be exact and directed and of particular excellence and exactitude. How will that happen?

John Brennan:
Senator, you make an excellent point, and that’s what I’m most interested in is finding out what went wrong if this report is, as stated, accurate. What went wrong in the system where there was systemic failure, where there was mismanagement or inaccurate information that was put forward because there are covert actions activities that are taking place, you know, today under the direction and management of the CIA. And I would have the obligation to make sure I can say to this committee that all those covert action programs are being run effectively, they’re being well-managed, they’re been overseen, and if the measures of effectiveness – the results of those programs – are an accurate and fair representation of what actually is happening. This report raises serious questions about whether or not there are serious systemic issues that are at play here. I would need to get my arms around that, and that would be one of my highest priorities if I were to go to the agency.

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13 Comments on “Transcript: Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s Q&A on the nomination of John Brennan as CIA Director

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