I have had the opportunity and privilege to work directly with both Colonel Pat Lang and with John Brennan, currently Deputy National Security Adviser for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. I consider both men to be friends.
I have known Colonel Lang since 1985. I first worked with John Brennan shortly after 9/11. I cannot vouch for John’s behavior as a young assistant to Alan Fiers, I did not know him then.
I did, however, observe his behavior very closely when he served as Assistant to DCI Tenant, Director of The Terrorist Threat Integration Center (TTIC), and as the Interim Director of the National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC). I personally saw John “speak truth to power.” He displayed constant integrity and adherence to what we knew when we knew it. Even when our analytical findings were not in congruence with the desires of some policymakers, he did not hesitate to stand up for what he perceived as the truth.
In this regard, I compare John Brennan very favorably with Colonel Lang. I do not have to provide examples for Pat, long-time readers of Sic Semper Tyrannis have their own basis for judgment. What you see is what you get with both of these men.
I have written this note because I was concerned with what I believe is a mis-characterization of John Brennan’s performance by the readers of SST and indeed by the Colonel himself.
If you see this note you may take it as further evidence that Colonel Lang is what we call a “stand-up guy.”
I have asked to be anonymous, because my identity has no bearing on these observations."
Perhaps you can enlighten me on one matter. I understand that Brennan was an assistant to DCI Tenant. I am also given to understand that when Secretary Powell went to CIA to vet the intelligence in the run up to the Iraq war (2003), that more than one person in the room knew that a burn notice(or notices) had been issued on Curveball, but said nothing to alert the U.S.Secretary of State of this fact in advance of his appearance at the U.N.
Was Brennan in the room on any of those occasions? Given his high rank, was he, perhaps, aware of the burn notice(s)? What, if anything, was the relationship between truth and power on those occasions?
Thanking you in advance for helping to clarify this small matter for the historical record.
I can state that John Brennan was already at TTIC at that time.
Tenant’s career in the CIA and before is worthy of careful analysis. Too many hill staffers have complexes that prohibit their competent administration or selection of subordinates in the Executive Branch. One cannot assume that others can be trusted to be competent or courageous that is why such a small retinue ususally has the trust of the “Prince” who if correctly self analytical will try and fill gaps if possible in his/her competencies. What gaps did Brennan fill in Tenant’s competency? I have no direct knowledge of either.
“Speaking truth to power.”
Such empty words. Empty, empty words. It takes no courage to speak “truth to power”, save in some of the more barbaric Middle Eastern and African thugocracies; everywhere else, the worst penalty one could possibly face is the loss of one’s career. One can always find another career.
A true man of courage does not bother speaking truth to power. Power does not care about the truth, or lies, or moral judgments. Power cares solely about what power wants, and the rest of it can take a flying leap.
The true man of courage instead finds a way to thwart the aims of power when what the power is contemplating is something morally abhorrent or destructive to one’s own nation. The war in Iraq would certainly have fulfilled both criteria.
Under the circumstances surrounding the runup to the Iraq War, perhaps the most courageous thing that anyone, John Brennan included, could have done would not have been to “speak truth to power” but rather to have spoken truth to the public. This would have been far more helpful than dishing up some meek contrarianism to a bunch of thugs who had long ago already decided what they were going to do, “truthtellers” be damned.
Speak “truth to power”? I find that hard to believe. From what I have observed of how the Bush Administration worked, that was not the sort of thing that was tolerated at all. In fact, when was the last time any mid-level factotum spoke truth to power, as a counter to the worldview of his colleauges and superiors? People like that usually get shown the door…pretty damn fast in fact.
I respect that there are many reasons why you might need to remain anonymous. I’m curious though. If you step back and look at your post, you are personally vouching for the character of another. Yet, you didn’t disclose who you are. I would suggest that the reliability of your statement is actually based on who you are and your character. Although I have to say it must be nice to have friends like you.
If you are unwilling to sign your name its worthless
About the reliability of this anonymous post, I assume that Col. Lang would not have allowed it to appear here if he didn’t regard the person who posted it as a trustworthy individual who had a fairly good reason to remain anonymous. We, of course, are free to take this post in a “maybe yes, maybe no” manner, but unless my assumptions are wrong, it’s not as though it came in utterly unvetted and from nowhere.
General Shinseki had no problem telling truth to power; the ‘true men of courage’ certainly found ways to undercut the Army Chief of Staff.
Colonel Lang signed his name, Mr Anonymous
I am not Mr Anonymous. pl
I assumed the same as Mr. Kart. Are you vouching for Mr. Anonymous although you may not personally concur?
An honorable and intelligent man with whom I do not always agree. pl
Thanks for this clear affirmation, Pat.
I hope you’re feeling better…