One thing that’s not conference-related: The New York Times reports that John Brennan, the controversial ex-CIA official who abruptly withdrew as Barack Obama’s CIA director in November, will become White House director of counterterrorism. Brennan came under fire from Salon’s Glenn Greenwald for statements that took a soft line on rendering terrorism detainees to the custody of countries that practice torture.
Two things. One, with Brennan going to the White House, some of the agonized CIA employees who feared that Obama threw Brennan under the bus can probably rest assured. Two, as a White House official, Brennan won’t go through confirmation hearings and probably won’t give much open congressional testimony, as is typical. So it’ll be difficult to get much more light shed on his current views on detention, rendition and interrogation when he doesn’t want to give it.