Obama's In for an Awkward CIA Transition

His tough campaign rhetoric sets tone as left looks for change
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 3, 2008 12:08 PM CST
In this Aug. 3, 2004 file photo, John Brennan testifies before Senate Government Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (AP Photo/Dennis Cook, File)
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(Newser) – On the campaign trail, Barack Obama frequently railed against the CIA’s secret jails and harsh interrogation techniques. Now, he must lead the agency, and the transition’s already proving rocky, the New York Times reports. Liberal outcry derailed his rumored pick for director, John Brennan. Brennan was chief of staff for George Tenet when the policies were created, but says he was a “strong opponent” of them.

Brennan’s rejection sent a message, says an agency veteran: “If you worked in the CIA during the war on terror, you are now tainted.” Some agents also bristle at public interrogation guidelines, worried that terrorists will prepare for the outlined techniques. One senior Democrat says off-book methods may be allowed, provided they’re non-coercive. Similarly, Obama has said he may keep the secret prisons, but demand Red Cross inspections. (Read more CIA stories.)