France’s recent interventions in Mali and Somalia underscore the accelerating ability of Al-Qaeda-in-the-Islamic-Mahgreb (AQIM) and its Africa-based allies to threaten the continent’s nation-states, as well as access to natural resources—oil, strategic minerals, and uranium—that are essential to the French, U.S., and other Western economies. The growing power and geographical reach of AQIM mirrors the growth of all components of Al-Qaeda and other Islamist groups, save possibly the central component in Afghanistan-Pakistan. The bottom line here is that sixteen years after Al-Qaeda and its allies began their religious war, the United States and the West confront an Islamist enemy that is larger, better armed, smarter, and far more geographically dispersed than ever before.
Now, that paragraph merits a fuller and more data-supported explanation, but for now, let’s look at one of the men—John Brennan—who for nearly 15 years has ensured both that the above-described growth in the Islamists’ power has occurred, and that most Americans have no idea that a still-growing part of the Muslim world is at war with the United States.
This month, President Obama nominated John Brennan to be the next CIA chief. Mr. Brennan was a longtime Agency officer and held a number of senior appointments there. He also has held a number of senior positions outside the Agency in the nation’s national security apparatus. One might argue that all of these positions were based on Mr. Brennan’s unvarying willingness to say “Yes, my genius leader” to anything his boss of the moment said was a good idea. It also has been said that he was thoroughly detested inside the Agency while working for DCI George Tenet—primarily because his first question on the proposal of a covert operation to protect Americans was always was “How will this impact on Director Tenet’s reputation”—and for fully supporting the CIA’s overwhelmingly successful rendition program while Messrs. Clinton and Bush were in power, and then damning the Agency for the program and helping to destroy it when he snuggled up to President Obama and his consistently anti-CIA party. Indeed, there was a popular joke inside CIA in the 1990’s which ran something like: “Question: Why is George Tenet never photographed from behind? Answer: Because they have not found a way to dislodge John Brennan’s nose.”
Now, it surely would be unfair to deny any nominee a job because of how people reacted to his performance as professional sycophant or because of off-color humor made at his expense. But there are at least four substantive reasons to deny Mr. Brennan the job of heading the CIA. The following are those reasons, and one would think that if the Senate does not ask him about them, it will have failed to do its job.