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CIA Nominee John Brennan's Worry Over Torture Ended with Who Might Get Blamed

Though equipped with inside knowledge of the Bush era program, John Brennan took no visible steps to end it

Jon Queally, staff writer

White House counterterrorism advisor John Brennan (R) listens as U.S. President Barack Obama nominates him to become the next CIA director at the White House in Washington January 7, 2013. (Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

As John Brennan readies for confirmation hearings as CIA director, re-surfaced episodes of how the spy operative and national security adviser dealt with knowledge about the torture program under the Bush administration shows that his reticence about painful coercive techniques employed by the CIA on suspected terrorists was less about the unlawful acts themselves, but about who would get the blame if and when word about them slipped out.

As Reuters reports Wednesday, citing unnamed officials with knowledge of those years, Brennan showed concern "that if details of the program became public, it would be CIA officers who would face criticism, rather than the politicians and lawyers who approved them."

Other officials, according to Reuters, say that Brennan possessed personal concerns about "many elements of the program" but only "voiced those concerns privately" inside the agency. There was no indication that he did anything to stop the mistreatment of those being held in CIA detention facilities, black sites, or elsewhere.

Obama's nomination of John Brennan to head the CIA makes it the second time his name has been floated for the position by the president. Brennan withdrew his name from consideration in early 2009 after groups called attention to the role he may have played in the torture and renditions program under Bush.

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