For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Matthew Harwood, (202) 675-2312;

Brennan Nomination to Head CIA Raises Concerns

The counterterrorism advisor’s nomination should not proceed until the Senate determines whether his past actions were within the law.

WASHINGTON - President Obama this afternoon nominated his counterterrorism advisor John Brennan to become the next director of the CIA. Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office, had the following concerns with the president’s choice to fill this critical national security post.

Despite media reports that Brennan continually raised civil liberties concerns within the White House, noted Murphy, the Senate should not move forward with his nomination until it assesses the legality of his actions in past leadership positions in the CIA during the early years of the George W. Bush administration and in his current role in the ongoing targeted killing program.

“The Senate should not move forward with his nomination until all senators can assess the role of the CIA—and any role by Brennan himself—in torture, abuse, secret prisons, and extraordinary rendition during his past tenure at the CIA, as well as can review the legal authorities for the targeted killing program that he has overseen in his current position,” Murphy said. “This nomination is too important to proceed without the Senate first knowing what happened during Brennan's tenures at the CIA and the White House, and whether all of his conduct was within the law. “

Murphy also added that a recent Senate Intelligence Committee report could be used to determine the extent of Brennan’s role in these programs.

“To the extent these questions can be answered by the Intelligence Committee’s still-undisclosed report on the CIA’s role in torture, the Senate should use the report to determine what role Brennan had and whether his conduct was consistent with both the law and American values,” Murphy said.

Murphy remarked that the CIA can take two actions now to help restore the rule of law.

“The Senate should not move forward with the nomination of John Brennan until it is clear that he is committed to making sure that the CIA will end its targeted killing program, and agree to work with the Senate Intelligence Committee on the declassification review and disclosure of the committee’s report on the CIA’s past role in torture and abuse,” she said. ”These steps would help assure all Americans that the past wrongs of the CIA have ended, and won't be brought back.”

More information on the ACLU’s work to bring transparency and oversight to the targeted killing can be found at

More information on the ACLU’s work on torture can be found at


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