Muslim civil rights group troubled by nominee's support for drone program, torture
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 1/8/13) — The nation's largest Muslim civil rights organization today expressed concern about President Obama's nomination of John Brennan to become the next director of the CIA.
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said it is troubled by Brennan's involvement with America's worldwide campaign of targeted killings using drones, his past support for interrogation techniques that have been termed “torture” by human rights groups and for extraordinary rendition — the Bush administration practice of abducting terror suspects and sending them to other countries to be tortured.
In a statement, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said:
“In John Brennan we have an 'architect' of the secret, unaccountable and counterproductive campaign of targeted killings that may violate international laws of war and continues to generate hostility to our nation around the world.
“We are not alone in voicing concerns about the drone program. Retired General Stanley McChrystal said on Monday, 'The resentment created by American use of unmanned strikes … is much greater than the average American appreciates. They are hated on a visceral level, even by people who've never seen one or seen the effects of one.'
“As noted by The New Yorker magazine, 'Brennan has helped construct and justify the Administration's claim that it can kill people, including American citizens, abroad on its own authority, even when those people are not in countries with which we are at war.'
“In this nominee, we also have an individual who sought to provide legal justification for the rendition and torture of suspects in secret prisons. Mr. Brennan has admitted he was 'intimately familiar now over the past decade with the cases of rendition,' which he praised as 'an absolutely vital tool.'
“In a 2007 interview with CBS, Mr. Brennan endorsed the CIA's 'enhanced interrogation tactics' — short of waterboarding — and defended then attorney general nominee Michael Mukasey's refusal to say whether waterboarding amounted to torture.
“Americans of all backgrounds should be concerned about our nation's growing utilization of practices that were historically viewed as beyond the pale for use by our nation's military and intelligence services.
“Mr. Brennan must be questioned on these important issues impacting the rule of law, respect for human rights and America's standing in history.”
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, email@example.com; CAIR Communications Manager Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, firstname.lastname@example.org