In the aftermath of September 11th, the Central Intelligence Agency has come under a lot of scrutiny. From Saddam Hussein's (nonexistent) weapons of mass destruction, to the use of waterboarding and other forms of torture, to black sites and secret prisons, the war on terror has certainly tested the agency's credibility.
At his Senate confirmation hearing yesterday, John O. Brennan, President Obama's nominee for director of the C.I.A., addressed these issues, and tried to restore Americans' faith in the C.I.A. Brennan tried to distance himself from the agency's recent past, explaining that he told C.I.A. colleagues his "personal objections" to certain enhanced interrogation techniques, such as "waterboarding, nudity, and others," although he "did not try to stop because it was, you know, something that was being done in a different part of the agency under the authority of others, and it was something that was directed by the administration at the time."
While Brennan expressed his disapproval for torture, he staunchly defended the C.I.A.'s drone program. "I think there is a misperception on the part of some American people who believe that we take strikes to punish terrorists for past transgressions," he told the Senate Intelligence Committee. "Nothing could be further from the truth. We only take such actions as a last resort to save lives when there is no other alternative to taking an action that’s going to mitigate that threat."
Tim Weiner has covered the C.I.A. for Takeaway partner The New York Times, a role that led to his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, "Legacy of Ashes: The History of the C.I.A." He analyzes the Brennan hearings, and discusses the future of the Agency under Brennan.