There could hardly be an American official more sinister than CIA director John Brennan, yet when his mysterious visit to Kiev at the weekend is exposed in various news media the White House responded with vacuous naiveté and as if Russia is foolishly over-reacting.
It is not without good reason that Brennan is known unofficially as Obama’s “assassination and torture tsar”. The 58-year-old spymaster is the embodiment of how Washington has itself become a secret, unaccountable government that has set itself above the law in the running of torture and assassination programs by presidential command. Brennan is the “éminence grise” of the White House’s covert world of state terrorism.
Following disclosure of Brennan’s weekend visit to the Ukrainian capital, the White House was evidently caught on the back foot. The Oval Office made the somewhat unconvincing attempt to portray it as a perfunctory meeting between security officials. Well, if it was merely a routine itinerary then why was the fact of the meeting such a closely guarded secret – up until the matter was leaked by parliamentary sources in Kiev?
The timing of Brennan’s sojourn in Kiev comes at a crucial juncture. The unelected Western-backed junta in Kiev is threatening a violent crackdown on pro-Russian protesters in the east and south of the country…
So far, the protesters have taken over government and police buildings in the major cities of Donetz, Karkhov, Lugansk, Slavyansk and Horlivka. The takeovers have been carried out with notably little violence – in contrast to the Western-backed street violence that occurred in Kiev from the end of November. The eastern Ukraine protests have met minimal resistance from local police and other security forces, and indeed the latter seem to have willingly joined in the defense of the demonstrations.
The leaders of the self-appointed regime in Kiev are struggling to contain the protesters in the east and south of Ukraine. The chaotic situation is a pointed reminder that the fascists and neo-Nazis who seized power in Kiev at the end of February – after nearly three months of Western-backed street subversion – do not have a democratic mandate to rule over the whole country. The protesters in the eastern cities view the Kiev junta as having come to power illegally. As one woman told media: “They are just a gang of criminals.”
That view would seem to be substantiated by the tacit revolt among police and security forces in the east of Ukraine against the orders for a crackdown given from Kiev. Such clear lack of command over a basic institution of the state indicates that the Kiev cabal has lost control, or more accurately, never had control in the first place – apart from precipitating the illegal coup in Kiev against the incumbent President Viktor Yanukovych.
The vacuum of central authority in Ukraine is evident from the ineffective deadlines issued by the office occupiers in Kiev. Ironically, this supports Moscow’s position that any political solution will have to be based on a federal settlement among the regions of Ukraine. American, European and Russian officials are to meet in Geneva this week, but there is little sign that the Western parties can admit to the reckless folly of their efforts at forcing regime change across Ukraine on the back of the Kiev cabal.
Kiev’s first ultimatum for the protesters in the eastern cities to relinquish their occupation of public buildings expired last Friday. Kiev had given demonstrators 48 hours last week to disperse otherwise it was sending in “anti-terror” military forces to do so. That deadline was defiantly ignored by armed protesters behind their barricades. So too was a second deadline, which expired on Monday morning.
This is the context for the secret visit by CIA chief John Brennan to Kiev at the weekend. The Washington-backed regime is floundering to cope with the nationwide crisis it has helped to provoke, and it needs a steadying hand from Uncle Sam.
The CIA’s covert involvement in destabilizing Ukraine goes all the way back to the end of the Cold War, when the country was targeted for regime change from the early 1990s as a calculated pressure point to exert on Russia. The admission at the end of last year by US state department official Victoria Nuland that the US had funneled some $5 billion into Ukraine for subversive activities under the guise of myriad CIA front organizations, such as the National Endowment for Democracy and the Heritage Foundation, is testimony to this strategic gambit.
The question might be asked: why did Brennan have to visit Kiev in person? Surely, a lesser dignitary bearing a sealed letter would have sufficed? The fact that Brennan was obliged to press the flesh with leaders of the Kiev junta suggests two things. Firstly, the junta is way out of its depth in maintaining a façade of “governance” over a population of 45 million, many of which are armed and implacably opposed to its Western-infiltrated rule. Given Brennan’s top ranking as Washington’s éminence grise, his meeting in Kiev was probably designed at shoring up the shaky US-backed regime in the face of growing dissent.
Secondly, and more sinisterly, Brennan was letting his hosts in Kiev know – in the most authoritative unspoken way – that they could rely on the full panoply of Washington’s state terrorist expertise.
The CIA director is a holdover from the Bush administration in which he was a formative figure in drawing up the torture and extraordinary rendition practices during the 2000s. Brennan’s rise through the ranks of the American national security apparatus is in tandem with the rise of American government lawlessness around the world.
In 2008, he had to withdraw his nomination for the top CIA post under public pressure then from his known involvement in and support for torture. The Obama administration circumvented that glitch by appointing Brennan as the president’s “chief counterterrorism advisor” – a career appointment that did not require Congressional oversight.
Last year, the Obama administration finally appointed Brennan as head of the CIA with minimal controversy. The promotion was viewed as reward for Brennan’s legal streamlining of the American killer drone program, which has given the White House control of selecting targets in the weekly meetings known as “Terror Tuesdays,” where suspects around the world, in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia among other places, are nominated for assassination. This facility of extrajudicial murder in the hands of an American president – requiring no legal or public oversight – is the dubious deft work of John Owen Brennan.
The Kiev putschists came to power after covert snipers shot dead up to 100 people in the Maidan Square, including protesters and police, during late February. The Western mainstream news media quickly blamed the deaths on the Ukrainian security services and the public outcry led partly to the ouster of President Yanukovych on February 22-23. It has since been disclosed that the snipers were actually working for the coup organizers, and there is evidence that the CIA was involved in orchestrating that atrocity, as it had done for the general street protests leading up to it.
In the present standoff between the US-backed regime in Kiev and the cities of eastern Ukraine, the rent-a-mobsters in Kiev led by the so-called Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk are in danger of buckling from the trenchant popular opposition to their illegal power grab. Washington’s $5 billion covert investment in regime change is at stake. This is where Uncle Sam steps in to straighten up the rattled ranks. And who better to exude sinister authority than John O. Brennan – Obama’s right-hand man for state terrorism?
Reprinted with permission from the Strategic Culture Foundation.