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Letter in Support of Brennan Nomination

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 2:03 PM

I’m pleased to report that a group of former Obama Administration lawyers (including yours truly) has just submitted to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence a letter expressing our strong support for John Brennan’s nomination to be Director of the CIA. 

As the letter states, in his current capacity as Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, John “has demonstrated seasoned wisdom and judgment in responding to our nation’s greatest national security threats, and he has consistently reaffirmed his core commitment to conducting our national security and counterterrorism policy in a fashion that comports with our deepest values.”  We close the letter by stating that John “is superbly qualified to serve as Director of the CIA, and we urge his swift confirmation.”

Here’s the full text of the letter:

January 22, 2013

The Honorable Dianne Feinstein
Chairman, U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
211 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Re: Nomination of John O. Brennan as Director of Central Intelligence Agency

Dear Chairman Feinstein:

As attorneys committed to the rule of law who worked on a range of national
security issues while serving in the Obama Administration, we write to express our
enthusiastic support for the President’s nomination of John O. Brennan to serve as
Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Throughout his tenure as Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and
Counterterrorism in the Obama Administration, John Brennan has been a persistent and
determined leader in support of adherence to the rule of law, a principled commitment to
civil liberties and humanitarian protection, and transparency. On a broad range of issues,
he has endeavored to ensure that the national security practices of the United States
Government are based on sound long-term policy goals and are consistent with our
domestic and international legal obligations, as well as with broader principles of
democratic accountability. John Brennan has been a steadfast champion of the
President’s commitment to closing the detention facility at Guantánamo, and has urged
that our Article III courts remain a vital tool in our counterterrorism toolbox. He has
stood firmly with the President’s efforts to ensure that interrogations are conducted in
accord with the law and our values. And he has worked to ensure that the responsible and
effective pursuit of our counterterrorism objectives will not depend simply on the good
instincts of officials, but will instead be institutionalized in durable frameworks with a
sound legal basis and broad interagency oversight.

As a former CIA official and currently the President’s chief counterterrorism
adviser, John Brennan well understands the significant security threats that the United
States faces, as well as the institutional needs of the CIA and its dedicated personnel. He
is also exceptionally qualified to provide leadership and direction to the Agency,
consistent with President Obama’s national security objectives. John Brennan
understands that adherence to the Constitution and the rule of law serve, rather than
undermine, our national security interests. Time and again, he has demonstrated
seasoned wisdom and judgment in responding to our nation’s greatest national security
threats, and he has consistently reaffirmed his core commitment to conducting our
national security and counterterrorism policy in a fashion that comports with our deepest
values. He is superbly qualified to serve as Director of the CIA, and we urge his swift
confirmation.

Sincerely yours,

Sarah H. Cleveland
Louis Henkin Professor of Human and Constitutional Rights*
Columbia Law School
Former Counselor on International Law to the Legal Adviser, U.S. Dept. of State

Gregory B. Craig
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Former Counsel to the President

William S. Dodge
Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Research
University of California, Hastings College of the Law
Former Counselor on International Law to the Legal Adviser, U.S. Dept. of State

Jeh C. Johnson
Former General Counsel
U.S. Dept. of Defense

David S. Kris
General Counsel, Intellectual Ventures
Former Assistant Attorney General for National Security

David A. Martin
Warner-Booker Distinguished Professor of International Law
University of Virginia
Former Principal Deputy General Counsel, U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security

Daniel J. Meltzer
Story Professor of Law
Harvard Law School
Former Principal Deputy Counsel to the President

Trevor W. Morrison
Liviu Librescu Professor of Law
Columbia Law School
Former Associate Counsel to the President

* Institutional affiliations are provided for identification purposes only 

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