President Obama’s National Security Advisor, John Brennan, has been nominated by the President to run the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). That’s significant, because it emerged in a story this morning from The Daily Caller that Brennan’s 1980 graduate thesis at the University of Texas argued for, among other things, increased state censorship with Egypt as his case study. Brennan wrote in a frightening statement that “I don’t feel that the possible forfeiture of rights under certain circumstances precludes their inalienability.” Brennan also wrote that “absolute rights do not exist.”
To be fair to John Brennan, it was the case of Egypt that he was addressing specifically, and, in more general terms, how U.S. foreign policy should approach the issue of human rights abroad when dealing with issues of diplomatic relations. However, for someone who has written that state censorship is acceptable and that there is no such thing as absolute rights (which presumably means that there is no absolute right to life itself) to be nominated to run an agency whose primary purpose is to spy on people, Brennan’s confirmation could aggravate ideas among some Americans that “the Agency” is spying on Americans despite the fact that it is not chartered to operate domestically. In a divisive national climate where fully half the country is opposed to the present administration, a Brennan-run CIA might become the object of suspicion and fear for many of our citizens.