Following Iran’s announcement that the head of its nuclear program, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was assassinated on Friday afternoon, Obama-era CIA Director John Brennan set off a storm after criticizing the “criminal” killing.
In response to the Iranian scientist’s death, which was labelled a “major psychological and professional blow for Iran,” Brennan was quick to publicize his condemnation.
This was a criminal act & highly reckless. It risks lethal retaliation & a new round of regional conflict.
Iranian leaders would be wise to wait for the return of responsible American leadership on the global stage & to resist the urge to respond against perceived culprits. https://t.co/0uZhyBTM3S
— John O. Brennan (@JohnBrennan) November 27, 2020
Brennan, an ardent defender of the Obama Iran nuclear agreement, also referred to the assassination as “an act of state-sponsored terrorism” which he claimed was “a flagrant violation of international law.”
Brennan’s comments received fierce backlash.
“It’s bizarre to see a former head of the CIA consistently side with Iranian zealots who chant ‘Death to America’ and reflexively condemn Israel,” wrote Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). “Does Joe Biden agree?”
It’s bizarre to see a former head of the CIA consistently side with Iranian zealots who chant “Death to America.”
And reflexively condemn Israel.
Does Joe Biden agree? https://t.co/H38OB1ejCr
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) November 27, 2020
“Great question,” replied fellow Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX).
Brennan attacked Cruz in response, referring to the senator as “unworthy to represent the good people of Texas.”
But Cruz is far from alone in his outrage over Brennan’s comments.
“Why is @JohnBrennan always on the side of our Enemies?” asked former senior adviser to President Trump Sebastian Gorka.
— Sebastian Gorka DrG (@SebGorka) November 27, 2020
“An operation to prevent an enemy from advancing nuclear weapons tech is ‘terrorism’,” wrote investigative journalist Jordan Schachtel. “Again, Brennan is on the other side. There is no other way to say it.”
“In case anyone was wondering what side he’s really on at this point,” wrote Donald Trump Jr. “It’s insane.”
“There goes John Brennan, advising the Iranian mullahs again,” wrote Senior Analyst for Strategy at the Center for Security Policy, J. Michael Waller.
There goes John Brennan, advising the Iranian mullahs again. https://t.co/AROAkuEHRu
— J Michael Waller (@JMichaelWaller) November 27, 2020
“Imagine being this angry about a dead terrorist,” wrote columnist Benny Johnson.
Imagine being this angry about a dead terrorist https://t.co/o557AIjM4G
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) November 27, 2020
“You’re the criminal, Brennan,” wrote President of the Center for Security Policy Fred Fleitz. “Why are you defending the Iranian mullahs?”
Some pointed out the hypocrisy of Brennan’s comments, considering his role in previous assassinations.
“Absolutely hilarious to watch Obama’s Chief of Assassinations try to explain why the targeted assassination he wants to condemn today because he thinks it involves Trump was radically different than the program of targeted assassinations he reigned over as CIA Director for years,” wrote journalist Glenn Greenwald.
“Beyond that irony — Obama’s Chief Assassin posturing as a moral opponent of assassinations — the Israelis assassinated numerous Iranian scientists during the Obama years, and Obama responded by handing them the biggest military aid package in history.”
Beyond that irony — Obama's Chief Assassin posturing as a moral opponent of assassinations — the Israelis assassinated numerous Iranian scientists during the Obama years, and Obama responded by handing them the biggest military aid package in history:https://t.co/4COuUBLjnT
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) November 27, 2020
“During the Obama admin, 4 Iranian nuclear scientists were killed and one was nearly killed While the Obama admin (of which Brennan was a part of) denied US involvement & condemned violence, language like this was never used,” wrote journalist Yashar Ali.
“@JohnBrennan should weigh in on those killings as well,” he added.
“Interesting thinking about this tweet in the context of Brennan running the CIA, where he undoubtedly had a considerable bodycount,” wrote author David Reaboi. “Odd to [see] him so upset about the death of a guy who could be responsible for the murder of millions.”
“While Brennan ran the CIA, 4 civilian Iranian nuclear scientists were assassinated (2010-2012),” noted political scientist and president of the political risk research firm Eurasia Group, Ian Bremmer. “He never made a public statement like this.”
“John Brennan was the architect of Obama’s covert drone war, which he defends in this thread,” wrote journalist Daniel Medina.
“As such, his criticism of the assassination of Iranian scientist #MohsenFakhrizadeh is quite remarkable,” he added. “He calls Fakhrizadeh’s killing ‘an act of state sponsored terrorism.’”
“Brennan himself is a monster who authorized killing civilians, but is now mad a terrorist was taken out?” wrote author and journalist Mike Cernovich.
“Not that hard to figure out why,” he added, noting possible antisemitic motives.
I used to think the anti-Semitic stuff was a talking point but it’s just not. Look at this fucking tweet. Brennan himself is a monster who authorized killing civilians, but is now mad a terrorist was taken out?
Not that hard to figure out why.
— Cerno (@Cernovich) November 27, 2020
Quoting Brennan’s own harsh depiction of the recent assassination, one twitter user asked: “Are you referring to the killing of the Iranian scientist or the program of CIA torture you continue to defend? Asking for a nation.”
Some noted Brennan’s past participation in assisting the Iranian regime.
“Oh you really are something,” wrote Fox News journalist and investigative reporter Sara A. Carter.
“Iran is the worlds top state sponsor of terror and you assisted in aiding/abetting the enemy with the Iran deal – how much money did the Obama admin turn over to the regime?” she asked. “Sad and criminal were those actions.”
Oh you really are something 👇👇👇 Iran is the worlds top state sponsor of terror and you assisted in aiding/abetting the enemy with the Iran deal – how much money did the Obama admin turn over to the regime? Sad and criminal were those actions 👇👇👇 https://t.co/RWxqakzzHu
— Sara A. Carter (@SaraCarterDC) November 27, 2020
“As reckless and as criminal as sending a billion dollars cash to the Iranian regime while admitting that the money might be used, at least in part, to sponsor terrorism?” asked columnist Joseph Steinberg.
“Or as reckless and as criminal as propping up a regime that murders people for being gay?”
Yet others questioned whether Brennan may have, himself, violated the law with his comments.
“Did John Brennan just violate the Logan Act?” asked OANN anchor Jack Posobiec.
Did John Brennan just violate the Logan Act? pic.twitter.com/UdBfPgbXMa
— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) November 27, 2020
The Logan Act calls for the fine or imprisonment of private citizens who attempt to intervene without authorization in disputes or controversies between the United States and foreign governments.
“Interesting so sounds like you would have called the assassination of Adolf Eichman or even Hitler when they were in power criminal acts and state sponsored terrorism-scary that you were actually CIA director,” wrote attorney Stuart D. Meissner.
“Also sounds like a violation of the Logan Act -ask expert @JoeBiden,” he added.
“Logan Act violation! Logan Act violation!” wrote Texas screenwriter Tom Vaughan.
“Some enterprising journalist should ask John Brennan if this tweet constitutes a Logan Act violation by John Brennan according to the standards articulated over the last four years by John Brennan,” wrote Omri Ceren, national security advisor for Senator Ted Cruz.
Some enterprising journalist should ask John Brennan if this tweet constitutes a Logan Act violation by John Brennan according to the standards articulated over the last four years by John Brennan. pic.twitter.com/N3aLFHXcCB
— Omri Ceren (@omriceren) November 27, 2020
“Remember: The Obama administration targeted and persecuted @GenFlynn for asking Kislyak to not engage in a ‘tit for tat’ in regards to the Russian DIPLOMATS being kicked out of the country,” wrote UncoverDC.com’s Tracy Beanz.
“He was on a valid transition team, conducting valid business,” she added. “Brennan is NEITHER.”
Others referred to Brennan as a threat to national interests.
“John Brennan still trying to prove his Communist bona fides,” wrote author Benjamin Weingarten.
John Brennan still trying to prove his Communist bona fides https://t.co/4q9OTTIbd8
— Benjamin Weingarten (@bhweingarten) November 27, 2020
Reporter Jerry Dunleavy pondered whether Brennar’s comments reflected the positions of the incoming Director of National Intelligence.
“Joe Biden’s pick to be the next Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, was John Brennan’s deputy director at the CIA,” he wrote. “Would be interested in hearing her thoughts on this.”
While receiving much backlash, Brennan’s comments got foreseeable support from progressives and their anti-Israel allies.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who has been criticized for belittling the 9/11 attacks and has been described as a “terrorist supporter” and “terror sympathizer” by former New York City police commissioner Bernie Kerik, referred to the assassination as part of “violations of international law” before sharing and endorsing Brennan’s comments.
“Are Trump & Netanyahu trying to escalate the conflict w/ Iran into a war that no one will win & may devastate the entire Gulf region?” asked President of the anti-Israel Arab American Institute James Zogby, who has described Hezbollah terrorists as “armed resistance,” compared Israel to the Nazi regime, and even attempted to justify Palestinian terrorism.
Former Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting under President Barack Obama, Ben Rhodes, who once boasted about misleading “clueless” reporters concerning the Iran Deal, referred to the assassination as “an outrageous action.”
Ariel Gold, National Co-Director of the radical anti-Israel CODEPINK, which has previously justified the 2009 Fort Hood terrorist attack against unarmed soldiers and has strong ties with the terrorist Hamas group, referenced Brennan’s comments before condemning both President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Let’s hope they aren’t successful,” she wrote.
Brennan’s criticisms were also highlighted by the pan-Arabist pro-Hezbollah news station Al Mayadeen — the media outlet of the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group — which amplified his comments, possibly justifying any future revenge attacks on the part of terrorists and terror-supporting regimes.
According to the State Department, Iran remains the leading state sponsor of terrorism globally.
In addition, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, along with its public pledges to destroy Israel, have made Iran a top threat to both Israel and the United States.
In such a volatile atmosphere, statements such as Brennan’s are far from harmless.
As Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin wrote: “US apologists like John Brennan make weak nations like Iran stronger and strong nations like the US and Israel weaker.”
Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.