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John Brennan: No to Waterboarding, but Maybe Yes to Some Rough Stuff

Peter Baker's splashy new NYT magazine piece focuses in part on Obama's newly-visible counterterrorism chief:

Most of those people, of course, were in the moderate camp inside the Bush administration, not the Cheney cadre, or like Brennan they present themselves as simply career professionals who followed orders or who even quietly dissented from the most extreme policies of the last eight years. “I was somebody who did oppose waterboarding,” Brennan told me. “I opposed different aspects of the enhanced interrogation program. But there were some aspects of it that I concurred with.” For instance, he offered, “if you grab somebody by the lapels, and you say, Oh, my goodness, you’ve violated their rights as a person, well, I’m not going to go that far.”

Time and circumstances have changed as well. “Four years ago, I would have said — and I did say — the agency’s detention program needed to continue,” Brennan said, referring to the secret “black site” overseas prisons ran by the C.I.A. “There have been a lot of developments and changes, so the things I might have advocated three or four years ago, because of the changed conditions, because of a new administration, whatever, I wouldn’t necessarily advocate them now at all. I’ve changed my views.”

Brennan says the administration will try to get Abdulmutallab to sing about the terrorists who devised his mission by offering him a plea deal. What will Brennan recommend if he refuses?