National security issues are too often twisted by partisan politics, according to CIA Director John O. Brennan, who said Tuesday that he will make more public appearances during his second year as a top spy for the Obama administration to counter an American media and political system that “mischaracterizes” the intelligence community.
“I made a deliberate decision my first year that I was going to not come out and give speeches,” Mr. Brennan told an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington. “I have now decided to come out.”
Beyond making occasional and mandated appearances before congressional oversight committees, CIA directors are known to remain generally behind the scenes while serving a given administration.
Mr. Brennan’s comments Tuesday suggest he’s preparing to shift from that long-standing trend and may be eager to try and connect with audiences. He appeared on stage at the Council on Foreign Relations with a cane in his hand, revealing that he recently fractured his hip after slipping on a patch of black ice.
During an question-and-answer session moderated by Andrea Mitchell of NBC News, Mr. Brennan spoke of the critical view he holds toward the nation’s media and toward political partisanship.
“I find too often in Washington,” Mr. Brennan said, “that there are comments that are made for partisan purposes, which is very unfortunate because I think national security is too important to allow it to be used by the partisan politicians.”
The situation is worsened, he said, by a news media that makes regular practice out of seizing upon and drawing attention to “out of context” soundbites.
“The narrative out there publicly is one-sided and misrepresents and mischaracterizes what the intelligence community’s professionals do on a day-to-day basis,” said Mr. Brennan. “This country has gone through so much over its history. We need to keep it strong. We need to keep it safe. And, the world is a challenging place. And so the CIA plays, I think, a very important role there and I am going to go out more and more.”