New CIA director John Brennan was sworn in today after a few weeks of controversy over his role in the U.S. government’s drone program, which some feel threatens American citizens’ due-process rights. Unfortunately, he was sworn in using a copy of the Constitution which doesn’t explicitly guarantee those rights, as EmptyWheel notes:
According to the White House, John Brennan was sworn in as CIA Director on a “first draft” of the Constitution including notations from George Washington, dating to 1787:
“Vice President Joe Biden swears in CIA Director John Brennan in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, March 8, 2013. Members of Brennan’s family stand with him. Brennan was sworn in with his hand on an original draft of the Constitution, dating from 1787, which has George Washington’s personal handwriting and annotations on it.”
That means, when Brennan vowed to protect and defend the Constitution, he was swearing on one that did not include the First, Fourth, Fifth, or Sixth Amendments — or any of the other Amendments now included in our Constitution. The Bill of Rights did not become part of our Constitution until 1791, 4 years after the Constitution that Brennan took his oath on.
Olivier Knox of Yahoo’s Ticker blog points out that the administration made this even more embarrassing than it needed to be: ”The White House took pains to emphasize the symbolism of the ceremony. ’There’s one piece of this that I wanted to note for you,’ spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters gathered for their daily briefing. ‘Director Brennan was sworn in with his hand on an original draft of the Constitution that had George Washington’s personal handwriting and annotations on it, dating from 1787.’ Earnest said Brennan had asked for a document from the National Archives that would demonstrate the U.S. is a nation of laws.”