Various media reported that new CIA chief John O. Brennan swore his oath of office last week on a Constitution that didn’t contain the Bill of Rights. And, given his strenuous support of the U.S. drone program — which has killed thousands of people, including a few Americans — stories focused on the lack of the fifth amendment’s guarantee of due process. But I wonder if there wasn’t a religion angle there. I’m honestly not sure. Here’s how The Guardian wrote up the news:
CIA director John Brennan swore the oath of office Friday on an original copy of the constitution, the White House announced, which at first sounds pretty cool.
Better than a Bible – everybody does the Bible. The copy is from 1787, and it apparently has George Washington’s personal handwriting and annotations on it and everything. They keep it in a protective manila folder, visible in an official photo of the moment.
So far, so charming – except for one detail:
The founders were quick about the Bill of Rights, ratifying them in 1791. But the constitution was passed without them. A pre-ratification draft of the constitution certainly would not have included them. The fifth amendment’s guarantee of due process before the law? Brennan’s wife’s not holding it and Brennan ain’t swearing on it.
It’s not like the document you swear on matters. None who swear on the Bible are bound thereby to keep the sabbath. You could swear on Our Bodies, Our Selves, probably. The book is just a symbol that the oath-taker is being serious.
As a symbol, though, in this particular case, given that the oath-taker is the man in charge of choosing those people who don’t qualify for due process but instead must be executed immediately – in this case it might not have hurt to stick a copy of amendment number five in there.
Obviously not everyone “does” the Bible when swearing or affirming an oath. And swearing on Our Bodies, Our Selves might not be a symbol that you’re being serious. But is the only interesting aspect here that Brennan swore or affirmed (I’m not sure which) on an original copy of the Constitution?
I’m not talking about the conspiracy theories swirling about some dark alleys of the internet. They originate, I believe, from former FBI agent John Guandolo. He says that Brennan “secretly” converted to Islam while he was stationed in Saudi Arabia. Some might say that the media should have covered this allegation but allegations of dramatically “secret” conversions need much more substantiation for media attention. Particularly when you’re talking about a former spy.