Why the former CIA director is in Augusta during Masters Week

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Photo provided to the AJC by Intersport, via The Augusta Chronicle

AUGUSTA – Masters Week draws a huge crowd of sports figures and celebrities in addition to fans.

Snoop Dogg performed Wednesday night a concert hall that backs up to Augusta National. John Daly is selling swag from his RV outside a Hooters, as has become his practice.

Now here’s former CIA Director John Brennan just to keep things extra interesting.

“There is a distinction between knowledge and wisdom, in my mind,” he said Thursday morning. “Wisdom is using your knowledge to see opportunities, risks, challenges and the things that you need to do.”

Those zen-like words of wisdom sound like something a caddy might whisper just before his guy steps onto the green, but Brennan was addressing a crowd not at Augusta National but at Augusta’s West Lake Country Club, where Intersport and the Washington Speakers Bureau hosted the Executive Marketers Leadership Summit. Joining Brennan to impart fascinating insights was James Beard Award-winning chef José Andrés in a conversation moderated by Business Insider U.S. editor Alyson Shontell.

A longtime CIA operative named to the top spot by former President Barack Obama in 2013, Brennan had plenty of thoughts for the guy in his old boss’ job. Like a lot of people inside and outside government circles, Brennan would like the current commander in chief to give his itchy Twitter finger a break now and again.

“When a president speaks, or tweets, or acts it really has tremendous impact, and so I am hoping that (President Donald) Trump, since he now is in the office of the presidency, will recognize that the importance of the president’s  role is second to none and that he really needs to go to school on some of these issues,” he said. “To me, one of the marks of good leaders is recognizing that what made you successful in this area or realm is not necessarily what’s going to make you successful in something else. You have to adapt to the realities, to the new responsibilities and to the operating environment that you’re in, and I don’t see that adaptation yet.”

He’s not a big fan of Trump’s proposed border wall with Mexico, either.

“We have exceptional good fortune, and to me that requires us to do what we can to have this world as stable and peaceful as possible because we are an interconnected world,” Brennan said. We cannot build walls, despite what some people may think, and keep problems out. It’s very unfortunate, but the partisan borders in Washington run deep and they are swirling about much more so than I’ve ever seen so before. It is hobbling our government’s ability to do what it needs to do on a domestic front as well as the international front.”

He struck a positive chord, though, in expressing his devotion to the Central Intelligence Agency and its mission.

“There is a lot criticism of the CIA in the media and I don’t want to say that all of them are illegitimate, but most of them are,” he said. “We have made mistakes in the past and we need to take account for them, but overwhelmingly what young and old Americans are doing around the globe and around-the-clock on behalf of their fellow citizens really is so inspiring to those that know of it.”

It’s not an easy job, make no mistake. But the dangers associated with CIA duty, Brennan said, “redoubles our commitment to this country so that we can carry on the legacy and honor the sacrifice of lost officers.”


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