John Brennan was sworn in today as the CIA Director by Vice President Joe Biden in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. However, during his swearing in ceremony, he did not place his hand on a Bible and used the "first draft" of the Constitution.
What does it mean that it's a "first draft" of the Constitution? It means it doesn't include the First, Fourth, Fifth, or Sixth Amendments or any of the other Amendments now included in our Constitution, as EmptyWheel points out.
"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."
Later, Yahoo's Olivier Knox provided an explanation from the White House when he wrote of the swearing in:
"Hours after CIA Director John Brennan took the oath of office - behind closed doors, far away from the press, perhaps befitting his status as America's top spy - 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.
"'Director Brennan told the president that he made the request to the archives because he wanted to reaffirm his commitment to the rule of law as he took the oath of office as director of the CIA,' Earnest said."
Regardless of the reasoning or intent, this isn't the greatest symbolism in the world.