John Brennan To Be Named CIA Director
In addition to naming former Senator Chuck Hagel as his new Defense Secretary, President Obama is expected to announce today that he’s naming John O. Brennan as the new CIA Director:
President Obama will announce on Monday that John O. Brennan, his counterterrorism adviser and a career Central Intelligence Agency officer, is his choice to head the agency, two months after David H. Petraeus stepped down after admitting an extramarital affair, a spokesman for the National Security Council said.
Mr. Brennan’s nomination will be announced at 1 p.m. along with that of Chuck Hagel, the former maverick Republican senator from Nebraska, whom the president has chosen for secretary of defense, said the spokesman, Thomas Vietor.
In Mr. Obama’s first term, Mr. Brennan, 57, has played a central role in the oversight of Mr. Obama’s use of targeted killing of suspected terrorists using drones in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. He has become one of the president’s most trusted advisers, and administration officials had said that the C.I.A. job was his for the asking.
The president had considered naming Mr. Brennan to head the C.I.A. when he took office in 2009. But some human rights advocates protested, claiming that as a top agency official under President George W. Bush, Mr. Brennan had supported, or at least had failed to stop, the use of interrogation techniques like waterboarding that are widely considered to be torture.
Mr. Brennan denied those accusations but withdrew from consideration, and Mr. Obama gave him the advisory position, which did not require Senate confirmation.
It is uncertain whether the torture issue will now cause any problems for Mr. Brennan. But he is a far more well-known figure than in 2009, having made many public appearances in the wake of terrorist plots and to explain the legal and policy arguments behind drone strikes.
Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he has been on the front lines in the fight against Al Qaeda, and over the past four years, he has been involved in virtually all major national security issues. He is known to have the full trust and confidence of the president, having been by his side for some of his toughest decisions – including the decision to launch the Bin Laden raid.
It seems unlikely that either the torture issue or drones will be a big roadblock for Brennan. Indeed, since the Hagel nomination is likely to be getting the most attention and heat, it’s likely that Brennan will just sail through.