News / USA

Senate Confirms Brennan to Head CIA

John Brennan at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill, Feb. 7, 2013.
John Brennan at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill, Feb. 7, 2013.
Michael Bowman
The U.S. Senate has confirmed President Barack Obama’s pick to head the CIA, counter-terrorism advisor John Brennan.

The 63-34 vote ends a contentious nomination process that was delayed amid heated arguments over America’s use of unmanned aircraft, known as drones.  

With more than three decades of experience in U.S. intelligence matters, John Brennan’s qualifications to lead the CIA were never in doubt.  In fact, much of the late fury surrounding his nomination had little to do with Brennan at all.

During his confirmation hearing last month, senators grilled Brennan about U.S. drone strikes in countries like Yemen and Afghanistan.  Earlier this week, Republicans sought answers from the Obama administration about the possible use of drones to kill Americans on U.S. soil. 

This video frame grab provided by Senate Television shows Sen. Rand Paul speaking on the floor of the Senate on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 6, 2013.This video frame grab provided by Senate Television shows Sen. Rand Paul speaking on the floor of the Senate on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 6, 2013.
x
This video frame grab provided by Senate Television shows Sen. Rand Paul speaking on the floor of the Senate on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 6, 2013.
This video frame grab provided by Senate Television shows Sen. Rand Paul speaking on the floor of the Senate on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 6, 2013.
When Attorney General Eric Holder did not absolutely rule out such use, Senator Rand Paul spoke on the Senate floor for 13 consecutive hours Wednesday to delay a confirmation vote on Brennan.

“The president says, ‘I have not killed anyone yet.’  He goes on to say, ‘I have no intention of killing Americans, but I might.’  Is that enough?  Are we satisfied by that," asked Paul.

Other Republicans criticized Paul.  Senator John McCain labeled it “ridiculous” to even suggest that a president might deploy armed drones to kill American citizens in non-emergency situations.

Shortly before the vote, Paul proclaimed himself satisfied by a letter he received from Holder in which the attorney general stated that the president does not, in fact, have the authority to use a drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on U.S. soil.

The CIA has lacked a director since David Petraeus abruptly resigned last year, a fact noted by the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill, March 5, 2013, after a closed-door committee vote on CIA director nominee John Brennan.Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill, March 5, 2013, after a closed-door committee vote on CIA director nominee John Brennan.
x
Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill, March 5, 2013, after a closed-door committee vote on CIA director nominee John Brennan.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill, March 5, 2013, after a closed-door committee vote on CIA director nominee John Brennan.
“The CIA director position must be filled," said Feinstein. "Five months is too long to leave it vacant.  And John Brennan, I believe, and 12 members of our committee believe, is the right person to fill it.”

The Intelligence Committee has compiled an exhaustive report on CIA abuses committed at secret sites used to interrogate terror suspects after the attacks of September 11, 2001.  Democratic Senator Mark Udall said John Brennan has work to do.

John Brennan

  • 2009-present: Assistant to President Obama for homeland security and counterterrorism
  • 2005-2008: President and CEO of The Analysis Corporation
  • 2004-2005: Interim director of the National Counterterrorism Center
  • 2003-2004: Director of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center
  • 2001-2003: CIA deputy executive director
“Our government has an obligation to the American people to face its mistakes transparently, help the public understand the nature of those mistakes, and then correct them," said Udall. "And in this regard, the next director of the CIA has an important task.  The specific mistakes I am referring to are outlined in the Intelligence Committee’s 6,000-page report on the CIA’s deeply-flawed detention and interrogation program.  Acknowledging the flaws of this program is essential for the CIA’s long term institutional integrity."

Before serving as a White House counter-terrorism advisor, Brennan had a long career in the CIA that began in 1980.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More