Who Is John Brennan, Obama's Pick To Head CIA?

Owen Poindexter
President Obama has nominated John Brennan to head the CIA for his second term. So who is he?

John Brennan, Obama's pick to head the CIA, will likely be confirmed by the Senate. PHOTO: Reuters

John Brennan has been selected by President Obama to head the CIA, and will likely be confirmed eventually by the Senate. So who is he?

John Brennan’s 25 years in the CIA began when he answered a classified ad. Brennan, 57, has a B.A. in political science, a Master’s in Government and Middle Eastern studies and is fluent in Arabic. Obama considered tapping Brennan to head the CIA in 2008, but liberals who tied Brennan to waterboarding during the Bush administration opposed his nomination, and Brennan withdrew. Brennan later said that while he has no regrets about the work he has done with the CIA, he opposes “advanced interrogation techniques,” (a.k.a. torture) such as waterboarding.

One thing that Brennan does not oppose are the use of drone strikes on militants in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Brennan has overseen the use of drones during Obama’s presidency, calling them “legal, ethical and wise.”

Since 2008, John Brennan has served as Obama’s Counterterrorism Advisor, an appointed position that does not require confirmation. Brennan started his career in the CIA near the end of Reagan’s second term and his worked in the administrations of both George Bushes, Clinton and Obama. Given that he has done so with little controversy, it is likely that Brennan will be confirmed by the Senate without a big fight.