The Senate on Thursday voted to confirm John O. Brennan as the new Director of Central Intelligence, by a vote of 63-34, following what was at times a contentious confirmation process.
Brennan has spent the last four years as the top counterterrorism official in the White House in his role as Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. Originally a consolation prize, following his withdrawal from consideration as CIA Director in 2008, Brennan conveyed the role’s proximity to President Barack Obama into one that possessed a large deal of sway over the counterterrorism policies of the administration.
A second chance to lead the CIA for Brennan came following the surprise resignation of former Gen. David Petraeus in Oct. 2012. In the days and weeks after Obama named Brennan as Petraeus’ successor, however, he faced possible roadblocks from various corners. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) threatened to hold up confirmation until more information was handed over related to the Sept. 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans. Brennan then had to face questions about his role in the waterboarding of detainees during his time at the CIA under the George W. Bush administration.
Brennan received the approval of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Tuesday, following a deal with the White House to provide Senators access to classified memos related to the administration’s ongoing targeted killing program. What could have been a smooth vote to confirm Brennan was held up by a nearly thirteen hour-long filibuster by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) over the potential use of armed drones in the United States.
After receiving a letter from Attorney General Eric Holder clarifying the administration’s position, Paul agreed to allow Brennan’s nomination to come to a vote. The vote for cloture passed easily by 81 votes to 16, paving the way for a swift confirmation vote only minutes thereafter.