Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Senate Confirms Brennan as CIA Director 63-34 Vote Follows Paul Filibuster over Targeted Killings

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Senate Confirms Brennan as CIA Director 63-34 Vote Follows Paul Filibuster over Targeted Killings

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- Having spent 25 years as a CIA analyst and overseas operative, John Brennan is one of the few career spies ever to lead America's premier spy service.

The Senate voted, 63-34, Thursday to confirm Mr. Brennan as CIA director after weeks of delay and a dramatic 13-hour filibuster Wednesday, as lawmakers from both parties pushed the Obama administration for access to secret documents about the targeted killing of militants overseas and the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya.

Mr. Brennan, 57, a burly, blunt-speaking New Jersey native, replaces David Petraeus, the retired Army general who ran the CIA during the intelligence failure in Benghazi, and who resigned in a sex scandal last November. Michael Morell, a veteran analyst, has served as acting director since then.

In a White House statement, President Barack Obama said: "The Senate has recognized in John the qualities I value so much -- his determination to keep America safe, his commitment to working with Congress, his ability to build relationships with foreign partners and his fidelity to the values that define us as a nation.

"Timely, accurate intelligence is absolutely critical to disrupting terrorist attacks, dismantling al-Qaida and its affiliates and meeting the broad array of security challenges that we face as a nation," Mr. Obama added. "John's leadership, and our dedicated intelligence professionals, will be essential in these efforts."

Mr. Brennan takes over at a sensitive time for the CIA. He must review a 6,000-page classified report by Senate Intelligence Committee Democrats that sharply criticizes the CIA's use of coercive interrogation tactics, including waterboarding and painful stress positions, of suspects captured overseas after the 2001 terrorist attacks. If Mr. Brennan endorses the scathing report, he will be seen as censuring hundreds of CIA officers who worked on or supported the now-closed interrogation program, including at least two former directors. If he doesn't, he may face difficulties gaining credibility with Democrats on congressional oversight committees.

Mr. Brennan also arrives as the administration debates whether to pare down the CIA's targeted killing of militants and suspected terrorists abroad, and transfer more of the armed drone operations to the military, which also flies drones. …

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