The Who2 Blog

John O. Brennan Biography: New!

John O. Brennan took the oath of office 9 March 2013 and became the 21st Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Read more in the Who2 biography.

Appointed by President Barack Obama, Mr. John Owen Brennan was confirmed by the United States Senate by a vote of 63 to 34.

His confirmation hearing wasn’t exactly smooth — Kentucky’s Rand Paul held a 13-hour filibuster, the sticking point being Brennan’s role in the use of unmanned aerial drones to fight our enemies (whoever they are). 

Four-plus years ago, Brennan was going to be President Obama‘s pick to head the C.I.A., but that didn’t work out. Brennan removed himself from consideration after there were grumblings about his role at the C.I.A. during the administration of President George W. Bush. In those pre-drone days, the issue was Brennan’s stance on the Bush policies of torture and prisoner transportation (“rendition”).

Brennan has since denounced water boarding, but hasn’t expressed any regret that it was used as an interrogation technique. Back in 2008, he was too close to the outgoing Bush administration for some Democrats (and some Republicans, but not for President Obama).

Instead of becoming C.I.A. director back then, Obama made him a presidential advisor on matters of counterterrorism. Aerial drones have since become an important part of that fight, with the C.I.A. and the Department of Defense angling over who gets to pull the trigger on terrorists.

Brennan is a C.I.A. career man, joining up just after college. He speaks Arabic, and studied Middle East politics in graduate school. Back in 1980 the C.I.A. was probably more interested in recruiting people who spoke Russian, but Brennan became the station chief in Saudi Arabia, so it’s not as if he was stuck in some backwater.

Here’s a photo of John O. Brennan being sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden:

It’s not a bible he’s oathing to — that’s a copy of the original Constitution, the 1787 one, not the 1791 version. That decision caused some raised eyebrows and got tongues wagging about a deeper meanings.

Read more about John O. Brennan in the new Who2 biography.

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