March 7th, 2013
03:30 PM ET
1 year ago

Brennan confirmed for CIA after drone delay

Washington (CNN) - The U.S. Senate approved John Brennan as the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency Thursday after a Republican senator ended his delay of the vote earlier in the day.

Brennan was confirmed by a 63-34 vote that crossed party lines. His elevation to the post was widely expected, though he faced vocal opposition from critics like Sen. Rand Paul, who filibustered the vote and demanded more answers from President Barack Obama's administration on when they might use unmanned drones to target Americans suspected of being terrorists.

Paul, who led the marathon session on the Senate floor that officially ended Thursday afternoon, said he was satisfied with a response from the Justice Department over whether the president has the authority to use a drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on U.S. soil. Attorney General Eric Holder said firmly that he did not.

Earlier, the Obama administration agreed to provide members of the Senate Intelligence Committee with additional legal opinions related to the targeted killings of Americans who are involved in terror-related activities that threaten the United States or its interests. The White House had previously turned over other opinions about the drone operation to the committee, but some members wanted more information before agreeing to vote on Brennan's nomination.

Brennan has been a top architect of the Obama administration's drone program, which came under scrutiny after the killing of American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in September 2011. He was grilled on the program during confirmation hearings, along with his stance on torture methods that were used during the administration of former President George W. Bush in the aftermath of the September 11, 2011 terror attacks.

Sen. John McCain, one the Republican lawmakers who threatened to hold up a vote on Brennan's nomination in the full Senate, questioned Brennan's stance of torture, saying two weeks ago on CNN's "State of the Union" he was unclear where the nominee stood on the issue.

"Mr. Brennan said he was opposed to waterboarding and torture, but at the same time he has said it has saved lives. I would like to know what lives were saved because the information I have is it saved no one's life. In fact, it was a lot of misinformation," he told CNN's Candy Crowley.

McCain, along with fellow GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, also demanded answers about the September attack in Benghazi, Libya. The two Republicans have been leading voices on the charge against the administration over the attack, which killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador.

Brennan will replace retired Gen. David Petraeus and acting CIA Director Michael Morell at the CIA. Petraeus stepped down from his post in November amid revelations he had engaged in an extramarital affair with his biographer. Morell, a career intelligence officer who was serving as the spy agency's deputy director, stepped in as acting CIA director upon Petraeus' resignation.


Filed under: CIA • John Brennan
soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. Ed

    I'm just happy that the filibuster requires speaking again. It was way too easy when they relaxed the rules.

    March 7, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  2. Jon

    For his next trick, Paul will fillibuster to ensure that drones are used to kill non American, unarmed civilians on the Mexican border.

    March 7, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  3. Anne

    So, let me get this straight, Rand Paul goes off e on a 12+ hour tirade. Then Hagel is confirmed. And the Republican establishment STILL won't get rid of these guys? And they wonder WHY they lost the election! Sheesh!

    March 7, 2013 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  4. Donnie the Lion

    That vote margin was pretty significant.....either the Senate doesn't care or he isn't the awful person people have made him out to be.

    March 7, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  5. Jeb

    Like his father, Rand Paul will accomplish absolutely nothing but adding to the hot air in Washington.

    Saying no to everything is not a way forward for the country.

    March 7, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  6. Anne

    Or should I say(hold your noses people,) after Sen. Rand Paul "droned on" for 12+ hours.

    March 7, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  7. lottie

    after paul wasted our time and money. And the repos want to cut waste.? Then half of the windbags should retire. Just sick of the republican party .

    March 7, 2013 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  8. Victor

    While I disagree with most of what Rand Paul says, I do applaud him for actually speaking during a filibuster. The idea that you can just have a filibuster by saying you are going to have one makes no sense. People used to get catheters so they could filibuster without going to the bathroom.

    It made a filibuster something you had to actually work for and therefor only used when you really disagreed with something.

    March 7, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  9. Sly

    Once again, a Win for President Obama.

    America is in good hands right now, and our President is getting a lot of good things done (Health Care Act, Military cuts, ending wars, stock market at all time high).

    America will have a great 4 years with this strong leader.

    March 7, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  10. The REAL Truth...

    @freedom – thought you wanted guns everywhere? Afraid of a 6 centimeter knife... ha, thought those were on your lunch menu. Looks like the RW loser clan is scared of Brennan too... bwahahaha

    March 7, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  11. DENNA

    Instead of demanding and filibustering, why don't you have a man-to-man discussion with the President. I realize you are not much of a man, but I am sure the President will make allowances, you being a conservative and all.

    March 7, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  12. Mm

    Fred Phred:

    The response you give to someone who tells you that you don't have anything to worry about if you're not a lawbreaker is that laws can change, and so those who were previously law-abiding citizens can be labeled as traitors or terrorists. Extra powers granted to law enforcement, local to federal, are insidious, and we only -think- we know what our rights are, anymore, as they've been turned to swiss cheese and flipped upside down. So we should definitely be wary of these changes and how they could affect us.

    March 7, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  13. frontgate

    So, was McCain opposed to Bush and Cheney when they tortured prisoners?
    Rand Paul is a complete fool. Can't believe the people of Ky elected him. Worthless teabagger

    March 7, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  14. NinetyNinePercent

    What a total waste of hot air. This filibuster crap really needs to be outlawed. Pretty soon states will follow Florida and start filibustering presidential election vote counts. The only reason why Florida didn't get away with it was because their votes weren't going to make a difference in the outcome.

    March 7, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  15. jon

    Bunch of do-nothing windbags. Most all in Congress are. Must be nice to make a good living just spouting off all the time.

    March 7, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  16. Lou50

    business as usual!

    March 7, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  17. Don

    Oh cool.. another old stuffed shirt at the controls. It doesn't matter who fills the spot anyway, whomever it was has to follow the globalist leader(s).

    I commend Rand Paul for his and his colleagues efforts last night even though, the answer was probably another Obama lie. Sleep well, my friends in Washington.

    March 7, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  18. wade

    The most important story around to day and CNN ignores it!
    URGENT: Sen. Rand Paul declares victory after Attorney General Eric Holder sends letter in response to his 13-hour anti-drone filibuster assuring him the president cannot use a drone to kill a non-combatant American on US soil. VICTORY FOR AMERICA thank you Sen. Paul! SHAME ON CNN!

    March 7, 2013 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  19. Andrea

    Thank you Rand Paul for stepping up for America!!! Would have been much easier if the White House had answered the question right away but we already know that we can't expect such things from the Obama administration. Too busy hosting dinner to woo over conservatives.

    March 7, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  20. Pablo

    What a big waste of the governments time.

    March 7, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  21. Johan S

    We should have the right to bear drones. And nukes.

    March 7, 2013 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  22. jason

    What a sad day for America. I can understand if you support Obama for certain issues, but to see so many people blindly supporting the President giving himself the autority to kill an American citizen without due process is just mind numbing. Does not matter if you're a Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, if you support the idea of the President (current or future) of being allowed to kill a US citizen without due process, you should be ashamed of yourselves. Those who do not study history, are doomed to repeat it. Not a catch phrase, but the truth.

    March 7, 2013 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  23. wade

    Paul the new hero of America stopped the most dangerous man in the world Obama from killing Americans on American soil with missiles and they are complete idiots here bashing the Hero while defending the dictator Obama who has all but destroyed America. No wonder America is falling apart.

    March 7, 2013 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
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