Five things we learned from John Brennan's confirmation hearing
John Brennan at Senate confirmation hearing to be CIA Director
February 7th, 2013
11:06 PM ET

Five things we learned from John Brennan's confirmation hearing

By Pam Benson

John Brennan came well-prepared Thursday and held his own during questioning at his Senate confirmation hearing to become the 21st director of the Central Intelligence Agency. It was in stark contrast to what was considered by many as an ill-prepared, lethargic performance by defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel at his confirmation hearing last week.

Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee mostly grilled Brennan about his knowledge of the CIA's controversial interrogation and detention program and the lethal targeting of suspected terrorists. Republicans tended to focus on leaks of secret information about counterterrorism activities.

While on one hand Brennan was forceful with his answers, on the other he seemed very careful with his choice of words.

Here are five things we learned from the hearing:


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Filed under: Brennan • CIA • Security Brief
John Brennan likely to face Democrats' scrutiny at hearing
President Barack Obama nominates chief counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to be CIA director on January 7.
February 6th, 2013
09:42 PM ET

John Brennan likely to face Democrats' scrutiny at hearing

By Barbara Starr and Pam Benson

As President Barack Obama's pick for CIA director heads to Capitol Hill Thursday for his confirmation hearing, some in the president's own party are threatening to hold up John Brennan's nomination.

Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden told reporters he would "pull out all the stops" to get answers about the legality of targeting Americans involved with al Qaeda overseas. Wyden was not satisfied with a confidential Justice Department memo that was sent to key congressional committees last year but only became public on Tuesday.

The 16-page white paper indicated the U.S. government could use lethal force against an American citizen overseas if the person is a senior operational leader of al Qaeda or one of its affiliates and an attack is imminent. But it was a policy paper rather than the official legal document, which the American Civil Liberties Union says is 50 pages long.

Big shoes to fill: Replacing John Brennan
January 25th, 2013
05:00 PM ET

Big shoes to fill: Replacing John Brennan

By Adam Aigner-Treworgy

Nearly three weeks after nominating chief White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan as the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency, President Barack Obama on Friday announced a replacement.

Lisa Monaco will serve as the new assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism and deputy national security adviser - a long title for a job that up to this point has been filled by the president's closest adviser in the fight against foreign and domestic terrorism.

Monaco comes from the Justice Department, where she has served as assistant attorney general for national security since July 2011. Prior to that assignment, Monaco served as deputy attorney general, chief of staff to FBI Director Robert Mueller, special counsel at the FBI, and during an earlier stint at the Justice Department adviser to Attorney General Janet Reno on national security issues.

A graduate of Harvard University and University of Chicago Law School - where Obama was a professor before entering politics - Monaco spent many years as a prosecutor. FULL POST

Who's the spy boss?
CIA Director Nominee John Brennan and DNI James Clapper
January 14th, 2013
12:01 AM ET

Who's the spy boss?

By Pam Benson

Creating the office of the director of national intelligence in 2005 was meant to improve the management of the nation’s intelligence gathering in the wake of 9/11, but it has often led to turf wars between national intelligence directors and directors of the CIA.

Now President Barack Obama’s nomination of his trusted counterterrorism aide, John Brennan, as CIA director may leave the impression the CIA director is the top spy, even though the director of national intelligence technically would be his boss.

The problem, past directors in both posts and other experts say, is that the DNI’s role is ambiguous.


January 8th, 2013
05:25 PM ET

Obama's CIA Pick & Movie Torture Controversy

Torture allegations in 2008 derailed CIA director nominee John Brennan from getting the same job four years ago. Now as Brennan prepares for his confirmation hearing the movie Zero Dark Thirty opens nationwide and the issue of "enhanced interrogation" techniques are front and center again. CNN's Chris Lawrence reports on the controversy.

Senator threatens to hold up Brennan nomination
January 8th, 2013
01:37 PM ET

Senator threatens to hold up Brennan nomination

Saying he has "not forgotten about the Benghazi debacle," Sen. Lindsey Graham called for a delay in the confirmation process of John Brennan, the president's choice for CIA director, as investigations still continue surrounding the September 11, 2012 U.S. consulate attack in Libya.

"I do not believe we should confirm anyone as Director of the CIA until our questions are answered," Graham said in a statement.

The Republican senator from South Carolina has helped lead congressional efforts to address the deadly attack in Libya. He was one of several Republican senators who sharply questioned U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice and her role in the aftermath of the violence.

Days after the incident, Rice appeared on television news shows and described on the violence as a spontaneous attack spurred by outrage over an anti-Islam film. The intelligence community, however, later called it a terrorist attack.

Rice used unclassified talking points from the intelligence community in her television appearances, which apparently went through multiple drafts before landing in her hands. In briefings to Congress, intelligence officials said the initial draft was more specific in linking individuals to 'al Qaeda.' But when the document was sent to the rest of the intelligence community for review, there was a decision to change 'al Qaeda' to a broader term of 'extremists' for the final version.

Read the story on CNN's Political Ticker

Filed under: Benghazi • Brennan • Central Intelligence Agency • Congress • Graham • Intelligence • Libya
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