John Owen Brennan, chief counterterrorism advisor to U.S. President Barack Obama, has been nominated for the position of director of the Central Intelligence Agency. If confirmed, Brennan will fill the position formerly held by retired General David Petraeus, who quit amid the affair scandal involving his personal biographer. Here’s what you should know about Brennan, his career and his chances for confirmation.
1. Brennan Worked with the CIA for 25 Years in Many Positions
John Brennan has worked as an official of the CIA for 25 years. During his tenure there, he worked as a station chief in Saudi Arabia, a daily intelligence briefer for President Bill Clinton, and director of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center from 2003 to 2004.
2. He Was Nicknamed the “Assassination Czar”
Brennan has played a key role in the post 9/11 policies used to locate terrorists and bring an end to their attacks on American soil. His support of secret drone wars, wireless surveillance, and other means of terrorist espionage have been labeled controversial by some.
3. He Aided in the Killing of Osama bin Laden
Brennan aided the team that brought upon the death of Osama Bin Laden on May 2, 2011. He gave his account of the dire operation to the Huffington Post:
From a visual perspective, here is bin Laden … living in this million dollar-plus compound … hiding behind women who were put in front of him as a shield. I think it really just speaks to just how false his narrative has been over the years. Looking at what bin Laden was doing hiding there while he’s putting other people out there to carry out attacks again just speaks to, I think, the nature of the individual he was.
4. He Called for a Stop to America’s “Iran-Bashing”
Brennan offered a memorable quote on the believed cause of the strained relations between the U.S. and Iran:
A critical step toward improved U.S.-Iranian relations would be for U.S. officials to cease public Iran-bashing, a tactic that may have served short-term domestic political interests but that has heretofore been wholly counterproductive to U.S. strategic interests.
5. He Emerged from a Field of Rumored Candidates for the CIA Nomination
Other government officials have been considered for Brennan’s CIA nomination. Those officials include American Defense Official Michael Vickers, former U.S. Representative for California’s 36th Congressional District Jane Harman, and Republican Congressman Mike Rogers.
6. His Support of “Torture” Practices Cost Him the Nomination Under Bush
John Brennan was once considered for the director of CIA position while George W. Bush served as President. However, due to his past statements supporting “enhanced interrogation techniques,” his nomination was met with opposition. Brennan decided to withdraw from consideration amid the controversy, which centered around his support of extreme “torture” techniques.
7. John McCain Opposes Brennan’s CIA Nomination
Senator John McCain doesn’t support the CIA nomination of Brennan. He’s been quoted as having “many questions and concerns” about Brennan, due to the “role he played in the so-called enhanced interrogation programs while serving at the CIA during the last administration, as well as his public defense of those programs.”
8. Brennan Speaks Fluent Arabic
While Brennan studied political science at Fordham University, he learned how to speak Arabic during his educational stint overseas at the American University in Cairo.
9. He’s the Son of a Blacksmith
— Qamr Zarkaحرية (@irrpfad) January 7, 2013
John Brennan is the son of two Irish Immigrants who hail from Roscommon, Ireland. A news anchor for Ireland’s RTE evening news proudly told viewers that Brennan’s father was a former blacksmith who worked in Kilkenny.
10. His Parents Were Born in the Same Town as the Director of Slumdog Millionaire
Danny Boyle, the director of famed film Slumdog Millionaire, also hails from Roscommon, Ireland.