Created on: March 10, 2013
If the 13-hour filibuster waged against the nomination of now-confirmed Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director John Brennan is any example, it looks like both Director Brennan and the Obama Administration may be in for a rough road ahead in seeking a bipartisan intelligence policy. While Brennan was ultimately confirmed, many in the Senate used the process to clarify the Obama Administration’s position on drones.
Leading the charge with the filibuster was Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky), who finally acquiesced to allow the vote on Brennan to go through on March 7, 2013. Among some of the many things Paul said over the many hours, according the CBS News, was the following: “I rise today to begin to filibuster John Brennan’s nomination for the CIA. I will speak until I can no longer speak. I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court.”
At issue is the question of whether the Obama Administration believes it is within its purview to use a weaponized drone against an American citizen in the United States. When US Attorney General Eric Holder agreed that it might be plausible under “extraordinary circumstance,” eventually Holder was compelled to send a letter to Paul that firmly acknowledged that the president was not authorized to do that if the person was not actively engaged in war against the United States.
Not everyone was satisfied
While the receipt of the letter satisfied Senator Paul (but did not convince him to vote for Brennan), not everyone felt the same. Most notably, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) voted against the Brennan confirmation, citing his own impatience with the slow response by the Administration.
Brennan’s new challenges
John Brennan, who now stands confirmed, has long served as a counterterrorism expert to the Obama White House. Following the final vote (63-34), the President issued a statement that put the focus back on Brennan (whose qualifications were never in doubt) and his new position, citing, “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” as the qualities that made him ideal for the job.
A 25-year veteran of the intelligence community, as director of the CIA, Brennan will face a wide range of challenges, from “budget cuts …[under] sequestration to a shortage of covert agents who have the language and cultural skills to collect intelligence …[to] terrorist groups [as they] splinter and spread from Pakistan and Iraq to Yemen and Mali,” noted “Bloomberg Businessweek.”
Brennan takes over the role of CIA head from Michael Morell, the deputy director, who assumed the position when General David Petraeus resigned amidst scandal over an affair with the author of his biography.
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