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Monday, January 7, 2013

John Brennan to be Nominated to Head CIA

John Brennan, Barack Obama's top counterterrorism adviser, is to be nominated as the next director of the CIA.
White House Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan  Photo: GETTY


Mr Brennan, a 25-year CIA veteran, is expected to be announced by the White House later today.
 
An Obama  administration official told the Associated Press that the president will also formally announce that he is nominating Chuck Hagel as his next defense secretary. Both men must be confirmed by the Senate.


Mr Obama considered Mr Brennan for the top CIA job in 2008. But Mr Brennan withdrew his name amid questions about his connection to enhanced interrogation techniques while serving in the spy agency during the George W. Bush administration.

Mr Brennan denied involvement in the controversial interrogation tactics, including waterboarding, and has spoken out against them.

The CIA's top job is vacant after David Petraeus resigned in the wake of a sex scandal. An FBI investigation uncovered that Mr Petraeus, a former four star general, was having an extramartial affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell. 

In nominating Mr Hagel, Mr Obama signalled he is willing to take on a tough confirmation fight. Once Hagel emerged as Obama's likely nominee, Republican lawmakers began sharply questioning his commitment to Israel and his willingness to take a hard line with Iran over its disputed nuclear program. 

Mr Hagel, a 66-year-old moderate Nebraska Republican, has criticised discussion of a military strike by either the US or Israel against Iran. He also irritated some Israel backers with his reference to the "Jewish lobby" in the United States. And he has backed efforts to bring Iran to the table for future peace talks in Afghanistan. 

White House officials say Mr Hagel's positions on Israel and Iran have been misrepresented. They cite his Senate votes for billions in military assistance to Israel and his support for multilateral sanctions on Tehran.

Mr Hagel has also been criticised by some Democrats for saying in 1998 that a nominee for an ambassador post was "openly, aggressively gay." He has since apologized for those comments. 

Both Mr Hagel and Mr Brennan have close relationships with Obama, who values loyalty in his inner circle. Mr Brennan, as the president's top counterterrorism adviser, was deeply involved in the planning of the 2011 raid that killed Sept. 11 mastermind Osama bin Laden. And he has led administration efforts to quell the growth of terror organizations in Yemen and elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa.


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