Security Update

UT grad John Brennan nominated as CIA director; confirmation hearings could be heated

UT grad John Brennan nominated as CIA director; confirmation hearings could be heated

Austin Photo Set: News_aleks_john brennan_ut_cia_jan 2013
President Barack Obama meets with John Brennan Official White House photo by Pete Souza

University of Texas alum John Brennan has been nominated by President Barack Obama to become the new director of the CIA, the White House announced Tuesday.

Brennan, who completed his undergraduate degree at Fordham University and received his master’s at UT in government in 1980, currently serves as Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser. While he is expected to be confirmed, he also stands to face a probing round of questions in his senate confirmation hearings.

As reported by the Associated Press, Senators Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina and John McCain, R-Arizona, have publicly expressed their plans to use Brennan’s nomination, by way of delaying or blocking his confirmation, as leverage to cull answers from the Obama administration about the mishandling of the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi.

"My support for a delay in confirmation is not directed at Mr. Brennan, but is an unfortunate, yet necessary, action to get information from this administration," Graham said in a statement. "I have tried — repeatedly — to get information on Benghazi, but my requests have been repeatedly ignored."

Last month, an independent review board released a report that cited "systematic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels" in the State Department as the reason the attack in Benghazi, where U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed, was able to be carried out.

Senator McCain has also said he intends to question Brennan’s advocacy of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” including waterboarding, during his time at the CIA under the Bush administration following 9/11.

Brennan has since walked back from this stance, and has publicly decried those interrogation techniques, after withdrawing consideration for the CIA director post in 2008 after criticism mounted that some of the interrogation techniques he supported amounted to torture. Following his withdrawal, Obama appointed Brennan his chief counterterrorism adviser.  

The UT grad has recently made strong public support of U.S.-led drone, or unmanned, strikes on foreign enemies, including Pakistan, Yemen, Libya and Afghanistan.

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