News Column

Two Good Candidates Could Succeed David Petraeus

November 13, 2012

By Jim Michaels, and Aamer Madhani

President Barack Obama

President Obama will probably seek out a quiet professional to replace David Petraeus, the head of the CIA who resigned over an extramarital affair, experts said Monday.

High on the list are the CIA's deputy director and the White House's top counterterrorism adviser, according to security analysts.

"They have two good candidates from within" the administration, said Michael O'Hanlon, a Brookings Institution analyst and member of the CIA advisory board.

The inside track may go to Michael Morell, who was named as the acting director immediately after Petraeus resigned.

Tommy Vietor, National Security Council spokesman, said Morell "earned the president's trust" as a primary briefer during planning of the operation that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Morell is a longtime CIA officer who spent 14 years as an analyst and manager on East Asia.

The administration may also be considering John Brennan, the White House's top counterterrorism adviser, who has overseen the expanded use of drones and special operations forces against Muslim terrorists.

However, Brennan withdrew his name from consideration for a top intelligence position in 2008 because of his alleged links to "enhanced interrogation techniques" while an official at the CIA.

Experts said the administration may want to avoid a nomination process that dredges up controversial issues.

"I don't think you need to have a major personality at CIA," said Reuel Marc Gerecht, a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former CIA case officer. "It's not required."

Source: Copyright USA TODAY 2012