News Column

Obama May Pick Low-profile CIA Head

Nov 14, 2012


President Obama will probably avoid a prominent name and instead seek out a quiet professional to replace David Petraeus, the head of the CIA who resigned after acknowledging 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, noted that Morell, who served as one of the primary briefers to the president during planning of the operation that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden, "developed a very close relationship with the president" and "earned the president's trust."

Morell is a career CIA officer and began his career at the agency as an analyst tracking international energy issues, then worked for 14 years as an analyst and manager on East Asia. He has held several leadership positions at the agency.

Morell could serve as acting director for several months before a permanent replacement is named.

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 Islamic terrorists, experts say.

Source: (C) 2012 Tulsa World. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved

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