News Column

Brennan Confirmed as CIA Chief

March 7, 2013
CIA chief John Brennan

The U.S. Senate voted 63-34 Thursday to confirm John Brennan as the next director of the CIA.

Notice of the vote was immediately sent to President Obama in the White House that Brennan's long, rocky road to the post was over.

Immediately before the confirmation vote, senators voted 81-16 to end debate on the Brennan's nomination to head the Central Intelligence Agency.

A number of Republicans added their votes to the 55 Democratic-controlled votes in the Senate. Republicans voting to end the Brennan debate included some of his harshest critics in the confirmation process. One of those critics, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz, voted to close debate.

Earlier, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said he heard from the White House following his 13-hour filibuster of the Brennan nomination.

During his Senate floor talkathon, Paul demanded the Obama administration explain its policy on use of drones against U.S. citizens.

"We want the president to respond," Paul said during an interview on CNN. "And what we're hearing from the White House is they may respond to my question. If they do, we're willing to let the Brennan nomination go forward."

The Paul filibuster delayed Senate confirmation of Brennan, an architect of the administration's drone program.

Without offering details, Paul said "somebody on my staff and other Republican staffs are talking to the White House."

Republican leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, a fellow Kentuckian, called Paul's filibuster an "extraordinary effort," but McCain and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina challenged Paul's suggestion during the filibuster that the president could order a drone strike on an American citizen without due process, The New York Times said.

"To allege that the United States, our government, would drop a drone Hellfire missile on Jane Fonda -- that brings the conversation from a serious discussion about U.S. policy into the realm of the ridiculous," McCain said.

Graham said he did not remember opponents of former President George W. Bush attacking his policy when his administration began the drone program.

Paul said the filibuster was a last-minute decision.

"We had no plan and I had the wrong shoes on, my feet were hurting the whole day," he told CNN.

He began speaking at 11:47 a.m. Wednesday and finally yielded the floor at about 12:39 a.m. Thursday, Politico reported.

He stayed inside the Senate chamber as he spoke, remaining on his feet for the entire time.

"I would try to go another 12 hours and try to break Strom Thurmond's record, but there are some limits to filibustering and I am going to have to go take care of one of those here," Paul said.

Thurmond, from South Carolina, a States' Rights Democrat at the time, filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1957 for 24 hours, 18 minutes.

Paul ended his filibuster with, "I thank you very much for the forbearance and I yield the floor." He received loud applause.

Soon after, Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., introduced a motion to end debate on the nomination of John Brennan to run the CIA.

Paul started his filibuster after receiving a letter Monday from Attorney General Eric Holder that refused to rule out the use of drone strikes against Americans within the United States in "extraordinary circumstances" such as the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Holder sent Paul another letter Thursday in response to the filibuster saying the United States does not have the authority to use a drone attack against a U.S. citizen not engaged in combat on U.S. soil, The Hill reported.

"The president has not and would not use drone strikes against American citizens on American soil," White House press secretary Jay Carney said when he discussed the letter during a press briefing. "This debate has nothing to do with the qualifications of John Brennan, Sen. Paul said as much yesterday."

Source: Copyright United Press International 2013

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