WASHINGTON – The Senate Intelligence Committee approved John Brennan as the next CIA director, ending weeks of tense delay and setting the stage for the full Senate to vote on President Barack Obama’s last major pick for his national security Cabinet.
The committee voted 12 to 3 in a closed-door hearing Tuesday, hours after the White House agreed to give the House and Senate intelligence committees secret Justice Department opinions on the targeted killing of American terror suspects overseas, and records from the terrorist attacks at U.S. diplomatic and intelligence compounds in Benghazi, Libya, last Sept. 11.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the committee chairwoman, praised Brennan after the vote and said the CIA “needs oversight, needs supervision, needs direction. And it needs a director.”
A veteran CIA officer, Michael Morrell, has served as acting director of the spy agency since David Petraeus resigned last November in a sex scandal.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he wants the full Senate to consider Brennan’s nomination by week’s end. Brennan is widely expected to win confirmation.
Brennan, 57, the son of immigrants from Roscommon, Ireland, spent a quarter century at the CIA, including stints as an analyst, as station chief in Saudi Arabia, and as chief of staff to then-director George Tenet, among other positions. He has been White House counter-terrorism adviser for the last four years.