WASHINGTON, March 7 (RIA Novosti) – The US Senate on Thursday confirmed John Brennan as America’s next spy chief following days of contentious debate over drone strikes and the federal government’s ability to kill its own citizens in counterterrorism operations on US soil.
Brennan, who had served as US President Barack Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser prior to his nomination, was approved by a vote of 63-34 to become the new head of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
The vote came after Republican Sen. Rand Paul used a legislative stall tactic known as a “filibuster” Wednesday for more than 12 hours to hold up Brennan’s confirmation until the White House clarified the limits on the government’s legal power to kill its own citizens suspected of engaging in terrorism.
Brennan, 57, has been a key proponent of using drone strikes in recent years against suspected terrorists overseas.
Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, sent a pithy letter to Paul on Thursday concerning the senator’s question on the issue.
“It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: ‘Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil,’” Holder wrote to Paul. “The answer to that question is no.”
Paul said later that he was satisfied with the administration’s response.
“I'm very pleased to have gotten this response back,” Paul said on the floor of the Senate on Thursday. “Americans should see this battle that we’ve had in the last 24 hours as something that is good for the country.”
Obama lauded the confirmation in a statement following the vote, praising Brennan for “his determination to keep America safe, his commitment to working with Congress, his ability to build relationships with foreign partners, and his fidelity to the values that define us as a nation.”
“With John’s 25 years of experience at the Agency, our extraordinary men and women of the CIA will be led by one of their own,” Obama said.
Brennan replaces retired Gen. David Petraeus, who resigned as CIA Director in November after it was revealed that he had engaged in an extramarital affair with his biographer.