Obama to nominate CIA and defense chiefs on Monday


President Obama will announce on Monday that John O. Brennan, his counterterrorism adviser and a career Central Intelligence Agency officer, is his choice to head the agency, two months after David H. Petraeus stepped down after admitting an extramarital affair, a spokesman for the National Security Council said.

Mr. Brennan’s nomination will be announced at 1 p.m. along with that of Chuck Hagel, the former maverick Republican senator from Nebraska, whom the president has chosen for secretary of defense, said the spokesman, Thomas Vietor.

In Mr. Obama’s first term, Mr. Brennan, 57, has played a central role in the oversight of Mr. Obama’s use of targeted killing of suspected terrorists using drones in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. He has become one of the president’s most trusted advisers, and administration officials had said that the C.I.A. job was his for the asking.

The president had considered naming Mr. Brennan to head the C.I.A. when he took office in 2009. But some human rights advocates protested, claiming that as a top agency official under President George W. Bush, Mr. Brennan had supported, or at least had failed to stop, the use of interrogation techniques like waterboarding that are widely considered to be torture.

Mr. Brennan denied those accusations but withdrew from consideration, and Mr. Obama gave him the advisory position, which did not require Senate confirmation. But since that time, Mr. Brennan has won the admiration of some rights advocates, in part for his forthright argument that the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, should be closed.

It is uncertain whether the torture issue will now cause any problems for Mr. Brennan. But he is a far more well-known figure than in 2009, having made many public appearances in the wake of terrorist plots and to explain the legal and policy arguments behind drone strikes.

Despite his long C.I.A. career, Mr. Brennan has at times acted as a check on the agency’s aggressive drone strikes and has suggested that the military should take over most lethal action in the long run.

Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Brennan has been on the front lines in the fight against Al Qaeda, and over the past four years, he has been involved in virtually all major national security issues. He is known to have the full trust and confidence of the president, having been by his side for some of his toughest decisions, including the decision to launch the raid on Osama bin Laden.

During Mr. Brennan’s tenure as Mr. Obama’s top adviser on counterterrorism, Al Qaeda’s leadership has been devastated and Bin Laden has been killed. Mr. Brennan has also led the effort to take the fight to Qaeda affiliates in places like Somalia. He helped navigate the challenges of the Arab Spring, including the transition in Yemen, and bolstered domestic security. He has also helped guide the White House’s response to a variety of challenges, from tornadoes to cyberthreats to Hurricane Sandy.

At the C.I.A., Mr. Brennan served in the field and at headquarters, including service as deputy executive director and as station chief in Saudi Arabia. He has repeatedly spoken out about the need for strong oversight and review of counterterrorism actions.

Mr. Brennan has bipartisan credentials, having held senior positions in Democratic and Republican administrations. He has worked closely with members of Congress, as well as Republican governors like Chris Christie of New Jersey, through disaster relief efforts. He has no party affiliation.

Photo: A combination photograph shows Assistant to the President for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security John Brennan (L) and former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) in Washington in January 7, 2010 and in Omaha, Nebraska in March 12, 2007 respectively. President Barack Obama on January 7, 2013 will announce the nominations of Republican Chuck Hagel as his next defense secretary and White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan as the new CIA director, a senior administration official said. REUTERS/Files (UNITED STATES – Tags: HEADSHOT POLITICS) NYTCREDIT: Reuters

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