Senate Finally Confirms John Brennan As CIA Director

The vote on Brennan's nomination came only after Kentucky Republican Rand Paul gave up his effort to block it. He spoke on the senate floor for nearly 13 hours, to make a point — not so much about Brennan, but about the potential use of drones to take out American citizens in the U.S.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

John Brennan is the new director of the Central Intelligence Agency. He was sworn in this morning. The Senate confirmed him yesterday with a 63 to 34 vote. But as NPR's Tamara Keith reports, it did not come easy.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: John O. Brennan comes to the job as the nation's top spy, with 25 years of experience at the CIA. Most recently, he served as the president's top counterterrorism advisor. California Democrat Dianne Feinstein leads the Senate Intelligence Committee.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: He will be ready to go, up to speed on the numerous threats and challenges this country faces all over the globe.

KEITH: The vote on Brennan's nomination came only after Kentucky Republican Rand Paul gave up his effort to block it. He spoke on the Senate floor for almost 13 hours - standing the whole time - to make a point not so much about Brennan, but about the potential use of drones to take out American citizens in America.

In the end, he said he would let the vote move ahead, if the Obama administration responded. And White House spokesman Jay Carney says the attorney general did.

JAY CARNEY: He has sent a letter, responding to this question.

KEITH: Does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?

CARNEY: The answer to that question is no.

KEITH: That two-sentence letter was enough for Sen. Paul.

SEN. RAND PAUL: I think that Americans should see this battle that we've had in the last 24 hours as something that's good for the country.

KEITH: Brennan fills the spot left vacant when retired Gen. David Petraeus left the agency abruptly after admitting an affair with his biographer. Tamara Keith, NPR News, the Capitol.

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