President Obama nominated White House counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan to be the next CIA director on Monday, for his second term in office.
The son of Irish immigrants, Brennan (57) served as director of the National Counterterrorism Center during the George W. Bush administration. He has 25-years experience in the CIA.
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During the announcement on Monday, Obama said the CIA “will have the leadership of one of our nation’s most skilled and respected intelligence professionals” in Brennan.
Brennan, who describes himself as “neither a Republican nor a Democrat,” said he would “make it my mission to ensure that the CIA has the tools it needs to keep our nation safe.”
His parents are both from Roscommon. He was raised in North Bergen, New Jersey. He attended. St. Joseph’s High School in West New York and Fordham University before he responded to a job posting by the CIA in the New York Times.
During the Clinton administration, one of his daily roles was to brief President Clinton on updates.
He also served as the director of the Terrorist Threat Integration Centre from 2003 – 2004. He served as a station chief in Saudi Arabia and speaks Arabic fluently .
The Irish American played an integral role in the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
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His tenure during the Bush years drew criticism from liberals, which claimed he had beeen involved in the Bush administration’s enhanced interrogation techniques. Brennan strongly denied the claims. Obama considered naming him CIA director during his first term, but Brennan was forced to withdraw his name from consideration.
Speaking about his Irish roots during a lecture in Ireland last October, he spoke about the pride he has in his Irish heritage.
Brennan stated, “It is wonderful to be in Ireland, on a very personal level. I am one of the tens of millions of Americans who proudly trace our heritage to this island and its people.
“My 92-year-old father, Owen, was born and raised in County Roscommon—in Kilteevan and Lecarrow. He worked as a blacksmith on the McCalmont estate in Kilkenny now known as the Mount Juliet Golf Club. And although he left for America and settled in New Jersey, where I was raised, we still have family in County Roscommon, and I look forward to visiting them again tomorrow.”
In his new post he will succeed David Petraeus, who resigned in November after details of an ex-marital affair with his biographer were exposed.
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