While much of the attention in Washington on Monday was on President Obama’s controversial pick of former Sen. Chuck Hagel for defense secretary, the president’s nominee for CIA director could face his own share of resistance from Congress.
To lead the nation’s premier intelligence agency, the president picked White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, a 25-year veteran of the CIA and someone Obama described as “one of my closest advisers.”
But like Hagel, Brennan has attracted criticism from both sides of the aisle. From the left — and from some on the right — he’s faced complaints for years that he was too close to controversial CIA programs like the enhanced interrogation techniques that some call torture. That issue led Brennan to withdraw his name from consideration for CIA director back in 2008.
Among Republicans, there is lingering bad blood over his clashes in early 2010 about the administration’s handling of would-be Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Brennan was accused of playing the role of political attack dog at the time, taking to the media to criticize those lawmakers questioning the decision to read the suspect his Miranda rights shortly after he was captured.