John Brennan

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John Brennan with President Obama. Brennan was an advocate for the U.S. Government's torture program.

John Brennan served as the "Terrorism Czar," sometimes called "Homeland Security Czar," but with the formal title as Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism in the Obama Administration.[1][2] Appointed in January 2009, Brennan reported to National Security Adviser James L. Jones. Under President Obama's plan, the homeland security adviser’s office would be eliminated, and the National Security Council would take over those duties.[2] Brennan would be responsible for guarding against natural disasters and terrorism.

On November 2, 2007, Brennan defended the Bush/Cheney torture program:

the C.I.A. has acknowledged that it has detained about 100 terrorists since 9/11, and about a third of them have been subjected to what the C.I.A. refers to as enhanced interrogation tactics, and only a small proportion of those have in fact been subjected to the most serious types of enhanced procedures ... There have been a lot of information that has come out from these interrogation procedures that the agency has in fact used against the real hard-core terrorists. It has saved lives. And let's not forget, these are hardened terrorists who have been responsible for 9/11, who have shown no remorse at all for the deaths of 3,000 innocents.[3]

Brennan was Barack Obama's first choice for CIA Director in 2008[4] during the transition, however the nomination was withdrawn. In 2013, Obama re-nominated Brennan.[5]


John Brennan graduated from Fordham University in 1977 after a year of intensive Arabic and Middle Eastern studies in Cairo. He earned his J.D. from the University of Texas at Austin before joining the Central Intelligence Agency as an intelligence director in 1980. He is a CIA veteran and fluent Arabic speaker.[2]

Previous experience

John Brennan was the CIA deputy executive director from 2001 to 2003. Brennan is known to be a staunch supporter of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Program, and has defended the use of extraordinary rendition, saying it is "an absolutely vital tool."[2] He was previously director of the National Counter-Terrorism Center from 2004 through 2005. Brennan also worked at Analysis Corp, from 2005 to 2008.

During the 2008 Presidential Election, he was an adviser to Obama. Brennan previously served in the administration of George W. Bush, where he had generally used strong means to ensure the safety of Americans, and was an architect of the interrogation techniques criticized by many liberals.


  1. Rise of the Czars,, June 9th, 2009.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 List of Obama's Czars,, August 21, 2009.
  3. The Early Show on CBS, John Brennan interview with Harry Smith. [1]
  4. John Brennan and Bush’s interrogation/detention policies, Examining the actual record of Obama's top adviser for intelligence policy, By Glenn Greenwald, Nov 16, 2008,
  5. By Nominating John Brennan, Obama is Ignoring War Crimes, Glenn Greenwald, NY Times, January 8, 2013.