WASHINGTON (AP) – John Brennan won Senate confirmation Thursday to head the CIA after a late struggle that had more to do with presidential power to order drone strikes than with the nominee’s credentials to lead the spy agency.
The Senate voted 63-34 to give Brennan the top job at the nation’s spy agency. He will replace Michael Morrell, the acting CIA director since November.
The vote came after the Obama administration bowed to demands from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to specify limits on the president’s authority to order drone strikes against American citizens in the United States.
Paul declared he was satisfied with the administration’s statement, which said the president does not have the authority to use a drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil.
Brennan’s credentials to head the CIA were scarcely mentioned in a final 24-hour stretch of political and constitutional drama surrounding his nomination.
Instead, Paul’s filibuster attracted widespread attention on Twitter and other social media, led the party to seek campaign contributions for the 2014 elections and prompted a parade of other tea party-backed senators to declare their support. Other Republicans were critical of the Kentucky Republican, harshly so.