At a Glance
- Career History: Analysis Corp. (2005 to 2008); National Counter-Terrorism Center, Chair (2004 to 2005); CIA deputy executive director (2001 to 2003)
- Birthday: Sept. 22, 1955
- Hometown: New Jersey
- Alma Mater: Fordham University, B.A. (political science), 1977; University of Texas at Austin, M.A. (government), 1980
- Spouse: Katy Pokluda
- Web site
Path to Power
New Jersey native Brennan graduated from Fordham University in 1977 after a year of intensive Arabic and Middle Eastern studies in Cairo. He earned his M.A. from the University of Texas at Austin before joining the CIA as an intelligence director in 1980.
Brennan held a series of positions at the agency in America and abroad; he worked in Saudi Arabia and in Washington on Near Eastern and South Asian analyses. In the 1990s, he led counterterrorism efforts for a variety of programs and worked closely with Tenet, who appointed him as his chief of staff in 1999.
Brennan's number-one priority will be protecting the U.S. from terrorist attacks. He sees the "war on terror" not as a battle, but rather a global campaign to stamp out terrorism.
In an August 2009 speech before the Center for Straegic and International Studies, Brennan outlined the ways in which Obama's war on terror is different than George W. Bush's, pointing specifically to diplomatic efforts, the decision to close Guantanamo Bay prison, and attempts to mend fences with important U.S. allies. He said Obama was actively confronting al-Qaeda in what amounts to the group's safe haven in Pakistan.
Right now, Brennan is most famous (or some say infamous) for his ties to George J. Tenet, former CIA director under President George W. Bush.
Brennan, who was a top adviser to President Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign, is close to Anthony Lake, a national security adviser to President Bill Clinton who ran the Obama campaign's foreign policy effort.