Her committee recently completed a three-year investigation of the CIA’s interrogation program, which was largely dismantled before Obama took office. The records show that Brennan was aware of details of the program, but Feinstein said there is nothing to indicate that he played a significant role.
Even so, the White House recently pored over the 6,000-page document to make sure it contained nothing that would derail a Brennan nomination, officials said.
As a senior adviser to Obama over the past four years, Brennan has played a direct role in another controversial CIA program, the expanding campaign of drone strikes against al-Qaeda targets in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.
Senior administration officials said Brennan has fought to impose tighter limits on the use of targeted killing. Nevertheless, the pace of attacks has soared. Of the approximately 390 airstrikes in Pakistan and Yemen over the past decade, more than 340 came under Obama and Brennan, according to the Long War Journal, which tracks drone strikes.
In some ways, moving to the CIA would require Brennan to relinquish some of the power he has amassed in a White House position that he has helped create and define. Known for seemingly interminable workweeks, Brennan was expected to retire. But associates said he has always wanted to be CIA director, a position that unexpectedly opened after retired Gen. David H. Petraeus resigned over an extramarital affair.
At the CIA, Brennan would be in a position to reshape an agency that he has privately described as too focused on finding targets for robotic aircraft. In his remarks alongside Obama at the announcement of his nomination, however, he made it clear that the drone program won’t be dismantled anytime soon.
“If confirmed as director, I will make it my mission to ensure that the CIA has the tools it needs to keep our nation safe and that its work always reflects the liberties, the freedoms and the values that we hold so dear,” Brennan said.