Whether he likes it or not, Obama's nominee for CIA director faces hard decisions that will affect the future of the agency's drone program.
Several news agencies are reporting that John Brennan, White House homeland security advisor and deputy national security advisor for counterterrorism, will be nominated to be the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Since David Petraeus resigned from the position on November 9, it has been rumored that the position is Brennan's for the taking. Several people in the administration believed he would defer the move to Langley, since it would effectively be a demotion from his current position, which allows him to meet with President Obama constantly as -- according to Obama administration officials -- "a priest whose blessing has become indispensable to Obama." Moreover, Brennan would at times call CIA officers directly from the White House, without clearance from Petraeus; a practice one suspects he will not appreciate if he occupies the director's seventh floor office.
It is possible that after previously serving in the Intelligence Community for a quarter-century -- including as the chief of staff to former director George Tenet -- overseeing the CIA is too prestigious a job to turn down. It was also said that he was exhausted by all the duties of his current job unrelated to intelligence or counterterrorism, like coordinating the inter-agency response to Hurricane Sandy, and drafting an executive order on cyber security regulations, because Senate republicans were unwilling to endorse even minimal responsibilities for the private sector to protect their computer systems. As one White House counterterrorism official told me recently, Brennan was by far the hardest working individual among hard workers, and genuinely a nice guy.