John Brennan was confirmed by the Senate after Rand Paul’s filibuster ended shortly after midnight on Wednesday.
Brennan was approved by a 63-34 vote to be the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). His confirmation was widely expected despite the opposition he received from Senator Paul and others.
Paul launched an old-style filibuster against Brennan’s confirmation, which lasted for 13 hours. Paul also demanded answers from President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder about the administration’s drone program.
Paul questioned when the administration may or may not use unmanned drones to attack Americans suspected of terrorist activity. Holder responded to one of Rand Paul’s questions on Thursday, saying that the president does not have the authority to kill an American on US soil who is not engaged in combat.
John Brennan has played a major role in President Obama’s drone program. The program came under criticism after Anwar al-Awlaki, and American-born al Qaeda cleric, was killed in a drone strike in September 2011. Along with Senate Republicans, two Democrats and an Independent also voted against Brennan’s nomination.
Brennan was grilled multiple times about the drone program during his confirmation hearings and was arguably the most controversial of Obama’s cabinet nominees. Along with Rand Paul, Brennan also saw opposition from Senator John McCain, who also threatened to hold up the vote.
McCain questioned the newly-confirmed CIA director’s stance of torture, saying he did not know where Brennan stood on the issue. He, along with Senator Lindsey Graham also demanded more answers about the September attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
McCain and Graham have been leading the charge against the Obama administration over the attack, which killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. John Brennan’s confirmation means he will take over the CIA from acting CIA Director Michael Morell, who took over after retired General David Petraeus resigned last year.