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Senate Approves Nomination Of John Brennan As CIA Chief

John Brennan testifies during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee in Washington, on February 7, 2013.
Saul Loeb
AFP/Getty Images
John Brennan testifies during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee in Washington, on February 7, 2013.

After an epic filibuster by Sen. Rand Paul that lasted into the early morning hours, the Senate voted this afternoon to confirm the nomination of John Brennan as the country's next Central Intelligence Agency director.

As we reported, Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, stood on the floor of the Senate for nearly 13 hours, repeatedly asking for an explanation of the Obama administration's targeted killing program.

Right before the vote, Paul said he would drop his filibuster because the administration had provided a key answer.

As Mark reported, Attorney General Eric Holder sent a very short letter to Paul in the early afternoon.

"It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: 'Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?' The answer to that question is no," Holder wrote.

A few hours later, on the floor of the Senate, Rand said receiving that "explicit answer" made the "entire battle ... worthwhile."

Brennan's nomination was approved by the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday. Today, the Senate voted in favor of the nomination 63 to 34.

Brennan has been serving as President Obama's chief counterterrorism advisor. Under George Bush, he served as the interim director of the National Counterterrorism Center.

As Mark reported, when Obama announced the Brennan nomination, he "praised Brennan for his long experience at the CIA and White House and for being a key part of a team that in the last four years took more al-Qaida leaders and commanders off the battlefield than at any other time since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks."

Once sworn in, Brennan will replace Acting Director Michael Morell.

(Paul, by the way, voted in favor of ending debate, but voted against confirming Brennan.)

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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