By Susan Davis, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON -- The Senate Intelligence Committee voted to approve John Brennan, President Obama's counterterrorism adviser, as the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency. The full Senate will still need to vote to confirm him for the post.
Senators from both parties had held up the nomination of Brennan, a longtime former CIA official, so they could get more information about the administration's use of lethal drone attacks on suspected terrorists, including American citizens.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat and the panel's chairwoman, said she scheduled the vote on Brennan after the White House agreed to supply the committee with classified Justice Department memos outlining the legal rationale for the drone strikes.
Senators said they could not exercise proper oversight without the documents. Brennan told the committee last month during his confirmation hearing that he would share more information with the panel if he was confirmed.
Other senators, such as Republicans John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, wanted more information about the administration's actions following the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Despite the concerns about the drone strikes and the threatened delay of the confirmation vote, Brennan was not expected to have difficulty getting through the full Senate. Last week, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel weathered a contentious confirmation hearing and nomination fight to be approved 58-41.
Brennan spent 25 years at the CIA before moving in 2003 from his job as deputy executive director of the agency to run the Terrorist Threat Integration Center. He later worked as interim director of the center's successor organization, the National Counterterrorism Center.
When Bush's second term began in 2005, Brennan left government to work for a company that provides counter terror analysis to federal agencies. After Obama took office in 2009, he returned to the federal payroll as the president's top counterterrorism adviser in the White House.
If confirmed by the full Senate, Brennan would replace Michael Morell, the CIA's deputy director who has been acting director since David Petraeus resigned in November after acknowledging an affair with his biographer.
Contributing: Associated Press