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John Brennan Fast Facts

CNN Editorial Research

(CNN) — Here is a look at the life of John Brennan, former director of the CIA.


Birth date: September 22, 1955

Birth place: North Bergen, New Jersey

Birth name: John Owen Brennan

Father: Owen Brennan

Mother: Dorothy Brennan

Marriage: Kathy (Pokluda) Brennan

Children: Kyle, Kelly and Jaclyn

Education: Fordham University, B.A., 1977; University of Texas at Austin, Masters in Government, 1980

Other Facts

Studied at the American University in Cairo during college.

Speaks Arabic.

Was considered a shoo-in for the position of CIA director after US President Barack Obama’s election in November 2008. Brennan dropped out of the running for the job after being criticized for supporting the enhanced terrorist interrogation techniques in use since September 11, 2001.


1980 – Brennan joins the CIA’s Directorate of Operations as a Career Trainee.

1981Joins the CIA’s Directorate of Intelligence.

1982-1984 Political officer at the US Embassy in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

1984-1989Works in the Office of Near Eastern and South Asian Analysis in the Directorate of Intelligence.

1990-1992 In charge of terrorism analysis in the Director of Central Intelligence’s Counterterrorist Center.

1994-1995 – CIA’s daily intelligence briefer at the White House during the administration of US President Bill Clinton.

1995-1996 – Executive Assistant to then-CIA Deputy Director George Tenet.

1996-1999CIA Chief of Station in Saudi Arabia.

1999-2001 Chief of Staff to then-CIA Director Tenet.

March 2001-March 2003CIA Deputy Executive Director.

March 12, 2003-December 6, 2004 Founding director of the CIA Terrorist Threat Integration Center.

October 2004-August 2005 – Interim Director of the National Counterterrorism Center.

November 2005-January 2009 President and CEO of The Analysis Corporation.

2008 Intelligence adviser to then-Sen. Obama during his presidential campaign.

January 20, 2009-March 2013 Assistant to President Obama for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism.

January 7, 2013 Nominated by Obama to be director of the CIA.

February 7, 2013 – Testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of his confirmation hearings.

March 7, 2013 – Confirmed by the Senate, 63-44.

March 8, 2013 – Brennan is sworn in as CIA director.

March 11, 2014 – Sen. Dianne Feinstein of the Senate Intelligence Committee claims the CIA secretly monitored the computers of congressional staffers while they were conducting an internal review of the spy agency’s detention program. Feinstein says Brennan told her that the CIA had looked at the computers due to concerns that staffers may have obtained documents they were not authorized to see. Brennan responds that Feinstein’s statement is false. “As far as the allegations of CIA hacking into Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth,” Brennan says.

July 31, 2014 – Brennan apologizes to the Senate Intelligence Committee, acknowledging that the CIA did, in fact, look at their computers.

November 20, 2014 – In a letter to CIA staffers, Brennan announces that an internal review is being launched to assess whether the agency should change its organizational structure as it copes with an ever-changing array of national security issues.

December 9, 2014 – The Senate Intelligence Committee releases a summary report that details the CIA’s harsh interrogation techniques, which included mock executions of detainees and rectal feeding. The report found these techniques were not effective means of obtaining accurate information.

December 11, 2014 – Brennan defends the CIA’s practices during a news conference, declaring that the CIA obtained useful intelligence from detainees, including information that led to the Osama bin Laden raid.

March 6, 2015 – In a memo to CIA staff, Brennan announces changes to the agency’s structure in response to cybersecurity concerns and an increasingly complex counterterrorism landscape.

January 15, 2017 – Tells Fox News’ Chris Wallace that he doesn’t think US President-elect Donald Trump has “a full appreciation of Russian capabilities, Russia’s intentions,” and that Trump’s public displays of contempt for the US intelligence community could undermine national security. His remarks are made after Trump rejects intelligence agencies’ reports of claims that Russia has compromising information on the President-elect.

January 20, 2017 – Leaves office.

May 23, 2017 – Brennan tells House Russia investigators that Russia “brazenly interfered” in US elections, including actively contacting members of President Trump’s campaign, but Brennan stops shy of dubbing it “collusion.”

September 4, 2017 – Is named a distinguished fellow for global security at Fordham Law School’s Center on National Security.

September 19, 2017 – Is named a distinguished non-resident scholar and senior advisor to the Intelligence Studies Project (ISP) at the University of Texas at Austin.

March 17, 2018 – After Trump tweets about the firing of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Brennan blasts the President, tweeting, “When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history.”

June 1, 2018 – In an op-ed published in The Washington Post, Brennan accuses Trump of “lying routinely to the American people without compunction, intentionally fueling divisions in our country and actively working to degrade the imperfect but critical institutions that serve us.”

August 15, 2018 – Trump announces that he has revoked Brennan’s security clearance.

August 16, 2018 – In an op-ed for the New York Times, Brennan says Trump revoked his security clearance to “scare into silence” critics.

October 12, 2018 – In an op-ed published in The Washington Post, Brennan writes that if Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, it was with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s authorization. Brennan writes that his death must be addressed by the US Intelligence community and the Trump administration.

August 31, 2020 – In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Brennan says Trump intends to do whatever necessary to stay in office and “there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that he will attempt to suffocate the flow of any intelligence to Congress that could upend his ruthless ambition.”

October 6, 2020 – Brennan’s memoir, “Undaunted: My Fight Against America’s Enemies at Home and Abroad,” is set for release.

March 31, 2022 – Brennan and other former senior national security officials back Apple practices in an antitrust case. Apple is appealing a September 10, 2021, ruling barring it from making developers exclusively use its app store payment system. The officials contend that Apple accepting third-party apps would harm user and national security.

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