File this in the “rumor” category, but when it comes to reporting on the inner workings of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), rumor is often the currency of the realm. According to some officers inside the CIA’s operations directorate, the National Clandestine Service (NCS), there are rumors floating around the Agency that the Director of the CIA, John Brennan, will leave his post as the Agency’s head by December.
While it is unclear whether this is actually true, and even more murky as to what might be driving Obama’s appointee as CIA head to resign, Brennan has served in the post for the past two-plus years, which seems about the average run for recent heads of the Agency (some of whom, by the way, have combined to write a book, Rebuttal, defending the use of enhanced interrogation techniques in the War on Terror).
Brennan has recently made news at the CIA for his continued efforts to transform the organizational structure of the Agency, and in addition to being the CIA’s head, he also served as an officer for 25 years, in the Directorate of Intelligence (DI), the CIA’s analytical branch. Brennan’s career highlights include serving as the Station Chief in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, serving as the President’s Daily Briefer, for President Bill Clinton, and serving as the first Director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), created after the 9/11 attacks.
What the future has in store for the long-time intelligence official is unknown, but it is not hard to imagine him running for political office, serving as the Chancellor or President of a major university (following in the footsteps of former Navy SEAL Admiral and Commander of both U.S. Special Operations Command and Joint Special Operations Command, Bill McRaven), or heading a think tank in DC. His options seem limitless, really.
As far as who might succeed Brennan in the post of CIA Director, President Obama’s National Security Adviser, Susan Rice, seems the most obvious choice, and one could imagine Obama Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough, also in the running. Admittedly, though, going from Chief of Staff to CIA Director could be considered a demotion in Washington, as it takes one from the right hand of the President, to being across the Potomac River, in charge of just one Agency of government (although, a very powerful one).
One can also bet there are one or two dark horse candidates in the running, as well, in the event that the rumors of Brennan leaving do turn out to be true. One of these might be drawn from the Congress, the active duty military ranks, or from Brennan’s own staff at the Agency, if history is any guide.
At any rate, stay tuned for further news of this rumored departure, and if we are wrong on this one, chalk it up as an “intelligence failure” on our part. It happens.