The rumors are true: Barack Obama has picked John O. Brennan as his top counterterrorism adviser, the Washington Post reports, just six weeks after Brennan was forced to back out of the hunt for the CIA directorship. Brennan has made public statements about controversial CIA tactics such as extraordinary rendition—“We do have to take the gloves off in some areas,” he once told PBS—that might have complicated his confirmation hearings. But as an adviser, Brennan needn’t be confirmed.
Obama aides say they believe Brennan when he says he had no role in crafting the CIA interrogation policies. They also dismiss the notion that he’s too close to private security contractors. The counterterror advisory firm Brennan heads is owned by a company that employs hired soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. “No one has been more critical of private security contractors than Barack Obama,” a senior foreign policy adviser said.