March 6, 2013
“President Assad should understand the world is watching his every action. And we will not tolerate his unforgiveable slaughter of innocent civilians, including through the potential future use of chemical weapons.”
“[John Brennan’s] extensive intelligence background and executive experience uniquely qualify him to lead the Central Intelligence Agency.”
“Unfortunately, the confirmation process has focused too much this year on partisan, political considerations and not enough on the quality of the nominees.”
Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding a Republican filibuster of John Brennan’s nomination to director of the Central Intelligence Agency, as well as the ongoing violence in Syria. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
Each day the world watches in horror as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad carries out a campaign of wanton violence that has killed more than 70,000 of his own citizens. These atrocities have gone on for far too long. It is time that this awful dictator steps down and allows his people to pursue a peaceful transition to democracy.
Assad grows increasingly desperate, as rebels continue to gain ground despite the full force of Assad’s military arsenal. President Assad should understand the world is watching his every action. And we will not tolerate his unforgiveable slaughter of innocent civilians, including through the potential future use of chemical weapons. President Obama has been clear: the use of such chemical weapons would constitute a “red line” for the United States and for the international community.
Rather than continue to kill his own people, President Assad should end the bloodshed and relinquish power to Syria’s citizens.
As America closely observes unfolding events in Syria, and deals with varied threats around the world, it is crucial that President Obama has a seasoned national security team in place.
It’s often said there is no substitute for experience, so it’s natural that 25-year CIA veteran John Brennan was reported out of the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday on an overwhelming, bipartisan vote. Mr. Brennan is a highly qualified nominee and should be confirmed quickly.
As Deputy National Security Advisor since 2009, John Brennan has been President Obama’s chief homeland security and counterterrorism advisor. He has been at the forefront of every major national security decision made during the Obama Administration. He is responsible for the White House response to pandemics, cyber threats, natural disasters and terrorism attacks. And he played an instrumental role in finding Osama bin Laden and decimating al Qaeda.
But his distinguished intelligence career began more than 30 years ago, when he joined the CIA as a career trainee straight out of graduate schools. Mr. Brennan worked his way up through the agency to serve in senior management roles at the CIA – including as Deputy Executive Director under George Tenant.
Years spent working on covert and analytic missions, and as Chief of Station in Saudi Arabia, gave him a comprehensive understanding of the CIA’s capabilities and inner workings. And Mr. Brennan’s knowledge of the Middle East will be essential as we continue work to defeat al Qaeda and other terrorist threats.
John Brennan has distinguished himself outside of government, as well. He spent four years in the private sector as president and CEO of The Analysis Corporation. His extensive intelligence background and executive experience uniquely qualify him to lead the Central Intelligence Agency.
Just as the CIA faces challenges abroad, it also faces significant decisions about its own future. John Brennan must guide the CIA’s through a thorough consideration of the agency’s relationship with the United States military, how the agency should respond to conclusions of a recent Senate Intelligence Committee report on interrogation practices and the agency’s response to demands for transparency. These considerations must not be made lightly, and John Brennan will give them the attention they deserve in his role as director.
The Senate must also approach its duty to advise and consent with the solemnity it deserves. Unfortunately, the confirmation process has focused too much this year on partisan, political considerations and not enough on the quality of the nominees.
I am disappointed that I am forced to file cloture on Mr. Brennan’s nomination today. My Republican colleagues have already obstructed several critical nominations this year. I hope that pattern of obstructionist behavior will not persist. But I remain optimistic that, in Mr. Brennan’s case, concerns for national security will outweigh the desire to grandstand for the Tea Party.