Before being tapped to head the CIA, John O. Brennan served as daily intelligence briefer to President Bill Clinton, as the founding director of the National Counterterrorism Center during President George W. Bush’s administration, and as Assistant for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism for President Barack Obama. He was deeply involved in the decision-making for an array of complex international issues, including Osama bin Laden, the Arab Spring, Benghazi, ISIS, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the Iran deal, and Russian election meddling.
Brennan was appointed as director of the Central Intelligence Agency in 2013. As director, he managed intelligence collection, analysis, covert action, counterintelligence, and liaison relationships with foreign intelligence services. Before becoming director, Brennan served at the White House for four years as assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. During that time, he advised the President on counterterrorism strategy and helped coordinate the U.S. government’s approach to homeland security, including its policies for responding to terrorism, cyber-attacks, natural disasters and pandemics.
Brennan began his service in government at the CIA, where he worked from 1980 to 2005. He spent most of his early career in the agency’s main analytic arm, the Directorate of Intelligence, specializing in the Near East and South Asia before directing counterterrorism analysis in the early 1990s. In 1994 and 1995, he was the agency’s intelligence briefer to President Bill Clinton.
After an assignment as a chief of station in the Middle East, Brennan served from 1999 to 2001 as chief of staff to George Tenet, who was then director of Central Intelligence. Brennan next worked as deputy executive director of the CIA until 2003, when he began leading a multiagency effort to establish what would become the National Counterterrorism Center. In 2004, he became the center’s interim director.
After retiring from the CIA in 2005, Brennan worked in the private sector for three years. He also now serves as Senior National Security and Intelligence Analyst at NBC News and MSNBC and released Undaunted – My Fight Against America’s Enemies, at Home and Abroad in October 2021.
Brennan graduated from Fordham University with a bachelor’s degree in political science. While enrolled at Fordham, he studied abroad at the American University in Cairo. He later attended the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned a master’s degree in government with a concentration in Middle Eastern studies. Brennan was born in Jersey City, New Jersey. He is married and has three children.