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John Brennan sworn in as CIA director

WASHINGTON -- John Brennan took over yesterday as director of the CIA, the finishing touch on President Barack Obama's national security team for his second term.

A White House official said Vice President Joe Biden swore Brennan in during a private ceremony in the Roosevelt Room, the morning after he won Senate confirmation amid a contentious debate.

Republicans had blocked his nomination but lifted their delay after the administration bowed to their requests for clarification about the president's power in using drones.

Last week Chuck Hagel won Senate confirmation to be defense secretary, joining Secretary of State John Kerry in Obama's revamped second-term lineup.

With Obama in attendance but media excluded, Brennan took the oath from Biden. Rather than swearing on a Bible, Brennan placed his hand on an original copy of the Constitution from 1787 that had George Washington's handwriting and annotations on it.

He told Obama he requested the document from the archives because he wanted to reaffirm his commitment to the rule of law, an administration official said.

The Brennan vote was 63-34 and came just hours after Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a possible 2016 presidential candidate, used an old-style filibuster of the nomination to extract an answer from the administration on the drone question.

Brennan won some GOP support. Thirteen Republicans voted with 49 Democrats and one independent to give Brennan, who has been Obama's top counterterrorism adviser, the top job at the nation's spy agency.

Brennan replaces Michael Morell, the CIA's deputy director who has been acting director since David Petraeus resigned in November after acknowledging an affair with his biographer.

The confirmation vote came moments after Democrats prevailed in a vote ending the filibuster, 81-16.


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