WASHINGTON — John Brennan took over Friday as director of the CIA, the finishing touch on President Barack Obama's national security team for his second term.
The White House 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.
Brennan took the oath of office on an early draft of the Constitution -- a 1787 document signed by George Washington, according to Politico. Brennan did not take the oath on a Bible.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Brennan “wanted to reaffirm his commitment to the rule of law as he took the oath of office.”
But it was noted on Poltico and other sites that the copy of the Constitution used in Brennan's ceremony did not include the Bill of Rights, which wasn't ratified until 1791.
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.
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. He 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.
In a series of fast-moving events, by Senate standards, Attorney General Eric Holder sent a one-paragraph letter to Paul, who had held the floor for nearly 13 hours on Wednesday and into Thursday.
"It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: 'Does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?" Holder wrote Paul.
"The answer to that question is no."
That cleared the way.
"We worked very hard on a constitutional question to get an answer from the president," Paul said after voting against Brennan. "It may have been a little harder than we wish it had been, but in the end I think it was a good healthy debate for the country to finally get an answer that the Fifth Amendment applies to all Americans."
However, Paul's filibuster of the Brennan nomination roiled the GOP, with McConnell, libertarians and tea partyers rallying to the freshman senator's side and military hawks such as John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina arguing that Paul's claims were unfounded.
The government's drone program and its use in the fight against terrorists were at the heart of the dispute.
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