The Senate on Thursday confirmed the nomination of White House Counterterrorism Advisor John Brennan to be the next CIA director by a vote of 63 to 34. With the vote, “the Senate has recognized in John the qualities I value so much—his determination to keep America safe, his commitment to working with Congress, his ability to build relationships with foreign partners, and his fidelity to the values that define us as a nation,” said President Obama in a statement following the March 7 vote. Brennan, 57, will fill the CIA leadership post that has been vacant since David Petraeus stepped down last November. Michael Morell has been CIA acting director since then. Brennan’s vote came one day after Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) staged a 13-hour filibuster to delay the vote. Paul wanted the White House to clarify whether the President has the authority to use a weaponized remotely piloted aircraft to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil. On Thursday, Paul announced the receipt of a letter from Attorney General Eric Holder stating: “The answer to that question is no.” Paul said, “This is a major victory for American civil liberties.”
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.