WH to announce Brennan to CIA, Hagel to Defense today

Today may have been the day for which John Brennan had hoped since first joining Barack Obama’s team four years ago, but it’s not likely to be much remembered for him.  First considered to run the CIA but dropped because of protests on Obama’s left, the 25-year CIA veteran will get a formal nomination today to take over the job last held by David Petraeus.  However, his nomination is going to be overshadowed by a concurrent announcement of Chuck Hagel’s appointment to Defense:

President Obama will nominate John Brennan as his next director of the Central Intelligence Agency, senior administration officials tell CBS News.

Brennan, a 25-year CIA veteran, currently serves as Mr. Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser. The president will announce Brennan’s nomination during an event Monday afternoon.

At the same event, an administration official says, the president will also formally announce that he is nominating Chuck Hagel as his next defense secretary.

Well, that’s one way to fly under the radar, too, although Brennan won’t experience nearly the same turbulence as Hagel will.  Brennan has already been part of the national-security team for the entire Obama administration, more so than Hagel, and in a much more visible position.  The pick may surprise some who assumed that current acting DCIA Mike Morell would get the nod, but a Brennan pick is hardly a surprise choice.

Don’t expect it to go entirely easy on Brennan, however, or on Obama.  While Republicans might use the opportunity to take a few shots at the White House and State over Benghazi, the war in Libya, and the Arab Spring response, some Democrats might be taking shots of their own over Obama’s continuation of Bush-era policies on drones:

However, Brennan’s nomination will likely put a spotlight on the administration’s controversial drone program. Brennan was the first Obama administration official to publicly acknowledge the highly secretive targeted killing operations.

Brennan has defended the legality of the overseas drone operations and has said they protect American lives and prevent potential terror attacks.

That might get a few headlines, too, but Brennan won’t lose the job over it.  Relative to the kind of reception Hagel’s nomination will get, Brennan’s confirmation should go smoothly, if not entirely uncontested.