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Senate committee to hold February 7 hearing for Brennan as CIA nominee

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) stands next to John Brennan, (R), during the announcement for his nominations for a new secretary of defense
U.S. President Barack Obama (L) stands next to John Brennan, (R), during the announcement for his nominations for a new secretary of defense

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate Intelligence Committee will hold a confirmation hearing on February 7 for John Brennan, who has been nominated by President Barack Obama to be the next CIA director.

Brennan, currently Obama's counterterrorism adviser, is expected to face some tough questions at the hearing over the expanded use of armed drone aircraft to kill terrorism suspects overseas. He will also have to answer questions on the deadly attacks last year on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.

Brennan is a 25-year CIA veteran who withdrew his name from consideration for the top CIA post in 2008 after criticism from liberals that he had not done enough to condemn harsh interrogation techniques like waterboarding used during the Bush administration.

This time, questions over the drone program may provide additional fodder for critics, although barring new revelations, Brennan appears likely to be confirmed, even though some liberal groups have begun to plan protests against him.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has threatened to block Brennan's confirmation until the Obama administration provides more information to Congress about the Benghazi attacks. Republicans have accused the White House of playing down evidence that the attacks were an act of terrorism in the weeks before the November 6 presidential election.

The confirmation hearing will begin at 2:30 p.m. EDT on February 7.

(Reporting by Deborah Charles; Editing by David Brunnstrom)

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