Administration officials say Brennan would further limit the use of drones by the CIA and leave the majority of strikes to the military. Brennan signaled in his written answers that he would not seek to expand the CIA's paramilitary operations.
"While the CIA needs to maintain a paramilitary capability ... the CIA should not be used, in my view, to carry out traditional military activities," Brennan wrote, referring to activities like the special operations raid that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
The CIA's drone strikes primarily focus on al-Qaida and Taliban targets in the tribal regions of Pakistan, while the military has launched strikes against al-Qaida targets in Yemen and Somalia. The agency also carries out strikes in Yemen, where three American citizens with al-Qaida connections have been killed: Anwar al-Awlaki, his 16-year-old-son and Samir Khan.
Brennan said he would work to improve the CIA's intelligence collection and performance across the Arab world after a spate of unanticipated unrest, from the revolts of the Arab Spring to the terror attack that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya.
Brennan will also face questions about charges that White House officials leaked details of the administration's national security policies, including its cyberattacks against Iran's nuclear infrastructure, to burnish Obama's standing as commander in chief ahead of last year's presidential election.
Brennan told the Senate committee that he was questioned as a voluntary witness in a leaks investigation the White House launched in response to congressional anger.
He also said that in his current role, he is "vigilant about not disclosing classified intelligence matters with unauthorized persons" but added that "in exceptional circumstances ... it may be necessary to acknowledge classified information to a member of the media or to declassify information for the very purpose of limiting damage to national security."
Associated Press writers Julie Pace, Lara Jakes and Donna Cassata contributed to this report.
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