The Washington Post reports that John Brennan has withdrawn as a candidate to head the CIA.

"John Brennan, a former CIA official who was in the running for a top intelligence post in the Obama administration withdrew his candidacy Tuesday after coming under criticism from several groups who accused him of ties to the agency's interrogation policies. Brennan, who held several senior positions during a nearly 25-year stint at the spy agency, notified President-elect Barack Obama of his decision in a brief note, saying he no longer wished to be considered for a job in the intelligence agencies.
Brennan was widely reported to be a contender for either CIA director or director of national intelligence in the new administration. He becomes the first of Obama's leading candidates to be derailed because of his ties to the Bush administration. ...In an interview on PBS' News Hour, he called the CIA's practice of "rendition," or secret abductions, "an absolutely vital tool." In a CBS interview, he said the CIA's interrogation techniques provided "life saving" intelligence. ...Other possible candidates to head the CIA or take other intelligence posts in the new administration include: Ret. Navy Adm. Dennis Blair, who was chief of the U.S. Pacific Command during the 2001 terrorist attacks and is a China expert who developed a counterterrorism strategy in southeast Asia; Donald M. Kerr, Jr., a former CIA and FBI official who currently is the Bush Administration's deputy director of national intelligence; Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.); and Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), who chairs an intelligence subcommittee."

My earlier posting said: Brennan published a long article on Iran in July 2008, expressing a benign view of the Islamic Republic and harsh criticism of U.S. policies that he believes have driven Iran in the wrong direction. Excerpts follow:

"Notwithstanding the fiery rhetoric coming from Iranian officials such as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian theocracy has made much more limited use of terrorism over the past decade than it did in the first twenty years of its reign....Although it would represent a significant act of domestic political courage, U.S. national security would be best served if Washington publicly acknowledged and explored the roots of this shift in Iranian state support for terrorist activities....While it may serve some narrow political agendas to lump together a wide variety of Iranian policies and actions that are antithetical to U.S. policy aims under the rubric of state-sponsored terrorism, U.S. strategic interests require a more nuanced analysis of and less absolutist approach to this problem....Instead of pursuing a nuanced strategy that could have allowed flexibility in U.S. policy, the Bush administration regrettably opted to conduct its activities under the overarching banner of "The Global War on Terrorism" and declared it would make no distinction between terrorist operatives and their state sponsors....Despite a December 2007 National Intelligence Estimate that assessed "in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program," the administration indicated no interest in easing the pressure on Iran (National Intelligence Council 2007)....The bellicose volleys coming from the chief spokesmen of both the American and Iranian governments have served to widen the rift that exists between the two countries and to make constructive engagement virtually impossible in the current climate...An improvement in U.S.-Iranian relations will not take place overnight, and the new U.S. administration must be willing to exercise strategic patience....It would not be foolhardy, however, for the United States to tolerate, and even to encourage, greater assimilation of Hezbollah into Lebanon's political system, a process that is subject to Iranian influence....The best hope for maintaining this trend and for reducing the influence of violent extremists within the organization—as well as the influence of extremist Iranian officials who view Hezbollah primarily as a pawn of Tehran—is to increase Hezbollah's stake in Lebanon's struggling democratic processes."

From: "The Conundrum of Iran: Strengthening Moderates without Acquiescing to Belligerence," by John Brennan, The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 618, No. 1, 168-179 (2008) http://ann.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/618/1/168