Friday, 27 March 2015

Rossie roots of new CIA chief

Family express their pride

The appointment of John Brennan as new Head of the CIA is being celebrated this week by his many relations in County Roscommon. Mr. Brennan, whose father is a native of County Roscommon, was chosen on Monday for one of the top jobs in the USA Government when he was nominated as the new Director of the CIA by President Barack Obama. 

  Mr Brennan has a number of relations living in Co. Roscommon, including in Lecarrow and Roscommon town. Mr Brennan, who is aged 57, is a regular visitor to the county, his most recent visit being less than two months ago, in November 2012.  

  Owen Brennan, who lives in Lecarrow, and is a first cousin of the new CIA Chief, told the Roscommon People on Tuesday that the family are very proud of John. 

  “He is a workaholic and he has grafted very hard over the years so I suppose it is a reward for all the work he has put in over a long period of time. It’s one of the biggest jobs in the USA and it’s a great honour for him and his family” he said.

  Owen is one of four first cousins of John Brennan who are currently living in Co. Roscommon – the others are Paddy, Michael and Mary Diffley. An aunt, Bridie, is in a local Nursing Home and was visited by the new CIA Chief in November. 

  John Brennan’s father, who is alive and well and living in the USA, is Owen Brennan. He was born in Clooneskert, Kilteevan, about two miles from Roscommon town. The family subsequently moved to Mount Plunkett, Lecarrow in 1940. Owen Brennan went to work (as a blacksmith) on an estate that is now Mount Juliet Golf Course before emigrating to the USA in 1948. 

  He subsequently married an American woman (Dotty) and Owen and his wife are resident in New Jersey (Owen Brennan is now 92). 


A spectacular career

John Brennan, the new Head of the CIA, whose father Owen is a native of Kilteevan, was raised in the North Bergen area of New Jersey. He attended Fordham University where he obtained a political science degree in 1977. He applied for, and got, a job in the CIA and subsequently learned Arabic which he now speaks fluently. He also studied at the University of Cairo and the University at Austin Texas.

  He has had a spectacular career in the CIA. He was a daily intelligence briefer for President Bill Clinton. He was in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia in 1996 as the Chief of Staff there when the base was attacked and 19 US servicemen lost their lives. Mr Brennan also worked in the Middle-East and South East Asia for the CIA during his career.

  He ran the Chief Terrorist Threat Interrogation Centre during the Bush Administration before being appointed as the Chief of the Counterterrorism Centre in 2004 and 2005.

  Mr Brennan then left the government service to work for the INSA and later as CEO of the Analysis Corporation. However he returned to government service under President Barack Obama. He has served as Director of Homeland Security and other roles under the Obama administration.

  On the 2nd of May 2011 John Brennan was one of those who directed the team who were responsible for the hunting down of terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden. He later described watching the operation live in the White House along with President Obama and other officials as “one of the most anxiety-filled times that any of us there will ever go through. The minutes passed like days.” 

  Known as a very strong public speaker, he addressed the Institute of Institutional Affairs in Dublin on the occasion of his last visit to Ireland last October on the role Ireland has played in the war against terror over the years.

  John Brennan was born on 22nd of September 1955. He is married to Kathy and the couple have three children.

Roscommon People
Issue dated: 11 January 2013