- January 26, 2023
When people ask John Brennan what kept him up at night during his tenure as CIA Director, he tells them two things: either spicy Mexican food or nothing, because he was so exhausted.
Brennan opened this year’s Ringling College Library Association Town Hall Lecture Series on Jan. 22 at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.
As for a serious answer as to what kept him up at night, cybersecurity was one thing, he shared with the crowd.
“The role of the government in a digital domain is still uncertain,” he said.
During Brennan’s speech, he touched on five “buckets of issues,” including cybersecurity. The others: the CIA, where he worked for 25 years before serving as director (2013-2017); global trends; U.S. relations with Russia and China; and hotspots in the world, such as North Korea and Iran.
When asked what he thinks of the possible Russian collusion case, Brennan said he is happy intelligence committees are pursuing the issue, and that it’s something the U.S. needs to safeguard against in the future.
“If there was that type of cooperation that violated the U.S. laws, and there might be some type of criminal activity, we already have individuals who have been indicted for violating U.S. law, there is the criminal aspect of it ... I think we have to be very aware, mindful of Russian activities,” he said. “Not just Russians, but others who try to take advantage right now of the cyber environment …”
Brennan, a 62-year-old who identifies as nonpartisan, ended things on a positive note, saying that every day, advances are made in the medical and engineering fields and that he knows acts of human kindness are happening around the United States.
“I am an optimist,” he said. “I believe in this country.”
Since retiring last year, Brennan has enjoyed reconnecting with his family, especially his 3-year-old grandson.
“I want to make sure his future is as safe and secure as mine has been,” he said.