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“I was twice considered for more senior-level positions in the … [Bush] administration, only to be rebuffed by the White House,” he wrote.

Ms. Murphy expressed her skepticism.

“If he opposed the policies, what did he do about it?” she asked. “This should not be a rubber-stamp nomination.”

Other lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are concerned about CIA drone attacks on suspected terrorists, including American citizens abroad, that Mr. Brennan has overseen at the White House, massively expanding the Bush administration program.

Ms. Murphy said she hopes the intelligence committee will use the confirmation process to learn more about the legal basis for the Obama administration’s conclusion that it had the authority to kill suspected terrorists without charge or trial.

“They have to lift the shroud of secrecy,” she said. “Americans deserve to understand what this program is based on.

“Given the growth of paramilitary activities by the CIA during the Obama administration, this ought to be an opportunity to question the issues, not just this individual.”

Ms. Murphy suggested that Mr. Brennan might be shielded from tough Republican scrutiny because of his service in the Bush administration, but Mr. Carafano, the Heritage scholar, disagreed.

“He actually has a long track record within the [Obama] administration … that he’ll be held accountable for,” he said.