Greg Myre

Gina Haspel's appearance before the Senate intelligence committee on Wednesday promises to be a very unusual confirmation hearing.

Most every nominee for a top government job has a long public record that is open for scrutiny. Not so with Haspel, who would be the first woman to lead the CIA.

When Michael Hayden ran the CIA and the National Security Agency, his public comments were largely confined to congressional testimony. Now that he's retired, "I'm on Twitter and I'm on CNN," said Hayden.

He was also the featured guest as dozens of former national security officials and several current ones spoke at a recent conference on threats the U.S. faces.

This story was originally published on Oct. 20, 2017, and is being republished with minor changes to update.

When U.S. troops were ambushed in Niger last October, the widespread reaction was surprise: The U.S. has military forces in Niger? What are they doing there?

The Pentagon has started briefing the families of four soldiers killed in an ambush in Niger last October, and the military acknowledges a series of missteps contributed to the deaths, one family member told NPR.

"I think in any instance where people lose there lives, there were obviously mistakes that were made," said Will Wright, the brother of one of those killed, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright. Will Wright is himself a combat veteran, having served as a staff sergeant in Afghanistan. He and his family were briefed by military officers on Thursday.

John Brennan's tenure as CIA director ended the same day that President Trump entered office last year, and since then, the former spy chief has been a relentless critic of the president.

"I think he is dishonest, he lacks integrity, he has very questionable ethics and morality, and he views the world through a prism of 'how it's going to help Donald Trump?,' " Brennan said in a wide-ranging interview with All Things Considered.

"I just think that he has not fulfilled the responsibilities of the president of the United States," Brennan added.

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