The leaking of the White Paper on President Obama’s targetted killing of American citizens, has put his murderous policy under intensified scrutiny on the eve of the Senate confirmation hearing for John Brennan, Obama’s nominee for CIA Director, which will be held on Thursday by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Signals from senior Senators, indicating that “they may seek to delay, if not derail” the Brennan nomination, make it clear that Obama has been drawn into a fight he hoped to avoid, reported the Washington Post this morning. Josh Gerstein, writing in Politico, says that the leak “threw kerosene onto a simmering legal debate,” though he goes on to note that most lawmakers are showing “no appetite” to confront Obama publicly over the drone strikes. But a significant minority of members of Congress are demonstrating that they intend to take on Brennan — and Obama — over the drone-strike killing spree.
For example, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), threatened to “pull out all the stops” in his effort to get the full legal analysis for targeted killings out of the Administration, Roll Call reported Wednesday afternoon. “I want it understood that because this is such a central [issue], you have an individual … who is really the architect of the counterterror policy in the Obama Administration, that I am going to pull out all the stops to get the actual legal analysis, because, without it, in effect, the Administration is practicing secret law,” said Wyden, a member of the Intelligence Committee. “The central questions … are, ‘when does the government believe it has the legal right to kill an American?’ and until we get an answer to that question, we are going to keep digging,” Wyden said. “Laws in our country and their interpretation are not supposed to be confidential. This goes right to the heart of the kind of government we believe in in this country. The idea of keeping the Intelligence Committee, in particular, out of even any real insight into the legal analysis, it’s a mockery … of the oversight process.”
Wyden also pointed out, as quoted by Politico, that “if Congress doesn’t get answers to these questions now, it’s going to be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get them in the future.”
Sen. Diane Feinstein, the chair of the Intelligence Committee, is pressing the White House for details of the 2011 drone strike that killed U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, The Hill reported. Feinstein said that there remain “significant questions” over the intelligence that led to al-Awlaki’s placement on the CIA’s so-called kill list, and also over the actual drone strike in Yemen that killed him and his 16 year-old son, Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki, who was also a U.S. citizen.
In addition to the Brennan hearing, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee likely will hold hearings on U.S. drone policy, a committee aide said Tuesday, according to Associated Press, and Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), and the panel’s top Republican, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, both have quietly expressed concerns about the deadly drone operations.
In the House, Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat, said on Tuesday that “it deserves a serious look at how we make the decisions in government to take out, kill, eliminate — whatever word you want to use — not just American citizens but other citizens as well.”