- Toronto Mayor Rob Ford flubs daylight saving time advice: ‘Turn your clocks back’
- Americans don’t support sending U.S. troops to Ukraine
- Florida lawmakers move to wipe corrupt ‘Boss Hogg’ town from map
- N.C. math whiz to unveil secret of March Madness picks
- An appealing offer: Chiquita merges with Fyffes to make world’s largest banana firm
- Amnesty International says Syria guilty of war crimes for food blockade
- Mitch McConnell on beating tea party: ‘We are going to crush them’
- Adam Lanza’s dad: He would’ve killed me ‘in a heartbeat’
- North Korea holds election: 100% turnout, Kim Jong-un gets — 100% of vote
- Gentlemen, start your drones: Judge’s ruling opens door for commercial use
Congress gets Obama data on use of drones
White House gives in before Brennan hearing
With the fate of his pick to head the CIA in danger, President Obama reversed course Wednesday night and released to Congress the classified legal advice that the Justice Department has given the White House on using drones to execute American citizens in the war on terrorism.
The about-face came less than a day before John O. Brennan, Mr. Obama’s homeland security adviser and his pick to be CIA director, was to face a Senate confirmation hearing, and hours after Sen. Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat, threatened to hold up the appointment unless more information was forthcoming.
A senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Mr. Obama would send lawmakers the classified rationales as part of his “commitment to consult with Congress on national security matters.”
The official added Wednesday evening that Mr. Obama had directed the Justice Department to provide the Senate and House intelligence committees with the classified advice from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel.
Senate Democrats huddled with Mr. Obama in Annapolis on Wednesday to talk about the year’s agenda.
“I want it understood that because this is such a central [issue], you have an individual with enormous influence 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,” Mr. Wyden told the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call.
Mr. Wyden stopped short of saying he would filibuster the nomination, only that he planned to bring it up during Mr. Brennan’s confirmation hearing Thursday before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the first round in what is expected to be an intense series of questioning by lawmakers.
“This is an encouraging first step,” he said. “There is now an opportunity to build on it.”
The 16-page legal memo justifying drone attacks was obtained and published by NBC News earlier this week, and has reignited a heated debate over U.S. policy in the war on terrorism.
The memo says the U.S. can carry out targeted drone executions even when the U.S. doesn’t have “clear evidence that a specific attack in U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.”
The White House this week defended the drone program as “legal,” “ethical” and “wise.”
In written answers to questions from the Senate intelligence committee before the hearing, Mr. Brennan described how individuals are targeted for drone strikes, saying whether a suspect is deemed an imminent threat — and therefore appropriate for targeting — is made “on a case-by-case basis through a coordinated interagency process” involving intelligence, military, diplomatic and other agencies.
Democrats in Congress such as Mr. Wyden have begun to express stronger opposition to the use of drones, but the Republican response has been more muted. House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, on Wednesday declined an invitation to criticize the administration drone memo and Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, expressed his “100 percent” support of the use of drones against terrorism suspects.
Mr. Brennan’s nomination will also raise questions about American treatment of suspected terrorist detainees, including waterboarding.
Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, wrote Mr. Brennan late Wednesday asking him to clarify whether he ever took steps to try to halt the practice and what other enhanced interrogation techniques he approved of.
Mr. McCain also asked Mr. Brennan to explain whether the U.S. would be willing to see other countries adopt the same drone policies; what role he had in drafting the erroneous talking points that administration officials used to discredit reports of terrorism after the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya; and whether he leaked classified information last year to press outlets on the drone program, the government’s cyberweapons program or the operation that killed Osama bin Laden.
• This article is based in part on wire service reports.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Susan Crabtree is an award-winning investigative reporter with more than 15 years of reporting experience in Washington, D.C. Her reporting about bribery, corruption and conflict-of-interest issues on Capitol Hill has led to several FBI and ethics investigations, as well as consequences for members within their caucuses and at the ballot box. Susan can be reached at email@example.com.
- GOP senators want IG probe of Sebelius' 'Obamacare' fundraising
- Teaming up with Christie, Obama says Jersey shore 'back in business'
- No Moore: Obama flubs name of Oklahoma city devastated by tornado, calls it 'Monroe'
- Obama to Okla. tornado victims: 'We have got your back'
- Amid his own challenges, Obama calls on Navy grads to hold themselves accountable
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second
- Senate Democrats, Republicans spar over restoring unemployment benefits
- CURL: Today's GOP really is Reagan's 'Big Tent' party
- As Crimea falls, Obama takes Key Largo golf vacation, Biden hits Virgin Islands
- Russia besieges Crimea as U.S. seeks diplomacy; Putin remains undeterred by Obama's sanctions
- SAUERBREY: Taxing Marylanders until they flee
- Investigators puzzle: How does a 777 jetliner just disappear into thin air?
- Florida lawmakers move to wipe corrupt 'Boss Hogg' town from map
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again