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Congress to see secret drone memos, paving path for CIA director confirmation
The Obama administration said Tuesday it will allow members of the Senate intelligence committee to see legal opinions authorizing the targeted killing of suspected terror leaders, including Americans, which should help clear the path for the president's top counterterrorism advisor to become CIA director.
Committee Chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Tuesday she had reached a deal with the White House "to provide the committee access to all [Justice Department] opinions related to the targeted killing of Americans in a way that allows members to fulfill their oversight responsibilities."
The committee is scheduled to meet Tuesday afternoon to consider the nomination of President Obama's top terror advisor John O. Brennan to be CIA director.
The confirmation process has been slowed by questions from both side of the aisle about the use of remotely piloted drone aircraft to kill suspected al Qaeda leaders, including Americans.
If other Democrats are satisfied with the information the White House has promised to share, Mr. Brennan's nomination could be sent to the Senate floor on a party line vote, even without any GOP support.
Reports Tuesday said that Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada would press for a floor vote as soon as this week. Mr. Reid's office did not immediately respond to a request for clarification.
Several Republican senators who are not members of the committee have said they will try to block Mr. Brennan's nomination in order to force the administration to answer more questions about last year's Sept. 11 terror attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya.
Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsay Graham of South Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire on Monday published a list of ten "Things we don't know" about the attack, which killed four Americans.
It was not immediately clear Tuesday whether intelligence committee staff, which includes specially trained national security lawyers, would also be allowed to see the legal opinions, nor how many opinions there were. Both issues have been matters of dispute between the committee and executive branch officials, but the chairwoman's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In her statement, Mrs. Feinstein said the deal "will pave the way for the confirmation of John Brennan to be CIA director."
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About the Author
Shaun Waterman is an award-winning reporter for The Washington Times, covering foreign affairs, defense and cybersecurity. He was a senior editor and correspondent for United Press International for nearly a decade, and has covered the Department of Homeland Security since 2003. His reporting on the Sept. 11 Commission and the tortuous process by which some of its recommendations finally became ...
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