Sen. Rand Paul said Thursday that he would “use every procedural option” at his disposal to block the confirmation of White House counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan to become CIA director if the Obama administration keeps dodging questions about its policy on lethal drone strikes against terrorism suspects, including Americans.
In a letter to Mr. Brennan on Thursday, Mr. Paul, Kentucky Republican, said that Mr. Brennan evaded answering a key question about the administration’s drone policy during a confirmation hearing this month before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
During the hearing, Mr. Brennan was asked whether the Obama administration asserts the authority to carry out such lethal drone strikes on U.S. territory.
In written responses filed with the committee later, Mr. Brennan said the administration “has not carried out” such strikes and “has no intention of doing so.”
“I do not find this response sufficient,” Mr. Paul said in his letter to Mr. Brennan. “The question that I and many others have asked is not whether the Administration has or intends to carry out drone strikes inside the United States, but whether it believes it has the authority to do so. This is an important distinction.”
Mr. Paul said President Obama also had “avoided [answering] this question.”
“The evasive replies to this valid question from the Administration have only confused the issue further without getting us any closer to an actual answer,” he wrote.
Mr. Paul, who is not a member of the intelligence committee, has joined panel’s chairwoman — Sen. Diane Feinstein, California Democrat — in raising concerns about the lethal strikes policy carried out by the CIA’s fleet of armed, remotely piloted drone aircraft.
Meanwhile, committee Republicans are holding up Mr. Brennan’s nomination until they get answers to questions about the deadly Sept .11 terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.