He also said that the best-known U.S. citizen killed by a drone — Anwar al-Awlaki, a cleric in Yemen who was an official with al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula — was a “bad guy” who posed a clear threat of directing additional attacks
But Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said that any citizen targeted for death by the U.S. government should be tried for treason first and that it was “unseemly” that the decision on a killing rests only with “politicians.” A drone strike also took out Awlaki’s son, also a U.S. citizen, and the administration still hasn’t answered questions about that or whether the government could kill a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, Paul said. He said the drone strikes made him more concerned about Brennan than any other Obama nominee.
The debate about drones, and its potential ability to slow the confirmation of a new CIA chief, came as one prominent Republican reiterated and intensified his threat to block the confirmations of both Brennan and former Sen. Chuck Hagel for Defense secretary.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said he would use his power to put a hold on both nominees until he received all the information he wants about who shaped the administration’s response to this fall’s attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and other information related to the attack — including details of the president’s actions during and right afterward.
The White House is “stonewalling” and “I’m not going to stop until we get to the bottom of it,” Graham said on CBS. “We know nothing about what the president did on the night of Sept. 11, during a time of national crisis, and the American people need to know what their commander in chief did, if anything, during the eight-hour attack.”
The White House did not respond directly to Graham’s demand for more information. Instead, National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor urged that Brennan and Hagel be confirmed quickly. “These are critical national security positions and individual members shouldn’t play politics with their nominations,” he said.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, speaks with reporters in the Capitol after a speech on the Senate floor that accused the CIA of searching computers set up for Congressional staff for their research of interrogation programs.