Brennan Sidesteps Query on Drone Kills in U.S.

Photo Credit: meeshypants In written answers to Senate Intelligence Committee questions released Friday, CIA director nominee John Brennan would not say whether the U.S. could conduct drone strikes inside the United States — only that it did not intend to do so.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has placed a hold on Brennan’s nomination pending an answer to the question of when the government can use lethal force to target a U.S. citizen within the United States. Brennan, as the top White House counterterrorism and homeland security adviser to President Barack Obama, has guided administration policy on the use of drones on foreign battlefields.

Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., asked Brennan in written follow-up questions to his Feb. 7 confirmation hearing, “Could the administration carry out drone strikes inside the United States?”

Brennan answered, “This administration has not carried out drone strikes inside the United States and has no intention of doing so.”

Nor did Brennan answer who precisely makes final determination within the administration about whether a U.S. citizen who is targeted for death as a suspected terrorist is actually a senior operational leader of al-Qaida, or if that person poses an imminent threat. Those are two of the standards outlined in a Justice Department legal opinion for proceeding with a targeted killing against a U.S. citizen.

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