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Senator Paul Threatens to Block Brennan Over Drone Policy

Republican Senator Rand Paul said he will hold up John Brennan’s nomination as director of the Central Intelligence Agency unless Brennan provides more information about the legality of targeting drone strikes against Americans found to be members of al-Qaeda.

“I have asked Mr. Brennan if he believed that the president has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, and my question remains unanswered,” Paul of Kentucky said today in a statement. “I will not allow a vote on this nomination until Mr. Brennan openly responds to the questions and concerns my colleagues and I share.”

Brennan’s confirmation hearing before the Senate intelligence panel on Feb. 7 brought scrutiny of the administration’s use of armed drones over countries such as Pakistan and Yemen, with limited oversight by Congress or the judiciary. Senators from both parties prodded Brennan, who helped shape the drone policy as White House counterterrorism adviser, to explain why the administration has resisted sharing the legal basis for such strikes.

On the morning of Brennan’s hearing, the Justice Department, under President Barack Obama’s instructions, provided members of the House and Senate intelligence panels with one such document, a classified justification for drone strikes against U.S. citizens deemed to be terrorists.

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