Brennan nomination out of committee, shocking drone letter from Holder

By SUA Staff – The Brennan nomination for CIA Director clears the committee hurdle while Eric Holder sends a shocking letter in response to queries by Sen. Rand Paul. The most transparent administration is of course the opposite as the Senate now must vote on Brennan. Drones in the USA? Policy opinions of the DOJ say lethal force may be used.

Though the CIA is not permitted to operate within the territorial United States, nor may it investigate American citizens here, the military is also prohibited from operating in a law enforcement capacity within the USA as well by the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878. These appear to be open to interpretation by our current administration  its Department of Justice, and now, its nominee for CIA Director, John O. Brennan.

His opinions and his advice to the President, along with his own operations as Chief Counterterrorism Advisor come into great question based on the above law and covert operation across the globe and attacking American citizens. The President who claims that his administration is the most transparent in history has been quite the opposite, especially concerning the Fast and Furious Scandal and the Benghazi attack and murders and now John Brennan due to the intertwining issues of all of the above.

No matter that the Senate asked for a lot of documentation in the process of confirming Brennan as CIA Director, it appears it does not matter to the committee. Why, well the Senate Intelligence Committee voted for his nomination to go to the floor today despite delays surrounding Brennan’s work on drone strikes, DOJ opinion papers, along with the stalemate over Benghazi documents. This was done despite an initial dump of useless documents followed by clearer ones after hackles were raised.

The Senate Intelligence Committee voted Tuesday to approve President Barack Obama’s pick to lead the CIA after winning a behind-the-scenes battle with the White House over access to a series of top-secret legal opinions that justify the use of lethal drone strikes against terror suspects, including American citizens.

John Brennan’s installation at the spy agency has been delayed as Senate Democrats and Republicans have pressed the Obama administration to allow a review of the classified documents prepared by the Justice Department. The senators have argued they can’t perform adequate oversight without reviewing the contents of the opinions, but the White House had resisted requests for full disclosure.

The intelligence committee’s chairwoman, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said in a statement Tuesday that the committee voted 12-3 to send Brennan’s nomination to the full Senate for confirmation. The panel’s deliberations were held behind closed doors. Feinstein did not identify the senators who voted against Brennan. (Read more here from the Toledo Blade.)

Benghazi Documents – The documents did come forth and there were many surprises. First among them were the fact that they were useless, but they were followed by a second set that was much clearer.

During a speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center on April 30, 2012, John Brennan, President Obama’s nominee to head the CIA, discussed “The Ethics and Efficacy of the U.S. President’s Counterterrorism Strategy.” Brennan explained that President Obama has “pledged to share as much information with the American people ‘so that they can make informed judgments and hold us accountable.’ ” Obama, he continued, “has consistently encouraged those of us on his national security team to be as open and candid as possible.” After all, “our democracy depends” upon “transparency.”

But nearly two years after the May 1, 2011, assault on Osama bin Laden’s compound, the Obama administration has made public just 17 documents out of the huge cache of information captured during that raid. U.S. intelligence officials tell The Weekly Standard that the vast collection includes “hundreds of thousands of documents and files.” Obama administration officials themselves have referred to the documents as a “treasure trove” the size of a “small college library.” Why hasn’t the public seen them?

One of the main reasons: John Brennan. (Read more here at Fox News.)

Continuing from Fox News:

But the first batch of documents contained hundreds of pages that were of no use, the source said.

“It was so redacted that there was no information whatsoever,” said the source, who spoke to Fox on the condition they not be identified. “There were some documents that were 100 pages with every word on the page redacted. They were worthless.”

A second set of documents were delivered to Capitol Hill Thursday night which had only minimal redactions.

So it appears, at least 12 of the 15 members of the committee were satisfied despite the fact that America still knows so little and we know Congress is still trying to access the many witnesses, many reported to be under lock down and the suspects held by other governments like Egypt. The trouble is, his nomination now comes to the entire body of the Senate and many are still dead set against his nomination. Then we see a letter released today from Eric Holder to Sen. Rand Paul regarding drone use policy:

Eric Holder responds to Rand Paul on Drone use – The most important part of Eric Holder’s letter is excerpted here. The main phrase: “…imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States…” has everyone asking questions, especially since he authorized use on American citizens overseas:

SUA once again states emphatically: John Brennan is unfit for the position, and that does not even include his dubious connections and predilections to jihadism. Now it appears the administration believes you are open game, even here in America.

Read Eric Holder’s entire letter to Rand Paul here.

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Eric Holder: Drone strikes against Americans on U.S. soil are legal

By Joel Gehrke – Washington Examiner

Attorney General Eric Holder can imagine a scenario in which it would be constitutional to carry out a drone strike against an American on American soil, he wrote in a letter to Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

“It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States,” Holder replied in a letter yesterday to Paul’s question about whether Obama “has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, and without trial.”

Paul condemned the idea. “The U.S. Attorney General’s refusal to rule out the possibility of drone strikes on American citizens and on American soil is more than frightening – it is an affront the Constitutional due process rights of all Americans,” he said in a statement.

Holder noted that Paul’s question was “entirely hypothetical [and] unlikely to occur,” but cited the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks as the type of incidents that might provoke such a response.

“Were such an emergency to arise, I would examine the particular facts and circumstances before advising the President on the scope of his authority,” he concluded.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, an attorney and Judiciary Committee member, told The Washington Examiner last month that the drone policy so far outlined by the administration is too vague.

“That has the potential to swallow the rule,” Lee said after the drone program white paper was leaked. “If you’re going to regard somebody as presenting an imminent threat of an attack on the U.S. simply because you have concluded that they are an ‘operational leader’ or they are involved in planning an attack in one way or another, you find yourself giving way to much discretion to the government.”

Lee said that the White House should release the formal legal analysis underpinning the drone program. “We know that in some instances where the government has released its legal analysis, it gets it wrong,” he said.

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Deal on Drone Documents Opens Path for Brennan

By Tim Starks – Roll Call Staff

The confirmation prospects for John O. Brennan to become CIA director got a boost Tuesday with Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein announcing that the administration would supply her panel with additional legal opinions on the targeted killing of U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism overseas.

Senators on both sides of the aisle had demanded the documents, but the committee had only viewed four of the 11 Office of Legal Counsel memos, and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., had not ruled out the possibility of putting a hold on Brennan’s nomination until the rest were handed over. Feinstein’s announcement appears to remove that threat to his confirmation.

“I have reached an agreement with the White House to provide the committee access to all OLC opinions related to the targeted killing of Americans in a way that allows members to fulfill their oversight responsibilities,” the California Democrat said in a press release. “I am pleased the administration has made this information available. It is important for the committee to do its work and will pave the way for the confirmation of John Brennan to be CIA director.”

The committee was slated to vote on his nomination Tuesday afternoon. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Monday that he plans a full Senate vote on Brennan this week.

Wyden, along with fellow Intelligence panel members Mark Udall, D-Colo., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, praised the administration’s decision to share the legal opinions.

“We anticipate supporting the nomination of John Brennan to be Director of the CIA and we appreciate that the executive branch has provided us with the documents needed to consider this nomination,” the trio said Tuesday in a written statement. “Mr. Brennan will be the principled and effective leader that the dedicated men and women of the CIA deserve and we look forward to working with him in his new capacity.”

They also suggested that they would consider legislation related to drone strikes in the future.

“The appropriate next step should be to bring the American people into this debate and for Congress to consider ways to ensure that the President’s sweeping authorities are subject to appropriate limitations, oversight, and safeguards,” they wrote.

The agreement on the drone documents does not clear every barrier to Brennan’s confirmation, however.

Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have both threatened holds over information related to last year’s terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has also threatened a hold until the Obama administration answers publicly whether it can conduct drone strikes within the United States.

Read Eric Holder’s entire letter to Rand Paul here.

Paul said Tuesday that he received a useful answer from Brennan in a recent letter.

“In the letter, Brennan says that he agrees the CIA should not and it’s against the law for them to operate on U.S. soil,” he said. “That is the answer I was looking for.”

But Paul added that he received a more equivocal answer from Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.

“He basically said that they don’t intend to do it and they probably won’t do it but he can imagine a circumstance where they might,” Paul said. “My problem is I don’t know the exact number but if I had to guess a significant number of the drone strikes are on people walking down a pathway, people eating dinner, people in a cafe. They may be bad people but you can’t use that kind of standard in the United States to kill people eating in a cafe in San Francisco because they emailed somebody.”

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Beware America – these are not confident times!

“Chatty Cathy” Donilon – Feinstein Aghast

Editor’s Note – The sheer hypocrisy of how the main stream media report scandals is just off-the-charts. The current spate of leaks of vital national security information directly harms our ability to conduct foreign policy and diplomacy, but worse, has crippled our intelligence services. But the media was more incensed over the Valerie Plame incident.

The Valeria Plame case had zero impact on world events, yet there was a veritable lynching party mentality. Today, ho-hum, its okay to allow the administration to investigate itself, despite the tremendous damage done. Now, we find out that the Chair of the Intelligence Committee gets less information than what was leaked. She read about it in a book!

Our intelligence system has become so broken – because of politics. What do we get? “Chatty Cathy” Donilon.

Senator Feinstein Learned More from Leaks Than As Chair of Intelligence Committee

By John Fund – National Review

Senior White House adviser David Plouffe insisted yesterday that criticism of the avalanche of national-security leaks from the Obama administration amounted to a “game of distraction.”

But apparently playing his own game, he refused to respond to questions about whether President Obama would order any member of his administration with knowledge of the leaks to come forward — as President George W. Bush did in the controversy over leaks about the identity of CIA employee Valerie Plame.

Sadly, the leaks are anything but a game. Senator Dianne Feinstein, the chair of the Intelligence Committee, held a news conference last week to declare:

“This has to stop. When people say they don’t want to work with the United States, because they can’t trust us to keep a secret, that’s serious.”

The leaks — mostly revealed in New York Times reporter David Sanger’s new book Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power— open up the whole gamut of U.S. secret operations. That includes the Navy Seals raid to kill bin Laden, missions in Pakistan, a Yemeni double agent, the Predator drone protocols, the cyberwar against Ira[n], and covert operations in Africa.

Senator Feinstein said her heart has stopped at points during her reading of the Sanger book. She’s only halfway through it, but told San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders last week: “You learn more from the book than I did as chairman of the intelligence committee, and that’s very disturbing to me.”

It should be for all of us. Even David Sanger, the author basking in all the attention, was taken aback a bit by Senator Feinstein’s statement. “Hmmm…not sure this is good news,” he tweeted. Indeed.

More and more people are asking questions about the possible role of the White House national-security adviser, Thomas Donilon, who is quoted throughout the Sanger book.

As Peggy Noonan wrote in last Saturday’s Wall Street Journal: “When I was a child, there was a doll called Chatty Cathy. You pulled a string in her back, and she babbled inanely. Tom Donilon appears to be the Chatty Cathy of the American intelligence community.”

Perhaps it’s time for Donilon, his aides, and other administration officials to be asked to appear before a congressional committee and asked directly under oath if they had anything to do with the leaks.

Senate and House Intelligence to Investigate – DoJ and FBI recused

By Scott W. Winchell and Denise Simon

Speaking about recent intelligence leaks, and specifically the ‘Stuxnet Attack’, Sen. Diane Feinstein said: “The leaks have to stop”. She was noticeably upset, so are the Senate and House Intelligence Committees; quite incensed. They have now conferred between the two committees and the investigation begins, why did they have to confer? Because, unfortunately, they will not have the aid of the FBI and the DoJ. Why?

From CSPAN:

HOUSE AND SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE Press Conference Thursday on Classified Leaks The four leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees will hold a news conference to discuss the recent spate of classified national security information leaks. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Feinstein and Vice Chairman Chambliss and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Ruppersberger called the leaks damaging and intolerable. WHO: Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) 12:30p-1p 216 Hart SOB Alcove

In the video Senator Rogers of the House Intelligence Committee mentions in the post hearing press conference that the DoJ and the FBI have recused themselves from participating in the intelligence leaks investigation despite the probe they already opened as seen in the article below. Why the recusal, why are the two committees coming together as one to investigate? Because there is no one else to do it now.

The iceberg has shown itself, and these two committees must have seen a huge amount of fire and ice below the surface. The result will be that this investigation will get much less truth and cooperation because our investigative branches cannot be involved. What about a ‘Special Prosecutor’? How is this going to work?

President Barack Obama opposes the appointment of a special counsel to investigate whether vital national security secrets were improperly disclosed in a wave of news reports detailing sensitive operations, the White House said Thursday.

“No,” press secretary Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One when asked whether Obama would support such a move. Carney referred reporters to government agencies already tasked with ferreting out leakers. Some Republicans, like Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, have said the administration cannot be trusted to investigate itself. (Read the rest here.)

This is all coming out in campaign season. What is more important, US security or re-election? The Intelligence committees, populated by both parties see something very bad here, and are acting quite united in their angst.

So who conducts the investigation then? Will anyone in DC shut up and stop the leaks…and stop spiking footballs for the sake of an election.

This is about our security, not the ballot box. The Eric Holder Department of Justice is in up to its eyeballs in so many other problems, and should be the investigative arm in this issue, combined with FBI, who reports to the Deputy Attorney General, but both are out now…why?

Its obvious that CIA is beyond mad as well, since the Israelis are now mad, and no one trusts the US intelligence services anymore. In a Donald Rumsfeld radio interview a few days ago, he said that Israel cannot trust Obama now. Even Robert Gates is incensed:

Robert Gates, the former defense secretary, reportedly blasted the national security team in the Obama White House for blabbing about the raid to kill Osama bin Laden. “Shut the f— up,” Gates told Tom Donilon, who is now Obama’s national security adviser, according to a book by New York Times reporter David Sanger. (Read the rest here.)

James Clapper is even getting in on the case:

As he briefs top intelligence lawmakers who are outraged over a series of recent leaks of classified information, Clapper wants to widen the numbers of people across government agencies who would be required to take the “Counterintelligence Polygraph,” the source said.

This may also be related to the debacle in Pakistan. Panetta admits he is running out of patience with Pakistan’s role as an ally of the United States, so is this just about the doctor that cooperated on the Osama bin Ladin event or is there something more?

See the video of the Senate Committee’s statements here.

Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Cal) Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee

FBI Probes Leaks on Iran Cyberattack

By EVAN PEREZ and ADAM ENTOUS

WASHINGTON—The FBI has opened an investigation into who disclosed information about a classified U.S. cyberattack program aimed at Iran’s nuclear facilities, according to two people familiar with the probe.

The investigation follows publication last week of details of the cyber-sabotage program, including the use of a computer worm called Stuxnet, which Iran has acknowledged it found in its computers.

The Central Intelligence Agency ran the operation in conjunction with Idaho National Laboratory, the Israeli government and other U.S. agencies, according to people familiar with the efforts.

The covert effort also includes drone surveillance and cyberspying on Iranian scientists, the people said.

The New York Times on Friday published an account of the U.S. cyberattack operation in an excerpt from a forthcoming book by one of its reporters, David Sanger, that he said he has been working on for a year. Other news organizations, including The Wall Street Journal, followed up with details about the program.

Paul Bresson, a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, declined to comment.

The probe comes on the heels of another leak investigation involving revelations about a double agent who infiltrated al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate.

FBI Director Robert Mueller told lawmakers recently the FBI was looking into how news leaked about the double agent and a new-generation underwear bomb the al Qaeda affiliate had hoped to use in an airliner attack.

The Associated Press, which first reported the Yemen news, has said it held the news for several days at the government’s request.

Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, in speeches on the Senate floor Tuesday, called for the president to appoint a special counsel to investigate what Mr. Chambliss called “a pattern of leaks.”

Mr. McCain said the leaks raised the prospect that they are “an attempt to further the president’s political ambitions for the sake of his re-election at the expense of our national security.” Some Democratic lawmakers also criticized the leaks but said they didn’t believe they were politically motivated.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Friday brushed aside suggestions that the information was intentionally leaked.

“It’s classified for a reason, because publicizing that information would pose a significant threat to national security,” he told reporters. White House officials had no immediate comment on Mr. McCain’s comments or on the FBI probe.

The U.S. and its Western allies suspect Iran’s nuclear program is aimed at producing atomic weapons. Tehran denies that and says the program is for peaceful purposes.

The reports on the Iran cyberattacks said the operation, called Olympic Games, began in the Bush administration and accelerated under Mr. Obama.

The New York Times account attributed some information to officials who served in both the Bush and Obama administrations.

Mr. Sanger, in an appearance on CBS News’s “Face the Nation” program Sunday, suggested that deliberate White House leaking “wasn’t my experience.”

He added: “I spent a year working the story from the bottom up, and then went to the administration and told them what I had. Then they had to make some decisions about how much they wanted to talk about it…I’m sure the political side of the White House probably likes reading about the president acting with drones and cyber and so forth. National-security side has got very mixed emotions about it because these are classified programs.”

A spokesman for New York Times Co. declined to comment, and Mr. Sanger said he stood by his comments from Sunday.