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.
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.
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.”
Beware America – these are not confident times!