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Prehearing questions answered by John Brennan. These are a PDF files.
Brennan Confirmation Hearing - Senate Select Committee on IntelligenceI don't see how this can be a very tough hearing since it doesn't even start until 2:30pm and by the time they get finished with opening statements, etc., for how long will Brennan even have to answer questions? An hour? Two at the most? Senators will bloviate for at least half of that. Tough questioning indeed.
Hearing/Meeting: Open Hearing: Nomination of John O. Brennan to be the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
Date & Time Thursday, February 7, 2013 2:30 PM
Location Hart 216
Brennan to face questions on interrogations, drones and leaksMarcy Wheeler has done the best reporting on John Brennan, bar none, and she has been doing it for years now. Here are her questions. There are more details under each question if you click the link and go read the whole thing, which I strongly recommend.
(Reuters) - President Barack Obama's nominee to head the CIA, John Brennan, is expected to face tough questioning about leaks of sensitive information and U.S. spy activities from waterboarding to the use of drones when he appears at a Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday.
In a written submission posted on the Senate Intelligence Committee's website on Wednesday, Brennan acknowledged for the first time that he had given voluntary interviews in connection with investigations into leaks that are being conducted by federal prosecutors in Baltimore and Washington.
Brennan said the investigations related to cyber warfare against Iran and a foiled bomb plot tied to al Qaeda's Yemen-based affiliate. Brennan said his lawyer had been told by prosecutors that he was "only a witness" in both investigations.
However, leaks are only one of the major issues about which intelligence committee members plan to question Brennan, a former CIA executive under President George W. Bush, who has become the steward of Obama's drone policies.
Five Questions for John Brennan
I’m sure I could grill John Brennan for hours. But after a lot of thought, here are the five questions I believe most important that should be asked of him Today.
1) Do you plan to continue lying to Americans?
2) What was the intelligence supporting the first attempt to kill Anwar al-Awlaki?
3) Will your close friendships with Saudis cloud your focus on the US interest?
4) What role did you have in Bush’s illegal wiretap program?
5) Did you help CIA bypass prohibitions on spying domestically with the NYPD intelligence (and other) programs?
Questions for John Brennan That Won't Get Asked
One of the questioners is Salem Ahmed bin Ali Jaber, a father of seven children and a Yemeni cleric who apparently opposed Al Qaeda and its allies in Yemen. While he was arguing, alongside his cousin, with several Al Qaeda members who were angry with him, he was blown to pieces in a drone strike carried out by the United States. Oh, wait, he can’t ask Brennan anything. He’s dead. Oops.
Another question for Brennan comes from Saleem Hussein Jamal. Jamal happened to give a lift to some people who’d offered to pay him for a ride. During the trip, because the five riders were apparently Al Qaeda members, the car was blown to smithereens, and rescuers couldn’t identify anyone except by scraps. “We found eyes, but there were no faces left,” said one. Oh, Jamal can’t ask Brennan his question. He’s dead, too. Oops.
Dozens of questions come from Yemenis who experienced a US military drone strike in December 2009, the first in Yemen during the Obama administration. Unfortunately, because dozens of civilians died in that strike, which carried cluster munitions, they’re not going to able to ask Brennan anything, either. They’re all dead, too. Oops.
Another question comes from Anwar al-Awlaki, by all accounts a scurrilous individual, an Al Qaeda fanatic who happened to be an American citizen. He’d like to know exactly what legal justification there was for a drone strike that killed him, and another one that later killed his son, also an American. The White House may have good reasons to do so, but so far Obama hasn’t been willing to disclose them. According to various reports, in The New York Times, NBC and elsewhere, internally the administration said that it carries out strikes such as the one against Awlaki when it detects an “imminent” threat and concludes that there is no alternative to a strike, i.e., that the target can’t be captured. But because the administration won’t release its opinions, Awlaki can’t find out if any of that makes sense. Oh, wait, he can’t ask Brennan his question, either. He’s dead, as well. Oops.
Questions for John Brennan about the targeted killing white paperThe answer to question number one is that you are not allowed to know. Up until now, even Congress was not allowed to know. But you are still not allowed to know.
With the help of attorney Chris Anders of the ACLU, as well as two letters from Senator Ron Wyden, and blogging by Glenn Greenwald, Emptywheel, Adam Serwer, James Downie, and others, here are a few questions I hope he is asked:
4) The white paper claims that these killings are legal if “an informed, high level official” has “determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States.” Please define “high level official,” and please tell us which members of the administration specifically are seen to have this decision-making authority.
5) The white paper states that the killing of an American citizen suspected of being an Al Qaeda leader can be legally killed if the aforementioned high level officials believe there is “an imminent threat of violent attack.” But it adds that this “does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons or interests will take place in the significant future.” What are the criteria for determining that the threat of violent attack is “imminent”? Who is making the decision to green light killings of this sort based on these criteria, other than the president himself?
What Senators Should Ask CIA-Nominee John Brennan
1. Assassination of American citizens
The Administration has claimed authority to assassinate American citizens it judges to be an “imminent” danger to this country. What sort of affiliation would cause an American to end up on a “kill list”? How many Americans are are currently on them? But most importantly, how sure are we of the intelligence that puts an American on one of these lists? There are persistent reports from Pakistan and Yemen that drones are killing the wrong people. How do we know the same faulty intelligence won’t lead to the wrongful assassination of an American?
3. Would the Administration Ever Reconsider “Enhanced Interrogation”?
In a still secret report, the Senate Intelligence Committee reportedly determined that “enhanced interrogation” contributed little or nothing to finding Bin Laden. Does the Administration share that opinion? Would it ever authorize the “enhanced interrogation” techniques used under the Bush Administration, and if so, under what circumstances?
The One Question Congress Must Ask Before Confirming Obama’s CIA DirectorDailyBeast publishes another propaganda piece. Mark McKinnon makes the moral case for drone strikes just in time for Obama's Cheney confirmation hearing.
So Brennan, then, is ideally positioned to answer the fundamental question that needs to be answered to get a hold on America’s targeted killing program:
What role do targeted killings play in the broader U.S. counter-terrorism strategy and under what circumstances might we cease to employ them?
The question goes beyond the tactic of drone strikes to the conditions that cause them to be used in the first place. As a tactic, drone strikes have garnered significant opposition due to the potential for blowback among the populations where they are utilized, as well as the secrecy that surrounds the CIA’s classified program in Pakistan and moral questions about the serious harm cost in civilian lives the program carries with it. However, whether the program is achieving the ends that the Obama administration seeks, or even an explanation of what those ends are, is often left out of the debate and questioning of government officials.
Getting Brennan to explain what the Administration’s end game is is the most important step towards getting a handle on the program. Were the program to continue indefinitely, without any clear guidelines as to what sufficient success to cease killings might look like, all of the associated problems — blowback, civilian casualties, and undermining international law — would likely be exacerbated, as even a tightly regulated program would invariably carry the risks of unintended consequences. Moreover, a failure to give a clear account of the reasons why the Administration believes targeted killings are effectively degrading al-Qaeda and integrating that strategy into a legal understanding of when that degradation is enough to justify ending the program risks allowing targeted killings to continue well after they’ve become counterproductive. There’s also something intrinsically dangerous about a war without a clearly defined endpoint.
The Moral Case for Drone Strikes
The Obama administration is making hard decisions on its drone warfare program, but it is making correct ones, says Mark McKinnon.
I will not argue about the hypocrisy of an administration that supports drone attacks on American citizens at war with us while calling for trials in the U.S. court system of captured foreign enemy combatants. And I will not dwell on the shocking silence of the media who would be “up in arms” if the Bush administration took a similar position. Nor will I linger on the likelihood that a presidential candidate Obama would not have supported the policy.
From a totally American perspective, I can think of three justifications. Drone strikes are less costly in terms of dollars. And budgets, we are told, are moral documents. So less money spent on war can go toward human needs, in education, in health care, even in foreign aid.
Instead, I will argue there is a rational and a moral case for the use of drone strikes—in general. [...]
Breaking: Most Journalists Mis-Report Release of OLC MemosYears, not months, if I remember correctly. And note that the senators had only hours before the Brennan hearing to read and study the memos and almost no time to confer with anyone about them. There should be weeks or months of public hearings, Watergate style, on these memos alone.
First, even though quotes of Obama and direct statements from Dianne Feinstein and Ron Wyden refer to memos, plural, people persist in reporting that there is one memo.
Second, in spite of the fact that Obama has only aceded to letting the two Intelligence Committees have access to the memos, most media outlets are reporting that “Congress” will get the memos.
Ah well. At least 35 men and women can know what might you and I killed. But you and I aren’t allowed to know yet.
Obama agrees to release legal memos on Awlaki drone strike
Senators had demanded to see the Justice Department memos authorizing the killing of U.S. citizen Anwar Awlaki in Yemen.
WASHINGTON — President Obama, who has championed lethal drone strikes as a major part of U.S. counter-terrorism efforts, bowed to pressure Wednesday and agreed to allow the Senate and House intelligence committees to review classified legal memos used to justify a drone strike against a U.S. citizen in Yemen in 2011.
Senators had demanded for months to see the Justice Department opinions that provided the White House legal authority to order the targeted killing of Anwar Awlaki, a New Mexico native who became an Al Qaeda leader.
Complaints by several Democrats over not receiving the documents had cast a shadow on the Senate confirmation hearing Thursday of John Brennan, the White House counter-terrorism advisor tapped to be CIA director.
White House silent over CIA drone reports as pressure builds on Brennan
Embarrassment for Obama administration after revelations that CIA is secretly using Saudi air base to conduct drone strikes
The pressure on John Brennan, Barack Obama's nominee for CIA director and the architect of the White House strategy on drones, intensified on Wednesday amid revelations of a secret CIA drone base in Saudi Arabia.
The Obama administration and Saudi Arabia were silent over reports on Wednesday that the CIA is secretly using an air base in Saudi Arabia to conduct its controversial drone assassination campaign in neighbouring Yemen. The reports revealed that the drones that killed the US-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and his son in September 2011, and Said al-Shehri, a senior al-Qaida commander who died from his injuries last month, were launched from the unnamed base.
A senior administration official told the Associated Press that Obama has directed the justice department to provide congressional intelligence committees access to classified information providing the legal rationale for drone strikes against al-Qaida-linked American citizens.
Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest
Daniel Ellsberg: we may not expect to be rounded up, but we do have the complete infrastructure of a police state. #ndaa— Molly Knefel (@mollyknefel) February 6, 2013
Tangerine Bolen of RevolutionTruth, Daniel Ellsberg & lawyer Carl Mayer at NDAA appeal lawsuit press conf. twitter.com/kgosztola/stat…— Kevin Gosztola (@kgosztola) February 6, 2013
10yrs ago today, the Washington Post ran an editorial on Colin Powell's evidence at the UN. Headline: "IRREFUTABLE" mmflint.me/WQW14A— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) February 6, 2013
The Temptations - Papa Was A Rolling Stone