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Sentiment on U.S. drone program guaged

March 8, 2013 at 12:40 PM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, March 8 (UPI) -- Most respondents to a February survey expressed concern about the legality of missiles fired on U.S. citizens from drones, the Pew Research Center said.

John Brennan was confirmed Thursday to be director of the CIA. His confirmation followed a 13-hour filibuster from U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who said he was concerned about U.S. policy on drone strikes.

In Yemen, a suspected CIA drone killed U.S.-born al-Qaida ideologue Anwar al-Awlaki in 2011, sparking a debate over whether the U.S. government should target its own citizens.

The Pew Research Center said 56 percent of respondents to a February survey, conducted before Rand's filibuster, expressed concern about drone strikes on U.S. citizens. Pew said it didn't consider whether strikes were on U.S. or foreign soil, but found a divided nation from rival polls.

Pew interviewed 1,004 adults by telephone. The results had a statistical margin of error of 3.7 percentage points.

Paul said Thursday he received a letter from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in response to questions of presidential authority to launch a strike against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil who isn't engaged in combat.

"The answer to that question is no," Holder's letter read.

The U.S. Senate voted 63-34 to confirm Brennan as CIA director. White House spokesman Jay Carney said Thursday that U.S. President Barack Obama "would not use drone strikes against American citizens on American soil."

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