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."