W.H. to give legal basis for drone attacks

Feb. 6, 2013 at 10:44 PM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Key lawmakers will get secret papers laying out the legal reasoning for killing U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism, an administration official said Wednesday.

The official, speaking to the Washington publication Roll Call on condition of anonymity, said the White House will provide the House and Senate Intelligence committees classified Office of Legal Counsel documents about the legal rationale for using drones to target U.S. citizens without due process.

"Today, as part of the president's ongoing commitment to consult with Congress on national security matters, the president directed the Department of Justice to provide the congressional Intelligence committees access to classified Office of Legal Counsel advice related to the subject of the Department of Justice white paper," the administration official said.

The White House's change of heart came the day before John O. Brennan's confirmation hearing to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, Roll Call noted.

A summary of the administration's stance on the use of drones in strikes that could kill Americans was leaked this week, but lawmakers have not been afforded the opportunity to examine the underlying legal opinions that white paper is based upon.

Senate Intelligence Committee member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., suggested a filibuster of Brennan's nomination was a possibility if the documents were not provided, Roll Call said.

While there seemed to be some uncertainty about the completeness of the documents the administration would provide, Wyden said President Obama contacted him Wednesday to let him know that "effective immediately, I'll be making the full legal opinion" available.

"It was clear he was talking about the full legal opinion, any and all, for purposes of making this commitment," Wyden said.

Brennan, the top White House counter-terrorism and homeland security adviser, is to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday.

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