Senate committee delays vote on CIA nominee
Updated On: Feb 14 2013 12:24:44 PM CST
A Senate committee vote on whether to confirm John Brennan as CIA director has been put off until lawmakers return from their recess at month's end.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein planned a vote for Thursday, but rules giving members more time to review transcripts of Brennan's testimony from last week's confirmation hearing will push back consideration.
There are also some other issues to resolve.
"Members on both sides of the aisle have asked that certain information be provided to the committee," Feinstein said in a statement.
She was referring to communications and documents related to the deadly attack last September on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, and Justice Department opinions on counterterror strikes against U.S. citizens abroad.
The intelligence panel is expected to eventually back Brennan for the top spy job, but the nomination could face another delay once it reaches the full Senate.
As President Barack Obama's chief counterterrorism adviser, Brennan was behind the dramatic use of armed drones to kill suspected terrorists, including American-born cleric Ansar al-Awlaki. He was killed by a missile strike in Yemen in 2011.
Members of Congress had repeatedly asked the Obama administration to provide relevant committees its legal opinions on targeted killings of Americans fighting on behalf of militant groups.
The White House turned over two opinions from the Office of Legal Counsel last week, but Feinstein said it was not complete since there are additional documents.
"We have reiterated our request for all nine OLC opinions, and any relevant documents, in order to fully evaluate the executive branch's legal reasoning and to broaden access to the opinions to appropriate members of the committee's staff," Feinstein said in a statement on Wednesday.
At his confirmation hearing, Brennan defended the use of drone strikes but acknowledged there should be more public discussion about them.
Feinstein hopes to schedule a committee vote soon after lawmakers return from a two-week recess that begins on Friday. But there could be further delay regarding a confirmation vote by the full Senate.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said he is prepared to put a hold on the nomination -- effectively preventing a vote -- if he does not get answers to his questions about targeted killings.
"I have asked Mr. Brennan if he believed that the president has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, and my question remains unanswered," Paul said.
The White House declined to comment on whether Brennan would provide a response to Paul or whether it would turn over more legal opinions to the Senate.
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