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Opening Message at Brennan Hearing: 'Stop CIA Murder'

John Brennan, drone war architect, faces confirmation hearing

Common Dreams staff

'Stop CIA Murder' was the message that opened the confirmation hearing of CIA nominee and drone war architect John Brennan Thursday afternoon as he faced the Senate Intelligence Committee.

MSNBC reported that minutes before the hearing was scheduled to begin at 2:30, one protester had already been removed from the chambers, and a series of interruptions from CODEPINK members brought in the beginning of the hearing.

Four protesters were escorted out of the room shortly after Brennan began speaking, with one of the protesters shouting, "We are killing children!" Others held signs reading, "Brennan = Drone Killing" and "Stop CIA Murder."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the committee's chairman, cleared the room after the four interruptions and brought people back individually, and had the CODEPINK protesters' re-entry stopped.

Some commentators have noted that the hearing avoided central questions about the U.S. drone program and due process.

When asked by Sen. Carl Levin if waterboarding was torture, Brennan would not say it was, saying he "was not a lawyer." Waterboarding later became the source of a joke as Sen. Richard Burr began his questioning of Brennan.

Three hours into the hearing, Sen. Angus King raised a question on executive power.  The Guardian provides the exchange:

Then King proposes a "FISA-court type process where an American citizen is going to be targeted for a lethal strike. Having an executive be judge, jury and executioner all in one is very contrary to the traditions. and the laws of this country.... We're depriving American citizens of their life when we target them in drone attacks," King says.

Brennan answers: "Senator, I think it's certainly worthy of discussion. Our tradition... is that a court of law is used to determine one's guilt or innocence for past actions. [but] we take actions so that we protect American lives... that is an executive branch function...

"We have wrestled with this, in terms of whether there can be a FISA-like court, but the actions that we take on the counter-terrorism front... the nature of the threat is so grave and serious, that we have no recourse..."

In Sen. Ron Wyden's second round of questions, Brennan affirmed the right to kill U.S. citizens in drone strikes before allowing them the opportunity to surrender saying that any American who joined al-Qaida "should know well that they are part of an enemy against us."


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