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'Mockery' of Transparency Continues as White House Releases Additional 'Kill List' Memos to Senate Committee

Critics call for greater transparency and full disclosure of memos to Congress and American public

Lauren McCauley, staff writer

CIA director nominee John Brennan posing with Senator Dianne Feinstein. (Photo: Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

The White House has reportedly released additional top-secret legal memos claiming to justify the use of lethal drone strikes against US citizens to the Senate Intelligence Committee in a bid to appease lawmakers over the expected confirmation of 'kill list' architect John Brennan to CIA Chief.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the Obama administration has provided "an additional but undisclosed number of Office of Legal Counsel memos justifying the [killing] program to the Senate and House Intelligence Committees," though it continues to withhold a number of the opinions from the Committees and have not yet provided any to greater Congress or the American public.

The legal justification for the targeted assassination of non-citizens remains undisclosed.

Calling the move an "important baby step," ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel Christopher Anders said the release still wasn't enough.

Rather than keeping the memos holed up with just a few dozen committee members, he said, they "should be available to all members of Congress and minimally redacted copies should be made public. It makes a mockery of the rule of law when the government hides the rules, or makes them up as they go along," stated Anders.

"We welcome any and all disclosures to the Intelligence Committee, but would also note that the president promised to be more publicly transparent," said Raha Wala, advocacy counsel at Human Rights First.

Previously, only four of eleven total legal opinions were shown briefly to the Senate and House Intelligence Committees and a briefing of one of the memos was leaked to the press.

Making the case that they can't perform adequate oversight without reviewing the opinions, both Democrats and Republicans have been pressuring the administration to release the classified Justice Department documents before they admit Obama's pick to his position at the spy agency. A vote on Brennan's confirmation is expected on Tuesday afternoon.

According to critics, Brennan's early February confirmation hearing was "pure show," during which it was clear that "both sides [were] operating under a tacit agreement that there are things that the American people must not, and should not, know about what it being done in their name."

Of his anticipated confirmation, the Guardian writes:

Brennan so far has escaped the harsh treatment that former senator Chuck Hagel, the president's choice to lead the Defense Department, received from Senate Republicans, even though Brennan is one of Obama's most important national security aides and the White House official who oversees the drone program.

Brennan also served as a senior CIA official during President George W Bush's administration, when waterboarding and other forms of "enhanced interrogation" and detention practices were adopted. Brennan has publicly denounced the use of these tactics, but the cloud has not gone completely away.

Brennan's stance on waterboarding and torture is inconsistent, senator John McCain, a Republican, has said. Although Brennan has decried these methods, he also has said they saved lives, according to McCain.

"All we want is the answers," McCain said Monday. "I'm not threatening anything. I just think we deserve the answers."


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