The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

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ACLU Comment on John Brennan's Confirmation to CIA Director


The Senate today voted 63-34 to confirm John Brennan as director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Brennan's confirmation came after a bipartisan coalition objected to the secrecy surrounding President Obama's targeted killing program and began to assert congressional oversight over this unlawful White House policy. The effort was capped off by a nearly 13-hour filibuster by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

"As a result of Sen. Paul's historic filibuster, civil liberties got two wins: the Obama administration disclaimed authority to use an armed drone within the United States in the absence of a Pearl Harbor-style attack, but more importantly, Americans learned about the breathtakingly broad claims of executive authority undergirding the Obama administration's vast killing program," said Laura W. Murphy, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Washington Legislative Office. "There is now a truly bipartisan coalition in Congress and among the public demanding that President Obama turn over the legal opinions claiming the authority to kill people far from a battlefield, including American citizens. We are not a country of secret rules, particularly when the rules unilaterally justify the killing of as many as 4,700 people, including four American citizens."

During the past six weeks, steps towards transparency have included the President's State of the Union commitment to disclose more information on the killing program, several of the eleven Justice Department legal opinions released to the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, a disavowal of authority to use armed drones domestically, and two congressional oversight hearings. There also have been new promises of a public explanation of the killing program by President Obama, possible subpoenas for the legal memos from the Senate and House Judiciary Committees, and expanded efforts by key members of the Intelligence and Judiciary committees to obtain the legal opinions and exercise greater oversight over the killing program.

"We're glad to hear commitments from Congress to provide meaningful oversight over the killing program as well as a new promise from President Obama to provide a fuller explanation of it to the public," Murphy said. "However, there is no substitute for providing the legal opinions to both Congress and the American people, and no one should accept anything less than being able to read for ourselves what the government is claiming it can do."

The ACLU currently has two Freedom of Information Act lawsuits pending before federal appeals courts in Washington and New York seeking the release of Office of Legal Counsel memos and other records concerning the targeted killing program.

More information is at:

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

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