Obama's CIA nominee facing tough questions from Senate Democrats

WASHINGTON Thu Feb 7, 2013 11:33am IST

John Brennan, nominee for CIA Director, arrives at a meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on Capitol Hill in Washington January 31, 2013. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

John Brennan, nominee for CIA Director, arrives at a meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on Capitol Hill in Washington January 31, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas

Related Topics

Rajalakshmi (C), 28, smiles after winning the Miss Wheelchair India beauty pageant in Mumbai November 26, 2014. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Miss Wheelchair India

Seven women from across India participated in the country's second wheelchair beauty pageant, which aims to open doors for the wheelchair-bound in modelling, film and television, according to organisers  Slideshow 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Some of the toughest questioning of John Brennan, President Barack Obama's nominee to head the CIA, may come from the president's fellow Democrats, not hostile Republicans, at his Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday.

Brennan, 57, is expected to be examined closely about U.S. spy activities from waterboarding to the use of drones when he appears before the Senate Intelligence Committee at the hearing scheduled for 2:30 p.m. EST/1930 GMT on Thursday.

Even so, there has been no groundswell of objections to Brennan's nomination, and he is expected to win confirmation from both the panel and, later by the full U.S. Senate.

Some of the more vocal concerns about Brennan have come from liberal Democrats, not the conservative Republicans whose reservations about Obama's nominee to head the Pentagon, Chuck Hagel, prompted the delay of a vote on the former Nebraska Republican senator's confirmation as secretary of defense.

On the eve of the hearing, Obama directed the Justice Department to provide congressional intelligence committees access to a classified opinion laying out the legal basis for armed drone strikes on U.S. citizens alleged to be involved in terrorist plots, an administration official said.

The White House had previously resisted taking this action, angering lawmakers including Senator Dianne Feinstein who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Feinstein, a California Democrat, said she was pleased about Obama's decision on Tuesday. "It is critical for the committee's oversight function to fully understand the legal basis for all intelligence and counter-terrorism operations," she said.

Brennan is Obama's counterrorism adviser and was a CIA executive under former President George W. Bush.

He first surfaced as an Obama CIA nominee in 2008. He withdrew after human rights activists protested against his public statements about the agency's use of "enhanced interrogation" techniques, including the simulated drowning practice known as waterboarding, which a wide range of authorities regard as torture.

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, a Democratic member of the intelligence committee, has pledged to press Brennan on the Obama administration's use of armed drones to attack and kill militants. The Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call reported that Wyden had threatened to delay Brennan's nomination to help press his demands for information.

Republicans, however, praised the drone program.

"The drone program to me is a logical use of how you deal with an enemy combatant," said Senator Lindsey Graham after a news conference on the defense budget.

Graham, one of the Republican senators most vocally opposed to Hagel's appointment, said he is "totally supportive" of the administration's rationale for using drones.

Brennan has been interviewed in connection with U.S. prosecutors' probes into unauthorized leaks of government secrets to the news media, according to his written submission to the intelligence panel.

He said he had been advised that he is only a witness in the inquiries. (Editing by Christopher Wilson)

FILED UNDER:

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Racial Unrest

Racial Unrest

Protests in Ferguson dwindle, mass arrests at California rallies.  Full Article 

Protest Leaders Banned

Protest Leaders Banned

Hong Kong student leaders banned from Mong Kok protest site.  Full Article 

Suicide Attack

Suicide Attack

Suicide bomber kills five in attack on British embassy car in Kabul - officials.  Full Article 

Nuclear Deal

Nuclear Deal

Iran Supreme Leader says not opposed to extension of nuclear talks.  Full Article 

Myanmar Reforms

Myanmar Reforms

Dinner with Suu Kyi? - No thanks, say Myanmar military.  Full Article 

Opinion Poll

Opinion Poll

Majority of Russians believe their troops are not fighting in Ukraine - poll.  Full Article 

Political Deal

Political Deal

UK edges towards federalism with Scotland powers deal.  Full Article 

Ebola Epideimic

Ebola Epideimic

Number of Ebola cases nears 16,000 as Sierra Leone loses ground - WHO.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage