Although John Brennan’s confirmation as CIA Director is nigh on assured, his nomination procedure has been anything but routine. Leading up to his Senate confirmation hearing Thursday, a demand for answers about the darkest aspects of the U.S. counterterror program — of which Brennan is a major architect — has swelled in the media, among activists and in Congress.
On the eve of the hearing, President Obama fulfilled Congressional demands to have the Justice Department release the classified legal reasoning for the killing of US citizens by drones to the Senate Intelligence Committee. The decision follows the leak of a white paper, believed to summarize the full 50-page document senators have now received, which this week drew sharp criticism from legal experts. A group of 11 senators led by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) wrote to the White House demanding to see the legal opinion and threatening to hold off on Brennan’s appointment were it not released. According to the AP, Wyden “left open the possibility he might still try to block Brennan’s nomination”: