U.S. Senator Angus S. King, Jr. (I-Maine), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today questioned John O. Brennan, President Obama's nominee to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, during Brennan's confirmation hearing before that committee. Senator King discussed the importance of the CIA Director maintaining an open relationship with Congressional Intelligence Committees, his concern with targeted drone strikes, as well as the need for the CIA and Department of Defense to ensure there is not a duplication of efforts.
Following the hearing, Senator King said:
"Today's confirmation hearing with Mr. Brennan was informative and productive. I want to reiterate my gratitude for his service and my appreciation for his testimony before the committee this afternoon. I was pleased that he not only agreed with my assessment of the need for the Director to maintain an open relationship with our committee, but that he was also receptive to considering reforms to the decision-making process with respect to targeted-strikes."
"As I mentioned in the hearing, Defense Secretary Panetta, in response to a question I posed earlier in the day, spoke very highly of Mr. Brennan's capabilities and experience. I look forward to hearing his testimony before the Intelligence Committee in a closed session next week and, as always, I will reserve final judgment until after the hearings conclude."
Highlights of the hearing are as follows:
Senator King on the need for the CIA to maintain an open relationship with the Senate Intelligence Committee given the Committee's oversight responsibilities: "It's incredibly important for the CIA to be totally open with this committee -- the reason is that there is no one else watching. Typically in this country, the public is involved, the press is involved, there are a lot of people who have access to information about what the Department of Commerce is doing or the Department of State. This is a unique [situation] where this Committee, and the comparable Committee in the House, are the only places really paying attention in terms of separation of powers -- so it's not just nice to have that openness, it's critically important, and I hope you subscribe to that view."
Senator King on the need for the CIA and Department of Defense to ensure there is not a duplication of efforts between the agencies: "Going forward there needs to be some serious discussion with the Department of Defense about where the CIA ends and the Department of Defense starts in terms of counterterrorism activity operations In this day and age we can't be duplicating a whole set of abilities, priorities, officers, procedures, and everything else."
Senator King's suggestion for reformingthe decision-making process with respect to targeted-strikes:"The Fifth Amendment is pretty clear: no deprivation of life, liberty, or property without due process of law -- and we're depriving American citizens of their life when we target them with a drone attack .I would like to suggest to you that you consider, and Madam Chairman I'd like to suggest to the Committee that we consider, a FISA type court process when an American citizen is going to be targeted for a lethal strike; and I understand that you can't have Co-Commanders in Chief, but having the executive being the prosecutor, the judge, the jury, and the executioner all in one is very contrary to the traditions and laws of this country."