Brennan Refuses to Answer Key Questions on Drone Killings
February 19, 2013 • 11:30AM

In responses to written questions submitted "for the record" by members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, John Brennan refused to directly answer the crucial questions pertaining to targeted killings, instead evading the questions and giving vague, meaningless responses, just as he had done in his Feb. 7 confirmation hearing on his nomination for CIA Director.

While many of the questions submitted by Committee Chairman Diane Feinstein were real softball questions, giving Brennan an opportunity to justify Obama's policy, a few were more substantive, and to these, Brennan gave evasive, non-answers. These include:

* On the crucial question of "Could the Administration carry out drone strikes inside the United States?" Brennan's answer was a total evasion, stating: "This Administration has not carried out drone strikes inside the United States and has no intention of doing so." (Maybe Obama has no such intention today, Mr. Brennan, but what about tomorrow?)

* When asked "can you elaborate on what 'imminent' means" as the standard for targetted killing cited in the DOJ White Paper and in previous discussions, Brennan stonewalled, instead referring Senators back to the same White Paper and the classified OLC legal opinions behind the White Paper upon which he was asked to elaborate.

* Referring to the "well-informed, high-level official" whom the White Paper says must approve targetted killings, Feinstein asked Brennan, "who makes the ultimate determination" for a targetted killing? Brennan's answer was so broad and evasive as to be completely meaningless: "The process of deciding to take such an extraordinary action would involve legal review by the Department of Justice, as well as a discussion among the departments and agencies across our national security team, including the relevant National Security Council Principals and the President." (How many hundreds of people are making the "ultimate" decision, Mr. Brennan?)

* On Brennan's promise to acknowledge civilian casualties, Feinstein asked him about making public the details and numbers for "collateral deaths"? Brennan's response answer only addressed the "numbers," not the "details," and left a giant loophole, saying that "to the extent that U.S. national security interests can be protected, the U.S. Government should make public the overall numbers of civilian deaths resulting from U.S. strikes targeting al-Qaida." (The claim of protecting "national security interests" of course can, and is, used regularly to hide and cover up information concerning government wrong-doing and illegalities.)

Any Senator doing his or her job, would never accept these evasions, and would have refused to even bring the nomination to a committee vote until Brennan and his boss provide satisfactory answers to these critical questions