Obama Administration Wooing Senate GOP to Finesse Brennan Confirmation
February 22, 2013 • 12:02PM

The New York Times reported on Thursday, citing three Congressional staff members, that "Obama administration officials are negotiating with Republicans to provide more information" on the attack on the Benghazi diplomatic compound, even as it fights off Senators' "demands for full access to the classified legal memos on the targeted killing program" it is conducting with drones and on-the-ground killing teams.

The disclosure to the Senate of those kill-policy memos has been a primary issue surrounding Brennan's confirmation hearing. But while Senate Intelligence Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Cal.) has called for the memos to be provided, she does not believe the issue should block Brennan's confirmation. The Times says other members of the Committee (citing Sens. Mark Udall and Ron Wyden) "are less certain."

The killing-memos have tended to be a focus of Senate Democrats. (An exception is GOP Sen. Rand Paul — see separate slug.) The Senate Republicans have focussed more on the possibility of holding Brennan's nomination hostage — as they did last week with Chuck Hagel's nomination as Secretary of Defense — to demands for information about the Benghazi attack and Obama's actions during it. In fact, as recently as Feb. 20, according to an article in USA Today, Lindsey Graham said he will not allow the nomination of Brennan to go forward until the White House turns over to the Senators items such as the drone video of the attack, and the emails leading to the lying "talking points" that claimed the attack was a protest gone out of control.

The White House last week sent Graham et al. a letter responding to one question the Senators had deemed critical: whether the President had called anyone in the Libyan government to enlist the Libyans' aid in defending the consulate. McCain was quoted saying he was satisfied with the Administration's answer and would vote for cloture on the Hagel nomination after this week's adjournment. Graham was quoted today in The Hill, to the same effect. (Graham has meanwhile been one of 15 GOP Senators to sign a letter to the President requesting him to withdraw Hagel's nomination because of lack of bipartisan support.)

Thus, it is not at all clear whether the White House strategy of trying to buy off Republicans (who often support the drone policy), with some Benghazi tidbits, will work. Indeed, a high-level source in Washington has told EIR that, even if Brennan and Hagel are both confirmed, the Republican leadership is not going to let the Benghazi matter drop; it's just too gross a violation of national security, and national interest.

Additionally, in a letter to John Brennan dated February 20, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) stated that "If it is not clear that you will honor the limits placed upon the Executive Branch by the Constitution, then the Senate should not confirm you to lead the CIA." Paul reiterated his previous question, which was repeated by members of the Intelligence Committee during Brennan's confirmation hearing, whether executive power permits the Administration to carry out drone strikes against U.S. citizens, including in the United States. He told Brennan that his response, substantially repeated by the President later, that the Administration "has not carried out" such strikes and "has no intention to do so," does not answer the question.

"The question ... is not whether the Administration has or intends to carry out drone strikes in the United States, but whether it believes it has the authority to do so." [Emphasis in Paul's letter.] The letter formally asks the question again, and informs Brennan, "Until you directly and clearly answer I plan to use every procedural option at my disposal to delay your confirmation and bring added scrutiny to this issue and the Administration's policies on the use of lethal force."