Lawmakers Look at Drone Report in Advance of CIA Hearing

3:57 PM, Feb 7, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (AP) - Members of congressional intelligence panels are studying a top-secret memo that gives the White House rationale for drone strikes targeting al-Qaida operatives overseas.

The memo was provided just hours before President Barack Obama's choice to head the CIA faces a Senate Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing. John Brennan helped manage the drone program.

The delivery of the document suggests that the White House is trying to clear obstacles to Obama's effort to put Brennan in the top spot at the CIA. Obama tried to put him there before, in 2009 -- but the effort ran into opposition amid charges that Brennan supported harsh interrogation techniques that were used while he was at the CIA.

This afternoon's hearing is expected to air details of some of the most controversial programs used in the covert war on al-Qaida, including the drone strikes and the interrogation methods.

The White House says it's making an "extraordinary accommodation" in letting lawmakers look at classified Justice Department legal advice on drone strikes against Americans working with al-Qaida.

Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon is still leaving open the possibility that he will try to block Brennan's nomination. But he tells NBC that turning over the document is a good first step.

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