World Bulletin / News Desk
John Brennan, President Barack Obama's nominee for CIA director, said on Thursday he did not try to stop waterboarding, what most consider torture, as he faced tough congressional questioning on that issue, security leaks and the use of drones to kill Americans.
Lawmakers pressed Brennan on torture tactics employed while he was a CIA official under former President George W. Bush.
The issue of the now-banned techniques derailed Brennan's consideration for CIA director four years ago, and he met it head-on at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
"I did not take steps to stop the CIA's use of those techniques. I was not in the chain of command of that program," Brennan said. "I had expressed my personal objections and views to some agency colleagues" about waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning, nudity and other techniques, he said.
"But I did not try to stop it, because it was something that was being done in a different part of the agency under the authority of others, and it was something that was directed by the administration at the time," he said.
DOCUMENTS FOR LAWMAKERS' EYES ONLY
In a bid to smooth congressional concerns, Obama on Wednesday ordered the Justice Department to give House and Senate intelligence committees access to a classified legal opinion on killing Americans with drone strikes.
Brennan, 57, has been central in overseeing U.S. government policy on the use of the armed, unmanned aircraft in the Obama administration.
But some, mostly Democratic, lawmakers are demanding that the White House provide more of the legal documents underpinning its position that Obama can order lethal strikes overseas on U.S. citizens.
The administration insisted that only lawmakers be allowed access to the classified Justice Department papers, which means the committee's lawyers are unable to read them.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, the intelligence committee's Democratic chairwoman, complained to Brennan that the committee's staff had been banned from seeing the administration's classified legal opinion.
"The reason for providing information just to committee members at times is to ensure that it is kept on a limited basis," Brennan said. "It is rather exceptional, as I think you know, that the Office of Legal Counsel opinion - or advice - would be shared directly with you."
The hearing was recessed after Brennan started speaking because of protesters, who began yelling "Torture is always wrong" and "Stop the drones."
Some of the most intense questioning of Brennan came from liberal Democrats, not the conservative Republicans who have raised the strongest objections to one of Obama's other security nominees - Chuck Hagel, his choice to lead the Pentagon.
Civil liberties groups have criticized the drone attacks as effectively a green light to assassinate Americans without due process in the courts under the U.S. Constitution.
Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, expressed reservations about the drone attacks.
"Taking the fight to al Qaeda is something every member of this committee feels strongly about. It's the idea of giving any president unfettered power to kill an American without checks and balances that's so troubling," he said.
In an exchange with Wyden, Brennan defended the use of drone strikes to target Americans.
"Any American who did that should know well that they in fact are part of an enemy ... and that the United States will do anything possible to destroy that enemy and to save American lives," he said.
Assembly's ethics committee also announces intention to grill electoral commission over corruption allegations
Bakir Izetbegovic, the leader of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) in Bosnia, represents Bosniaks (Muslims) in the Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina
Three people including a NATO representative have been killed in a missile facility explosion
At least 2 people have been injured in an attack in Nigeria
With many moments highlighting the four day convention, the most emotional of all was the speech of Khizr Khan, the father of a Muslim soldier who was killed in Iraq
French PM Valls has said called for imams to be trained in France and that a ban should be in place for the foreign funding of mosques
Demonstrators decry deadly coup attempt in Turkey; demand Gulen's extradition
Boris Johnson insists relations are warm after French foreign minister had accused him earlier of having ‘lied a lot’
A draft resolution calling on all parties to cease all violence with the deployment of a UN police force in Burundi will be voted on today
Hillary Clinton has accepted the nomination for the Democrats saying that she would be 'president for Democrats, Republicans and independents'
German Chancellor says Ankara should prosecute coup plotters with all means and possibilities within rule of law
Dozen killings in last 2 months have largely targeted ruling African National Congress members
Gulen's terrorist organization FETO has extended networks in western Balkans since 1990s
With latest payment, company's financial assistance from European Commission totals more than €10 million