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.
Arab leaders said Saudi-led operation would continue until the Iranian-allied Houthis withdraw. They also announced the formation of a unified military force to counter growing security threats from Yemen to Libya.
Collation of results continues and final results are not expected until Monday
Tens of thousands of Tunisians marched through the capital in a show of solidarity against museum attack on Sunday, hours after the government said its forces had killed nine members of a group suspected of carrying out this month's Bardo Museum attack.
According a port official, a Chinese warship approach the port of Aden to evacuate nationals.
An Israeli court has issued an order to demolish Palestinian village Susya and relocate its residents. The village was built even before the Israeli occupation of the West Bank in 1967.
At least 15 people wounded from anti-aircraft missiles shrapnel used by Houthis against warplanes of the Saudi-led coalition in Western Yemen
According to a Yemeni NGO Mwatana Organization for Human Rights (MOHR), at least 27 civilians – including 15 children – were killed in Yemen's Sanaa province.
Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has fired Ahmed Ali Saleh who is son of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Tunisian security forces have killed a senior Algerian suspected who they accuse of helping orchestrate the Bardo museum attack which targeted foreign tourists, Tunisia's Prime Minister Habib Essid said on Sunday.
According to tribal sources, 40 Houthis killed in clashes with tribesmen.
Netanyahu says expected Iranian nuclear deal even worse than Israel feared.
Russian President Vladimir Putin says, Russia will help Palestine become an independent state with its capital in East Jerusalem.
Thousands of Palestinian athletes turned out for the third Palestine Marathon on Friday
Palestinian faction Hamas said in a statement, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas responsible for Palestinian divisions.
According to local residents, Saudi-led military coalition has bombed overnight airstrikes on Yemeni capital Sanaa and northern Saada district
Mogherini nevertheless points to issues that need to be resolved over Tehran's nuclear program, says parties 'have to work very hard to find solutions that are good.'