~~ John Brennan confirmation hearings~~
   ~~ February 12, 2013~~
   ~~ By: Jim Kouri~~
President Barack Obama's national security advisor and nominee to serve as Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director defended the Obama administration's secretive drone assassination program this past weekend on the Sunday morning news shows.

John Brennan, who currently oversees the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) program at the Obama White House, was faced with questions from lawmakers from both political parties during the confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Brennan conceded that there continues to be intense debate over the Obama administration's counterterrorism efforts. But he claimed President Obama only used drone strikes as a preventative tool against imminent terrorist threats, not as a method of execution for past acts.

“It's a carryover from the Bush administration that had been using drones over the Waziristan in the northern territories of Pakistan, of course, and in Afghanistan,” said former Maj. General Paul Vallely, who also chairs Standup America. “These targeted killings to me are not just a tool. But the law, and what they’re passing to strike Americans anywhere is what’s in question. We won't allow enhanced interrogation or waterboarding to get information out of people, but yet we can go out and kill them with drones.”

While using drones is effective, Vallely said it's “not a way that’s going to continue to take care of the rapid expansion of al-Qaeda, particularly in North Africa and other areas of the Middle East. So it, just to me, it’s an interim tool but it’s not going to solve the problem.”

Vallely said Obama's past condemnation of President George W. Bush's stance on waterboarding and torture is “hypocritical,” given that the president has now approved the assassination of Americans.

On several occasions during the Senate hearing, Brennan promised to make the UAV program more transparent, such as when innocent civilians are killed by mistake. Brennan also said he wants to explain more to the American people about employing drone strikes and how and why certain targets are selected.

The Obama UAV program has created an enormous amount of backlash including threats of lawsuits by civil-rights groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union.

In an effort to garner more congressional support for Brennan's nomination as CIA chief, the Obama White House proposed a classified briefing regarding the UAV program for members of the Senate Intelligence Committee and perhaps House members, as well.

This latest controversy has created an outpouring of complaints regarding citizens' constitutional protections against illegal search and seizure, Fifth Amendment protection, and other issues. "What scares many Americans on both sides of the political spectrum is the use of these drones to not only conduct surveillance operations, but also to use them to kill terrorist suspects who are citizens without due process," said Mike Baker, a political strategist.