Senate committee gains more access to drone documents

The U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will get more access to documents describing the Obama adminstration’s legal rational for using drones to kill American citizens.

Sen. Mark Udall: “We need to understand what the administration believes the limits on its authorities are.”

SUMMIT COUNTY — Just ahead of voting on the confirmation of John Brennan as head of the CIA, the Obama administration has said it will release additional documents on the targeted killing of Americans by drones.

Sen. Mark Udal (D-Colo.) has long advocated more transparency on the administration’s legal rationale for the drone strikes. Udall announced this week that the administration has agreed to give the committee ongoing access to the Office of the Legal Counsel opinions on targeted killings of Americans.

“For the Senate Intelligence Committee to fulfill its oversight responsibilities, we need full access to the documents that outline the legal basis for the lethal targeting of American citizens. We need to understand what the administration believes the limits on its authorities are,” Udall said. in a statement posted on his website.

“After pushing the White House for more access, we have now gained the ability to review the administration’s legal rationale. The committee will vote on CIA director nominee John Brennan today, whom I believe is qualified to lead the agency, and because we now have the access needed to conduct oversight, I will vote in favor of his nomination,” Udall said.

“I intend to review these documents with the continuing goal of safeguarding Americans’ constitutional liberties and determining the limits of executive branch powers in this new age of warfare.”

The White House’s decision to release additional legal opinions to the Senate Intelligence Committee follows the one-time review of two opinions that senators on the committee were allowed access to one month ago.

Udall, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and nine other senators sent a bipartisan letter to President Obama on Feb. 4, 2013, asking for more access to the legal opinions released today. Udall and Wyden questioned CIA nominee John Brennan about the drone program during his February confirmation hearing.


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