Those Missing Drone Memos Are Now John Brennan's Worst Enemy
Now that Chuck Hagel's confirmation has gone off without a hitch (for the most part), it's John Brennan's turn to take the spotlight, and it look like those drone memos will be a real roadblock. We could've guessed as much a couple of weeks ago when a Justice Department "white paper" revealed details of how the Obama administration decides to kill American citizens in the war on terror. However, as the issue quietly hid in the shadow of Hagel's confirmation hearing, the neverending battle over the sequester and Seth MacFarlane's offensive Oscar performance, some senators still want to know why the Obama administration won't release all of the drone memos. The New York Times's Jeremy Peters reports that "Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, said Tuesday that he thought the confirmation process should continue to play out, and he indicated that he was willing to help delay it until Mr. Brennan answered further questions about drones." Sen. Rand Paul also wants answers.
As far as these drone memos are concerned, the Obama administration's been walking a fine line between actual transparency and appearing to be transparent. The White House won points after the Justice Department white paper leaked for making two legal opinions on the government's use of drones available to senators. The memos were only shown to the senators, though — no legislative aids, no drone experts, nobody — and only for a limited amount of time. (Just curious: Did somebody have to watch the senators read the documents so that they didn't take Instagram photos of them or anything? Probably…) The administration hoped that this would be enough to satisfy members of the Senate Intelligence Committee so that they'd give Brennan the green light. A vote is expected on Thursday.