Senators delay Brennan vote over drones

Rand Paul threatened to put a "hold" on the nomination, demanding answers on targeted killing

By Natasha Lennard

Published February 14, 2013 2:15PM (EST)

The Senate vote to approve John Brennan as CIA director was scheduled for Thursday but has been delayed at least a week. In a statement Wednesday, Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said that the committee was pressing the White House to disclose seven more legal opinions, plus "any other relevant documents" relating to the administration's targeted killing program. Two such opinions were released to committee members last week ahead of Brennan's confirmation hearing.

The precise details behind the vote delay are not clear, but according to Reuters, Democratic senators were willing to vote Thursday, while a number of Republicans were not. "Political issues and procedural rules made a Thursday vote problematic, said congressional sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity," Reuters noted. Via Reuters:

On Wednesday, Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, a favorite of the Tea Party movement, announced he was prepared to put a "hold" on Brennan's nomination "until Mr. Brennan openly responds" to questions about the administration's policy on the use of armed drones to attack U.S. citizens.

Under Senate rules an individual Senator can place a personal "hold" on nominations heading for the Senate floor, but such moves can be over-ridden in certain circumstances.

Another Republican senator, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, has also threatened to hold Brennan's nomination unless the administration responds more fully to questions about its handling of the September 2012 attack by militants on U.S. installations in Benghazi, Libya.

During Brennan's confirmation hearing, intelligence committee members Angus King and Ron Wyden pressed the counterterror adviser somewhat on the issue of targeting U.S. citizens with drones, but the event was otherwise celebratory of Brennan. Feinstein closed the proceedings with a panegyric to the nominee and opened them with an ode to the success of the U.S. drone program, of which Brennan is considered an architect.

It's not clear when the vote on his nomination will be rescheduled, but it will be delayed at least a week -- Congress is in recess next week.


Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Cia Dianne Feinstein John Brennan Rand Paul Senate Senate Intelligence Committee