Pressure Works: Urge the Senate to Press Brennan on Drone Strikes

At long last, the Administration has released a "white paper" explaining its legal rationale for conducting drone strikes on Americans. Why did this happen? Because of pressure.

What might more pressure accomplish?

John Brennan is appearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday for his confirmation hearing as director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Urge your Senators to press John Brennan on US drone strike policy.

The New York Times reports that the Justice Department "white paper" closely tracks a classified memorandum in which the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel signed off on the killing of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, who died in U.S. drone strike in September 2011. [1] Members of Congress, the press, and human rights groups have been pressing the Administration for disclosure of this memo (which still has not been disclosed).

In January, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden sent a letter demanding to see the memo. [2] On February 4, a bipartisan group of Senators made the same demand. [3]

This shows that the Administration's policy can move under the pressure of Senators' questions. More questions will generate more movement.

There are many other questions Senators should ask Brennan:

- How many civilians do you believe have been killed by drone strikes?
- Is it true that the CIA counts all "military-aged males" as "militants" when they are killed by a drone strike?
- Do you agree with those who say that drone strikes should not be conducted by the CIA?
- Is it true that the CIA has conducted "secondary strikes" where they hit the same target twice, after rescuers have come to the scene of a strike?
- Is it true that the CIA has targeted funerals and weddings with drone strikes?
- Is it true that the CIA has targeted unknown persons with "signature strikes," simply on the basis that they were carrying weapons?
- Why doesn't the U.S. have a procedure to investigate claims of civilian harm due to drone strikes, and to compensate civilian victims and their families, as the U.S. military currently does in Afghanistan?
- Does the Administration intend to fully cooperate with the UN investigation of drone strikes?

Urge your Senators to ask these questions of Brennan before his confirmation as head of the CIA.

Thank you for all you do to help bring about a more just foreign policy,

Robert Naiman, Chelsea Mozen, Sarah Burns and Megan Iorio
Just Foreign Policy

Help support Just Foreign Policy! With our small staff and minimal overhead, you know your contribution will go a long way.


1. "Memo Cites Legal Basis for Killing U.S. Citizens in Al Qaeda," Charlie Savage and Scott Shane, New York Times, February 5, 2013,
2. "Senator Asks to View Files on Killings of Americans," Scott Shane, New York Times, January 14, 2013
3. "Bipartisan Group of Senators Seeks Legal Justifications for the Deliberate Killing of Americans," Office of Senator Ron Wyden, Monday, February 4, 2013,

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