NEW YORK - The White House doesn’t have plans to share fully with Congress the legal opinions that justify targeted killings by drone strikes, according to a media report.
The aim of the strategy is to produce a bipartisan majority vote for John Brennan in the Senate Intelligence Committee without providing its members with seven additional legal opinions on targeted killing sought by senators.
It would push Brennan’s nomination to the Senate even if one or two Democrats vote no to protest the refusal to share more legal memos, the newspaper said. Only after an unclassified Justice Department white paper containing the legal arguments was published by reporters earlier this month did the administration make two legal opinions on the targeted killing of Americans briefly available to members of the Intelligence Committees.
However, the documents were available to be viewed only for a certain time and only by senators themselves, not their lawyers and experts.
The arrangement frustrated members of the committee, who were prohibited to communicate the essence of the documents to their staff members to be studied, the paper said.
But in the wake of public discussion stemming from the nomination of John Brennan, Congress hopes that the debate will continue even if he is confirmed. The refusal to share additional opinions with Congress, or to make redacted versions of the memos public, comes despite a pledge of greater transparency by President Obama in his State of the Union address delivered last week.
“I recognise that in our democracy, no one should just take my word that we’re doing things the right way,” the president said.