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Iran Press TV

US Senate confirms Brennan as next CIA director

Iran Press TV

Fri Mar 8, 2013 12:54AM GMT

The US Senate has confirmed John Brennan, the top White House adviser on the so-called war on terror and purported architect of Washington’s drone operations, as next director of the CIA.

On Thursday, the Senate voted 63-34 in favor of Brennan, overcoming Republican Sen. Rand Paul's filibuster of the nomination to demand an answer from the White House over its use of assassination drones.

On Wednesday, Paul spent nearly 13 hours speaking on the Senate floor to question whether President Barack Obama had authority to order drone strikes on US citizens in the United States.

Attorney General Eric Holder replied the president did not have such power and would not use his authority to order a drone to kill an American on US soil who was "not engaged in combat."

Obama welcomed the vote, praising Brennan's "determination to keep America safe, his commitment to working with Congress, his ability to build relationships with foreign partners and his fidelity to the values that define us as a nation."

"With the bipartisan confirmation of John Brennan as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, the Senate has recognized in John the qualities I value so much," Obama said in a statement.

"With John's 25 years of experience at the Agency, our extraordinary men and women of the CIA will be led by one of their own," the statement added.

US officials refuse to publicly discuss any details of the covert program and the death toll from drone strikes remains a mystery.

A report by the Washington-based New America Foundation has said that there have been 350 US drone strikes since 2004, most of them during President Obama’s terms in office. The foundation has put the death toll between 1,963 and 3,293, with 261 to 305 civilians killed.

According to the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, between 2,627 and 3,457 people have been killed by US drones in Pakistan since 2004, including between 475 and nearly 900 civilians.

The use of assassination drones overseas under the administration of Obama has caused a national debate.

On February 14, Obama promised to be more forthcoming with the American public on his administration’s campaign of drone strikes.

“What I think is absolutely true is it’s not sufficient for citizens to just take my word for it that we’re doing the right thing,” Obama said in an online video question-and-answer session sponsored by Google.

He vowed to work with Congress to craft a “mechanism” to be more open about how the drone war is conducted.

Washington uses assassination drones in several countries, claiming that they target “terrorists.” According to witnesses, however, the attacks have mostly led to massive civilian casualties.


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