Senator says panel to vote next week on CIA pick

Associated Press
FILE - In this April 21, 2010 file photo, Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Saxby said Thursday the panel is scheduled to vote early next week on John Brennan's nomination to be director of the CIA.  (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate Intelligence Committee is scheduled to vote early next week on John Brennan's nomination to be director of the CIA, the panel's Republican vice chairman said Thursday.

Democratic leaders of the committee had hoped to hold the vote Thursday. But Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., said consideration of Brennan's nomination has been delayed because he and other committee members have not received all the information they've requested from the White House about lethal drone strikes against terror suspects and the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.

"Once we get the documents, we're actually getting what we want," Chambliss said. "But it's just been slow in coming."

Chambliss said the intelligence committee is expected to vote Tuesday on Brennan's bid to lead the spy agency.

Brennan is currently working as President Barack Obama's top counterterrorism adviser in the White House.

The committee's chairwoman, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said Monday that a White House commitment to provide the Benghazi records meant that a vote this week was possible.

But Feinstein also said the Obama administration had not yet responded to the committee's request for more details about the classified Justice Department legal opinions that justify using unmanned spy planes to kill al-Qaida suspects overseas, including American citizens.

Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the National Security Council, said Thursday in an emailed statement that administration officials are talking to members of Congress about their requests for information, but he did not indicate whether those requests had been granted.

While it's primarily been the Republicans who've demanded the Benghazi documents, the push for the Justice opinions has been bipartisan.

During his Feb. 7 confirmation hearing before the intelligence committee, Brennan defended drone strikes only as a "last resort." But he also said he had no qualms about going after U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in September 2011. A drone strike in Yemen killed al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, both U.S. citizens. A drone strike two weeks later killed al-Awlaki's 16-year-old son, a Denver native.

In a letter sent earlier this month to Obama, 11 senators, including Republicans Charles Grassley of Iowa and Susan Collins of Maine, called on the president to provide the opinions to the Senate intelligence and judiciary committees so lawmakers can determine whether "the president's power to deliberately kill American citizens is subject to appropriate limitations and safeguards."

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