To get his pick to lead the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) through the Senate, President Barack Obama has opted to bargain with Republicans on Benghazi instead of disclosing secret drone warfare memos to members of his own party, The New York Times reported Thursday.
A chain of emails pertaining to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s talking points following the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi are the bargaining chip the administrating is using to create a bipartisan majority that would allow John Brennan to lead the CIA.
The memos were briefly shown to select members of Congress after NBC reported on a legal whitepaper that summarized the opinions, but members of Congress were not allowed to take copies of the documents or have legal experts analyze them.
Despite the limited access, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) warned that the opinions are “fraught with constitutional problems,” and warned that they give the administration the power to unilaterally kill American citizens.
Sealing off access for good is sure to disappoint Democrats and human rights advocates, who’ve all but labeled Brennan the face of America’s drone warfare program. Legal memos authorizing bombing campaigns in countries like Yemen and Pakistan, which the U.S. is not at war with, were going to be part of the administration’s disclosures ahead of Breannan’s confirmation, but the Times report suggests the president’s top aides have found another way forward.
“I recognize that in our democracy, no one should just take my word that we’re doing things the right way,” Obama said in his 2013 State of the Union speech. “So, in the months ahead, I will continue to engage with Congress to ensure not only that our targeting, detention, and prosecution of terrorists remains consistent with our laws and system of checks and balances, but that our efforts are even more transparent to the American people and to the world.”