Attorney General Holder promises more openness about drone attacks (+video)
The White House is under pressure about targeting terrorists with drones, including a filibuster by Sen. Rand Paul. Attorney General Eric Holder told a Senate committee, 'I heard you and the president heard you.'
In his State of the Union message last month, President Obama promised that “in the months ahead, [he would] 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.”Skip to next paragraph
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The important word there was “targeting,” referring to the drone attacks on alleged terrorists, including US citizens, that have stirred lawmakers of both parties, agitating civil libertarians, open-government advocates, and a growing portion of the American public.
Under increasing political and public pressure, the Obama administration has been providing some information on its drone attack program – far too slowly for its critics in Congress, one of whom (Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky) is filibustering the approval of John Brennan to head the CIA.
"I'm going to speak as long as I can to draw attention to something I find very disturbing," said Senator Paul, who began speaking at midday Wednesday, an effort unlikely to prevent full Senate approval of Mr. Brennan to be the nation’s spymaster.
On Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder responded to the bipartisan congressional pressure for the administration to be more forthcoming about the targeted killings launched from drones.
"I heard you and the president has heard you," Mr. Holder said.
The attorney general said he is confident that if the public had more information, there would be greater comfort that the administration is acting in conformity with the law. Without elaborating, Holder said a number of steps are going to be taken and that he expects "the president will be talking about this."
Human Rights First called Holder’s statement a “positive development.”
In a statement Wednesday, organization senior counsel Daphne Eviatar said, “We welcome Attorney General Holder’s announcement that President Obama will be more forthcoming in the future, and we hope he'll be forthcoming about a whole host of issues, including explaining more about who is being killed and how the legal framework applied comports with international legal requirements.”
Appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Holder got mixed reviews from Republican members regarding drone attacks.