When President Obama tapped his chief counterterrorism adviser as his next pick to run the CIA, few expected his confirmation hearing to look like this. On Thursday, CIA chief nominee John Brennan faced the Senate Intelligence Committee. Following a brief protest disruption from Code Pink, Brennan was grilled on a decade’s worth of controversial CIA policies. Senators from both sides of the aisle challenged the nominee on his views of covert programs, including the Obama administration’s expanded use of drones, which Brennan helped design and oversee. The hearing followed President Obama’s decision to show members of congress the memos behind the legal justification for targeted drone strikes. On waterboarding, Brennan called the harsh interrogation technique reprehensible and said it should not be used on terror suspects, but he stopped short of calling it torture. Brennan is likely to be confirmed, but lawmakers used the hearing to air a long list of national security grievances, including the agency’s mistakes before 9/11, the failed intelligence surrounding Iraq’s WMDs and the secret “rendition” of terror suspects. These issues, particularly those related to the drone debate, are not likely to go away even if Brennan is installed as CIA director. For one, Intel Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein says she will review proposals to create a court to oversee targeted killings. We’ll look at the past and future of these programs when we see you at noon ET on msnbc.
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