John Brennan Says Administration Agonizes Over Drone Strikes

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Despite being in the news a lot recently, drones were not, ultimately, an overwhelming subject of discussion at the confirmation hearing of John Brennan for CIA chief this afternoon. Perhaps cognizant of the overwhelming public support for the drone campaign, senators often focused on other topics, such as interrogation policy and allegations that Brennan leaked secret information to reporters.

But Brennan did have many opportunities to defend the controversial drone program, in which he has played a central role, and he seemed amenable to suggested reforms that would make the program more accountable, perhaps through oversight of special courts. Brennan also agreed with the suggestion from Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden that the administration publicly announce when a drone strike has taken innocent lives.

"They need to be able to go out and say that publicly and openly, I think, is critically important, because people are reacting to a lot of falsehoods that are out there," Brennan said.

One of those "falsehoods" that Brennan sought to correct was the belief that the administration orders drone strikes casually or carelessly. The protesters who interrupted his hearing, Brennan said by way of example, don't seem to understand "the care that we take and the agony that we go through to make sure that we don't have any collateral injuries or deaths."