The Senate Judiciary Committee pressed Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday to release documents justifying drone strikes against American citizens and to clarify circumstances under which the president could use military force on U.S. soil, reports The New York Times.
As Holder faced the panel for what was billed as a routine department oversight hearing, senators from both sides of the aisle expressed frustration over the administration’s refusal to turn over the legal memorandums, which it recently showed to members of the Senate Intelligence Committee during confirmation hearings for John Brennan as director of the CIA.
According to The Times
, Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy and ranking Republican Chuck Grassley raised the issues, and Leahy said he was considering issuing a subpoena to require the White House to turn over the papers. Leahy and other lawmakers have been asking for the documents for more than a year.
Holder, The Times noted, said the decision to share the documents was not up to him alone, but that President Barack Obama was considering how to provide greater transparency on issues such as targeted killings and drone strikes.
“We’ve talked about a greater need for transparency,” he acknowledged.
The issue of targeted killings was also the focus Wednesday of a filibuster against CIA nominee John Brennan by Republican Sen. Rand Paul, who spoke for hours as he criticized Holder and the administration for not definitively ruling out drone strikes on U.S. soil.
The Kentucky senator wasn’t satisfied with a letter from Holder earlier this week explaining that the domestic use of lethal force by the military was “entirely hypothetical” and “unlikely to occur,” but might be a possibility in the event of war or terrorist attacks inside the United States.
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