President Barack Obama has tried to soothe Senate Democrats disturbed by his administration’s drone policy — by telling them that former Vice President Dick Cheney was worse.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia confronted Obama during a closed-door meeting over the refusal of his administration to share with key senators' memos from the Justice Department that gives legal justification for targeting Americans abroad, Politico reported.
Obama’s response: “This is not Dick Cheney we’re talking about here.”
Just last month, Cheney came to the defense of the administration’s policy on drones, telling CBS News, “I think it’s a good program and I don’t disagree with the basic policy that the Obama administration is pursuing now in that regards.”
While the U.S. government’s use of drones to targets terrorists overseas was started by Cheney and the Bush administration following the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, Obama has greatly expanded their use, including the targeting of an American citizen.
The Justice Department finally released the memos to the congressional intelligence committees, but only after senators of both parties — led by Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul and his now-famous filibuster — threatened to hold up the president’s CIA nominee John Brennan.
During the meeting, Obama told senators that he sympathized with their point of view, and that he would have “probably objected” if he had faced a similar situation while he was still in the Senate, Politico reported.
Just before the meeting, Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, scorched Brennan and other administration officials over the policy at a hearing.
“It’s a terrible situation,” Rockefeller said. “What happened over the last couple of weeks is a threat, is a threat to trust between us and you, us towards you and you towards us.”
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